AQIP Actions 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, HLC asks institutions to always have underway, and share with HLC at least three Action Projects. If an institution completes a project, HLC assumes it will begin a new one, using the knowledge and skills gained from its earlier projects to select, shape, and scope the replacements.  All action projects for all the AQIP pathway institutions can be found in the Action Project Directory on the HLC's website.

The Logic Behind Action Projects (Threefold)

1. Means of focusing institutions joining the AQIP pathway and working on three or four projects to devote their efforts to quality improvement; force institutions to develop the superstructure(s) necessary to organize and oversee a quality initiative; make institutions engage faculty and staff in selection of projects, and empower employees by using them on project teams; open an avenue for peer interaction, feedback, and review beginning with the first Strategy Forum.

2. 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. 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.