Ensuring that Derner keeps evolving and developing.

By Avigail Gordon, M.A.

In December, Derner hosted three site visitors from APA, the culmination of years of preparation for the periodic evaluation of programs. This process ensures that Derner keeps evolving and developing, and student and alumni feedback has been instrumental in the changes made since the last time APA came around.

The APA accreditation process guarantees that students are prepared by the program to be professionals in the modern climate. On their last visit, APA expressed concern about the curriculum and measurement of student competencies, so Derner administrators enlisted students to overhaul and streamline the curriculum. A more thoughtful and thorough approach to student assessment was also put into place, along with an increased emphasis on the importance of student evaluations of professors and classes. The APA visits encourage a constant self-study, so the program is continually working to perfect itself for its students. Derner has made student feedback a cornerstone of the changes it continues to make moving forward.

The site visit itself was a highly positive experience for students, who had an opportunity to share in the reflection that administrators have been engaged in for the past five years. Students were able to provide opinions about strengths and weaknesses of their time here at Derner. For many, it reinforced positive feelings about the many strengths that characterize our program.

At the same time, it clarified issues that remain to be addressed. Following the final report and assessment, which may not arrive for months, these are the areas that will be the focus of the ongoing efforts to make Derner the best program possible. The next site visit is likely years away, but administrators and students are already conferring on how to improve the program even further. It’s a looping feedback system, whereby each site visit provokes further self-reflection and changes. It’s a project that never really ends, no matter how far away the next site visit is. So let’s get back to work!

Published 2012 in Day Residue the Derner Institute Doctoral Student Newsletter

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