Baseline includes two ways to get custom projects started – you can utilize the Project Request feature where our staff build the survey based on user uploaded questions or the Self-Service Builder (sometimes referred to as SSB). As the name suggests, the Self-Service Builder is a permission setting that allows users to build the survey themselves. One major benefit of the SSB is that it allows you to take control of your surveys and better understand survey design and Baseline functionality. When used intentionally, it can help develop a culture of evidence as a motivator to learn more about assessment and put your end-users in control of their assessment.

There are different ways to take advantage of the SSB. To help you think through the pros and cons of different ways to build it into your system, we want to share a tale of two campuses.

State College and Hometown University have decided to approach the use of Self-Service Builder differently from each other. These institutions, while fictionally named, are based on actual client examples.

 

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Hometown University has decided to provide everyone with self-service access with the goal of more folks utilizing Baseline. They reason that removing barriers to entry is the best way to get increased product usage. They want to know which folks are doing assessment, and in Baseline, it will be easier to see what they are doing. They have also given directors access to add more users to their area.

Some of the pros of their process include:

  • Very low barrier to entry
  • Highest flexibility for staff with no waiting on Anthology turnaround
  • Collecting a lot of data points by allowing each area complete control over their surveys

Some of the cons of their process include:

  • Low alignment to broader assessment goals
  • Difficult to achieve consistency in scales or quality
  • Unsure if assessment best practices or guidelines are shared when access is granted
 
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State College has decided to maintain a bit more control over usage to ensure sufficient alignment and consistency. They have a well-thought-out structure for developing assessments and want to ensure it is followed. They have decided that no one except for full-site administrators will have self-service access. Everyone will use Anthology Baseline’s survey consultation and building service or campus site admins will build the surveys.

Some of the pros of their process include:

  • Ensuring alignment around major goals and initiatives
  • Avoiding survey fatigue through coordination of assessment
  • High confidence in the quality of assessment being completed

Some of the cons of their process include:

  • Higher barrier of entry
  • May have ‘rogue’ departments doing their assessment in other tools
  • Requires a lot of coordination and workload for the site administrators

 

Each process has pros and cons, and on seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum, they have things in common. Both institutions are doing what they believe to be best for assessment and the culture of continuous improvement. Both institutions are being intentional about their choices. The choice of where and how to utilize SSB comes down to striking a balance between coordination and alignment, like State College and Hometown University’s focus on flexibility and ease. In thinking about the best of both Hometown University’s and State College’s processes, we have another institution example that has developed a process in the middle that seeks to balance alignment and flexibility.

 
 

Knowledge State wanted to lower the barriers to entry of assessment while raising the likelihood of alignment and consistency. Their process involves providing an account to anyone who requests it, but only those who complete some basic training or a meeting with an Assessment Coordinator will have self-service access. This is not designed to require much of a time commitment but to provide vital direction and training. It covers writing quality questions, best practices around Likert scales, Anthology resources, and assessment best practices. This way, they have a motivator for completing basic training of vital concepts and practices giving them more flexibility in their assessment creation.

Knowledge State’s process has flexibility, allowing the faculty or staff to choose which format they prefer – making it easier to complete. Their goal is not to require or even offer a comprehensive multi-part series but to cover only essential content and basic product training. This can increase the adoption of Baseline by getting folks into the product while still exposing them to training resources and alignment principles. This way, folks have just enough alignment, training, and guidance to be more successful – but not so much to feel overwhelmed or struggle to find the time to complete it. This also makes it easier to delve further into assessment after they get a few easy wins.

The key here for an institution like Knowledge State is ensuring the SSB training only includes the necessities. Otherwise, it becomes a larger barrier to entry than it is worth. Sometimes, we find it difficult to limit the content we deem essential because it can all be helpful – however, when we do this, we risk overwhelming others and end up providing nothing.

 

Which process is right for you?

Consider what else is happening on campus or will be happening soon. Are any major initiatives or changes coming up that would take priority or make Baseline adoption trickier? Would you rate the faculty and staff as leaning more towards change adversity? You will want to consider the current institutional culture around assessment, technology, and expectations. You will also want to consider your workload, limitations, capacity, and focus. Do you have time to focus on more alignment and guiding departments? Will you need to report aggregated results and efforts in a consistent format?

Whichever process you choose, consider your capacity to coordinate, the current campus culture, and how time-consuming any other upcoming changes may be. Then, review the three different processes here. With a bit of thought, you can take a feature of Baseline and turn it into a benefit for assessment and a motivation for folks to learn a little bit more. A culture of assessment is not built by a few large actions taken by a small group of folks; it takes time and many smaller efforts spread throughout the institution.

If you want to learn more about how the SSB works or training around how to use it check out the wonderful resources available through the Academy and Support Site articles.

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