Keywords

Assessment, Mock Accreditation, Formal Program Survey Visit

Introduction

If an institution claims or aspires to be an effective service provider, quality control should be integral to its operations and services. The institution should take initiative and establish a sound monitoring system to make sure the process works and produces outcomes. Accreditation is the affirmation that an institution provides a quality of education that the community has a right to expect and which the education world endorses [1]. It is also the process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented. Organizations that issue credentials or certify third parties against official standards are themselves formally accredited by accreditation bodies (such as UKAS); hence they are sometimes known as “accredited certification bodies” [2]. The accreditation process ensures that their certification practices are acceptable, typically meaning that they are competent to test and certify third parties, behave ethically and employ suitable quality assurance. Higher education accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of post-secondary educational institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. If standards are met, accredited status is granted by the agency. In most countries around the world, the function of educational accreditation for higher education is conducted by a government organization, such as a ministry of education. In the United States, however, the quality assurance process is independent of government and performed by private membership associations [3]. Based on the CHEA International Directory Introduction, the United States-based Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a non-governmental organization, maintains an International Directory which “contains contact information of about 467 quality assurance bodies, accreditation bodies and Ministries of Education in 175 countries. The quality assurance and accreditation bodies have been authorized to operate by their respective governments either as agencies of the government or as private (non-governmental) organizations”. According to Allison [4], the US-based Council for Higher Education and Accreditation, CHEA, has launched an international division, arguing that as internationalisation spreads there is a pressing need for institutions around the world to work together to establish a shared global system of quality assurance as reported in the University World News on September 2012. Accreditation, the catalyst and gatekeeper of quality assurance in the world, is the prime service of the AsiaPacific Quality Network (APQN), Shanghai; the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE), Hague, Netherlands; the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT); the Washington Accord (WA), through its conduit, the Philippine Technological Council as it is in the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP), whose alliance, affiliation and collaboration with the aforementioned quality assurance agencies pole-vaulted it status as a front-runner accreditation agency of SUCs in the country. Likewise, SUCs have established partnership with AACCUP to contend with the present-day imperatives and realities such as heightening global competition, volatile turn of events, explosion of knowledge, shifting sociopolitical priorities, and economic and demographic changes [5]. Globalization has been causing a great impact on education. The educational system changes programs and strategies to address the need for quality education and its relevance to the country’s survival. Globalization for education means becoming synonymous with competitiveness. Hou [6] posited that globalization has clearly introduced concerns for efficacy of international strategies that target quality assurance and international competitiveness in Asian higher education for both universities and countries. In this context, the internationalization of higher education often implies the pursuit of an international image of quality and prestige in order to make the selected top institutions more globally competitive [7]. This rationalizes the emergence of internationalization of quality assurance in Asia, which, taken as a symbolic and power indicator, is used to prove the quality standards of local institutions in a globally competitive education market [8]. The fact that institutions in Asia are encouraged by their governments to seek international accreditation, particularly from the US, has contributed to a new concern of national accreditors internationalization. In other words, national accreditors are expected to internationalize their operations through various ways. In the Philippines, to compete successfully in today’s education, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), public and private, have to adhere to quality standards and deliver quality services to their clientele and stakeholders. The role of AACCUP is to validate, assess and certify if indeed there is quality-assured education in state HEIs, to respond to society’s demand for the institution’s accountability in their clientele’s life after graduation. Aside from these, in response to internationalization, AACCUP has geared itself into more stringent process of evaluation in higher levels of accreditation, more importantly on Levels III and IV, showing best practices and standards comparable to foreign institutions of learning. Similarly, external evaluation by a credible agency is tantamount to conducting an accounting of the institution’s contribution to the improvement of the quality of human life in its service areas, thus ultimately contributing to national development. Through the years, state-funded HEIs have invested their trust and confidence on AACCUP for external peer review and assessment of their programs and institutions, as they have been investing too much time, energy, funds and human capital in the pursuit of quality and excellence in their operations and service delivery. As of this current, almost all SUCs have embraced accreditation as vanguard of quality. To most HEIs, it has always been a rigorous undertaking that takes a lot of people’s time and effort, the richness of imagination and the power of the pen in all the stages of preparation. In the case of the West Visayas State University System, it is committed to achieve the highest level of performance as measured against regional, national and global standards. The value of excellence which is imbibed in the heart of the University directs itself to manage the areas of instruction, research, extension and production, in the process it inspires its clientele to work towards the same goal. As exemplified by teamwork, the value of harmony, has sustained the University in its endeavors program accreditation that would point to an awe-inspiring group that has done a lot in leading the University to achieving this goal, the Institutional Accreditation Board (IAB). This board is composed of all AACCUP newly-trained and senior accreditors, with Assistant Professor and above ranks, in the University System. The WVSU-IAB since its inception in 2006 has been intensely supportive in ensuring quality assurance and excellence in instruction and in steering the University quality review processes and formal survey visits with visibly one purpose, to mock or simulate the actual program survey visit. Henceforth, mock accreditation has been introduced as an activity where peers from other colleges of the University System act as reviewers of programs under review prior to the visits of the actual accreditors. A mock accreditation is an excellent opportunity for an agency to take a fresh look at policies and procedures, quality assurance, accessibility, information technology, health and safety, and documentation for all of the above. With the results, the organization can make adaptations to be more prepared for a successful accreditation survey [9]. The areas upon which accreditation is based are the institution’s Vision, Mission, Goals and Objectives (VMGO), Faculty, Curriculum and Instruction, Support to Students, Research, Extension and Community Involvement, Library, Physical Facilities, Laboratories, and Administration. On the other hand, as observed by the researcher who has been a senior accreditor, some institutions of higher learning opted to have their programs directly undergo the actual survey visit with the understanding and belief that they are fully prepared with simulated accreditation or without it. Attributable to the relevance of mock accreditation prior to the actual survey visit, the researcher’s contention about its perceived role and impact on the success of all the accredited programs in the University is put to the fore. Hence, this assessment study.

Objectives of the study

This study aimed to assess mock accreditation prior to the conduct of the final survey visit among local counterparts. Answers were also given to these specific questions: Assessment on mock accreditation when taken as a whole and when they were classified as to sex, educational qualification and school; Significant differences in the assessment on mock accreditation classified as to sex, education attainment and school; Difficulties encountered during mock accreditation; and suggestions that could be recommended during mock accreditation.

Materials and Methods

Ninety-five (95) or 100% of the faculty who were members of the accreditation task forces at WVSU Janiuay were utilized as respondents of the study. This study utilized the quantitative-qualitative method in describing the assessment on mock accreditation and narrating the difficulties and suggestions on mock accreditation. Researcher-made and duly-validated instruments such as questionnaire checklist on mock accreditation and narrative sheet on difficulties met and suggestions to be recommended were used to gather data. To assess mock accreditation by the respondents, the researcher-made instrument, a Questionnaire Checklist, was used to gather the data with One Part: (1) Assessment on Mock Accreditation; while the Narrative Sheet with Two Parts: (1) Difficulties Met during Mock Accreditation and (2) Suggestions Recommended during Mock Accreditation. The respondents were asked to encircle the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with the statements about mock accreditation. Their responses were clustered as follows: Strongly Disagree (1), Disagree (2), Undecided (3), Agree (4) and Strongly Agree (5). These responses were interpreted as follows: Highly Effective (3.67 – 5.00); Effective (2.34 – 3.66); and Not Effective (1.00 – 2.33). While the difficulties met and suggestions recommended by the respondents were jotted down based on their actual experiences during mock accreditation. The data were gathered, summarized, tabulated and subjected to appropriate statistical analysis. Means and standard deviations were used to describe the assessment on mock accreditation by the respondents. The t-test and ANOVA were used to determine the significant differences on the assessment on mock accreditation as to sex, educational attainment and school. Table I shows the distribution of respondents when grouped as to sex, educational attainment and school. The total number of faculty respondents was 95 or 100%. Out of 95 respondents, 32 (34%) were males and 63 (66%) were females; 54 (57%) were Bachelor’s, 36 (38%) were Master’s; 5 (5%) were Doctorate; 17 (18%) from the School of Teacher Education (SoTE); 19 (20%), School of Information and Communications Technology (SoICT); 24 (25%), School of Industrial Technology (SoIT); 16 (17%), School of Healthcare Services (SoHS) and 19 (20%), School of Hotel and Restaurant Services Technology (SoHRST).

Table 1:Distribution of Participants
Category N %
Entire Group 95 100
Sex
Male 32 34
Female 63 66
Educational Attainment
Bachelor’s Degree 54 57
Master’s Degree 36 38
Doctorate Degree 5 5
School
SoTE 17 18
SoICT 19 20
SoIT 24 25
SoHS 16 17
SoHRST 19 20

Results and Discussion

As to the descriptive and inferential findings of this study, Table 2 shows that as an entire group, mock accreditation was assessed as highly effective (M=4.19; SD=.6188). When classified as to sex, mock accreditation was highly effective with the male (M=3.96; SD=.6204) and female (M=4.32; SD=.5869). When grouped as to educational attainment, the respondents assessed mock accreditation as highly effective with those having Bachelor’s (M=4.19; .6089); Master’s (M=4.22, SD=.6689); and Doctorate (M=4.14, SD=.4022). When grouped as to school, mock accreditation was assessed as highly effective by those respondents who were members of faculty task forces in SoTE (M=4.36, SD=.5066); SoICT (M=4.32, SD=.3412); SoIT (M=4.04, SD=.7217); SoHS (M=4.12, SD=.9985) and SoHRST (M=4.19, SD=.2803). The SDs obtained showed the narrow dispersion of the means for each group, revealing the homogeneity of the respondents concerned in relation to their assessment on mock accreditation. These results proved that the respondents’ assessment was consistent regardless of the variables, further confirming that mock accreditation was a highly effective internal accreditation process and a significant simulation activity prior to the conduct of the formal survey visit

As to the descriptive and inferential findings of this study, Table 2 shows that as an entire group, mock accreditation was assessed as highly effective (M=4.19; SD=.6188). When classified as to sex, mock accreditation was highly effective with the male (M=3.96; SD=.6204) and female (M=4.32; SD=.5869). When grouped as to educational attainment, the respondents assessed mock accreditation as highly effective with those having Bachelor’s (M=4.19; .6089); Master’s (M=4.22, SD=.6689); and Doctorate (M=4.14, SD=.4022). When grouped as to school, mock accreditation was assessed as highly effective by those respondents who were members of faculty task forces in SoTE (M=4.36, SD=.5066); SoICT (M=4.32, SD=.3412); SoIT (M=4.04, SD=.7217); SoHS (M=4.12, SD=.9985) and SoHRST (M=4.19, SD=.2803). The SDs obtained showed the narrow dispersion of the means for each group, revealing the homogeneity of the respondents concerned in relation to their assessment on mock accreditation. These results proved that the respondents’ assessment was consistent regardless of the variables, further confirming that mock accreditation was a highly effective internal accreditation process and a significant simulation activity prior to the conduct of the formal survey visit.

Table 2

Assessment of Respondents on Mock Accreditation when they were taken as Entire Group and classified as to Sex, Educational Attainment and School

Category N Mean SD Description
Whole 95 4.19 .6188 Highly Effective
Sex
Male 32 3.96 .6204 Highly Effective
Female 63 4.32 .5869 Highly Effective
Educational Attainment
Bachelor’s Degree 54 4.19 .6089 Highly Effective
Master’s Degree 36 4.22 .6689 Highly Effective
Doctorate 5 4.14 .4022 Highly Effective
School
SoTE 17 4.36 .5066 Highly Effective
SoICT 19 4.32 .3412 Highly Effective
SoIT 24 4.04 .7217 Highly Effective
SoHS 16 4.12 .9985 Highly Effective
SoHRST 19 4.19 .2803 Highly Effective

Legend: 3.67 – 5.00 Highly Effective 2.34 – 3.66 Effective 1.00 – 2.33 Not Effective

Table 3 shows t-test results showing that there was a significant difference on the respondents’ assessment on mock accreditation when they were grouped as to sex (t = -.2751; p = .007). Sex, represented by male and female, may have a different assessment on mock accreditation because the females as observed perhaps considered it a more serious and meticulous job or assignment than their male counterpart. This may be due the ability of the females to be naturally well-organized, highlyinput/process oriented and they’re more flexible to adapt to work pressure as shown otherwise by the male. The males, on the other hand, may have regarded it as onerous process — getting into the difficult details and the thorough analysis that goes with the simulation procedure.

Table 3

t-test Result for the Significant Differences in the Assessment of Respondents on Mock Accreditation when they are classified as to Sex Category Mean df t-v

Category Mean df t-value p-value
Sex
Male 3.96 93 -2.751 .007
Female 4.32

p > .05, not significant

Table 4 shows ANOVA results that revealed no significant differences on the respondents’ assessment on mock accreditation when they were grouped as to educational attainment (F = .678; p = .884) and school (F = .852; p = .684). The results proved that the educational attainment and school of the respondents did not disclose any significant difference because their assessment on mock accreditation was coherent to be highly effective. They considered mock accreditation as an important process of simulation of the actual survey visit; hence, their commonality of perception about it.

Table 4

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) Result for the Significant Differences in the Assessment of Respondents on Mock Accreditation when they were classified as to Educational Attainment and School

Category Sum of Squares df Mean Square F p-value
Educational Attainment
Between Groups 8.743 32 .273 .678. .884
Within Groups 24.983 62 403
Total 33.726 94
School
Between Groups 54.689 32 1.709 .852 .684
Within Groups 124.300 62 2.005
Total 178.989 94

p > .05, not significant

Difficulties met

The difficulties identified by the respondents during the mock accreditation were summarized as follows:

  • Insufficient familiarization and study of the essentials of accreditation (instrument, procedure, evaluation) by heart and mind of the taskforces. There is a hard time for them to familiarize the documents needed in each parameter or benchmark statement.
  • No close focus and understanding of the taskforces on the areas assigned to them as well as those other accreditation areas to be assessed in programs under their respective schools. Some members were not dedicated to their commitment for accreditation work.
  • No credible ansSlow preparation and retrieval of documents from different officeswers to “what to expect”, the “what if” and “the how to deal with” queries
  • Time frame is not enough for the mock accreditation process. Accreditors could not assess properly. It is clearly a waste of time, money and effort on the part of the institution and the taskforces.
  • Slow preparation and retrieval of documents from different offices
  • Lacking/no record on files/supporting documents and necessary equipment like desktop, printer, etc
  • Looking for some documents in a disorganized folder
  • Lack of financial support as to other minute expenses
  • Document authentication
  • Doing overtime work, and spending personal money for the snacks of students who have assisted in the preparations
  • Lack of unity and cooperation between and among members
  • Unavailability of materials/resources such as bond papers and pictures
  • Gathering data, dealing with offices in charge of the documents. Files from other offices were not available and relevant documents were not in place. Some offices didn’t supply requested documents on time
  • Some recommendations of IAB were not attainable given a short period of time (from mock to actual survey visit). It is not easy to cope with their recommendations and it needed more time and effort to comply before the final survey visit.
  • Documents were not filed neatly and old documents were not reproduced and certified.
  • Mock accreditation may not ensure that documents would have turned out to be more organized and more substantial; campus facilities would have been improved and resources would have been realigned to priority projects
  • Mock accreditation is unfamiliar or a never-heard activity especially to those taskforces who are new to the process.
  • indicated in the accreditation instrument; however, resources including equipment were not ample enough and the retrieval of documents was hard and slow. Needed resources should be looked into and prioritized to fill in gaps while those offices where documents emanated should be fully aware as to being contributory in fast tracking its completion and adequacy
  • Mock accreditation enhances overall preparation; however, it must be noted that preparedness depends on the right process well-taken and adherence to timeline. Hence, the taskforces should always work ahead of time and putting in mind the right procedures to take
  • Mock survey is an internal accreditation undertaking committed by the accreditors of the University System; however, in the case of Janiuay Campus, a pre-mock accreditation may be resorted to and undertaken by our campus accreditors to ensure better outputs. .

Suggestions recommended

The respondents gave out their suggestions during the mock accreditation summarized as follows: Mock accreditation could be well-handled by the WVSU Institutional Accreditation Board (IAB) which has adequate pool of accreditors with specialized expertise; however, some of the internal accreditors were not specialists of the accreditation areas assigned to the program. Internal accreditors whose qualifications and expertise are highly commendable and fit to the program should be assigned to accredit the program’s accreditation areas. They should give clear and precise suggestions/recommendations to their counterparts and they must be a little stricter. Mock accreditation creates teamwork and produces collaborative outputs; hence, related problems during the actual visit are minimized; however, some taskforces were non-participative, lukewarm, and indifferent as to their retort to the process. Work is made easier when faculty workforce are intact and should work hard, command from immediate supervisor must be observed. Series of orientation among taskforces on teamwork and collaborative work outputs may be planned and undertaken. Mock accreditation’s purpose and process are similar to that of the actual survey visit; however, due to lack of time duration, one day (1) is allotted to the mock survey while minimum of three (3) days for the formal survey, the process was unrealistic and not all documents and other affirmation process were meticulously evaluated and undertaken. No ocular inspection of laboratories and physical plant was undertaken. It is realistic, therefore, to have the mock accreditation covers the same duration as that of the formal survey’s. There should be documentinterview-observation-process to ensure success of evaluation. Also, there must be dialogue/interview with stakeholders to be carried out during the mock survey to affirm findings. Mock accreditation’s purpose is to enhance the preparation of resources, particularly the documents that are strongly supportive of the parameters and benchmark statements indicated in the accreditation instrument; however, resources including equipment were not ample enough and the retrieval of documents was hard and slow. Needed resources should be looked into and prioritized to fill in gaps while those offices where documents emanated should be fully aware as to being contributory in fast tracking its completion and adequacy. Mock accreditation enhances overall preparation; however, it must be noted that preparedness depends on the right process well-taken and adherence to timeline. Hence, the taskforces should always work ahead of time and putting in mind the right procedures to take. Mock survey is an internal accreditation undertaking committed by the accreditors of the University System; however, in the case of Janiuay Campus, a pre-mock accreditation may be resorted to and undertaken by our campus accreditors to ensure better outputs. Mock survey usually assigns internal accreditors to evaluate accreditation areas that cut across the programs; however, it is suggested that synchronization of files/documents of similar nature in all programs should be looked into by taskforces to minimize overlooking and missing some support documents in the evaluation. Provision of more accreditors per accreditation area would provide better assessment of documents. Mock accreditation usually takes place three (3) weeks or less before the actual survey visit; however, this activity should be done earlier at least two (2) months prior to the scheduled formal survey so that there is ample time to consider internal accreditors’ recommendations and address properly the lacking authenticated and doubtful documents.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The results revealed that as an entire group and classified as to sex, educational attainment and school, mock accreditation was assessed by the respondents as highly effective. The respondents may have highly considered mock accreditation to be of great help in their preparation for the formal survey visit despite some glitches. Perhaps they clearly learned that it must be a concerted effort among faculty, staff, students, alumni, PTA and other stakeholders to ensure its success. Also, mock accreditation could evidently provide simulated feelings and experiences of what the actual survey visit would be like. It affords opportunity to assess initially the program’s areas needing improvement and recommendations that are very vital to be resolved first prior to passing the actual survey visit. It also provides opportunity in putting highest priority to lacking support documents, its authenticity, substance, and clarity, especially to the area assigned to taskforces. It is an excellent opportunity to take a fresh look at the institution’s policies and procedures, quality assurance, accessibility, information technology, health and safety, and documentation for all of the aforementioned. It provides a great advantage because it would enhance the institution’s preparedness, putting confidence and providing better measure on how it would fare in the actual survey visit. Lastly, it provides opportunity to identify program’s strengths as internal advantages that would inspire the taskforces to work well with their co-employees and the administration knowing the institution’s strong points to achieve the program’s aim for higher accreditation level. Likewise, there was a significant difference in the respondents’ assessment on mock accreditation as to sex, but no significant differences existed as to their educational attainment and school. The significant difference as to assessment of sexes among respondents may have been due to their varying understanding, extent of commitment for work and the nitty-gritty of the process. The difficulties met and the suggestions recommended have brought about certain understanding that mock accreditation is not a whole package perfectly wrapped; but a simulation process with imperfections. Despite these, what is more important is the positive side of it — how it could assist, aid, guide the preparations made by the institution and the taskforces to better improve the outputs (documents, exhibits, etc.) during the formal survey visit. Although as a whole, the respondents assessed mock accreditation as highly effective, there is still a need to improve such simulation process that would nearly be comparable with the actual survey visit as a complete package. Hence, the adoption of the whole duration process of the actual survey should be taken into consideration in the mock survey. It is highly essential for the taskforces to focus and understand the accreditation instrument, learn well the areas assigned to them, utmost concerted in efforts and consider the simulation process a great challenge while striving to immerse in and achieve it with proud heart and mind. After all, it is the quality assurance of the programs that is ensured. Likewise, the internal accreditors, though well-trained in their areas of specialization, should make sure that they do their job well, accept accreditation assignment as to their expertise and refuse those assignments that are not. Once they’re in the mock survey process, they have to make sure they do their best in providing assistance, recommendations and feed backing that would be gratifying to their counterparts, because they’re there to help, assuming the actual survey process at the sidelights, in order for their local partners to have a feel of what real survey visit really is. The administration must ensure the preparedness of resources through strategizing a plan on the improvement of the campus facilities and laboratories, provision on equipment and supplies and budgetary support to all undertakings in line with accreditation. All possible means should be undertaken to guarantee the success of the simulation process and the actual survey visit as well. Lastly, this study, an assessment of a mock survey conducted in WVSU Janiuay, is just a tip of the iceberg. This may be replicated by other researchers who might be interested to further look into the essentials of mock survey in their institutions or companies that would be beneficial to their systems and practices.