Here is a recap of a recent conversation on site visits with Diana Hallerud, ACBSP’s Associate Director of Accreditation.
1. How many site-visits are planned for 2016? A total of 32 site visits were conducted in Spring 2016. Currently, there are 30 visits planned for Fall 2016.
2. What is the process of setting up a site visit like? Once we receive an “Intent to Submit a Self-Study” form and the institution has successfully completed its self-study using the online reporting portal by the July 15 or December 15 deadline, the institution is eligible for a site visit. Either before or shortly after the deadline, accreditation staff works with the school to determine the site visit dates. The site visit team members are assigned and the school is informed so they can begin making plans for the visit.
3. How do you determine teams and what is that process like? To be eligible for site visits, evaluators must have participated in either the foundational evaluator training or training sessions at the annual conference. The evaluator must also submit an application and vita to participate. Eligible evaluators receive an email with a list of schools and dates and indicate their availability. I try to match faith-based institutions with evaluators from faith-based institutions and do the same for public and private institutions. The teams consist of an experienced chair, experienced team member, and first-time team member. It is important to note that only 25 first-time evaluators will be used if there are 25 teams.
4. What processes have to take place internally at the HQ in order to make site visits successful? The main processes are making sure we are aware that the school is planning to submit the self-study and hold a site visit and a sufficient number of evaluators are available to cover the site visits on the specific dates a school has chosen. Receiving the self-study by the deadline is also very important to make sure that the process keeps moving.
5. What are some tips for institutions that have an upcoming site visit? When choosing dates, make sure key stakeholders are available for interviews. Make sure the documents cited in the self-study are available for review in the resource room for verification purposes. Coordinate the site visit schedule with the team chair to make sure that the appropriate individuals are groups have meeting times set. When informing and selecting a sample group of students, make sure all disciplines are represented. For example, if the business school offers accounting, management, and marketing degrees, students from all three disciplines should be available.
6. What are site visit evaluators looking for during their visit? The evaluation team is charged with verifying and clarifying information contained in the self-study and appendices. For example, the team will verify the faculty credentials of faculty members to what is reported in the faculty tables. They will also clarify any information that is not clear in the self-study.
7. What are some countries that may be having an ACBSP site visit evaluation for the first time? We have candidates in Pakistan and China. Recent firsts for accreditation include Vietnam, Afghanistan, Ghana,Bangladesh, and Curacao, which were recognized at ACBSP Conference 2016.
8. What is the most common problem you run into when setting up site visits? The most common issues with site visits are that the school is unable to submit the self-study by the due date or evaluators have to withdraw from the team due to illness or other reasons.
9. What are some tips you would recommend? Preparing the self-study and getting ready for the site visit does require a lot of work on the part of the school. Working as a team is the most effective way to develop a well-written and comprehensive self-study. For the site visit team, it also takes a great deal of time to review the self-study and prepare for the site visit.
10. What are some crucial notes you want people to take away from reading this? Submitting a well-written report that will provide value to the school and assist the commissioners in making the accreditation decision is a critical part of the process. All participants learn a great deal in the process and even though it requires a considerable amount of work, the process is very rewarding.
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