The self-study process associated with re-accreditation in higher education is an opportunity for institutional change and improvement, transcending the mere production of an assessment report for a visiting team of external peers.Given the immense effort required for any self-study project, many colleges are discovering the advantages of capitalizing on this investment in order to make needed changes in programs and operations.
We offer a structured methodology for organizing and implementing the self-study process that exceeds the standard approaches described in materials produced by accrediting associations and third party publications.Key features include a thematic approach to the study design, a guided process for implementing the analysis of issues and formulation of recommendations, and an easily accommodated method for implementing recommendations during the study process, translating into accomplished results concurrent with the study process.
The approach is highly participatory and organized.It begins with the design of the process in collaboration with institutional leaders and the formulation of the theme.The organizational phase includes announcing the approach, recruiting and appointing participants, and conducting an orientation for the leaders.The study phase uses a manual and facilitated steering committee sessions to manage the process, including the analysis of issues and the formulation of recommendations.The implementation phase continues the study process into the implementation of recommendations, the assessment of results, the production of reports and preparation for the assessment visit by the association team.
The most important outcomes of the process include the following:
• Observable and measurable changes and improvements resulting from the process
• Recognition by visiting team of a superior approach and outcomes
• High degree of expectations and morale among participants
• Unanticipated by-products that confirm the benefits of the approach