Assuring Quality Through Our Professional Staff

by Ray Whittington, PhD. & Misty Johanson, PhD

The 2013 AACSB Business Accreditation Standards provide a number of enhancements over the 2003 standards.  Of particular note is the increased recognition of the importance of professional staff in the delivery of education.

It is clear that value of any educational program is derived from much more than the classroom experience.  Much of the knowledge and skills acquired in a high-quality program are acquired through the extracurricular activities that are integrated into the program, and many of these activities are delivered or coordinated by professional staff.  This is especially true of graduate business programs.  Integrating out-of classroom activities, such as global experiences, soft skill assessment workshops, career management programs, executive forums, internships, and community and business projects can add significantly to the quality of the program.  Also, with the increase use of technology in education, there is increased involvement of technical and instructional design staff in program delivery.  Standard Nos. 7 and 12 of the 2013 Business Accreditation Standards specifically address the deployment and effectiveness of professional staff in the delivery of business educational programs.

While the 2003 Business Accreditation Standards recognized the need to maintain sufficient support staff, the 2013 standards specifically recognize the need to maintain sufficient staff to deliver programs.  Specifically, Standard No. 7 provides that the school should maintain and deploy professional staff and/or services sufficient to ensure quality outcomes across the range of degree programs.  Standard No. 12 of the 2013 specifically recognizes the importance of professional staff members that are involved in the delivery of educational experiences to student learning.  Specifically, the standard states that the school should have policies and processes to enhance the teaching effectiveness of faculty and professional staff involved with teaching across the range of educational programs and delivery methods.

There are important implications of this new focus on professional staff program delivery in the accreditation standards.  Accreditation teams will be more focused on management processes for hiring, developing, and evaluating professional staff.   This means that colleges need to make sure that professional staff members are afforded appropriate professional development opportunities to increase teaching and learning effectiveness.  In addition, since professional staff may be involved in providing learning outcomes, there may be an increased need for staff to be involved with assessment.  As an example, if the global experience is managed by a staff member, it may be most efficient for that individual to assess a learning outcome related to managing in a global context.   This may mean that professional staff may further need appropriate training and development in assessment processes.

The increased focus on professional staff in the educational process is clearly a welcomed modification in the business accreditation standards.  Professional staff has long played a significant role in the delivery of high-quality business education.  It is high time that the accreditation standards more completely recognize their role.

Ray Whittington, PhD, is the Dean of the Driehaus College of Business and Professor of Accounting; Misty Johanson, PhD is an Associate Dean in the Driehaus College of Business and Professor of Hospitality Leadership

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