During the years that NMU participated in the Higher Learning Commission's now-retired AQIP process for accreditation (2002-2018), the university conducted approximately three Action Projects at any time. The following NMU projects were completed through the AQIP process. In many cases, related work continues as part of Northern's continuous improvement efforts.
Completed AQIP Action Projects
Understanding and Addressing the Mental Health Needs of our Students - November 2016 - November 2017. NMU identified student mental health as a priority for our community. The purpose of this Action Project was to improve our understanding of students’ mental health needs, determine how we can improve our ability to respond to our students’ needs in a targeted and focused manner, and identify long-term mental health solutions for our students. This Action Project was led by the Director of NMU Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) with additional faculty from CCS and members of the President’s Task Force on Mental Health and Well-Being also participating.
Enhancing Employee Retention and Engagement - December 2016 - December 2017. This project addressed key programs and processes intended to support greater employee retention and engagement. The project focused on development and implementation of a new employee orientation and on-boarding process, an enhanced employee recognition and reward program, and revised performance evaluation processes for staff employees, all aligned with NMU’s strategic plan, mission, vision, and core values.
Evaluating the Success of Our Graduates from our Students' Perspectives - May 2017 - July 2018. NMU measures graduates’ success by monitoring indicators such as employment rates, admission rates to advanced degree programs, and participation rates in other programs after graduation. A review of these practices indicated a need to investigate more efficient and consistent processes to measure graduate success. NMU expanding upon current indicators to include students’ perspectives on specific competencies gained within their academic program(s). Data from alumni provide information for improvements to program learning outcomes and department and program mission statements.
Integrating and Advancing Campus-wide Assessment of Student Learning - Completed May 2017. This Action Project addressed NMU’s need to further integrate and advance assessment of student learning practices and procedures in the general education program, program assessment of learning, co-curricular and student support areas of campus. While previous Action Projects resulted in clear assessment practices for specific areas of campus, there existed a need to align these practices with NMU’s new mission, vision, and Core Values. In addition, the Action Project committee reviewed and made recommendations regarding communication pathways between academic, co-curricular, and student support areas of campus aimed at increasing awareness of the value of assessing student learning.
Transparency Project: Communication, Collaboration, Process and Procedure in University-wide Decision-making - Completed December 2016. This Action Project addressed NMU’s senior level decision-making strategies with the intent to create an environment where stakeholders have easy access to information they need and the opportunity to be involved in efficient, collaborative university-wide decision-making (non-departmental, non-emergency). Key stakeholders included senior leadership, collective bargaining leadership and other campus leaders, the communications office, information technology, business intelligence, internal auditor, and university archives.
Library Instruction: Assessment of Student Learning, Persistence and Retention - Completed November 2016. Current library science research has shown a strong positive correlation between student library use and persistence and retention. Building upon these studies, the project committee (library staff, registrar, faculty and AQIP liaison) gathered data on persistence and retention for College Composition I (EN 111) students who received library instruction from a librarian and compared the results to those who did not receive librarian support. In addition, data regarding the quality of sources EN 111 students used were analyzed. Student focus groups were also conducted in order to learn how NMU might improve and reinforce library instruction methods.
Developing a Student Inquiry and Complaint Tracking Process - Completed June 2016. NMU currently collects information regarding student complaints and inquiries. However, the process varies across campus. The purpose of this Action Project was to develop a campus‐wide process for accepting, logging and evaluating student complaint and inquiry data. The development of this process took place primarily within Business Intelligence and Information Services. Major gateways of student complaint and inquiry data such as Dean of Students, Financial Aid, Housing and Residence Life, and others participated in the development. NMU gathered data that will lead to a more accurate view of our students’ experiences.
Professional Development Strategies to Enhance the Student Learning Environment - Completed September 2015. Faculty join Northern Michigan University with expertise in their academic disciplines. NMU's current one-day orientation program provides only a cursory introduction to teaching and NMU organizational processes without strategically planned supplemental activities. An effective orientation program will more thoroughly address pedagogy, managing relationships with students, diversity awareness, and other important aspects of a university career. This project will identify specific career development needs of early-career faculty, develop strategies to address those needs, and plan and begin to deliver programs and resources. The project's goal is to ensure that faculty are well prepared to provide students with a high-quality learning environment.
Developing Core Values and a Strategic Plan - Completed July 2015. Phase I of this Action Project will identify new, campus-wide "core values" for NMU. Phase II of the Action project will begin strategic planning processes built upon the established core value framework. The goal of the project is to successfully organize campus-wide involvement and overall support of a new NMU strategic plan and have the plan in place by July 2015.
Developing Leadership Training and Succession Planning - Completed April 2015. This Action Project intends to promote a climate that will help attract and retain employees with diverse leadership skills, while focusing on training and mentoring a pool of leaders who could be promoted from within. Through training of faculty, staff, and administrators, NMU can develop leadership skills used at all levels and better assist itself in facilitating effective succession planning.
Improving Student Success and Retention - Completed January 2015. The intent of this project is to review and evaluate institutional services and practices related to student retention currently in place across the institution in the context of 'best practices'. Following that review, develop recommendations and implement systemic that will improve student retention, success, and degree completion.
Implement and assess effectiveness of a parent portal as a proxy access of student information - Completed January 2014. To more readily provide information to parents by increasing the ease of allowing students to grant access to parents and/or others to their protected information (grades, class schedules, etc.), Northern Michigan University will implement software options in the student information system. Potential concerns will be identified, researched and resolved. Effectiveness measures will be considered and selected for a one year follow-up on satisfaction, usage and impact of that usage.
Enhance the infrastructure to support the expansion of distance-delivered education - Completed January 2014. Northern Michigan University (NMU) intends to implement plans for improvement in its distance delivery support infrastructure, quality oversight, assessment, and faculty and student preparation. The project also addresses the need to more strategically plan support services for sustainable growth in distance-delivered programs.
Revision of General Education Learning Outcomes and Assessment - Completed June 2014. The intent of this project is to review and reframe the general education learning outcomes, adopt or develop assessment methods and create a new process and procedure for conducting the assessment of those learning outcomes and using the results. This Action Project does not include review or revision of existing general education divisions.
Developing Feedback Mechanisms and Enhancing Leadership Communication - Completed 2012. This Action Project will develop processes for effective leadership-guided communication and recognized feedback mechanisms. It will review the communication role for all levels of leadership, develop clear expectations of leaders’ communication, and provide for its evaluation. Current methods of disseminating information on decisions and collecting feedback will be studied in order to build effective two-way communication channels into the university infrastructure.
Academic Program Review - Completed 2012. Northern Michigan University will study current processes for academic program review conducted by its academic departments and colleges; review past university-wide procedures; identify and analyze best practices used internally and externally; and develop a cyclic academic program review process that can be applied campus-wide. The baseline process must be systematic and standardized. While accommodating program accreditation requirements and reflecting best practices and standards for academic program review, it must strive to efficiently align curricula and program offerings with student’ and employers’ needs.
Internships/Work Experiences - Completed 2012. This project will undertake a thorough review of all forms of internship and work experience programs at NMU, enable campus-wide discussion of a draft set of common guidelines and procedures that monitor structured experiences and internships, consider legal issues, and collect and track data on these entities. A goal of this project would be to establish a strong on-going relationship between the Career Services office and department internship coordinators.
Knowledge Management System - Part II - Completed 2011. Concludes a 2009 Action Project through the systems development, pilot testing, training and implementation phases of a new information system. The 2009 action project, "A Process for Managing NMU's Strategic, Operational and Resource Performance," developed a knowledge management information system infrastructure to support the NMU strategic plan, Road Map to 2015. For successful implementation, development of a project of this magnitude and complexity must include thorough testing using live data to evaluate and modify the system.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Laptop Goal: Enhancing Student Recruitment – Completed 2010. This Action Project will articulate a process to evaluate if the Laptop program has increased the capacity and quality of the NMU student body, and it will use this process to assess if this recruitment goal has been reached at this time.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Laptop Goal: Enhancing Student Learning
– Completed 2010. One goal of the TLC initiative was to create a learning environment that: a) embraced technology to enhance student access, b) promoted the development of independent learners, and c) encouraged greater student-faculty communication and collaboration. This Action Project will articulate a process to evaluate this goal on an ongoing basis, and will use this process to assess progress towards the goal at this time.
Documenting and Benchmarking the NMU Outcomes Assessment Process Action Project – Completed 2009. The goal of this project is to review and revise the means by which departments use the data they collect and devise a mechanism by which these reports and plans are reviewed, so that we can “close the loop” of the quality improvement cycle of “plan, do, check and act”.
Aligning Unit Mission Statement Action Project – Completed 2009. This Action Project presents an opportunity for all units to reflect upon the revised mission of NMU, and determine how their activities can best help the university achieve its mission.
Benchmarking the NMU Road Map to 2015 Action Project – Completed 2009. The goal of this project is to assign benchmark measurements to the goals and priorities described in the Road Map.
Sustainable NMU Action Project – Completed in 2008. Northern’s AQIP Sustainability Committee laid the groundwork for establishing an ongoing and conscious effort at making Northern more sustainable.
Online Learning Action Project – Completed in 2008. The 2006-2007 Online Infrastructure Committee envisioned the AQIP project to change or improve admissions, scheduling, marketing, curriculum development and review, provision of academic resources, technical training for faculty and students, and established processes for course evaluation, including how these changes or improvements might influence promotion and tenure.
Enhancing Scholarship Action Project – Completed in 2008. During the 2007-08 academic year, Northern Michigan University undertook the AQIP Action Project entitled “Enhancing the campus climate for scholarship.” A working committee was established to study the status of scholarly work and to determine how faculty perceived the climate for scholarship on campus. In particular, the committee was asked to identify real and perceived barriers to scholarship and to make recommendations to alleviate these barriers.
Student ID Action Project – Completed in 2005. Northern Michigan University no longer uses Social Security numbers as university identification numbers, except where required by law.
Superior Edge – Implemented in 2006. The Superior Edge Action Project has resulted in one of NMU's most successful programs. The Superior Edge Program encompasses a wide range of in- and out-of-classroom experiences that provides NMU students with a distinct advantage by better preparing them for careers, graduate school and life as engaged citizens. We note with pride that this Action Project was listed in the Higher Learning Commission's AQIP Directory as one of its Innovative Programs.
Review of NMU’s Advising Process – Completed winter 2007. The AQIP advising subcommittee turned in its final recommendations, which have not fully been implemented due to several procedural, staffing and budget reasons. This project is bring revisited as a priority of NMU’s new academic strategic plan, The Road Map to 2015.
Development of Departmental/Unit Outcomes Assessment Plan – Completed 2005. This project resulted in all academic and service units on campus submitting an annual report and plan describing their objectives and how those objectives will be met. A second phase of this project is one of the proposed action projects for 2008-09.
Other Related Projects
The following three completed projects were not chosen as AQIP priority action projects, but were on the list of proposed projects and were completed as part of NMU continuous improvement efforts.
Increase External Research Funding – In 2006, NMU hired a grant writer to assist faculty, staff and students in securing more external funds for research and scholarly works. In 2008, the university hired a grant manager to help assist the significant increase in grants. 2007-08 marked the third consecutive year that NMU received more than $5 million in grant income. This includes over $500,000 for research projects, which is more than double the amount from 2006-07, and the highest level of research dollars NMU has had in the past 15 years.
Create Web Site for Student Research – The project is in the testing phase and will be rolled out to the campus community in late fall 2008. It is modeled after the site created for faculty and staff as part of the “enhancing the climate for scholarship on campus” project.
Class Roster with Photos – Debuted to faculty in fall 2007.