In this era of increasing accountability, it’s important to demonstrate faculty’s impact on students and society. Dr. Shontarius Aikens, AACSB Accreditation Manager, and Dr. Tim Peterson, Professor of Management, of North Dakota State University (NDSU) recently shared three keys to assessing the impact of faculty contributions.
Our discussion focused on how NDSU is managing and measuring the impact of their faculty contributions and how this aligns with the mission of both the College of Business and university as a whole. Peterson, who also served as Associate Dean of the College of Business, stated “We need to show all of our stakeholders that we are making a positive impact in business and in society. We have a way to capture impact information and also provide it to the leadership of the college so they can make the right decisions.”
Here are three key considerations for assessing the impact of faculty contributions:
1) Start With Key Guiding Questions
A university should answer these fundamental questions to help shape their vision for how they will define impact. Consider asking yourself:
- What is our unique university mission?
- Is impact measured by intellectual contributions or a combination of other factors?
- What is the appropropriate time period for measuring impact?
It’s also important to factor in your university’s balance between teaching, research and service.
According to Peterson, a connection with NDSU’s mission was key, “As a land-grant university we have a unique mission at the university level and we should be able to demonstrate that some of the work that we do inside the College of Business meets that land-grant mission.” He continued, “We came to the realization that the activity could happen at any time during our faculty member’s careers. We needed to capture this information and store it so that we can then make an informed decision later on about whether or not we want to use it as part of our impact around a certain area.”
2) Document How You Will Define Impact
Before attempting to measure or manage impact, consider the multiple components that will define it. Save yourself time by determining what you want to document and what will support your accreditation guidelines or other reporting needs. Consider the variety of different activities that the faculty invests its time in and determine how each activity contributes to your overall impact story. “We started with the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) definition of impact and pulled out the three statements that we thought spoke directly to what we were trying to do,” Peterson explained. “Teaching accounts for 50 percent of what we do, followed by 30 percent research/outreach and 20 percent service.”
3) Determine How To Collect and Report Impact Results
Once you have established your vision for communicating impact—and what you will capture in order to demonstrate it—have a repository in place to store and report the information you need. NDSU uses Faculty Success (formerly Digital Measures) by Watermark to reflect their vision of impact. This included creating specific data collection fields, as well as adding the ability to flag impact activities and attach supporting documentation. NDSU captures rich qualitative data that describes each particular item so that deans, associate deans, and directors of accreditation can have a quick understanding of how each item has been identified for impact. They also have the capability to reference specific documents and artifacts pertaining to each record so they have evidence when a review team comes in.
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