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Newsletter- February 2009

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About MCC - Accreditation/AQIP -  - Newsletter- February 2009

Project Update:  “Systems Portfolio” Alignment

An interview with Greg Thomas

What is the name of your project?

Updating the Systems Portfolio to Align with AQIP 2008 Category Revisions.

What is the purpose of your project? (what is going to be improved as a result?)

Our Systems Portfolio is going to be improved.  In 2008 AQIP announced that they had revised the structure of the Systems Portfolio.  The next time we submit our Systems Portfolio we will have to use the revised structure, so we are getting the jump on that by updating now.  Our next submission will be in 2010, so it is not that far off.  The revisions are not extensive; as a parallel I would say it’s similar to when publishers print a new edition of a textbook.   There are some changes, of course, but it’s not as brutal as switching to a whole new textbook.

Who is on your team?

The MCC AQIP Portfolio Writing Team has taken on this project.  Currently the members include Charles Duell, Jo Ann Kruglet, Armando Maldonado, Darlene Doane, Kristi Rorabaugh, Loretta Crone, Sally Nestor, Deb Wacker, Jaylene Evans and Greg Thomas.

What progress has been made so far?

Our first task was simply to understand what changes have been made.  We have gone through a very mechanical process of comparing the old portfolio to the new one, category by category by category and question by question.   We now can see what’s different between the two.

The next step will be to examine how well the answers we gave in our old portfolio fit the new set of questions.  We will look for gaps and incongruities between the two.  The objective is to identify what will need particular attention when we begin to revise the portfolio next year.

What’s different between the old portfolio and the new portfolio?

As you know the Systems Portfolio is broken into nine categories plus an institutional overview.  In each of the nine categories, there are numerous questions that we have done our best to answer.  The nine categories have not changed, but a number of the questions have changed.  AQIP did not do this haphazardly, but as a result of deliberately seeking feedback from member institutions.  Some of the questions have been reworded for better clarity.  Some of the questions included several parts; they now have been broken into two and sometimes three separate questions.  One question has been reclassified from a “Process” (P) question to a “Results” (R) question.  The most substantial modification was noted in the Overview.  All of the “Context” (C) questions from the nine categories have been relocated to the Overview section, which is now structured in terms of the nine categories.  The changes all make sense and should ease the frustration of institutions that are doing their systems portfolio – whether for the first time or for a subsequent time.

What have you learned about MCC in the process of doing the project?

We learned that we were not alone in misunderstanding or misinterpreting some of the questions in the Systems Portfolio template.  If you remember, we got dinged on Category 7 (Measuring Effectiveness) in the appraisal of our portfolio, but it apparently confused a few other institutions as well, leading AQIP administrators to give it particular attention in their revision.

We learned that AQIP practices what it preaches: the revision of the Portfolio guidelines is an attempt to improve the process by which institutions are reaccredited.

We learned that many of the answers we gave to questions in our portfolio need to be revisited.  It’s a good thing we are required to update the portfolio every four years.  In fact, once we complete this conversion to the new portfolio guidelines, we plan to update the portfolio on an annual basis.

We learned that team work is essential in any project of this size.  Without the input of every member, it becomes overwhelming and often inaccurate.

What unexpected results or opportunities have appeared since work began on this project?

We have just learned of an electronic portfolio management system which could simplify the portfolio writing and updating process for us.  We are investigating this system to see if it fits our needs and our budget.

What else would you like us to know about the project?

We never sleep when it comes to reaccreditation.

Project Update: Integration of AQIP and Strategic Planning

An interview with Susan Clough

What is the name of your project?

Integration of AQIP and Strategic Planning Through the Use of an Action Project Framing Document

What is the purpose of your project?

The purpose is to provide clearer communication among college staff regarding college goals and priorities. By integrating AQIP into the Strategic Planning Team (SPT), one group would be responsible for both planning and AQIP.

Who is on your team?

The AQIP Steering Team assisted with this project. Team members are: Dr. Kerry Hart, Susan Clough, Kent Bauer, Betty McKie, Janie Hubbell, Dr. Ruth Tryon, Kathy Frisbie, Greg Thomas, Rachel Kellum, and Paula Salmon.

What progress has been made so far?

Actually, this action project has been implemented. In May 2008, SPT held a strategic planning retreat. The integration concept was discussed, and action projects were drafted. In August of that year, SPT approved the drafts and made the projects “official” for 2008-09. All staff were informed of the new process at the Fall Semester Kickoff meeting as well as at Professional Development Day. As a key component of the project, a framing document was developed to keep track of each AQIP Action Project. SPT monitors all action projects at monthly meetings by reviewing the framing documents.

What have you learned about MCC in the process of doing the project?

More formal communication of projects/goals needed to occur. We are typically more informal in our actions, and we have learned through AQIP the need to provide better documentation and communication. The two processes, AQIP and Strategic Planning, were operating independently of one another. As a result, there was confusion as to which group did what. This project aligns both processes under one umbrella (Strategic Planning) and yet allows both to run parallel to one another under formal governance.

What unexpected results or opportunities have appeared since work began on this project?

People have begun to better understand college goals and priorities. The new framing document provides all staff with pertinent information regarding the activities and status of a project, so there seems to be more accountability to complete action projects. On the flip side, it allows us to more quickly recognize if a project is not achievable. We now have a formal process in place.

What else would you like us to know about the project?

We will need to continue monitoring the process and adjust as necessary as it matures. We must also continue to encourage and support staff to submit project requests throughout the year, using the framing document. It is an invaluable tool for documenting what is happening at MCC.

A…QuIP of the Month:

"This is the sixth book I've written, which isn't bad for a guy who's only read two." ~ George Burns (1896 - 1996)

Further Thoughts

"The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it." ~ Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)

AQIP Links

Check out the Official AQIP web page here.
The AQIP Categories(see list on left side)
Principles of High Performance Organizations
AQIP's description of the Quality Checkup Visit