New AQIP Action Projects Announced
NMU has announced two new action projects involving the academic review process and internships/work experiences that will kick off Oct. 15 as part of Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) institutional accreditation. The university will also complete the second phase of a continuing project to develop a knowledge management system,
Sandra Poindexter (Business) said the academic review process is part of the university’s strategic Road Map to 2015 and expected by accreditors, who mentioned it in reaffirming NMU’s accreditation last March and in written appraisals. In his two-step plan announced at a campus forum a month later, President Les Wong charged the provost, deans and Educational Policy Committee (EPC) to develop the criteria used for identifying enhanced or new academic programs that will best serve the economy and attract students and the criteria to identify programs for termination.
“Most schools have a university-wide process,” said Poindexter. “NMU used to, but stopped. There are procedures at the department and program levels. For example, geography just did a program review to be better aligned with related careers. But there’s no regularly scheduled university oversight as to program offerings and future. The EPC has given recommendations on the criteria and we will begin this two-year project.
“The first year will be to find out what we’re doing on campus and what other universities are doing. The second year will involve pilot programs and obtaining feedback that will lead to a final version. There will be heavy faculty involvement throughout this project. It’s not just an issue of operational savings. It’s relevant to what parents, students and employers want. We have to be looking at the big picture when it comes to our programs.”
In a second action project, Poindexter said NMU is trying to be proactive in developing common guidelines and procedures that monitor structured work experiences and internships. She said potential legal and liability issues need to be considered.
“There hasn’t been a problem, but we’re trying to prevent that,” she said. “There is no centralized way to collect and track data on what students are doing and make sure all internship coordinators are aware of the laws. With increasing scrutiny from federal regulatory agencies to make sure interns aren’t replacing permanent employees, we need better procedures to help employers document the fact it’s a learning experience for students.
“The challenge is that they’re called different things—from student teaching, to clinical experience to apprenticeships and internships. The goal isn’t to tell people how to coordinate them, but how to document them so we can prepare reports.
The continuing project is part two of the knowledge management system, or KMS (see related story in this issue). This year will focus on systems development, pilot testing, training and implementation.
“It’s important to understand that action projects aren’t just put on a shelf after they’re submitted to the Higher Learning Commission,” said Poindexter. “They have meaning and help to improve the university in incremental ways. We’re committed to making as much progress as possible on all of those selected.”
For more on completed and ongoing projects, visit AQIP Projects.