Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Academic Quality Improvement Program Journey: The Impact of Continuous Improvement Practices on Effectiveness Measures
by Frickx, Gretchen P., Ed.D., Benedictine University, 2015, 129; 10035900
Abstract (Summary)

Higher education institution performance has been brought to the forefront of the public policy arena by the spread of performance funding, the articulation of the Completion Agenda, and Congressional hearings on higher education. Debate over which entities should be responsible for monitoring the performance of higher education institutions as well as which measures are to be used has intensified. Currently, this oversight falls to institutional accrediting agencies that require institutions to meet established criteria, including the development of a culture of evidence and the pursuit of institutional effectiveness. To achieve and maintain accreditation, institutions must provide evidence demonstrating their adoption of a continuous improvement process.

Higher education institutions have a variety of continuous improvement frameworks from which to choose to improve quality and effectiveness in their processes and ultimately, their outcomes. There is; however, little research to identify how a framework might relate to organizational effectiveness performance. Accreditation provides a unique framework to higher education. The Higher Learning Commission-North Central Association (HLC), a regional accrediting agency, has created the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), an integrated approach to developing a culture of continuous improvement and supplying institutional accountability information.

This study investigated the relationship between higher education institutions’ continuous improvement planning processes and institutional performance measures of graduation, transfer out and first year retention rates for AQIP participating institutions, using a correlational explanatory research design and publicly available secondary data sets. The target population for this study consisted of US higher education institutions utilizing continuous improvement frameworks or similar professional standards. The sample selected was a purposeful convenience sample consisting of all 186 institutions currently participating in the AQIP accreditation process in the Higher Learning Commission region. The AQIP Systems Appraisal Reports were analyzed and the continuous improvement planning evaluations aggregated to develop independent variables.

The dependent variables of graduation, transfer out and first year retention were selected to represent organizational effectiveness measures. Graduation, transfer out and retention rate data are collected annually as part of the IPEDS survey. Findings showed that institutional characteristics such as sector, size and location had a greater impact on organizational effectiveness measures than continuous improvement practices. In addition, this study explored a unique approach to inter-rater reliability with respect to team generated documents.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yoon, Seung Won
School: Benedictine University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Higher education
Keywords: Accountability, Accreditation, Continuous improvement, Graduation rates
Publication Number: 10035900
ISBN: 978-1-339-54114-3
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