Office of Institutional Effectiveness
AQIP Action Projects
How Action Projects Function in AQIP
Action Projects were never envisioned as part of a "cycle" — a closed loop, in which an institution attended a Strategy Forum, chose three projects, completed them, and then put quality improvement efforts into hibernation until its next Strategy Forum. The first Strategy Forum and the selection of Action Projects was designed to be the kickoff for a continuous series of projects, and successfully completed projects, accumulating into a visible record of the institution's quality improvement activities.
For AQIP, the knowledge that institutions are working on a series of concrete improvement projects provides minimal evidence that quality improvement is alive at the institution. For that reason, AQIP asks institutions to always have underway, and share with AQIP at least three Action Projects. If an institution completes a project, AQIP assumes it will begin a new one, using the knowledge and skills gained from its earlier projects to select, shape, and scope the replacements.
The logic behind Action Projects is threefold.
2. Second, Action Projects provide institutions a finite and concrete place to begin their quality improvement efforts, without the extended deliberation and delay that often comes with larger strategic planning activities in higher education. For many institutions, action is the antidote to continued stagnation , and the specific choice of project is less critical than the communication of a shared sense of activity, movement, and purpose. A demonstration of shared efforts will change things for the better, and is an important result of these first projects.
3. Third, in the design of Action Projects, the institution would have time to gather data for Systems Portfolio, working towards an institutionally-understood summary of current processes and performance, and the benchmark for future improvement efforts. The concrete activity of the projects, and the fruit they bear, quickly serves to balance what might otherwise seem a long-term, rather theoretical, but essential activity with a deferred payoff, creating the Systems Portfolio. For institutions to join AQIP and spend the first three years solely gathering data and producing a portfolio has little likelihood of becoming an appealing accreditation program.
An institution, attending its second (or subsequent) Strategy Forum will have:
This is quite a different situation from an institution's first Strategy Forum, where AQIPs goal is to stimulate the institution to action, both on projects and on creation of the Systems Portfolio. At the second Forum, an institution should turn attention to larger strategic issues; clarity of mission, relation of strategies to the mission, internal processes for selecting and prioritizing strategies, mechanism for creating Action Projects, making sure they implement strategic decisions, processes for shaping and improving institutional culture. An AQIP institution should only need minimal outside help in choosing and shaping Action Projects.