FIVE Tips for Writing an ACEN Report

FIVE Tips for Writing an ACEN Report

Tip #1: Download the ACEN Guidelines for Written Reports

The first tip to create a well-written report (i.e., the Self-Study Report, the Candidacy Presentation, the Follow-Up Report, or the Focused Visit Report) is to download the ACEN Guidelines for Written Reports, which offers a concise format to ensure all essential elements (e.g., options, locations, and number of students) are included. The faculty may ask, “Why is it so important to use the ACEN Guidelines for Written Reports?” The short answer to this question is the report is evidence by which peer evaluators serving on the site visit team, Evaluation Review Panel, and Board of Commissioners determine the program’s compliance with the Standards and Criteria. Therefore, the creation of an accurate written report is an important step in the review process. Over the years, the ACEN Directors and Staff have refined the ACEN Guidelines for Written Reports to help faculty write accurate reports inclusive of program demographics (e.g., options, locations, and number of students), narrative with examples demonstrating compliance with the Standards and Criteria, and supporting evidence. The ACEN Guidelines for Written Reports is one of the ACEN’s best resources for nursing programs. The ACEN Directors and Staff encourage faculty to use the guidelines as a resource.

Tip #2: Download the Current ACEN Standards and Criteria

A well-written report MUST include the current ACEN Standards and Criteria. As such, the second tip is to download the ACEN Standards and Criteria for the program type under review (e.g., clinical doctorate/DNP specialist certificate, master’s/PMC, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical programs). Typically, the Standards and Criteria undergo a review every five years, often resulting in revisions. The current Standards and Criteria were implemented in 2017. The next set of Standards and Criteria will be implemented in 2023. The faculty should write the program’s report based on the current Standards and Criteria so that peer evaluators can determine the program’s compliance according to the current Standards and Criteria. If the faculty use outdated Standards and Criteria, peer evaluators will not be able to find the program in compliance with the current Standards and Criteria. Therefore, faculty should download the current Standards and Criteria for each program type under review.

Tip #3: Use the Criteria as the Framework

As specified in Tip #2, the report MUST include the current Standards and Criteria. Equally important is ensuring all elements of each Criterion are included in the narrative. One of the best ways to achieve this is to use the Criteria as the framework for the narrative. Peer evaluators use the program’s report to determine compliance with the Standards and Criteria, so if elements of the Criteria are not included in the report, peer evaluators will not have the information they need to verify the program’s compliance. For example, Criterion 1.3 consists of four components; faculty should address each component in the report. The examples below highlight this point.

Criterion 1.3 (2017 Standards and Criteria)

The assessment of end-of-program student learning outcomes1 and program outcomes is shared with communities of interest2, and the communities of interest have input into program processes3 and decision-making4.

 Four components of this Criterion:

  1. Sharing assessment data of the end-of-program student learning outcomes;
  2. Sharing assessment data of the program outcomes;
  3. The communities of interest input into program processes; and
  4. Communities of interest’s decision-making capability.

Organize the narrative for Criterion 1.3 in these four sections using subheadings as described below. It is important to describe how the program complies with each component of the Criterion; the faculty can achieve this goal by incorporating examples, such as:

End-of-Program Student Learning Outcomes

Data collected from assessment of the end-of-program student learning outcomes are shared with communities of interest at an annual Nursing Program Advisory Committee meeting. The Nursing Program Advisory Committee consists of representatives from local clinical agencies, program employers, nursing programs from local schools of nursing, students, graduates, and members of the public. The committee meets every September. Annually, the nurse administrator reports student achievement of the end-of-program student learning outcomes during the Nursing Program Advisory Committee meeting, as reflected in meeting minutes 20XX, 20XX, and 20XX. At the most recent Nursing Program Advisory Committee meeting, the nurse administrator shared the data collected from the ATI Comprehensive Examination and the clinical evaluation tool in NUR 450 Nursing Concepts IV. Most of the data confirmed student achievement of the end-of-program student learning outcomes.

Program Outcomes

Although program outcomes data are shared during the annual Nursing Program Advisory Committee meetings, these data are also shared on the program’s website. The three most recent years of aggregated licensure pass rates, program completion rates, and job placement rates are listed on the program’s home page.

Communities of Interest Input

During Nursing Program Advisory Committee meetings, the committee members review end-of-program student learning outcomes data and program outcomes. In doing so, they offer feedback and suggestions to improve the program (e.g., increase exposure to informatics and technology in the clinical setting).

Decision-Making

The Nursing Program Advisory Committee has a voice in program decisions. In 20XX, one of the local hospitals approached the nurse administrator with a proposal to start a new program option (evening/weekend) that would offer flexibility for students who work. The proposal was presented to the Nursing Program Advisory Committee meeting. The committee members asked for additional information (e.g., financial support, physical resources, and faculty resources) to facilitate decision-making. The nurse administrator collected the additional information and re-presented the proposal with the additional information to the Nursing Program Advisory Committee via email in Fall 20XX. The committee voted to support the implementation of the new option, effective 20XX, contingent upon receipt of the additional resources that would be necessary to offer the new option.

Tip #4: Use Tables

Use tables throughout the report to organize information in a concise format. The faculty can use tables to augment narrative and illustrate compliance with the Criteria. For example, Criterion 4.1 lends itself to narrative with a table to support compliance as indicated below.

Criterion 4.1 (2017 Standards and Criteria Undergraduate Programs)

Consistent with contemporary practice, the curriculum incorporates established professional nursing standards1, guidelines2, and competencies3 and has clearly articulated end-of-program student learning outcomes4.

 Criterion 4.1 addresses four components of the curriculum:

  1. Professional nursing standards;
  2. Guidelines;
  3. Competencies; and
  4. End-of-program student learning outcomes.

A table could easily list each end-of-program student learning outcome with corresponding standards, guidelines, and competencies for the curriculum as reflected in Table 4.1.

Table 4.1

End-of-Program Student Learning Outcome Standards Guidelines Competencies
Clinical Judgment and Reasoning

 

  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s Clinical Judgment Model

 

  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing: Building a Method for Writing Clinical Judgment Items for Entry-Level Nursing Exams (2019)
  • State Board of Nursing’s Clinical Content
  • QSEN: Safety Minimizes risk of harm to patients and providers through both system effectiveness and individual performance.

 

In Table 4.1, the faculty have specified an end-of-program student learning outcome, a standard that relates to the student learning outcome, guidelines germane to the end-of-program student learning outcomes, and accompanying competencies.

Tip #5: Proofread the Report

Proofread the report before submission. With any written assignment, it is always important to use correct grammar and syntax. Although the report may contain substantive information, the lack of appropriate grammar could impede peer evaluators’ understanding of the narrative. Since the faculty write the narrative for the report, the nurse administrator could ask a faculty member in the English department (or another department) to proofread the report. Typically, faculty who teach English are eager to offer feedback on written reports. Additionally, involving faculty and from other departments in the process allows them to use their areas of expertise.

Conclusion

During the writing process, the faculty may identify questions that cannot be answered using ACEN resources. If this is the case, please contact the ACEN at (404) 975-5000 with questions or comments. Remember, the ACEN is the program’s supportive partner, and the ACEN Directors and Staff are available to answer questions and guide the faculty through the writing process.