Middle States Commission on Higher Education







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Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Become an Evaluator?

What do evaluators do?

Why are evaluators important?

How are evaluators chosen to serve?

What are the benefits for an evaluator?

Are evaluators trained?

How do I become an evaluator?

 

What do evaluators do?

Evaluators determine first if an institution is eligible to become, or to continue to be, accredited. They then decide if the institution meets the specific standards for accreditation or if the institution is or may be at risk of not meeting the standards in the future. In addition, they often provide suggestions, based on their expertise, for “best practices” in curriculum, teaching, and administration.

 

When an institution is scheduled to have an initial or a decennial review, evaluators read the self-study report that the institution has prepared. Evaluators then visit the institution as part of a team, led by a chair who is an experienced evaluator. They conduct interviews at the institution and discuss among themselves what they find. The team chair then presents the team’s conclusions and suggestions to the institution and to the Commission for further consideration.

 

For more information about the role of the evaluator, see the publication, Team Visits: Conducting and Hosting an Evaluation Visit, available on-line at /publications_view.asp, listed under "Manuals for Accreditation Protocols."

 

Why are evaluators important?

Evaluators are a vital part of the peer-review process, helping to safeguard the integrity and quality of higher education. Institutions also rely on the professional judgments of evaluators, developed by consensus and with the guidance of the chair, so that the institution can continue to improve. Finally, because the Middle States Association is a non-governmental organization supported entirely by members’ dues and fees, the services of these volunteer peer evaluators in various disciplines and administrative positions enable the Commission on Higher Education to fulfill its mission.

 

How are evaluators chosen to serve?

Evaluators come from colleges and universities that are similar to the institution being evaluated, and the usually have expertise in the specific areas that will be the focus of an institution’s evaluation.

 

The Commission maintains a substantial active file of experienced and potential evaluators. The Commission staff is responsible for composing each visiting team and for assigning a person to chair the team, matching the characteristics of the team members to the institution being evaluated. Staff considers, for example, the special nature of the institution’s self-study, institutional size and type, and whether the institution is public or private, non-profit or for-profit. They also typically are selected from within the Middle States region, but sometimes it is necessary to seek expertise from outside the region.

 

Chairs and team members must be generally acceptable both to an institution and to the Commission. Upon formal request by the institution’s chief executive officer, Commission staff may make changes in team selection, but final determination of the team’s membership rests with the Commission.

 

To avoid an actual or perceived conflict of interest, individuals are assigned to visit institutions outside of the state in which their institution is licensed or chartered. They usually are not assigned to neighboring or competing institutions, and they are not assigned to institutions in which the evaluator has been either a recent employee or candidate for employment.

 

What are the benefits for an evaluator?

Evaluators are employees of their home institution and therefore volunteer to participate in the peer-review process. However, the Commission does reimburse them for their travel expenses while on a team visit and provides a nominal honorarium.

 

Evaluators frequently indicate that the most important benefits of serving on a team include: (1) the opportunity to understand how institutions similar to their own address both common and unusual challenges in both curriculum and administration; (2) the benefit of dialogue with their colleagues on the team; and (3) recognition by their peers at their home institution and within their profession for having participated in this type of service.

 

Are evaluators trained?

The Commission sponsors workshops each year for new and experienced evaluators who are scheduled to serve in the coming academic year. These workshops usually are held in the fall and at the annual conference. These workshops and conferences offer presentations on a number of key topics relating to the accreditation process, case studies of actual institutional self-study reports, and open discussions of strategies for conducting evaluations based on these case studies.

There are numerous other workshops that evaluators also may find helpful, including those on assessment, planning, and a variety of topics important to institutions of higher education.

 

How do I become an evaluator?

The chief executives of member institutions, colleagues who have themselves participated in the evaluation process, commissioners, and staff often recommend colleagues to be considered as evaluators. Individuals also may volunteer themselves.

 

Click here for information on how to request log-in credentials so that you can complete an on-line Evaluator Data Form.


 

© 2006 by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Rev. 6/25/08

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