Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Reaccreditation visit scheduled for Chillicothe Campus

An individual from The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) will be on the Chillicothe Campus Nov. 3 for a reaccreditation visit that routinely occurs every eight years.

Ohio University and its regional campuses are accredited as one system by The HLC, which is a subsidiary of the larger North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). NCA accredits K-12 schools and institutions of higher education across 19 states. More than 1,000 colleges and universities are accredited by the HLC.      

Since 2002, Ohio University has been following an accreditation track called the Academic Quality Improvement Program, also known as AQIP. Colleges and universities with strong records of accreditation are invited to follow the AQIP track if they make a commitment towards continuous improvement at their institution. Institutions maintain accreditation while on the AQIP track which is distinguished by its emphasis on continuous quality improvement.

As part of the reaffirmation of accreditation process, AQIP peer reviewers visit universities, including regional campuses if applicable, to perform a comprehensive quality review (CQR).

As part of the visit, the AQIP reviewer plans to meet with students, faculty and staff from the campus during open forums. Getting feedback from campus constituencies is very important for the reviewer to understand the mission and vision of the university and how OU-C helps fulfill this mission. Students, faculty and staff are invited and strongly encouraged to attend one of the following open forums on Nov. 3 in Bennett Hall room 105:

•    3:30 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. Open Forum for OU-C Students

•    4:10 p.m. to 4:50 p.m. Open Forum for OU-C Administrative and Classified Staff Members

•    4:50 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Open Forum for OU-C Faculty

The reviewers will strive to determine if the university has strategic action plans in place and if steps are being taken to achieve the objectives of the plans. Institutions following the AQIP track choose specific action projects as a point of focus in terms of quality improvement. At OU-C, as well as the entire university, much of the emphasis for improvement is on defining learning outcomes for its courses and programs and accurately assessing the student achievement of the outcomes. The goal of the most recent Ohio University action project is to develop a university culture of ongoing academic course and program assessment.

For example, internship programs and practicums that serve as a capstone experience to bridge the classroom with the workplace and prepare students for careers could be a focal point in determining success in defining and achieving course/program learning outcomes.

The Chillicothe Campus has placed an emphasis on internships and other experiential learning opportunities in recent years in preparing students for success in their careers. This effort aligns nicely with the AQIP continual improvement focus.

All OU-C faculty members are expected to incorporate learning outcomes and assessment measures in their courses.

For example, Allison White, program coordinator, has implemented relevant strategies in the Office Technology (OTEC) program.

“First, I’m following the new Bloom’s Taxonomy (Creating, Evaluating, Analyzing, Apply, Understanding, and Remembering) to incorporate appropriate verbs into course and program learning outcomes,” she said.

“Second, I follow Kirkpatrick’s Model with four levels of program evaluation that guide OTEC’s program learning outcomes assessment methodology,” White said. “These include:  Results (internships, intern evaluations by site supervisors), Learning (course and program capstone projects, portfolios, and grading), Reaction (student testing; Microsoft Office Specialist prep, practice test achievements, and certification; and field trips), and Behavior (alumni input, advisory board input, surveys).  Currently, I’m auditing verbs using the QM checklist to ensure an exact match between the chosen verb and the assessment tool used.”

“Finally, I incorporate a few of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AACU) High-Impact Educational Practices with elements that include first year seminars, collaborative assignments, research, and service learning.

Other OU-C faculty members are also incorporating innovative assessment methods into their courses and academic programs. The HLC reaccreditation visit to the OU-C campus will provide a forum to discuss and showcase these methods. 

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