The Undergraduate Experience
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ISBN: 978-1-119-05074-2

May 2016 | Jossey-Bass

Chapter 5 addresses the importance of alignment, the matching of resources, policies, and practices with an institution’s educational purposes and student characteristics. Alignment is achieved through educational partnerships within and among schools, departments, and programs across the institution. Thriving institutions seek ways to transform themselves from silos into systems by supporting cross-institution connection and cooperation.

Action Principles

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  1. Make alignment a shared goal.
  2. Align administrative practices and policies.
  3. Align academic programs and campus practices.
  4. Challenge students to align their learning.
  5. Leverage the benefits of alignment.

Questions for Reflection

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  1. To what extent are curriculum, policies, structures, and resources aligned with your institution’s aspirations for undergraduate education? To what extent are your own work and values aligned with your institution’s aspirations?
  2. Which leaders at your institution are asking hard questions about alignment? Who else could and should be working toward alignment?
  3. Do you engage in environmental assessments to identify dysfunctional and misaligned processes? If so, when and how does this work best? If not, how might you begin?
  4. How often does your institution challenge prevailing assumptions and take reasonable risks to improve cross-functional processes and programs? How can systems thinking enable your institution to connect the parts to create a better, more holistic experience for students?
  5. Are your major institutional processes, such as enrollment and advising, relatively smooth and seamless, or are they misaligned? How effective are the handoffs between key stakeholders in critical process areas?
  6. How can you enhance the design and implementation of policies and practices so that they are seamless and agile not only for students, but also for staff, faculty, and other key stakeholders?
  7. What are the barriers to better alignment on your campus? How can you cultivate perspectives and relationships that will make alignment more possible in the future?