NWCCU Fellowships

NWCCU Data Equity Fellowship

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) fosters through its accreditation standards, policies, and eligibility standards a process of continuous quality improvement centered around student success and the fulfillment of each member institution’s unique mission. NWCCU’s unique accreditation model allowing institutions to define their mission; core themes; and meaningful, assessable, and verifiable indicators of achievement that form the basis for evaluating mission fulfillment respects the diversity of institutions within the region and their methods of educational delivery, culture, and measures of student achievement.1

NWCCU’s Data Equity Fellowship prepares higher education leaders to advance institutional mission fulfillment and equity initiatives through data-informed approaches to assessment, reflection, and planning to eliminate equity gaps. The Fellowship is designed to bring together faculty, staff, and administrators that identify as “data focused” or “equity focused” to collaborate on a meaningful data-informed project with expert facilitation to improve equitable outcomes. The Fellowship is unique in its approach to bridging “data” and “equity” roles with a strong focus on effective collaboration across roles, departments, units, and functional areas; emphasis on using agile methods for institutional transformation; planning for sustainability and scalability; facilitation by national experts; and active engagement in communities of practice.

Fellows are expected to work in pairs (or small teams) of institutional partners to produce a final project advancing their institution’s mission-aligned goals to improve equitable outcomes.

The Fellowship’s curriculum is designed to enable equitable participation regardless of geographic location. Therefore, Fellowship activities are conducted in a 100% remote format (online, travel is not required) with special consideration given to differing levels of access to high-speed internet. In addition to monthly Fellowship and Community of Practice meetings, presentations and “office hours” with national experts in the fields of data equity and diversity, equity, and inclusion, Fellows will collaborate towards a final project designed to advance the equity goals of the Fellows’ own institutions.

Fellowship materials, presenters, and expert consultants have been selected to offer Fellows a wide range of modern and highly relevant subject matter, including: optimizing the value of data in effective institutional planning and decision-making, effectively using data and analytics to guide increased equity and institutional mission fulfillment, working effectively with qualitative data, creating a culture of evidence and excellence, core principles of data equity, using of agile methods to support institutional transformation, planning for sustainability and scalability, quality improvement, and how national and regional policy shapes institutional practice. Fellows will also be placed in small-group peer Communities of Practice based on the Final Project area selected.

Fellowship Requirements

The Fellowship is open to faculty, staff, and administrators who are committed to:

  • Optimizing the value of a data-informed approach to improving equitable outcomes
  • For “data-focused professionals”: developing expertise in the core principles of data equity and understanding the key concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
  • For “DEI-focused professionals”: developing expertise in building an equity-minded culture informed and supported by effective use of data and analytics
  • For the Fellowship team: strengthening the ability to collaborate effectively across departments, units, and functional areas to research, plan, implement, monitor, evaluate, and improve data-informed initiatives to eliminate equity gaps
  • Advancing institutional practices and expertise around the equitable use of data to support assessment, retention, student success, and institutional measures of quality with an equity lens

Fellowship Outcomes

Graduates of the Data Equity Fellowship will be able to:

  • Apply equitable data practices to inform culturally relevant, mission-aligned DEI efforts and plans of action across a variety of institutional settings
  • Use national data sources related to DEI in human resources, future postsecondary students, student success, and alumni and postgraduate outcomes
  • Analyze, interpret, and integrate data (quantitative and qualitative) into institutional planning, evaluation, improvement, and accreditation processes
  • Analyze institutional activities through a data-informed equity lens and collaborate effectively with diverse stakeholders to advance student learning, student success, equitable outcomes, and mission fulfillment
  • Build a culture of engagement, data literacy, equity-mindedness, and agile transformation at the institutional level through the process of understanding, analyzing, communicating, and facilitating collaboration with key stakeholders

Data Equity Fellowship Curriculum

Unit One – Foundations and Groundwork

  • Foundational knowledge of frameworks and key concepts in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and the value of a data-informed approach
  • Foundational knowledge of core data equity principles
  • Aligning DEI statements with strategic goals
  • Strategy for using data & analytics to support mission fulfillment

Unit Two – Defining Areas of Focus

  • Equity practices that facilitate building equity-minded culture
  • Data identity self-assessment and relation to collaborative efforts
  • Qualitative data, disaggregated data, and “close to practice” data
  • Planning for data-informed, equity-focused initiatives

Unit Three – Creating Solutions & Inquiry

  • Leveraging resources effectively for DEI initiatives
  • Using data to improve programs and services
  • Using data to monitor and address student concerns
  • Interviewing methods and survey design
  • Coding qualitative research using technology
  • Engaging with a Community of Practice

Unit Four – Scaling & Sustaining

  • Sustaining data-informed initiatives to improve equitable outcomes in terms of staffing, resources, engagement, data cycles, monitoring and evaluation, and continuous improvement
  • Scaling data-informed initiatives beyond the scope undertaken during the Fellowship in terms of including more stakeholders, expanding to other functional areas or departments on campus, or increasing project scope
  • Agile approaches to innovation and exploration

Unit Five – Sharing Knowledge

  • Fellowship Showcase presenting to Communities of Practice, national experts, accreditation staff, Data Equity Fellows and (in future years) Fellowship alumni
  • Fellowship case studies
  • Experiential qualitative research activity

The Final Project

Data Equity Fellows will present a final project applying a data-informed approach to an equity-focused challenge/opportunity at their institution. The Fellowship team from each institution will collaborate and present a single project that analyzes, interprets, and integrates data equity principles into their own institutions’ planning, facilitates a collaborative solution with diverse internal stakeholders to advance equitable student learning, student achievement, and mission fulfillment within the Fellows’ institution.

The project should include a description of the challenge or opportunity experienced at the Fellows’ institution (and the historical context), reflection upon current literature and best practices, the data equity principles applied, and a discussion and analysis of the implementation efforts employed during the Fellowship. Finally, the project should offer a reflection upon how the solutions brought to bear on the opportunity/challenge could be sustained and applied to broader contexts or different institutional challenges.

Communities of Practice

Fellows are required to participate in a Community of Practice with other institutions, which may be tribal, two-year, four-year, private, public, or faith-based from within or outside of the region. Communities of Practice provide an opportunity to assess the practices and capacity of institutions, and to bring back and apply best practices to the Fellows’ own institution. Fellows will be required to write seven (7) monthly guided reflections that explore learning, observations, and professional development from engagement in the Community of Practice and how these can be applied within the Fellow’s own institution.

Tuition and Associated Costs

Tuition cost for the Data Equity Fellowship is $4,900 per Fellow. Institutions that wish to send more than the required two (2) Fellows, or who wish to send only one, should contact the Fellowship Director. In future years, Fellows will meet at the NWCCU annual conference for special programs and professional & social networking opportunities.

For more information, please contact the Fellowship Director: Dr. Jess Stahl, Vice President, Data Science & Analytics at jstahl@nwccu.org.

NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellowship

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) fosters through its accreditation standards, policies, and eligibility standards a process of continuous quality improvement centered around student success and the fulfillment of each member institution’s unique mission. NWCCU’s unique accreditation model allowing institutions to define their mission; core themes; and meaningful, assessable, and verifiable indicators of achievement that form the basis for evaluating mission fulfillment respects the diversity of institutions within the region and their methods of educational delivery, culture, and measures of student achievement.1

NWCCU’s Mission Fulfillment Fellowship prepares higher education leaders to advance institutional mission fulfillment and quality initiatives through assessment, reflection, and planning. The Fellowship is designed to introduce faculty, staff, and administrators from NWCCU institutions to regional and national leaders in assessment, accreditation, data analysis, quality assurance, educational innovation, and educational effectiveness – and Fellows are expected to work in pairs of institutional partners to produce a final project advancing their institution’s planning and assessment practices and quality improvement activities with regard to equity, student learning, and/or student achievement.

The Fellowship’s curriculum includes two three-day residential experiences (virtual, if residential experiences are not safely possible), on-line and hands-on experiential activities, and a final project designed to advance the Mission Fulfillment of the Fellows’ own institutions. Fellowship materials and presenters are selected to offer Fellows a wide range of subject-matter, including: the role of assessment in institutional planning and decision-making, the use of data and analytics to demonstrate and guide increased equity and institutional mission fulfillment, creating a culture of institutional evidence and excellence, engaging with faculty to support institutional advancement, the use of technology to support institutional efforts, creating systems of ongoing quality improvement, and how national and regional policy shapes institutional practice. Fellows will also be matched with a peer mentor from a prior Fellowship Cohort, if desired, and placed in small-group peer Communities of Practice based on the Final Project area selected.

Fellowship Requirements

The Fellowship is open to faculty, staff, and administrators who are committed to:

  • The process and the value of quality assurance, continuous improvement, and mission fulfillment.
  • Developing expertise in the philosophies and practices of assessment.
  • Advancing one’s institutional practices and expertise around assessment, retention, student success, and institutional measures of quality with an equity lens.

Fellowship Outcomes

Graduates of the NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellowship will be able to:

  • Apply effective assessment practices across a variety of institutional settings.
  • Analyze, interpret, and integrate data into institutional planning, evaluation, improvement, and accreditation processes.
  • Analyze institutional activities with an equity lens and collaborate with stakeholders to advance student learning, student success/achievement, and mission fulfillment.
  • Build a culture of engagement and quality at the institutional level through the process of understanding, analyzing, communicating, and facilitating with key stakeholders.

NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellowship Curriculum

Unit One – The Purpose, Value, and Context of Mission Fulfillment and Quality Improvement

  • History of Quality Improvement, Assessment, and Accreditation
  • Current Trends in Higher Education
  • The Value of Quality
  • Mission Fulfillment and Putting Students at the Center

Unit Two – Introduction to Assessing Student Learning

  • Articulating Goals and Learning Outcomes 
  • Curriculum Mapping & Alignment
  • Overview of Tools and Strategies to Assess Student Learning
  • Quality of Student Learning Tools and Strategy

Unit Three – Introduction to Assessing Mission Fulfillment

  • An Institutional Effectiveness Framework for Mission Fulfillment
  • Indicators of Achievement for Institutional Mission
  • Connecting Mission Fulfillment, Institutional Effectiveness, and Planning
  • Aligning Institutional and Unit Goals and Assessments 
  • Applying Effective Assessment Practices Across the Institution

Unit Four – Building a Culture of Engagement, Evidence, and Excellence

  • Theories of Leadership and Change
  • Building Institutional Engagement
  • Stewardship: Keeping Assessment Work Cost Effective, With Appropriate Benefit
  • Utilizing Technology to Drive Improvement
  • Applying Mission Fulfillment Principles During a Period of Change
  • Building a Culture of Equity & Excellence

Unit Five – Building Ongoing, Integrated Quality Improvement Processes

  • Setting Appropriately Rigorous and Meaningful Standards and Targets
  • Organizing Assessment Work for Systematic Evaluation
  • Supporting Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment with Appropriate Resources
  • Presenting Data and Sharing Results with Constituencies

Unit Six – Mission Fulfillment and Quality Improvement

  • Organizational Challenges & Cultures
  • Facilitating Change in Higher Education
  • Exploring Institutional Practices in Private, Public, and For-Profit Institutions
  • Respecting Institutional Diversity and Appreciating Difference

The Final Project

NWCCU Mission Fulfillment Fellows will present a final project applying mission fulfillment best practices to an institutional challenge/opportunity at their institution. The two (2) Fellows from each institution will collaborate and present a single project that analyzes, interprets, and integrates data into their own institutions’ planning, facilitates a collaborative solution with internal stakeholders to advance equitable student learning, student achievement, and mission fulfillment within the fellows’ institution.

The project should include a description of the challenge or opportunity experienced at the Fellows’ institution (and the historical context), reflection upon current literature and best practices, and a discussion and analysis of the implementation efforts employed during the Fellowship. Finally, the project should offer a reflection upon how the solutions brought to bear on the opportunity/challenge could be applied to wider contexts or different institutional challenges.

Institutional Visits

NWCCU Fellows are required to participate in an observation role with two (2) other institutions. The institutions can be tribal, two-year, four-year, private, public, or faith-based from within or outside of the region. The visits are an opportunity to assess the practices and capacity of institutions, and to bring back and apply best practices to the Fellow’s own institution. Fellows will be required to write-up two (2) three-page summaries that explore the practices of the observed institutions and how they can be applied to the Fellow’s own institution.

Tuition and Associated Costs

Tuition cost for the NWCCU Fellowship is $4,900 per Fellow (which covers all seminars and webinars, and onsite accommodations/food for the first residential meeting). Institutions that wish to send more than the required two (2) Fellows, or who wish to send only one, should contact the Fellowship Director. In addition, Fellows will meet onsite for three days in June 2022 and on-site for three days in March 2023; Fellows will be responsible for their overnight food and lodging costs at the second onsite convening.

For more information, please contact Dr. Mac Powell at mpowell@nwccu.org.

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[1] https://nwccu.org/accreditation/standards-policies/standards/

NWCCU Academy for Retention, Completion, and Student Success

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) fosters through its accreditation standards, policies, and eligibility standards a process of continuous quality improvement centered around student success and the fulfillment of each member institution’s unique mission. The process of revising the NWCCU Standards of Accreditation and Eligibility Requirements has highlighted and expanded a renewed focus on student learning and student achievement – the driving measure of institutional success.

The NWCCU Academy for Retention, Completion, and Student Success (ARCSS) is a mentored experiential learning platform to support institutions and faculty in their efforts to promote student success.

Initially, ARCSS will bring together 20 institutions and their representatives in a two-year program designed to support efforts around retention, completion, and the use of data to create and deploy interventions that can drive positive institutional results, particularly with students from underrepresented groups.

ARCSS will comprise four phases: Information Gathering, Planning, Action, and Assessment.

In the Information Gathering Phase, Academy faculty will create resources from around the United States and other countries on best practices to promote transformative support at the institution by providing expertise and model practices in retention, completion, and student achievement, and ask institutional representatives to provide current and actionable data on ongoing, planned, and diverted activities occurring on their campuses.

In the Planning Phase, institutional representatives will be paired with peer institutions that are excelling in student success and work with Academy faculty to establish a plan for creating and executing one or more interventions appropriate to institutional mission and context.

In the Action Phase, institutional representatives, with continued mentorship of Academy faculty and NWCCU staff, will help lead activities at their institutions supported and funded by institutional leadership.

In the Assessment Phase, Academy faculty will support evaluative analysis and sharing of data to guide institutional decision-making around future efforts.

Onsite and Online Collaboration

Participants in the Retention, Completion, and Student Success Academy will meet for one day preceding the 2019 NWCCU Annual Conference, participate in monthly webinars and facilitated mentored activities, and present their results at the 2020 NWCCU Annual Conference.

Costs and Fees

Because NWCCU believes that the majority of funds for student success should be spent directly on campus activities, the two-year Retention, Completion, and Student Success Academy is offered at a price of $5000 per institution. This amount covers the cost of two onsite hosted meetings, webinars, online classroom instruction, mentor salaries, and faculty salaries.

Institutions may identify up to 10 participants to participate in the onsite and online collaboration, but all representatives are expected to attend all onsite and online events.

Outcomes and Deliverables

Institutions are expected to identify, fund, implement, and assess a program designed to impact retention, completion, or another element of student achievement aligned with the institutional mission and strategic priorities.

A final written report on the results of the practices employed is required and interested institutions will be given the opportunity to present the results at the 2020 NWCCU Annual Conference; in future years, institutions will be availed the opportunity to mentor other institutions.

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