Planning and Preparing
for the Self-Study
Howard Community College
Cornell University
• Bernadette Sandruck,
Howard Community College
– Professor and Chair of Mathematics
• Alan Mathios, Cornell University
– Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan
Dean of the College of Human Ecology
Session Outline
• Share our campuses’ experiences
during the self-study process
• Describe the challenges of planning
for a successful Self Study
– Model Selection
– Structure and Steering Committee
– Organizing the Self Study
– Communication, Logistics, Support
Public, open-enrollment college opened
in 1970
Situated in an urban/suburban area
between Baltimore & Washington
Currently 14,000 credit students and
16,000 continuing education students
Additional locations at Laurel College
Center and Gateway Business Center
Howard Community
Since the last Self-Study, HCC has grown at
a frantic pace:
• 49% Growth in credit FTE (2001–2008)
• Increase in fulltime faculty & staff
• Continuous construction: Four new
buildings and a parking garage
• Added study abroad and service
learning opportunities.
• Expanded opportunities for honor
“Cornell is complex”
• Private, Ivy League… but also a public,
land-grant institution
• 7 undergraduate colleges
• 3 professional schools (Law, Business, Vet
Med) in Ithaca
• Medical college in NYC (225 miles from
main campus) and abroad
• Programs in Singapore and
other places
Key questions when starting
• What do you want your institution to
gain from the self-study process?
• How can you use the Self Study to
strengthen your institution?
• What makes your institution unique?
Selecting the model
Use your goals to select your model
• Are you interested in a broad review
—or —
• Do you want to examine critical operations
or areas of your institution in depth?
Three Major Models:
• comprehensive
• selected topics
• collaborative
Model Selection: Comprehensive
At the time we started our planning
(late fall 2008):
– Brand new provost
– President in only his 3rd year
– Beginning of financial crisis
Clear desire to examine the entirety of
the institution from top-to-bottom
– Also started strategic planning
exercise at the same time!
Comprehensive with special emphasis
“I would found an institution where any person
can find instruction in any study.”
– Ezra Cornell
“Any Person, Any Study”
Within One University
Assess the balance between centralization
and independence, efficiency and latitude,
and control and creativity…
Model Selected: Comprehensive
with Rapid Growth identified
as a major theme
Goals for Self-Study
• Demonstrate that MSCHE standards are met
• Provide an opportunity for new employees to
learn about the history, culture, policies,
practices and strategic future of the college
• Self reflect to identify areas of strength and
opportunities for improvement
• Suggest new directions for future strategic
• Recognize & acknowledge the
contributions of all to the overall
college mission
Organizing for the work
Timeline and Committees
Development of Timeline
• Began working with a time line before the
entire Steering Committee even appointed
• Started with Figure 3, page 9 of red book:
“A Self-Study Timetable”
• Fleshed out, edited, revised, revisited…
• At every stage, it was reassuring to find
that we had followed the plan
• From November SSI in 2008 to spring visit
in 2011 was 2.5 years; essential to
keep long term plan in mind
Timeline essentials (3 years)
 Spring/Summer 2008 – recruited co-chairs &
work group volunteers, selected model and number
of work groups, selected work team leaders
 Fall 2008 - work teams develop & finalize research
questions, self-study design drafted & completed
 Spring & Fall 2009 – work teams conduct
interviews, start draft reports and list documents
needed, new research arranged and conducted
 Spring & Fall 2010 – assimilate, edit, review,
invite feedback, repeat the process….., submit SelfStudy
 Winter & early Spring 2011 – prepare for site
Committees and Structure
Constituencies Represented
Relationships Between the Steering
Committee and Working Groups
Steering Committee
• Co-chairs
– particular helpful given unexpected departure
– Two academic administrators: dean of a college,
dean of students
• Strong administrative support
– Institutional Research & Planning: director and
another staff member provided key project
• Involved students (looked for sophomores)
• Six working group chairs all served on
Steering Committee
Six Working Groups
Steering Committee
Institutional Stewardship
(Standards: 1, 2, 3 and 7)
Integrity, Governance &
(Standards: 4, 5, and 6)
The Faculty
(Standard: 10)
Student Admissions & Supports
(Standards: 8 and 9)
Educational Offerings
(Standards: 11, 12, 13)
Assessment of Student Learning
(Standard: 14)
Mission, Planning, Resource Allocation
(Standards: 1, 2, and 3 )
Integrity, Governance, Administration & Faculty
(Standards: 4, 5, 6, and 10)
Core Team
Student Admissions & Supports
(Standards: 8 and 9)
Educational Offerings
(Standards: 11, 12, 13)
(Standards: 7 & 14)
Core Team
2 Faculty Co-chairs:
- Professor & Division chair, mathematics
- Professor, social sciences
2 President Team Members
- Vice President of Information Technology
- Executive Director of Planning, Research &
Organizational Dev.
Primary Editor
- - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - -
Steering Committee
Core Team
Co-chairs of the Work Teams
Director of Marketing & Communications
Web Page Manager
Research Analyst
Work Teams
2 Co-chairs:
usually from different areas of the college
11 – 12 members
some volunteers
some volun-tolds
some with experience in the area
some new to the area
not the supervisor of either co-chair
1 research associate (M.S. / Ph.D.)
Team editors selected early in the process
The Design Document
Preparing the Design Document
• Exercise of drafting questions for the
working groups ensured that the Steering
Committee became well-versed in the
meaning of each standard and how it
relates to Cornell
• Like a dissertation proposal, the design
document should be carefully considered
and well thought out… but not a contract
that must be executed
– Better approaches will develop!
Preparing the Design Document
• Using the standards, the Core Team drafted a
preliminary set of questions
• Work Teams reviewed, refined and added to the
sets of questions
• Entire group discussed and suggested edits to
the entire set of questions
• Steering Team decided on logistics
• Editor drafted the design document
• Steering Team reviewed and suggested
Logistics and Support
First year planning is critical
• Create realistic timelines
Consider the cycle of the academic year
• Create a repository for documents and
data at the beginning
• Communication is critical
• Keep all constituencies involved in the
• Provided updates at college-wide meetings
in August, January and May
• Used President’s weekly e-letter
Building, nurturing
a culture of assessment
Assessment: Measuring Attainment of Goals
• Standard 7: Institutional Assessment
“The institution evaluates its overall effectiveness in
achieving its mission and goals”
• Standard 14: Assessment of Student
Learning Outcomes
“Assessment of student learning demonstrates that
students have knowledge, skills, and competencies
consistent with institutional goals”
• Other standards also have
assessment component
A Call to the [new] Provost
We ask you to consider the following:
An assessment initiative should come from the provost
The deans and the faculty need to be informed and
educated about assessment
The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education—in concert
with the college associate deans for academic programs—
should be charged to develop processes to establish
learning goals for all academic programs and to develop
plans to assess student learning
A new position should be established immediately to
support the assessment of student learning
throughout the university
Institutionalizing assessment
• Core Assessment Committee formed
in Fall 2009
– Laura Brown, VPUE, Chair
– Associate Deans from undergraduate
colleges and the Graduate School
– Representation from Institutional Research
– Representation from Center for Teaching
• Appointment of “Assessment
Project Manager” (50% time)
Assessment is a cultural standard at HCC
Our message – don’t be complacent.
• We have completed institutional selfassessments such as Baldrige
• Faculty complete a teaching improvement
project each year
• A Learning Outcomes Assessment Office
was established 10 years ago
• All areas of the college have core
work benchmarks
Assessment: Measuring Attainment of Goals
The challenges:
• How do we organize all of the
information we have?
• What additional information do we need
and how do we gather it?
• Are we closing the loop?
Measuring the attainment of gen.
ed. goals and establishment of
academic program goals.
Preliminary planning and arriving at
a coherent document
Working group reports
• We provided a rough outline to working groups,
but we did not insist on a rigid structure
• Result: working group reports were quite different
• Subset of Steering Committee worked with rough
drafts, one at a time, to align structure and voice
• As this process unfolded, chapters still in the
queue migrated towards emerging norm
Final draft
• In the final stage, we hired a writer to
ensure consistent, even-handed treatment
across chapters
• Bringing in a writer at the end meant
“fresh eyes”
• With a document two years in the
preparation, lots of updating (numbers,
web links, etc.) needs to go into final draft
Work Group reports
• HCC had learned from our process 10 years ago
that pulling together divergent styles is painful.
We recruited an editor at the beginning.
• The guidelines for structure and style were
developed during the first year while the
interviews were being conducted by the work
• The Core Team provided edits based on content
concerns and the editor worked on style and
Preparing the Report
• Gather the information to tell your story
• And the “body of evidence”
• Link the standards to the data
• Balancing process and product
– Include the editor early in the process
– Create a system for tracking and reporting
The Visiting Team
Finding the right group and
supporting them
Selection of the team
• Take seriously the opportunity to guide
selection of evaluation team
• We sought a team that had some
experience with:
– Major research universities
– Large and complex institutions with
multiple, diverse colleges
– The land grant mission
– Both public and private universities
– Medical colleges
– Residential living-learning
Selection of the team
• Take seriously the opportunity to
guide selection of evaluation team
• We sought a team that had some
experience with:
– Mid-size community colleges
– With similar demographics
Preliminary visit
• Chair visits campus alone a few
months before final Self Study is due
• In our case, chair provided very
helpful written comments at that visit
• Seize the opportunity to respond to
those early comments
– If you can, develop timeline so chair
of evaluation team has sufficient
time to respond to a first draft
Supporting the visiting team
• Creation of virtual “document room”:
– allowed the team early, secure access to documentation
– allowed us to provide additions as needed
• Buddy System
– Each member of the evaluation team was assigned a
Cornell “buddy”—someone with a similar rank and area
of expertise—for the visit
– Buddies took responsibility for introductions at the
welcoming dinner
– Buddy touched base with team member 2-3 times a day
– Buddy managed questions as they came up
– Buddies met at the end of each day of the visit
to debrief about any issues
The End of the Journey:
Be sure to celebrate your
great accomplishment!
Contact information
• Bernadette Sandruck,
Howard Community College
– [email protected]
• Alan Mathios, Cornell University
– [email protected]

Planning and Preparing for the Self Study