Are you involved in accreditation success for your institution? Managing the process and compiling reports for regional accreditation is no small feat. It requires attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and extraordinary teamwork.
In the recent webinar Accreditation: Struggle to Success, we talked with colleagues from three Texas community colleges about their accreditation struggles and success stories. The following is a review of that webinar. For more info and to watch the original webinar, click here.
Our three panelists:
- David Arreazola, Ed.D., Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research, SACSCOC Liaison at Laredo College
- Matt Cardin, Ph.D., Vice President of Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness at Ranger College
- Joy Row, Research Analyst at Temple College
The Accreditation Challenges
David Arreazola, Matt Cardin, and Joy Row started by telling us about the challenges their institutions faced. Each of them came from institutions where assessment had not been a high priority for some time, and in some cases rapid turnover in administration had sapped some of the institutional knowledge about previous assessment processes. In one case the environment on campus was described as one of disconnectedness. There was a lack of coherence within the institution’s stakeholders about what they were all trying to accomplish.
How to Overcome the Challenges
Facing numerous and complex challenges, we heard several themes emerge that were effective in helping these schools achieve successful accreditation milestones.
The first was the idea of building a knowledge base, or assessment literacy, among the faculty and staff at the institution. The creation of common vocabulary and shared understanding of the task ahead laid the foundation for successful work later on.
Second, networking with peers and building on the shared knowledge of the broader assessment community was key. For those new to the profession or just in a new position at a new institution, collaboration with others doing the same type of work can offer numerous advantages including a shared knowledge base, and a sense of camaraderie. None of us is in this alone!
Finally, connecting more with the people on campus and having a day for the IE office to meet with departments on a regular basis was highly effective.
What Assessment Surprises Teach Us
Assessment work can throw unexpected surprises our way, and often they are good rather than bad. Our panel shared that they were pleasantly surprised by the genuine interest of faculty and administrators in the work that needed to be done. Our community discusses quite often the challenge of getting buy-in from resistant stakeholders, but the pleasant reality here was that the majority of people were invested in the work.
The assessment professionals’ role was focused not on creating buy-in, but building literacy and serving as a resource to help the faculty and staff accomplish the work. This sense of shared responsibility for the work turned into a sense of shared accomplishment when the milestones were reached.
Accreditation & Assessment Tips to Take With You
We closed with a chance to hear some tips that everyone can take away.
- Start early is decent advice, but even better – don’t ever stop
- Make it fun to do assessment work, not a chore
- Serve on a review team, or observe with a review team at other campuses
- Be brutally honest, both internally and externally
- Talk about your work with confidence and demonstrate the value of it
- Keep relationships as paramount
Sharing our assessment struggles and successes is one way we can support one another in this complex, important work we are doing. If you have an assessment or accreditation success story, we’d love to hear from you.
For more detailed information on this topic, watch the Accreditation: Struggle to Success webinar recording.
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