University of Vermont

UVM SELF-STUDY | NEASC Accreditation

Writing Guidelines

UVM Accreditation Self-Study Writing Guidelines: October 2007


Keywords that describe a successful Self Study: Candid, Evidence-based, Analytical, Participatory, Clear, Useful. (L. Zak, NEASC Self Study Workshop, October 2007)

I. Each standard's narrative should reflect a "story line": What is the primary story to be told about how UVM has and will address the standard, and what are the major themes that are pertinent and distinctive to UVM?

II. Each standard's narrative should perform these functions:

  1. Follow the prescribed tripartite structure (see reverse for definitions):
    1. Description (clear and succinct overview: "executive summary")
    2. Appraisal (analysis: honest reflection of strengths and concerns)
    3. Projection: (specific future plans & institutional commitments)
  2. Provide specific evidence for assertions and observations, and provide timelines and assigned responsibility for projections
  3. Address the sub-standards which comprise the standard, folding each sub-standard clearly into the narrative "story" (drafts should could include explicit sub-standard numbers in parenthesis in the text)
  4. Make creative and effective use of visual documentation, such as charts, photographs, etc. "A picture is worth a thousand words". For example, classroom upgrades can be addressed with a brief descriptive sentence and substantiated with a "before and after" picture; enrollment growth over time by school can be summarized in a bar chart, etc.
  5. Include comparative, institutional benchmark information as applicable
Good evidence is Relevant, Verifiable, Representative, Cumulative, Actionable
III. Emphasis for each standard's narrative should be on appraisal and projection, providing sufficient quantitative and qualitative evidence for each substandard

IV. The final narrative section for all standards together can be no longer than 100 pages. Therefore, working draft length should follow these general guiding parameters (excluding supporting documents or links to evidence):

Standard 1 : 2 - 4 pages Standard 6: 8 - 10 pages
Standard 2: 6 - 8 pages Standard 7: 3 - 5 pages
Standard 3: 4 - 6 pages Standard 8: 7- 9 pages
Standard 4: 18 - 20 pages Standard 9: 7 - 9 pages
Standard 5: 10 - 12 pages Standard 10: 3 - 5 pages
Standard 11: 3 - 5 pages


Remember that the standards' narratives are drafts to be used to create a final coherent and clear document. Drafts will be revised significantly for voice and consistency, so focus on the substance of description, appraisal, projection, and the evidence for each.

Last modified April 29 2008 11:12 PM

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