USING SYSTEMS THINKING TOOLS TO GUIDE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN 'ASSURANCE OF LEARNING' SYSTEM
Victoria University of Wellington (NEW ZEALAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Setting up an ‘Assurance of Learning’ (AoL) system required for business school accreditation is a non-trivial task, with its combination of technical challenges, academic challenges, budgetary pressures and political feasibility. The task often falls to the Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning or equivalent, and is often the first task for a new appointee. As a new Associate Dean responsible for creating processes for Assurance of Learning required for accreditation by AACSB and leading our teaching and learning activities, I faced a steep learning curve and numerous challenges, but we succeeded with accreditation (achieving the triple crown of AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA) and have received high praise for our processes. So how did we go about establishing an AOL system? What lessons can we learn and share? One key philosophy used to guide the process was Theory of Constraints (TOC) - a systems-based management philosophy with a set of thinking tools that can be used to guide improvement in any business. In this paper, I share some of the challenges, together with the some of the TOC tools that we have found useful to think about and communicate the why, what, and how. These included the Evaporating Cloud for thinking through dilemmas, the Prerequisite Tree for achieving targets, and the Five Focusing Steps for focusing improvements. Using TOC to harness ‘resistance to change’ is also discussed.
Keywords: Theory of Constraints, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, Business schools.