A Multi-Case Study Of The Self-Study Component Of The Regional Institutional Accreditation Process: Identifying Influential Factors

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


Sidney S. Micek


Higher education

Subject Categories

Higher Education Administration


While regional accreditation has a number of purposes, many authors cite the improvement of institutional and program effectiveness as the most important or, at least, one of the most important purposes. A major impetus for the improvement of institutional effectiveness within the accreditation process is the self-study component. However, there has been some criticism regarding accreditation's success in achieving this goal of improvement. This discrepancy between what accreditation and its self-study component should be about and what is actually the case, provides direction for the current study.

The primary purpose of this study was the identification of organizational and extra-organizational factors which significantly influence the self-study component of regional accreditation in achieving its goal of improved institutional effectiveness.

A qualitative methodology involving a multi-case study of three institutions which recently completed a comprehensive self-study for reaffirming accreditation was pursued. The primary means of data collection involved unstructed interviews of self-study participants and data analysis was patterned after the constant comparative method and modified inductive analysis.

The major finding of the study is that ten factors were identified by self study participants as influencing the self-study in achieving its goal of improved institutional effectiveness. These factors are: (1) support from the accrediting agency, (2) commitment of the institutional leader, (3) internal motivation, (4) attention to process strategies, (5) an ongoing planning process, (6) capacity for ongoing institutional research, (7) the hardship imposed, (8) quality of the self-study report, (9) quality of the site visit team, and (10) congruency between self-study findings and site team findings. Based on these findings, conclusions, as well as recommendations for practice and research, are offered.


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