Higher Learning Commission Open Pathway Model

Quality Assurance Process

In August 2012 the Office of Academic Affairs instituted a process to assure that Washburn University will continue to meet the expectations of quality established by our accrediting organization, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).  This new approach seeks to make the accreditation process on ongoing activity that takes place over the course of our ten-year accreditation cycle.  Our goal is to be able to carefully evaluate if and how we are meeting specific Criteria established by the HLC well in advnace of our 2018-2019 Quality Assurance filing deadline.

While much of the effort in the accreditation process concentrates on producing an effective Assurance Argument for 2018, we also hope to use the accreditation process as an instrument that helps us to maintain an ongoin conversation across the University about our vision, successes, challenges, and goals.

Initial Steps

  • Gathering information about the quality assurance process through attendance at annual Higher Learning Commission conference
  • Identification of Quality Assurance Coordinator to manage the process (Spring/Summer 2012)
  • Formation of Quality Assurance Working Groups (QAWG) Fall 2012.  The charge to each of these groups was as follows:
    • Study the Criteria for Accreditation
    • Formulate statements that demonstrate if and how we are meeting the criteria
    • Identify specific data that will support our arguments
    • Identify weaknesses in meeting any criteria
    • Identify any weakness in data or documentation available to support arguments
    • Make actionable recommendations to better meet criteria expectations
    • Make recommendations about types of data and information that could be gathered to support arguments
  • Each QAWG consisted of 4-7 members representing diverse areas of the university and was responsible for one of the five Criteria for Accreditation. QAWG 6 was responsible for assuring that Washburn meets all of the expectations of Assumed Practices outlined by the HLC.
  • Formation of QAWG Support Team
    • Vice President for Academic Affairs
    • Quality Assurance Mentors - Nancy Tate and Donna LaLonde
    • Quality Assurance Coordinator - Margaret Wood FY13-FY14, Karen Camarda FY15-Present
    • Quality Assurance Support Team - Larry McReynolds and Joan Bayens
    • Quality Assurance Data Advisor - Melodie Christal (Strategic Analysis and Reporting)

Activities 2012-2013

  • Review of previous self study and evidence used to support criteria
  • Review of Component and all associated subcomponents for general ideas and impressions
  • Gathering of existing data for potential consideration as evidence
  • Each subcomponent assigned a coded symbol (green, yellow, red) to indicate relative strengths of existing arguments and evidence
    • Green - Strong statements and evidence
    • Yellow - Weaknesses in either evidence or activities
    • Red - Serious weakness in either evidence or activities
  • Report provided to Vice President for Academic Affairs indicating initial findings and recommendations
    • 61 subcomponents rated Green
    • 10 subcomponents rated Yellow
    • No subcomponents rated Red

Activities 2013-2014

  • Findings and recommendations reviewed with relevant stakeholders
  • QAWGs met throughout the academic year and focused extensively on first two subcomponents of their assigned Criterion to craft proposed bullet point arguments and identify evidence sources
  • Progress on findings and recommendations reviewed with relevant stakeholders
  • Report provided to Vice President for Academic Affairs updating progress on initial findings and recommendations as well as progress on in-depth study of subcomponents