site visit preparation
Dr. Beth Easter from Southeast Missouri State University discusses the planning, technology needs, site visit schedule and benefits of hosting a virtual COSMA site visit.
0:28 - Technology needed
2:38 - Site visit schedule
4:38 - Stakeholder meetings
11:45 - Campus "tour"
15:07 - Sharing materials
17:15 - Exit interview
19:20 - Benefits, successes
23:50 - Advice for others
When preparing for a site visit, consult this presentation that outlines the site visit process' best practices from the perspective of a visited program and the site reviewer:
Two Perspectives on Site Visit Preparation.
Two Perspectives on Site Visit Preparation.
Site visit experience
COSMA Site Visit Team, Ms. Amanda Zuschmidt, Lancaster Bible College, and Dr. Brittany Jacobs, Nichols College, discuss their preparation and experiences conducting a virtual Reaffirmation of Accreditation site visit.
0:24 - Preparation
3:23 - Technology needs
4:38 - Virtual interviews
7:20 - Virtual campus "tour"
10:13 - Meals, breaks, report writing
14:14 - Student interviews
15:45 - What went well, benefits
18:05 - What can COSMA do?
Who are COSMA Site reviewers?
Site reviewers are selected from qualified and professionally trained members of COSMA. Many site reviewers are former Board of Commissioner members, are on the Board of Directors, or are accredited Institutional Members. Individual members and institutional members who are preparing for a COSMA site visit may also act as site reviewers. Each accreditation site visit is conducted by a team of two professionally trained program evaluators. COSMA selects site visit team members from a pool of well-qualified persons with experience in the evaluation process. The team Chair is appointed by COSMA headquarters and is responsible for assuring that the visit is conducted objectively. The composition of the team and the qualifications of its members are influenced by the institution's size, program complexity, and number of off-campus locations. Potential site evaluators must submit a detailed curriculum vitae to COSMA Headquarters and attend a Site Evaluator Training Workshop - in person or via webinar. Site evaluator trainings are offered frequently throughout the year.
Responsibilities as a COSMA Site Reviewer
- Arrive on time at the visitation site and work with the other site team members in a harmonious manner.
- Handle the site visit activities in a professional and expeditious manner.
- Complete the site visit assignment while at the institution and prepare a written report of the findings. The team chair is responsible for compiling an overall summary report of the findings within two weeks of the date of the site visit and for forwarding the report to COSMA headquarters.
- Perform the site visit evaluation objectively, not letting personal bias interfere with the assignment.
The site team members play a key role in maintaining the integrity of the COSMA accreditation process. Accordingly, all members of the team, before accepting an assignment, must agree to avoid impropriety, avoid being partial, refrain from inappropriate activity, and preserve the confidential nature of the information reviewed during the site visit.
Site reviewer training
- Introductory presentation of the accreditation process, role, and expectation of site team evaluators.
- Review of the accreditation manuals, report templates, and other relevant materials.
- Education on principles, criteria for decision making, performance evaluation, and outcome assessment expectations.
- Step-by-step look at each principle and validation of the self-study.
- Overview of typical site visit schedule.
- Knowledge of the general expectations, confidentiality, and ethics expected of you.
- Organizational expectations, timeline for the site visit report, and timely submission of expenses.
conflicts of interest
COSMA is committed to avoiding potential conflicts of interest by evaluators, and thus uses the following guidelines when determining site visit team composition:
- No member of the team will have had a recent affiliation with the program being considered for accreditation, nor will the team member have relatives who are employees of the program.
- No member of the team will be a graduate of the program being considered for accreditation.
- No member of the team will have a known, expressed bias for or against the program.
- No member of the team will currently be a full-time employee of another program in the program's primary competitive market.
Post-Evaluation of Site Team Members
Site team members are evaluated by the program and are also encouraged to review each others' performance in connection with the site visit process that was used. Topics that are addressed by a site visit team member include, but are not limited to:
- Adequacy of the pre-visit arrangements
- Timeliness with respect to receipt of the self-study materials and related items
- Effectiveness of the team chair
- Preparedness of the institution for the visit
- Content of the team's report
- General suggestions for improvement
site reviewer faqs
The costs related to obtaining accreditation by COSMA will vary slightly by program because of the location (U.S. and outside the U.S.) and size of the site visit team. These costs include a $1,200 application fee plus travel, food, and hotel expenses for the site visit team. Normally, a two-person visitation team is used for programs located in the United States and more may be required for a non-U.S.-based site visit. These team members are paid an honorarium for their work. The chair of the team is paid $300 per day and the other team member(s) is paid $200 per day. Listed below are approximations of the total direct costs for COSMA accreditation for U.S. programs (above) and outside the U.S. programs (below), assuming a 2-day site visit by a 2-person team.