CMN Used Conversations For Self-Study Process

May 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 19-4: Success by Accountability and Assessment, Tribal College News
By Ron Jurgens
ASSESSMENT CONVERSATION AT CMN

A WHOLE LOT OF TALKING. At CMN, 98 faculty, staff, board members, and administrators participated in self-assessment by discussing their ideas. Photo courtesy of Ron Jurgens.

The College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI) held its first “Conversation Day” in January 2008 with 98 faculty, staff, board members, and administrators attending. A Conversation Day is one of four steps in the Vital Focus Process facilitated by the Higher Learning Commission, the regional accreditation agency. Vital Focus is a self-assessment process used for multiple purposes including self-study for accreditation, entrance into the Academic Quality Improvement Process (AQIP), or strategic planning.

Conversation Day is really a series of three conversations: Conversation One used an affinity process to generate four thematic groupings (What Matters Most to the College: CMN as a Positive Change Agent, Our Culture of Teamwork and Support of Each Individual, Our Connection to the Community, and our Commitment to Growth). These groupings came out of discussions at each table where everyone’s opinion counted. Each table was represented by a mix of faculty, staff, board members, and administrators. Data from the recently completed college-wide “Constellation Survey” were used as starting points for discussion. The discussions also highlighted the importance of three of the AQIP high performance principles (Involvement, People, and Collaboration).

In Conversation Two, “What is Currently Done Well,” the group was asked to share what they believed were the strengths of CMN in the areas of effective processes, where they believed collaboration was thriving, and the core strengths of the employees. Some of the process strengths included centralized advising, assessment of student learning, and curriculum development. Core strengths of the people included being supportive, being highly qualified and knowledgeable, having a commitment to the college, and being student-centered and sensitive to community and family.

The theme of Conversation Three was “Making a Significant Difference by Acting on What Matters Most.” The conversation yielded a number of “provocative proposals” in the major AQIP process areas of understanding student and other stakeholders’ needs, leading and communicating, and helping students learn. These proposals will be evaluated by the internal planning committee for implementation into the strategic plan and next budget cycle. Also, a number of “quick fixes” were generated to address many of the minor problems inherent in any organization.

The day provided an opportunity to meet off-site, away from distractions of the office. The facilitators added to the enjoyment of the day where new friendships were made and collaborations launched.

For more information, contact Ron Jurgens, MPA, vice president of planning and operations at the College of Menominee Nation by phone (715) 799-6226 Ext. 3011 or email rjurgens@menominee.edu.

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