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How Colleges Use PACE Results

After an institution receives the results from the PACE survey, often times the question is what to do with the results. Upon interviewing various institutions that have used the PACE we were able to determine how the PACE results were distributed, why the PACE survey was initially administered and what actions institutions took based on the results.

What we found were pathways that institutions seemed to follow with the PACE survey results. Upon receiving the PACE survey results the trend seemed to be to present the results to an advisory board or executive council that included key administrative personnel such as the president, deans and department heads. Some representatives chose to create PowerPoint presentations to highlight specific PACE results, while others provided the report in its entirety to the board or council. At this point, divergent paths were created by individual institutions depending on the initial intent of the PACE administration.

When asked about the intent of administering the PACE, responses generally fell into two categories: assessment and identification. Those who chose to use the PACE for assessment purposes tended to use the results for accreditation or strategic planning within the college. Those institutions that chose to use the PACE for identification purposes did so in order to find out how they could “do better” as a college, or to get a “pulse” on employees or to confirm underlying issues at the institutions that administration had suspected. Those institutions who chose to use the PACE for assessment purposes only tended to stop at this point, without creating an active plan to address identified areas of improvement as determined by the PACE survey. Those who used the PACE to identify and understand problems within the institution were discovered to be more likely to implement action plans and thus create specific practices to address areas of improvement as identified in the PACE survey. Those institutions that used the PACE to do both assess and identify also tended to develop action plans off of the survey results.

Institutions that chose to develop action plans or steps based off of the PACE results concentrated on implementing practices based around communication and organizational factors. In terms of communication this included improving the channels of campus wide communication by increasing face to face interaction as well as updating or in some cases creating mediated communication opportunities to assist employees in sharing information among one other. As far as organizational issues, plans were developed by some institutions to improve processes within the college as well as examine the mission and values of the institution.

The following ideas were cited as “best practices” by the institutions that were interviewed:

  • One of the ideas reflected by several institutions was the practice of implementing more channels for administrators/faculty and staff to share opinions, ideas and thoughts. This was reflected in the widespread increase of face to face meetings between administrators/ faculty/staff and conducting in person focus groups. Also many clients cited developing a newsletter and using online tools such as blogs and internet sites to share news within the college community. In some cases, the institutions that already had online tools in place were asked by personnel to make these tools more accessible and user-friendly.
  • In some instances, PACE survey results indicated a sense of confusion among personnel regarding processes relating to career advancement. In response to this confusion, some institutions implemented policies or provided clarification on processes such as merit/appraisal systems and how to achieve tenure within the institution.
  • Many institutions conducted activities that enhanced the levels of morale of the campus community. These activities included holiday parties and other celebrations that showed appreciation for personnel and brought them together to socialize outside of the boundaries of the office. Frequently, these activities were developed as a response to the indication of low morale among personnel at the institution.

Other areas that institutions addressed based on PACE survey results was the availability of professional development and training opportunities for personnel.