Mythbusters: Accreditation Edition

So when do we need to identify outcome measures with targets and three years of data? Do we really have to invest in electronic portfolio software to comply with the applied practice experience requirements?

These are the kinds of questions, myths, and urban legends CEPH staff hear on a regular basis. We put these questions to the test to clarify the expectations and bust the most pervasive myths.

MYTH: CEPH requires us to survey alumni and employers every year. Don’t they know that our stakeholders experience survey fatigue?

TRUTH: There are two common misconceptions here that are important to clarify:

  1. CEPH does not require surveys – ever. You must collect and analyze data, but you choose methods that provide robust, meaningful information. In many cases, a survey may not be the best approach.
  2. The criteria require data from “recent graduates” (typically within the last five years) for Criterion B4 (Alumni Perceptions of Curricular Effectiveness) and “regular feedback” from school/program constituents in Criterion F1 (Community Involvement in School/Program Evaluation and Assessment). You get to define the qualitative and/or quantitative methods used to collect this information and the timing of data collection.

MYTH: As we prepare for our next site visit, we need to select outcome measures and present three years of data throughout the self-study document.

TRUTH: You will present data in this format in only a few, very specific places:

  • Criterion E4 (Faculty Scholarship)
  • Criterion H4 (Student Recruitment and Admissions)

These two criteria ask you to select from a list of measures and provide a target and data from the last three years.

In all other instances, including Criterion B5 (Defining Evaluation Practices), you will provide more narrative responses that focus on your plans and processes. Where evidence is required, you will present supporting materials like meeting minutes, data summaries, and descriptions of approaches taken and progress made over the last three years – but not three years of data with a target.

MYTH: We’ve heard that any of the following could count as one of the two required products produced in applied practice settings (Criterion D5).

          A)  Student reflection of the time spent at an internship site
          B)  Journal that tracks on-site hours and student reflection of how well they applied competencies
          C)  Poster presentation required by the course instructor to earn course credit for the experience
          D)  Needs assessment requested by the practice partner
          E)  Photo (i.e., digital artifact) of the student doing work in an applied setting for documentation

TRUTH: Only choice D would be acceptable from the list above. Each student must produce at least two products in an applied setting that are beneficial to the practice partner and that demonstrate specific competencies. If your school or program wants to have additional requirements (such as a student reflection piece, a poster presentation, etc.), that is absolutely fine but would not count as the minimum two products that support the applied setting in which the student worked.

MYTH: We looked into portfolio software and it seems excessive for our needs and budget. Why is CEPH requiring students to produce a portfolio?

TRUTH: The criteria refer to a “portfolio approach” in Criterion D5 (Applied Practice Experiences) to emphasize that each student must produce at least two products, but these materials may be produced and maintained in any physical or electronic form chosen by the school or program.

MYTH: Now that CEPH defines foundational knowledge and foundational competencies, the five core areas have been abolished and we can’t organize our courses around this framework anymore.

TRUTH: The criteria are intended to allow for greater flexibility in how you structure your curriculum – not less. If the traditional five core courses allow you to appropriately address the foundational knowledge and foundational competencies, then that approach is fine.

But keep in mind that nearly every school and program has made some adjustments to ensure that the new curricular expectations are included. These adjustments range from minor changes within existing courses to moving elective or concentration courses into the foundational curriculum to developing an entirely new curriculum.

Have you heard a myth that needs busting? Send it to [email protected]