Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


An accreditation report as a cousin of a research paper

Posted on February 23, 2015 at 5:45 AM

While some national and specialized accreditors want reports that are just the facts, ma'am, U.S. regional accreditors generally want not just information but analysis of that information. To help ensure that your accreditation report doesn't just describe what you're doing but provides evidence and analysis, look on it as a cousin of the scholarly research paper with which many faculty and administrators are familiar.

  • Both begin with an introduction or overview for readers who may not be familiar with your college.
  • Both have hypotheses; the accreditation report is investigating the achievement of key goals, with the hypotheses being whether key targets for those goals are being achieved.
  • Both briefly summarize how evidence was collected, with enough information to assure the reader of the quality and value of the evidence. (In an accreditation report, these summaries are often in appendices.)
  • Both summarize the results of evidence collected, often through simple charts.
  • Both analyze the evidence, discussing what it is telling you and its implications.
  • Both present conclusions from the evidence.
  • Both identify further actions based on the evidence. A key difference is that a research study recommends actions, while an accreditation report documents that actions have been taken. 
My new book Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability includes a chapter on "Demonstrating Quality to Accreditors" with these tips and more.

Categories: Accreditation