For Pittsburg State University (Pitt State) in Kansas, change management ensured buy-in and faculty activity reporting (FAR) success when the university rolled out a solution used by its Kelce College of Business to the rest of the campus. Jan Smith, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at Pitt State, and Stacy Becker, Digital Measures Senior Engagement Consultant and Client Success Manager, presented Pitt State’s story at the recent Higher Learning Commission (HLC) conference in Chicago. The university’s success with managing faculty activity reporting also included streamlining the university’s HLC reporting. Here, Smith and Becker share Pitt State’s FAR journey; in our next post, they’ll discuss the collaboration to create HLC reports – a project which evolved to make a suite of reports available to all universities using Activity Insight in the HLC region.
About Pittsburg State University
Founded in 1903 as the Kansas State Manual Training Normal School Auxiliary, to prepare teachers of the manual and domestic arts, Pittsburg State University is now a comprehensive regional institution with more than 7,500 undergraduate and graduate students and 425 faculty. Pitt State’s mission is to provide transformational experiences for its students and the community.
Faculty Activity Reporting at Kelce College of Business
Smith’s position is a relatively new one for the university. The provost’s vision included reviewing campus systems and processes and aligning them, both in terms of the mission of the institution and making the university more efficient. Pitt State’s Kelce College of Business has used Activity Insight faculty activity reporting (FAR) software extensively for Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation reporting. “We had a history of one college using Activity Insight very successfully for a specific purpose, so we looked at how we could use it across campus,” Smith said.
Bringing FAR Campus-Wide
Since faculty activity reporting software can be used for a wide variety of reporting requirements, the university chose to pilot a campus-wide rollout with one initial purpose, annual faculty reporting. They chose this option because it only required faculty to put in one year of data. When it comes to change, “getting faculty onboard can be a challenge,” Smith acknowledged. “We provided lots of training, and the system is very simple once you’re in and using it, but faculty did need some orientation and nudging.” Training is now also part of onboarding new faculty.
Since the initial pilot, Pitt State has broadened use at seven colleges, and uses Activity Insight reporting for Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and HLC accreditation. Smith was serving as the interim dean of the College of Education at the time of Pitt State’s most recent CAEP re-accreditation, and worked with Digital Measures to set up CAEP reporting. “The happiest I made our director of teacher education was when I showed her a table that was available for CAEP, and things that would have taken her a long while to gather, took her maybe three clicks and she had a report she needed that otherwise would have required a lot of her time,” Smith shared.
Manage Change to Ensure Success
Smith emphasized the importance of keeping the promise to put data in once then use it for many different reporting needs. “What we’ve done in the past on our campus is ask people for information, then ask them again at a later time. Often, it was the same information in a slightly different format,” Smith acknowledged. “With Activity Insight, they can put the information in one time, and we can pull it out in the format that’s of use for the various purposes we have.”
Old habits don’t disappear overnight, so Smith recommends proactively promoting the system’s capabilities—and heading off well-intentioned but unneeded outreach. “When a new associate vice president of enrollment and student success took over his role, he wanted to get a good handle on what Pitt State was already doing about recruiting. He was getting ready to survey department chairs for information, and we heard about it ahead of time,” Smith shared. “We were able to say, ‘Wait! We can get that information for you.’”
Smith’s team ran reports for him from Activity Insight that pulled out faculty engagement in recruitment activities . “And we asked that when he presented this to department chairs that he specifically let them know that this information came from Activity Insight rather than the usual way of going out and asking once again for separate information,” Smith said. “We’re trying to demonstrate that entering information is really worthwhile.”
Smith and her team continue to promote the benefits of Activity Insight to faculty. “It does take effort to get buy-in” for new systems, Smith shared. “Getting a campus onboard is definitely a process, not an event.”
Learn More Here
- 3 best practices for gaining faculty buy-in for a FAR solution
- How University of California-Merced engaged faculty to use FAR
- How University of South Dakota gained FAR buy-in with faculty-friendly features
In our next post, we’ll share Pitt State’s experience collaborating with Digital Measures to create its own HLC reporting, a project which evolved to include additional institutions, and produced HLC reports available to all universities using Activity Insight.