Quality Endeavors Issue No. 144

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November 2011

Penn State’s first of over more than 900 Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) teams was formed in 1991. As more and more CQI teams formed, the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment established the CQI Team Database to record team information and make it easily available to other teams and individuals at Penn State. We know from experience that the database is visited not just by those from Penn State, but also by others from across the United States and around the world interested in the team approaches and accomplishments.

Each year in January we ask budget executives, managers, directors, and supervisors to update the database to include any new teams started within the past year. We also contact teams in the database about a year or two later to learn about their progress and identify results.

Thanks to all of the teams that responded during the summer and fall of 2011 to provide us with this information. Here are some examples of what we have learned about the results of their work, with links to details and related information.

Student Support: Advising and Retention

In 2007, Team #913, The Early Progress Report Design Team, composed of administrators, faculty, staff members and students (in focus groups) came together to lay out a plan for building an effective online retention tool built on the eLion platform that replaces the paper Mid-semester Grade Reporting system, an earlier mandate of the University Senate. The Design Team’s goal was to develop an effective tool that was both student-centered and convenient for instructors and learners, one that also linked students to their teachers and academic advisors. The result was the Early Progress Report (EPR) System providing an early alert to first year students who are in danger of making unsatisfactory academic progress in their semester courses. The EPR has been completely institutionalized in all Penn State colleges and campuses, and in many cases is being used for all students. The Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education manages the EPR System and gathers longitudinal data for analysis. A demo version is open to anyone interested in seeing how the system works from the perspective of a student, advisor or course instructor.

At Penn State Worthington-Scranton, their Enrollment Management Council, Team #922, completed its campus Enrollment Management Plan. Initial steps included conducting an environmental study to determine future targeted audiences; structuring an outreach plan designed to attract a diversified student population; and developing overall program outcomes for a student-centered university. The Enrollment Management Council now has three subcommittees: assessment, retention, and tracking. A new dashboard has been adopted for student and enrollment planning.

In the College of Agricultural Sciences, Team #936, the Faculty Adviser Mastery Team, was formed to design and implement a “Master Adviser Development” program centered around a competency-based training model. With input from faculty, staff, students, and administrators, the team identified the competencies of an effective faculty adviser, and established links to online reference material. The final product will be an online reference manual and tools to become a ‘Master Adviser.’

Using Technology

Penn State is participating in the CIC (Committee on Institutional Cooperation)/Google Book Project. To coordinate the sending of up to 500,000 items from the Penn State University Libraries’ collection to Google for digitization and placement in the HathiTrust, Team # 917, the CIC/Google Book Search Project Team, was formed. Items are inspected before shipment, necessary repairs are made, and items without barcodes are properly barcoded and cataloged in the University Libraries’ database so that users will be able to locate them more easily. As a result of barcoding efforts for material in the Libraries’ Annex, the fulfillment rate for materials there has increased to nearly 100%. Participation in this project results in greater accessibility of Penn State’s collection, the development of new tools for users to locate materials more effectively, and the development of inter-institutional partnerships and opportunities for further collaboration.

The College of the Liberal Arts established Team # 925, the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Studies Web and Social Media Team, to revamp the digital presence of Undergraduate Studies in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. Recognizing the increasing use of social media and the potential power of social media to create and maintain a strong educational community, the College started a blog – http://www.psu.edu/dept/laus/ – that includes dynamic content from the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, staff, and students. The blog replaced a printed newsletter, resulting in a savings of time and cost while increasing availability. The team also redesigned the undergraduate studies portion of the Liberal Arts college website – www.la.psu.edu – to make it more dynamic and relevant for undergraduate students, faculty and staff. From August 2009 to August 2011 monthly website page views nearly doubled, from 36,000 to 71,000.

Improving Administrative Processes

The Institutional Research Board (IRB) and Office of Research Protections established Team # 896, the Application Process Improvement Team, to streamline internal processes for IRB applications, resulting in improved effectiveness and efficiency of review and approval for both staff and customers. Process mapping was used to assess the processes and find areas of redundancy and delays. As a result of this analysis, ten steps in the process and double-handling at various steps was eliminated. In the first four months following implementation of the changes, average time from submission to approval of protocols decreased by 35%.

Penn State’s University Libraries are a depository for official documents from numerous governmental organizations. Team # 897, the Government Documents CQI Team, was established to  review and document the current receiving, cataloging and processing workflows for government information and material that the Libraries acquire (i.e. Federal, Pennsylvania, Canadian, European Union, United Nations). The team was charged with: a) streamlining the processes and maximizing their effectiveness; b) avoiding duplication of effort; and c) maximizing the timeliness of processing the materials. Recommendations have been implemented, resulting in a process that is smoother, with fewer hand-offs and steps.

Team # 899, Team Privacy, was established to streamline and update the processes for Incident Response and Personally Private Information protection in the Privacy Office (AD19 Authorizations). The team developed a Standard Operating Procedure including an Incidence Response Toolkit. They assist in a number of committees and sub-committees addressing privacy concerns across the University. Additionally, they continue providing outreach regarding risk management through workshops, brown bag sessions, and articles, and collaboration with Information Technology Services (ITS) Security Operations and Services (SOS).

Team # 902, Classroom Scheduling Policies and Procedures, was formed to examine the policies and procedures surrounding classroom scheduling across the University to optimize student schedules, the appropriate use of classrooms, and space utilization. Use of data and information in the team’s report are expected to make it easier for students to schedule courses while maximizing space utilization. Additionally, in conjunction with Strategy 7.2, Better Utilize Instructional and Research Facilities, in Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 a new committee is examining University policies and procedures regarding course scheduling.

Thanks again to all of these teams for their work and the updates they provided. Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 addresses the continuing need for this work in Goal 7: Control Costs and Generate Additional Efficiencies and Strategy 7.7: Promote Continuous Quality Improvement and Reward Innovation. The work these past teams have done embodies that strategy. Current teams are encouraged to enter information about their work or update what they have already entered in the CQI Team Database.