Blog: Idea Exchange
Getting Down to Business with AACSB
The rigors of Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation reporting send many schools of business on a search for a software solution to help them. Here, Frederick San Mateo, Senior Business Analyst at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and Erin Doolittle, Special Projects Manager at the College of Business & Economics in California State University, Los Angeles, share their experiences in using Digital Measures by Watermark for AACSB reporting.
Background: Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
Based in Baltimore, MD, there are nine divisions within Johns Hopkins University, including the Carey Business School. The business school has 88 full-time and 49 part-time faculty, as well as over 2,000 students. John Hopkins Carey Business School is in the process of seeking accreditation for the first time from the AACSB, with a site visit from the AACSB scheduled for November of 2016.
Seeking initial AACSB accreditation was a large undertaking, made even more challenging by an accelerated time frame (15 months) requested by the dean of the Carey Business School. In order to meet that timeline, the project began with a comprehensive data entry initiative, in which graduate students entered faculty CV data into Digital Measures and then aimed to validate and fill in missing information.
San Mateo’s team found there was still incomplete data, so every month throughout the project they ran a report to review what was missing and request that faculty update it as needed.
In addition to working with the faculty to collect data, San Mateo’s team also pulled relevant data from their internal registrar and HR systems to fill in missing data or validate discrepancies. During this process, the team discovered a number of nuances that needed addressing so that reports would be accurate and complete. For example, part-time faculty were only shown as “active” when they got paid, so there were times when these faculty were unintentionally excluded from reports.
To ensure data quality, they created a process and checklist of procedures to perform before they generated AASCB reports, to make certain they had the data needed, such as accounting for all part-time faculty, excluding guest lecturers.
The final step in striving for accuracy was having the faculty validate their own records and enter any outstanding data. Although they didn’t want to burden faculty, and as such had already done most of the data entry for them, San Mateo’s team believed that faculty involvement in their records was a crucial step to data quality. The dean helped toward this effort, understanding the accelerated timeline and the need for everyone to participate, by making all future annual reviews based only on data entered into Digital Measures. This proved a great incentive for faculty to double check and update their own records.
Thanks to the team’s methodical data collection and entry processes, along with the flexibility of Digital Measures, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School is confident going into its first AACSB accreditation and well-positioned for future reporting needs.
Background: California State University, Los Angeles College of Business & Economics (CBE)
California State University, Los Angeles is one of 23 California State campuses, and a large urban state school. Unlike some schools in the system, Cal State LA is more teacher-scholar based, with most faculty engaged in professional activity outside of teaching. The CBE has 70 full-time and 100 adjunct faculty, along with about 4,600 students. The environment is a competitive one, with many business schools and MBA programs in the LA area. Additionally, the school was in a state of transition at the time of their accreditation project, with a new university president plus a shift from quarters to semesters.
Erin Doolittle shared that CBE wasn’t focused on AACSB preparation since their last review four years ago. They had been using Digital Measures only to capture basic faculty data, so there was a lot of information missing. CBE established a project team, with Doolittle at the helm as a dedicated resource for this project. Their first step was collecting faculty accomplishments for the past five years since their last accreditation review.
Developing a System
As Doolittle and her team began collecting data, they realized they needed to step back and decide how to categorize it within Digital Measures. They looked at what other business schools who use Digital Measures had done and married that with their own unique capabilities, and then developed a category and point system to track faculty activities.
The team created four categories (peer-reviewed journal, books, other scholarly, and professional activities), plus a “participating” category, each with a point value and a minimum faculty requirement. There were a total of 53 unique activities created under those umbrellas. Next the team had to define each unique activity and the data needed to complete each record. Like Johns Hopkins, CBE chose to involve faculty with data entry, including a coordinated training effort to get faculty comfortable with the new system.
Both business schools learned similar lessons and takeaways to share with other schools planning to use Digital Measures for AACSB reporting. The biggest challenge for both institutions was defining their business school and faculty within AACSB standards and then getting the required data into the system. Both Doolittle and San Mateo recommended starting the planning and research as early as possible ahead of accreditation reporting, as there will be unexpected things throughout the process.
Both San Mateo and Doolittle stressed the importance of including faculty in the project. In addition to ensuring their data was accurate, faculty became involved as each school chose to build out CVs from the data and use this information for annual reviews. The benefit to review teams was consistent data to conduct annual reviews, while providing incentive for faculty to ensure their data was fully up-to-date within the system.
What’s your process for AACSB reporting? Have you overcome similar hurdles? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And if you want to learn more about how Digital Measures can streamline the process, contact us today.