Program Reactions to Self-Study Feedback
I met with a program that expressed feeling frustrated and demoralized by the OAI feedback on their self-study. They wanted to know what the penalties were for programs that didn’t provide assessment self-studies. They asked that the results be transparent; that there be consequences for non-compliant programs as well as acknowledgement for programs that made the effort.
They pointed out that nothing in the NWCCU standards explicitly required including stakeholders in the assessment process and that while they recognized the value of such inclusion it was not necessarily practicable, especially when they already felt extended beyond their time and budget to fulfill accreditation requirements. We discussed that “stakeholders” was a term that needed to be unpacked, that it tended to bring up images of industry or future employers. However, stakeholders vary widely from discipline to discipline. But one form of stakeholder that does not change is students and they agreed that students could be given greater agency in the assessment process.
They also felt the push to come up with “data” which they saw as being essentially number driven. We agreed that the term data should be scrapped in favor of the term “evidence” and that the kinds of evidence they chose to include should be in whatever form was most useful for informing them about the gaps in their learning outcomes and provided insight about what changes to make.
In the end the program came to understand that a simple narrative account of their assessment practices, bolstered by relevant evidence placed in the evidence folder and referenced in the narrative would be a much more effective and less onerous approach to fulfilling the self-study requirements. Much of what the program is currently doing was not being captured in the report due to the misconception that the institution is looking for numerical data as hard evidence.
They agreed to look over the next draft of the Guide to Assessment and provide feedback about its clarity and usefulness.
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