Change Analysis: Responding to an Accreditation Board
- “Establishing a sense of urgency.” This step was guaranteed for me, in that a successful QEP was crucial to our reaffirmation. However, I had to remind my constituents frequently, including my superiors. Much of my job was as a town crier for the QEP. The college administration was reluctant to fund the QEP; eventually I was able to get a yearly budget of about $50,000, some of that from grants, but most from reallocations from Student Services, which caused some friction.
- “Creating the guiding coalition.” Taking the team that was given me, I added more four more members to it, persons who I believed had the needed expertise.
- “Developing a vision and strategy.” The goal was to pass reaffirmation. My vision was to do that and to have a QEP that mattered. With the committee we developed a strategy that would accomplish both.
- “Communicating the change vision.” I used almost every organ that the system had, print, electronic, face-to-face meetings with departments, even the bathroom “stall wall” to keep the vision in front of the constituents.
- “Empowering broad-based action.” Although the breadth of my influence was really only the QEP, we were able as a team to cut through some entrenched policies and practices that research showed was holding us back from success with our students. Although the QEP process did not make large changes to the system as a whole, it did make the institution pay attention and come to the aid of the English 0098 students. The QEP’s influence touches Student Services, the Office of Technology and Information Systems, the Writing Lab, the Advising Center, the Center for Academic Excellence, and the Office of First Year Experience Programs.
- “Generating short-term wins.” It was wonderful for the team to hear on September 20 that our QEP passed with no recommendations. That step, however, I see as the first short-term win; it proved to the institution that the process was validated by an outside organization. The continued changes that the QEP will bring will be longer-term wins. When we see the success rates of our learning support students improve, that will really be the win we were looking for in the change process.
- “Consolidating gains and producing more change.” My work with the QEP is over, although I continue to be on its advisory committee now that it has taken effect. One obstacle we are encountering has to do with the learning community program. I will keep my eye on that part because it was something I particularly wanted to see in the QEP. Complacency about the QEP is a very real problem; in fact, the SACS team asked us about that possibility. It remains to be seen how the director will manage the ongoing publicity needed to prevent anonymity.
- “Anchoring new approaches in the culture.” One suggestion that the SACS visiting team made was to make similar changes to English 1101, the basic composition course, that were being made to the learning support English class. In order to respond to this suggestion, the English Department will begin to explore ways to do so, such as by reducing class size, incorporating the Writing Lab, and tracking student success better.