IIE Networker - Fall 2006 - (Page 43)

Knowledge Network Standards Standards Development in Education Abroad By Geoffrey Bannister From the new federal commission on higher education, to the various national associations, accrediting organizations, the media and state and federal governments, we are witnessing an increasing demand for greater accountability in higher education. The legitimate demand for higher education, which provides a challenge to our assessment capabilities in all fields of learning and education abroad, is no exception. approach does, however, follow many of the basic principles and approaches of quality and accreditation processes and provides the foundation for recognition of The Forum as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for education abroad in the United States. Official recognition from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission is based upon The Forum’s adherence to the following principles: • Openness. The opportunity for all known parties to be affected by the particular standards development activity. • Balance. Balancing interests so that the standards development activities are not dominated by any single group of interested parties. • Transparency. Readily available access to essential information regarding proposed and final standards. • Consensus. The requirement that substantial agreement be reached on all material points after the consideration of all views and objections. • Due process. The right to express a position, to have it considered, and to appeal an adverse decision. None of the previous approaches meet all of these required principles. Leaders in assessment practices, such as IES: Institute for the International Education of Students, closely follow most of these principles but, by their very nature, the program providers cannot stand as disinterested “industry” evaluators. Likewise, universities and Universities of Record cannot assess their own performance without bias. For quality assurance, they need access to an independent and transparent process. Today, the development of rigorous, fair and uniformly applicable standards for education abroad remains in the developmental phase. Some 30 institutions in the United States and overseas, including U.S. “flagship” campuses, resource-strapped community colleges, elite liberal arts colleges, regional comprehensive independent universities, and sites from London and Blessed by double-digit growth in most years, study abroad is a learning environment increasingly favored by students and by institutions. It is also, as the Lincoln Commission is showing, a potentially powerful instrument of public policy and national capacity building. Unfortunately, it is also a field that is difficult to assess. Our traditional reliance on the peer-review system is prohibitively expensive for programs scattered across the globe. Regional and specialized accreditors seldom address SAMPLE REVIEW SECTION ACADEMIC FRAMEWORK: The Organization Maintains Clearly Stated and Publicly Available Policies on Academic Matters Related to Education Abroad a. Academic Credit: The organization has clearly stated and publicly available policies on the awarding of academic credit. b. Academic Coursework: The organization provides an academically challenging program of study. c. Internships and Field Research: When offered for credit, internships and field opportunities have appropriate academic and field supervision. d. On-site Advising: The Provider or EAP advises students in their academic endeavors. e. Academic Integration: The organization fosters the integration of student overseas learning with requirements and learning at the Home Institution. education abroad in a systematic way. Only one of the regional accreditors has a specific approach to assessing the field and, with the significant exceptions of AACSB and ABET in business and engineering respectively, most specialized accreditors do not take a specific position on education abroad. Recognizing the importance of rigorous assessment, institutions and professionals in the field have developed a wide range of approaches to try to make the case for serious quality review. Universities of Record, consortial structures, combinations of “familiarization tours” with peer-assessment practices, informal consulting and other methodologies provide a range of approaches to establish criteria and processes for quality assurance. Evaluation of the effectiveness of these varied approaches is difficult, but the very richness and diversity of the approaches make an “industry” gold standard impossible to claim. However, in the last few years a concerted effort led by leading practitioners in education abroad provides a pathway to effective quality assurance for students, families and institutions. Developing Standards For almost four years, The Forum on Education Abroad has been pursuing a peerled process to create both standards and processes for quality assurance in education abroad. Involving literally hundreds of professionals in the field and specialists in such areas as assessment, quality assurance and accreditation, The Forum has been pursuing a rigorous approach that deliberately steers away from the formal processes of direct accreditation. The

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2006

IIE Networker - Fall 2006
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Leading the Way Toward True Global Engagement: A Challenge to American Colleges and Universities
The Lincoln Commission and the Future of Study Abroad
Destination India: Opportunities and Challenges for Expanding Study Abroad in a Nontraditional Location
Heritage-Seeking and Study Abroad: A Case Study
State Department Resources
Short-Term Programming
Community College
GLBT Issues
Branch Campus
Central and Eastern Europe
Freshmen Study Abroad
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2006