Linda Suskie

 A Common Sense Appr​oach to Assessment in Higher Education


Putting our money where our mouth is

Posted on March 10, 2015 at 12:40 AM

Thank you, SCUP, for pointing out a great article in this month’s Harvard Business Review: “Why strategy execution unravels—and what to do about it” by Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, and Charles Sull. It reports the results of a survey of nearly 8000 managers in more than 250 companies plus the results of more than 40 experiments on company change.


The misery-loves-company crowd can take some satisfaction that many of the challenges facing higher education are facing businesses as well. One challenge discussed by Sull, Homkes, and Sull is that “resources are often trapped in unproductive uses.” In my book Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability, I call this failing to put your money where your mouth is.


Consider, for example, a goal of many colleges and universities today: Providing a learning-centered environment. If this is one of your college’s key goals, how much money and time does it devote to:

• Professional development to help faculty and staff understand what a learning-centered environment is and how they can contribute to a learning centered environment?

• Faculty research and scholarship that can contribute to developing an institution-wide learning-centered environment?

• Helping faculty and staff make whatever changes are needed to provide a learning-centered environment in their classrooms and activities?

• Broad rather than isolated, piecemeal efforts to foster a learning-centered environment?


Furthermore, does your college

• Give hiring priority to applicants with successful experience in providing a learning-centered environment?

• Place emphasis in faculty and staff evaluation and promotion criteria and procedures on active contributions toward a learning-centered environment?

• Evaluate administrative leaders in part on their promotion of practices in their units that help nurture a learning-centered environment, such as collaboration and a willingness to experiment?

• Set budgets that reallocate funds from tangential activities to those that contribute meaningfully toward a learning-centered environment?


Change is always hard! The key to making tangible progress is to really devote time and resources to whatever your biggest priorities are.

Categories: Institutional effectiveness