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What’s Our CQI IQ? WEAVE keeps IU Northwest on Continuous Quality Improvement pathway

Documenting our improvement efforts is key, AQIP reviewers say; new online tool will help IU Northwest do just that

Monday Jan 25, 2016

You’ve seen the posters around campus proclaiming, “AQIP is here.”

If the acronym rings a bell, and you are somewhat familiar with the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP), then you know that it comes from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the organization that oversees the accreditation of Indiana University Northwest. AQIP is a program the University follows in order to make sure it is meeting the accreditation standards.

More on AQIP.

IU Northwest is up for re-accreditation in 2016 which means the HLC team will visit campus in April. Among the main objectives of the visit is to assess the campus’s progress in institutionalizing continuous quality improvement, commonly known as CQI.

Following the HLC’s last visit, the evaluators recommended to IU Northwest that it implement better documentation methods for its CQI. It’s not that we aren’t continuously improving, they said, it’s just that we could do a better job of documenting our efforts and success.

In response to this recommendation, Chancellor William J. Lowe mobilized a committee, co-chaired by Ida Gillis, director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Employment Practices, and Margaret Skurka, director of Health Information Management, to address the AQIP action item of integrating CQI into IU Northwest’s culture.

Gillis and Skurka, along with their colleagues John Novak, Mark McPhail, Carol Wood, Jana Szostek, and Tom Wyatt, are working to create a campus culture that is continuously more invested in CQI.

The project was kicked off at the 2015-16 Campus Conversation where Chancellor Lowe invited the campus to “close the loop” by documenting our efforts. This, he said, is often the missing piece.

“It’s important to know that CQI, and more specifically, documenting our CQI, is not simply an action project that is completed for HLC reviewers and closed up and filed away afterwards,” Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Mark McPhail said. “If we are going to be successful, it must be ingrained in our culture, interwoven into our everyday jobs.”

In order to help us all do this, the campus is learning about another very important acronym: WEAVE.

WEAVE stands for Write Outcomes and Objectives; Establish Criteria; Assess Performance; View Results; and Effect Improvements. WEAVE is an institutional planning and assessment program that will allow any department or unit on campus to document its CQI efforts. WEAVE offers a systematic way to “close the loop” on existing improvement efforts, as well as new initiatives. In the HLC’s Systems Appraisal Feedback Report to IU Northwest in January of 2014, WEAVE was specifically mentioned as a viable vehicle for better documenting our CQI efforts.

Gillis explained that each and every department or unit on campus contributes in some way to the University’s accreditation efforts and the completion of a successful AQIP review. She noted that when reviewing the individual projects that have been entered into WEAVE, it becomes clear how “the dots are all connecting.”

“Everything we do is either going to relate to a priority, relate to goals or objectives, or it is going to enable us to accomplish what we need to accomplish in order to live up to what we advertise that we are,” she said.

That is, an affordable, high-quality education that is delivered with personal attention.

“Everyone on this campus must be committed to student success,” she said, “and that means different things for different people.”

Individuals and departments campus-wide are urged to ramp up their CQI efforts, and more specifically, their efforts to document their progress on one specific project using WEAVE. Examples of action projects are those focused on student success, inclusive excellence, enrollment and retention.

In addition, there are two other action projects that were born out of the HLC’s most recent review of IU Northwest:

-       Evaluating and strengthening the Service Culture at IU Northwest. You may recall the campus conversation from 2015-16.

-       Development of a campus-wide academic advising program

McPhail said that everyone has a role in CQI at IU Northwest.

“IU Northwest has been on the Higher Learning Commission’s AQIP pathway for over a decade, and this year as we approach our accreditation visit our efforts are coming together nicely,” McPhail said.  “The action projects that were initiated under David Malik, and the projects established by the team that attended the AQIP Strategy Forum with which he worked, reflect our efforts to make continuous quality improvement, service, and advising core aspects of our mission, vision, and strategic planning.  The addition of WEAVE has provided an effective tool for documenting our accomplishments, and establishing directions for future projects and initiatives. With everyone involved, our CQI IQ is getting stronger every day.”

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