Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Recursive Process Model for Aacsb Assurance of Learning

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Recursive Process Model for Aacsb Assurance of Learning

Article excerpt


In 2003, AACSB International made an evolutionary revision of its Assurance of Learning (AoL) standards for accreditation, putting more emphasis on direct assessment of learning and calling for degree program leadership accountability for high quality and continuous improvement of the program curriculum. This study presents a comprehensive five-step AoL procedure to address the revised standards. The uniqueness and effectiveness of the procedure is based upon the process of invoking recursive procedure calls to assure structural viability as well as continuous and orderly assessment of learning achievement and curriculum improvement. Learning quality measurement is addressed through the use of course-embedded assignments and scoring rubrics designed to evaluate achievement of program learning objectives. A graphical presentation component of the process allows a static and dynamic assessment of student learning against score and "breadth of learning" benchmarks.

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A key element in a successful AACSB accreditation is a process-based approach to meeting the current AACSB International "Assurance of Learning" (AoL) accreditation standards. AoL is one of three areas (Strategic Management Standards, Participants Standards, and AoL) that are represented by the current twenty-one standards that comprise the AACSB International Eligibility Procedures and Standards for Business Accreditation, adopted by member vote in April, 2003 (AACSB, 2010).

As a historical perspective, prior to 1991, AACSB learning standards were based on a "Common Body of Knowledge" requirement of all undergraduate and graduate business majors. These standards were based on discipline (e.g., finance and accounting) as well as more specific sub-disciplines which were evaluated based on contact hours within the program. In 1991, AACSB adopted mission-linked, outcome-oriented AoL standards and the peer-review process. The measurement of outcomes was broadly defined, with surveys of students, alumni, or employers allowed.

The latest conceptual change in AoL standards for initial accreditation and reaccreditation occurred in April, 2003, with the most recent revision to the 2003 standards occurring in Jan. 2010. The 2003 standards called for a more direct measure of learning achievement for each degree program as a natural extension of the concept of "outcomes assessment" introduced in the 1991 standards. Milton R. Blood, managing director of AACSB International at the time of the 2003 revision, stated that the new standards were more "evolutionary" than "revolutionary" and that the 2003 AoL element of accreditation is based on "achievement of learning rather than the pre-2003 "intention to provide" learning (Thompson, 2004; Miles, Hazeldine and Munilla, 2004).

AACSB currently provides twenty-one standards for business accreditation divided into three categories - Strategic Management (1-5), Participants - Students and Faculty (6-14), and Assurance of Learning (15-21). The greater emphasis on AoL is demonstrated by the seven AoL standards representing 33% of the 2003 AACSB standards compared to less than 10% of the 1991 standards. The current AoL standards are clear in definition and specific in purpose yet leave discretion to schools as to how AoL results are achieved. The standards support the principle of accountability through direct (rather than the pre-2003 indirect) assessment and continuous improvement.

Explicit in the new standards are the establishment of (a) degree-based learning goals linked to the missions of the school and each degree program, (b) direct measures of learning achievement (indirect measures are allowed as a supplement), and (c) an action plan for and documentation of progress toward achievement of program learning goals.

The AoL process presented below is based on the concept of recursion and drawn from recursive processes found in the sciences. …

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