Unit 4 Activities & Processes
Units 1, 2, and 3 of the Site Visitor Training Program provided background information about accreditation, the standards, and the roles of visiting committee members. Unit 4 focuses on data collection and the verification process that should be used while on-site. Data collection and verification activities and processes are complimentary to the self-study. It is necessary to authenticate as well as clarify the information in the self-study and the site visit is your opportunity to complete the validation process.
Goal #1 in data collection is relevance. You want to obtain the appropriate information to determine if standards are being met. Assuring relevance involves preparation ahead of time in order to answer questions you have after reading the self-study.
Goal #2 is accuracy. To develop a complete, accurate picture of the program, information must be gathered in a respectful and open atmosphere. Information provided by the institution may be unclear. For example:
- Threat. In some cases participants think the information collected during the interview will be used to evaluate their effectiveness as educators; therefore, they might edit or distort the information to protect themselves. You can minimize this perceived threat by clarifying your intentions at the beginning of the site visit. Participants must understand that you will not pass judgment on their personal worth.
- Ego. People often try to cast themselves in a positive light. For example, in a recent survey, only 2% of the public gave inaccurate reports about their possession of a telephone; whereas, 40% distorted the size of their contribution to a community charity. Carefully worded questions and comments will help remove "ego" from answers.
- Memory. If a person hears or reads something once, they will forget 66% of it within 24 hours! They often confuse the order of events or assume that what is true now was true in the past. If participants feel free to admit that they have forgotten or are confused, they will give fewer inaccurate responses.
Observation, interviewing and listening are the primary tools you should use to gather information and create a complete "picture" of the program.