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Accreditation and QEPs

Page history last edited by Ariane Hoy 9 years, 2 months ago


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Aligning the institution's mission and strategic plan with community and civic engagement is an important strategy to moving this work to the core.  Many campuses have found that the accreditation review process provides and resulting self-study is an opening for strengthening campus-wide understanding of and integration with community engagement (service-learning, CEL, or whatever language is embraced on your campus).  Below are some resources that might be useful if you institution is currently involved is generating topics for a self-study or has identified the topic of civic/community engagement (service-learning, experiential learning, HIPs).


Short Introduction to Accreditation


In the United States, two types of accreditation occur: institutional (or regional) accreditation, which is carried out by one of six regional associations, and program (or specialized) accreditation, which is related to the discipline or type of school.  Generally, every 10 years an institutution must submit a comprehensive self-study and a site visit by a team to ensure the institution’s compliance with standards of accreditation. Institutional accreditation is required for federal funding. In this process, the institution may often do a more focused “selected topics” study.  As the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) notes:


Accreditation in higher education is a collegial process based on self and peer assessment for public accountability and improvement of academic quality. An accreditation of an academic program or an entire institution typically involves three major activities:


The faculty, administrators, and staff of the institution or academic program conduct a self study using the accrediting association's set of expectations about quality (standards, criteria) as their guide.


A team of peers selected by the accrediting association reviews the evidence, visits the campus to interview the faculty and staff, and writes a report of its assessment including a recommendation to the commission of the accrediting association.


Guided by a set of expectations about quality and integrity, the commission (a group of peer faculty and professionals) reviews the evidence and recommendation, makes a judgment, and communicates the decision to the institution and other constituencies if appropriate. (CHEA, 1998).


During this process, the theme of community engagement, service-learning, experiential learning, etc. can often be selected.  In addition, if that occurs, it may be useful to contact the Bonner Foundation and its extended network to identify individuals who might participate in the site visit and review.  


Each of these offers a variety of resources on their websites including listings of institutions, publications, evaluators, etc. These include:


    • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) www.msche.org
    • New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE) http://cihe.neasc.org
    • Higher Learning Commission (HLC) http://www.hlcommission.org/
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) www.sacscoc.org
    • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (WASC-ACCJC) www.wascsenior.org
    • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WASC-SCUC) www.accjc.org 


Many campuses in the Bonner Network are in SACS or Middle States. SACS uses the language Quality Enhancement Plan or QEP, but other regions have different nomenclature. If you are campus staff person (or faculty member) and not familiar the process, you may want to take some time to learn more and find out how to get involved. You may find these websites/organizations helpful. We have attached a few useful resources.


Council for Higher Education Accreditation (www.chea.org)

"An overview of U.S. accreditation" by J.S. Eaton (2012)



"Council of Higher Education Accreditation (2008)."  Fact sheet #1:  Profile of accreditation. 

Retrieved from http://www.chea.org/pdf/fact_sheet_1_profile.pdf


The fundamentals of accreditation:  What do you need to know?

 Retrieved from http://www.chea.org/pdf/fund_accred_20ques_02.pdf (CHEA, 2002)


"Care, caution, and the credit hour conversation."  Inside Accreditation with the

President of CHEA, Vol. 9, No. 2. Retrieved from http://www.chea.org/ia/IA_2013.01.23.html


American Association of University Professors (AAUP) (www.aaup.org

Accreditation and the Federal Future of Higher Education

AAUP may especially be helpful for resources related to faculty involvement in process, academic freedom, etc.


Society for College and University Planning (www.scup.org)

A Practical Guide to Strategic Planning in Higher Education by Karen E. Hinton (2012, SCUP) - good overall article on strategic planning


What is a Self-Study (QEP/QIP) and Examples Connected to Engagement


Below are samples of several Quality Enhancement Plans or Quality Improvement Plans that focus on civic engagement, community engagement, service-learning or a related topic. All of these were found public (online).  Looking at these can be helpful to find:


      • literature reviews and sources
      • research and supporting evidence for the value of civic/community engagement
      • sample learning outcomes (and assessment strategies)
      • processes and discussions of the campus involvement in the plan and report
      • policy language


Duke University

Global Duke: Enhancing Students’ Capacity for World Citizenship (2009)

(earned Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement 2008, 2015)


Eckerd College

Reflective Service-Learning (2010)



Georgia Perimeter College

Engagement Drives GPC Education (2013/current)



High Point University

Self, Society, World, and Vocation: A Thematic Approach to Experiential Student Learning (2005)


Mary Baldwin Wallace College 

Learning for Civic Engagement in a Global Context (2007)


Rice University

 Intellectual Development of Rice Undergraduates in Urban Houston (current)



Stephen F. Austin State University

Incorporating High-Impact Practices to Enhance Student Learning


While not entirely geared at experiential engagement, this example has excellent resources about high-impact practices.  


University of Alabama at Birmingham (2005)

Reconceptualizing UAB’s Undergraduate Core Curriculum

(one of the key focus areas was on Ethics and Civic Responsibility)

(earned Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement 2008, 2015)


University of North Carolina at Wilmington (current)

Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning (ETEAL)

(earned Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement 2008, 2015)


See UNCW's web resources about strategies and engaging across the institution


Also these notes from on UNCW’s campus process from focus groups may be interesting:

QEP Focus Group Findings.pdf


Sample Proposals and Literature Reviews:


Carson-Newman College

White Paper/Proposal for Service-Learning

Carson-Newman Service Learning White Paper Final Version (2).pdf

Proposal was adopted; current QEP is called C-Nvolved.



Elon University

Civic Engagement Proposal


(Elon earned Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement 2015)


University of Houston Downtown (earned Carnegie Classification in 2015)

Report of the QEP Topic Selection Committee to Dr. William Flores, President

(dated December 12, 2014)


January, 2015 President’s Announcement for UHD focusing on community engagement and writing: "The University of Houston-Downtown will be a premier city university engaging every student in high-impact educational experiences and ensuring that students graduate with 21st century skills."


(University of Houston Downtown earned Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement 2015) 









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