It was more than a decade ago that the field of higher education started to focus on assessment. Educators were asking questions about what, and how much, students were learning throughout their experiences in higher education. At first, just assessing student learning and tracking the results was yeoman’s work.
Developing or updating a strategic plan for an institution of higher education is a substantial endeavor. Engaging colleagues in committee and subcommittee meetings, discussing the future direction of the institution, and coming to a consensus on goals to guide the institution for the life of the plan: these considerations are at the heart of the collaborative process that is strategic planning in higher education.
In our last post, we talked about what the seven accreditation regions in the U.S. have in common in terms of their standards regarding institutional effectiveness. Now let’s talk about the differences in how the regions address institutional effectiveness.
I had the opportunity to present a webinar to the members of OCAIR (Overseas Chinese Association for Institutional Research, https://ocair.org/). The topic was “Institutional Effectiveness in Higher Education: A Nationwide Perspective”. In the webinar, I compared and contrasted how institutional effectiveness is discussed in the standards and principles of the seven regional accrediting agencies in the United States.
As a professional in a field that serves higher education institutions daily, few things are more evident than the wavering budget climate in higher education.
I hear it so often:
“There isn’t budget for something like this.” “The state is cutting our funding.” “Enrollment is down and tuition is frozen.”
In these situations, software guiding planning and accreditation are often not seen as priorities.
This leaves me wondering:
“Is THIS the place to make cuts when the chips are down?” “Don’t people realize the importance of these things?”
The answers to these questions are a resounding and conflicting “No.” and “No.”
But how can I say this with authority? Because I’ve been there, done that, and feel your pain.
Topics: Institutional Effectiveness
The pursuit of institutional excellence is a school-wide commitment involving many dedicated stakeholders aligned by a common vision of continuous improvement and institutional effectiveness.
One of the most common questions I get from folks implementing is, "How would you suggest we set that up?" I must always answer that question with one of my own: "What does your process look like?"
The beauty (and the challenge) of SPOL is that it does not require you to conform to a specific process for strategic planning, assessment, budget development, or managing your accreditation self-study.
A well-known phrase tossed around about life, particularly among baby-boomers is: “There are two things in life that are certain – Death and Taxes!” This time-tested idiom suggests that most things in life can be avoided, but you will surely meet your maker and Uncle Sam will eventually find you to collect on your taxes even after you’ve passed away. We do a lot during our lives to prepare for these two inevitable events. We withhold from our paychecks, save receipts, and manage deductions to prepare for every April 15th. We buy life insurance and write wills to help prepare for our departure from this world. If you are involved in higher education, you might very well argue that there is a third inevitable event to add to the list: Accreditation.
If your experience is anything like mine, convincing your colleagues to embrace continuous improvement feels like an uphill battle. It feels like more work, “one more thing the college is asking us to do.” While I have rarely had someone ask me point-blank, the question in people’s minds is “What’s in it for me?” I don’t mind this question. I’m not an economist, but I’ve taken enough economics courses in my time to appreciate the model of humans as rational decision makers. If a course of action has no benefit for us, we shouldn’t take that action.
Topics: Continuous Improvement