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Assurance of learning: moving from a compliance to an improvement culture

Misty M. Bennett (Department of Management, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)
Karl L. Smart (Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)
Anil Kumar (Business Information Systems, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)

American Journal of Business

ISSN: 1935-5181

Article publication date: 8 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe an organizational change effort that the College of Business Administration at a Midwestern university undertook to transform assurance of learning (AoL) from an inefficient process focused on responding to accreditors to the one that embraced continuous improvement focused on student learning.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study approach was employed along with the analysis of historical documents, interviews with stakeholders in the college, and a review from an external expert to reveal root problematic causes behind the current state of AoL in the college. Lewin’s model of planned change was applied at the beginning of the process to identify the ways to unfreeze the current state of assessment, implement changes, and refreeze by identifying rewards and incentives for faculty to institutionalize the new assessment culture of student learning.

Findings

Four root problematic areas were revealed behind the current state of AoL in the college: faculty resistance and lack of engagement, structural and communication challenges, inconsistency across degree programs, and misalignment of the college vision and mission with program learning goals. Improved communication and coordination between assessment groups and increasing faculty ownership were identified as the key factors for a successful AoL process.

Practical implications

Colleges looking to improve coordination of AoL activities and increase faculty engagement in the AoL process can implement many of the initiatives described in this study.

Originality/value

This case study takes into account new trends in the area of assessment and AoL and addresses common problems that colleges face regarding accreditation in an area where empirical studies do not exist.

Keywords

Citation

Bennett, M.M., Smart, K.L. and Kumar, A. (2017), "Assurance of learning: moving from a compliance to an improvement culture", American Journal of Business, Vol. 32 No. 3-4, pp. 152-170. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJB-12-2016-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited