Whether you are preparing for an accreditation visit or have recently completed your application, we know that maintaining regional accreditation is a critical and painstaking process for our partner schools. This spring we attended accreditation conferences for both the Higher Learning Commission and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. At each, we had the chance to meet with many of our clients who shared their experiences and challenges with us. Not only did we get to sit in on some insightful presentations, but we also got to learn from those of you who stopped by our booth and attended our client lunch at HLC! Our team noticed some hot topics that are trending now:
Competency-Based Learning: The five core competencies – writing, oral communication, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and information literacy – are critical higher-order intellectual skills for students to develop in order to be successful at school, at work, and in their private and civic lives. Accordingly, WSCUC’s institutional review process calls upon institutions to describe how the curriculum addresses each of these competencies, explain their learning outcomes in relation to the core competencies, and demonstrate the extent to which these outcomes are achieved. Competency-based education helps students complete their degree faster, and on a more flexible schedule.
Improving Student Support Within Online Programs: Institutions have been developing new offerings to enhance the online student experience and improve learning outcomes. As online programs are becoming more prevalent, there is concern about giving students the support they need, even in online classrooms. These offerings range anywhere from restructuring enrollment processes to improving technical support. The clients we met seemed to agree that there is a diverse set of support services that can help students on a holistic level.
Changing the Remediation Pathway for Students: A number of states and institutions are reevaluating their remediation coursework for students. At HLC, we had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation given by our clients from the University of Central Oklahoma. They stressed that the best way to deal with changing remediation was to create innovative ways to engage with students in order to improve success. At UCO, they focused on reducing the number of remedial courses required of their growing population of students in need of math remediation and redefining the pathways required of students to better coordinate with their major. Their outcomes have shown better passing rates and happier students. You can get more information on their presentation at http://cop.hlcommission.org/Student-Success/simmons-charlotte15.html.
We look forward to discussing more hot topics with our clients at other regional accreditation conferences this fall.