Streamlining HLC’s AQIP Projects
Many colleges are linking their Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) Action Project(s) to their college’s Strategic Plan Initiatives. For Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) in Wisconsin, this was a logical approach. They had an AQIP Action Project intertwined with curriculum development and quality review processes already in place. The challenge they faced was finding “…one location to keep information for AQIP Action projects, Quality Review, Curriculum Development, Assessment Analysis and Results, etc…”
BTC knew using a system that would track and store the AQIP Action Project plan, house the cross-institutional project plan details and store the executed plan results would ease the work load for the many departments, instructors and administrators involved. A system-wide tool would also streamline the process for providing evidence for the quality improvement cycle for HLC.
The Tool Was Already There
While the college considered the possibilities for implementing a new system, BTC’s Director of Teaching and Learning Resources, Lynn Neitzel, pointed out that the college already had a robust system for curriculum design and revision, assessment design, storage and analysis: WIDS. Neitzel advocated using WIDS to its fullest potential as a quick and cost-effective solution to have “one location for everything.” In addition, she knew that WIDS would also help BTC meet multiple HLC criterion.
For BTC, this was all the motivation they needed to expand their use of WIDS. Faculty and some administrators were already using WIDS to develop and store program-level outcomes and course-level competencies. They just needed staff to build on existing efforts in a way that would address accreditation, AQIP projects and strategic plan initiatives. Their solution was a three-tiered approach:
Faculty complete a WIDS Course Outcome Summary (COS) for each course:
- Course Information – to include 100% match of BTC’s Student Information System (Bannerourse description
- Course Assessment Plan (Performance Assessment Task) for targeted courses related to the AQIP project
In the process of completing the required (COS) elements, faculty provided evidence for meeting the following HLC Criterion: 3.B.1, 3.B.2., 3.B.3, 4.B.1, 4.B.2, 4.B.4
Faculty and administration complete WIDS Assessment Plans for each program:
- Complete Program Outcome Summary (POS)
- Complete Program Configuration in WIDS
- Develop Technical Skills Attainment (TSA) Phase II Assessment Plan (WTCS Perkins funding-related requirement)
In the process of completing the required Assessment Plan details, faculty provided evidence for meeting the following HLC Criterion: 3.B.1, 3.B.2., 3.B.3, 3.B.5, 4.B.1, 4.B.2, 4.B.4
Faculty and administration enter WIDS assessment data collection and analysis information and “close the loop” (continuous improvement) for each program level Assessment Plan:
- Enter Target Outcomes
- Enter Standard for Student Success
- Enter Quality Objective
- Enter Results/Scores
- Enter Results Analysis Summary
- Enter Improvement Objective
- Enter Improvement Interventions
In the process of completing the required assessment data collection and analysis information, faculty provide evidence for meeting the following HLC Criterion: 3.B.1, 3.B.2., 3.B.3, 3.B.5, 4.B.1, 4.B.2, 4.B.4, 5.B.3 and 5.C.2
High Praise from HLC
By using WIDS to its fullest potential, BTC met HLC criterion requirements. BTC also received high praise from HLC in response to the college’s annual AQIP Action Project report. HLC noted BTC’s data gathering methodology, the collected data accuracy and the clear relationship between the process and the excellent results. Tools in WIDS give colleges the ability to collect, compile and analyze a wide variety of data. As a result, BTC received the following feedback from HLC regarding the annual report:
HLC Annual Report Question: Check for accuracy and completeness: Are the right metrics or measures included for each goal?
HLC Response to BTC Annual Report:
Blackhawk Technical College has completed this Action Project with quantitative results posted for each of the original goals. The focus on student recruitment, retention, and success is obvious through this project including broad-based participation of faculty and staff, utilization of the Worldwide Instructional Design System (WIDS), activities developed, and data collection and analysis practices. Nicely done.
Professional development training for faculty and staff and a review for programs and courses is utilized every five semesters. If student success continues to improve, your processes would merit being shared with other institutions.
By using a common tool available to all staff, BTC leveraged WIDS to streamline their continuous improvement process. Because all the data is in one system, the college has a more efficient and robust way to use assessment results to drive quality instruction and improve student learning.
Download the free related resources WIDS and Accreditation: HLC Exmple or WIDS and Accreditation: SACSCOC Example.