Back See this section in context: Criterion 1 Core Component 1C
1C.1: Learning Organization Context
In 2006, the Focused Visit Report made clear that Sauk understood that success of its new systems required a context in which the Mission could be consistently understood and carried out. To that end, Terry O’Banion’s Learning College model had been adopted as the philosophy to provide the foundation for Sauk to become a learning organization that practiced continuous quality improvement. Through the period of change that followed, the system has proven itself able to meet the HLC Focused Visit Team expectations that it is “flexible enough to respond over time to changing needs.” While Sauk no longer claims to be operating under the O’Banion model, many of its principles have become embedded in the college community.
As a learning organization, Sauk’s strong commitment to continuous improvement can be evidenced in its policies and practices, as well as in the expectations of administrators, faculty, and staff:
- Procedural integrity/routines: The college understands the importance of systematic quality improvement and has embedded the concept in its processes. The organization makes and implements plans, evaluates the results, makes adjustments, and repeats the cycle. Documentation ensures that what was learned, both from successes and failures, is available in the future. Presentations on the integration of the planning systems have been made at the ACCT’s 2010 Leadership Conference in Toronto, the 2011 Illinois Assessment Fair, and at the 2011 HLC Annual Meeting.
- Data-influenced: Underlying every Sauk process is the expectation that data is a necessary starting point for decision-making. The use of qualitative or quantitative data is embedded in assessment, in operational planning, and in program review. It is foundational in OPIC’s charge and the development of the Strategic Directions.
- Outcome-based evaluation: From course outlines to operational plans, the college evaluates success not by its inputs, but by the results that are achieved. Carefully balanced with capacity concerns and environmental scan data, student learning remains a central concern for the entire planning process.
- Shared governance: Sauk’s committee structure involves employees in shared governance. Although there is no expectation that all academic areas and offices will be represented on all committees, most committees have a cross-institutional profile. The Operational Improvement and Planning Committee (OPIC) is a cross-institutional body that ensures that strategic planning has broad community input. Other committees, including Curriculum Committee, Assessment Core Team, Program Review Committee, Developmental Education Committee, and hiring screening committees, incorporate a cross-institutional membership appropriate to their charges. In addition, annual operational planning is done by employees for their respective areas and offices, allowing each employee a voice in how to carry out the Strategic Directions.