A team from Ohio University recently attended the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) Strategy Forum in Oakbrook, Ill., which provided an opportunity for insight and feedback into the projects OHIO undertakes as part of its continuous improvement processes with its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission.
AQIP, the pathway OHIO uses to maintain its accreditation with HLC, is focused on helping institutions achieve continuous quality improvement using six AQIP categories that provide a framework for guiding institutional efforts. The targeted areas for improvement, called Action Projects, are undertaken by OHIO based on feedback from HLC peer reviewers.
Representatives from OHIO at the February Strategy Forum included:
- M. Duane Nellis, president
- Elizabeth Sayrs, interim executive vice president and provost
- Carissa Anderson, assistant dean of regional higher education
- Katie Hartman, chair, Faculty Senate Educational Policies and Student Affairs committee; director of assessment, College of Business; and chair, marketing department
- Laurie Hatch, co-chair, Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee; associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences
- David Ingram, chair, University Curriculum Council; chair, physics and astronomy department
- Bob Klein, interim associate dean, Lancaster Campus; associate professor, mathematics
- Joni Wadley, accreditation liaison officer; assistant provost for accreditation and assessment support
“I continue to be impressed with the work of those at Ohio University who have been involved with our institution’s reaffirmation of accreditation processes through AQIP,” said President M. Duane Nellis. “The recent Strategy Forum was a productive time that allowed the members of our team to reflect and plan for future success and continuous improvement as outlined in the AQIP pathway.”
In preparation for the Strategy Forum, the team reviewed the 2014 Systems Appraisal Feedback and 2016 Comprehensive Quality Review reports from HLC and focused its efforts at the Strategy Forum in developing an Action Project surrounding AQIP Category One: Helping Students Learn.
“The AQIP Strategy Forum includes a series of mini-exercises that encourage attendees to brainstorm and structure a potential action project,” explained Hartman. “The exercises are intended to guide you through the process of developing an Action Project so that you are able to discuss ideas with the University community after you return. I found the process to be informative and energizing.”
Specifically, the team’s goal while participating in the Strategy Forum was to develop an institutional improvement campaign surrounding common learning outcomes and maturing OHIO’s general education assessment processes.
“Like most faculty, I strongly believe in the value of general education,” Hartman said. “I am enthusiastic about the potential Action Project focusing on common learning outcomes and general education. The project has the potential to improve the student learning experience as well as support faculty initiatives.”
In addition to developing its next Action Project at the Strategy Forum, the team from OHIO also had the opportunity to present a success story – its completed Action Project focused on curricular themes and OHIO’s Themes in Action (CAS 2300), an innovative series of one credit hour courses organized around topics including wealth and poverty, war and peace, technology and society, making and breaking the law, food studies, and sustainability. The courses were designed to enable students to explore topics of interest focused on 21st century challenges; integrate curricular and co-curricular opportunities around each theme, and provide opportunities for community-building and student leadership.