Quality Endeavors Issue No. 113

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November 2008

“Within higher education, innovation is frequent and creative but it is rarely disseminated or implemented at an appropriate scale.”
David Ward, Former President, American Council on Education

The Leveraging Excellence award of the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education (NCCI), sponsored by Follett Higher Education Group, recognizes “effective academic and administrative practices [that] have been successfully implemented beyond one department, campus, or institution…for leveraged impact…[and]…have resulted in significant impact on quality, efficiency, service, or learning.” The projects of the 2008 award winners and honorable mention recipients illustrate the different ways a focus on collaboration, innovation, and improvement can enhance higher education. The award provides a means to share their knowledge across institutions. Brigham Young University won the award for its Capital Needs Analysis project, expanded and refined over more than 20 years. Five Colleges, Inc., the Tennessee Board of Regents, and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis received honorable mention for projects related to faculty appointments and improvement of learning. Additionally, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) won and Worldwide Universities Network received honorable mention for their collaborative initiatives. More information about the award can be found at http://www.ncci-cu.org/.

Brigham Young University Capital Needs Analysis

One of the criteria for a ‘world class’ learning organization and institutional improvement is going beyond a review of processes to improving the reviewing process itself. Brigham Young University’s (BYU) Capital Needs Analysis program meets this criterion. The program was started in 1981 as a means to manage all existing assets, forecast the impact of asset life cycle needs on capital funding requirements, plan for addition of new assets, and use one-time projects to extend the life of existing assets. To do this, BYU designed a database to meet their needs and began with what was planned to be a one-time project to address assets at three campuses. During initial development, reassessment every 5 years was added to the analysis. In 1990 BYU changed the every 5 years snapshot reassessment to an ongoing analysis. Additionally, from 1985 through the 1990s, additional capital assets at other locations were added to the analysis. After making the analysis an ongoing process in 1990, BYU assessed the whole process and decided to review each component of the analysis process every four years and identify measures for the performance of each component. In 2000, BYU determined that the system would be more effective if information technology assets were managed in a separate but comparable database and work was begun to establish that. More information can be found at http://www.ncci-cu.org/Visitors/Documents/cna.history.pdf.

Five College Joint Appointments

Five Colleges, Inc. is a consortium of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and University of Massachusetts at Amherst established in 1965 to provide for “shared use of educational and cultural resources and facilities” including libraries, cross registration, joint departments and programs, and inter-campus transportation. Through Five Colleges Joint Faculty Appointments, a faculty member can be based at the home campus of the position, but teach at one or more of the other five campuses. The other campuses at which the faculty member teaches have input to the review and promotion process at the home campus. The appointment can be tenure track or continuing. The institutions also participate in a Five College Distinguished Faculty Appointment, where scholars or artists can be appointed for a short period, and joint administrative staff appointments. Since 1973, there have been 80 joint faculty appointments in 33 fields. Joint appointments provide opportunities for enrichment of offerings, greater expertise, introduction of new and emerging fields, and flexibility and cost savings during change. More information can be found at http://www.fivecolleges.edu/.

Tennessee Board of Regents Academic Audit

In 2004 the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Office of Academic Affairs implemented an Academic Audit used by 19 public colleges, universities, and community colleges in the state to produce ‘tangible improvements in education quality without having to spend more money.’ The audit focuses on faculty activities that contribute to quality learning, rather than assessing learning or teaching performance. Developed through work with William Massy (Professor Emeritus, Education and Business Administration, Stanford University and author of Education Quality Improvement: A Handbook for Departments), it focuses on using a collaborative approach to examine five areas:

  1. Determining learning objectives: What do students need to know, for employment and as citizens, and how is this determined?
  2. Designing curriculum and co-curriculum: What is taught, from what perspective, and how is this determined?
  3. Designing teaching and learning: What methods and processes are used to present information, answer questions, and get feedback on learning?
  4. Developing student learning assessment: What measures of learning are used, when in the learning process are they used, and who has the responsibility for assessment?
  5. Assuring implementation of quality education: How does the organization ensure that objectives and priorities are consistent across the department, and implement improvement initiatives?

An introduction to TBR’s academic audit is at http://www.tbr.edu/offices/academicaffairs.aspx?id=3178&terms=academic+audit.
The Handbook for 2008-2009 at http://www.tbr.edu/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=4054 provides discussion questions and possible sources of evidence for each of these focal areas.

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Electronic Institutional Portfolio

From 1998-2001 Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) participated, along with five other large urban public universities, in the Urban Universities Portfolio Project, and the current IUPUI portfolio has grown out of that. The portfolio provides information to constituents about IUPUI’s work in teaching and learning, research, scholarship, and creative activity, and civic engagement. Information developed as part of a recent reaccreditation self-study is included in the portfolio. The portfolio can be found at http://www.iport.iupui.edu/about/.