Unit 6 - Presentation of Findings

After reading the materials in this unit and completing the practice exercises the Site Visitor will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of the protocols and proceedings of final conferences.

2. Understand and respond appropriately to situations involving communication and disposal of site visit materials.


You are a Site Visitor conducting your exit interview. The program director is a professional friend of yours. You worked for several years with him on a committee he chaired in your association, and have attended group dinners together frequently at annual sessions of the academy. You begin your exit interview by thanking the program director for his hospitality and cooperation during your visit.

You explain that the purpose of this session is to read the specific recommendations the program will be receiving, and indicate there will be four recommendations. Upon saying this you note a distraught look on his face, but you continue by reading the first recommendation.

While reading the second recommendation you note that the director's face is turning red and he is obviously agitated. Halfway through reading the third recommendation he interrupts you in a hostile and demanding voice. "What is going on here? I don't understand these recommendations.

Yesterday, you asked for more information about the topic about which you just made a recommendation. I provided the information to you this morning! Yesterday, I explained thoroughly how we dealt with the matter regarding this recommendation you are now reading. Where are these recommendations coming from? What are you trying to do, destroy the program and my credibility? There is no justification for any of these recommendations!"

How would you handle this situation?

The Final Conference

The final conferences are the last events of the site visit and may be the most challenging part. In these meetings the institutional efforts that went into the self-study and site visit preparation and the site visit team findings are brought together by the visiting team chair in an explanation of the suggestions, and recommendations that will be made to the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

There are usually two final conferences: one with administration directly responsible for the program and the other with institutional administration. During each of these conferences the site visit team findings are explained in detail to the institutional leader. As shown below attendance at the final conference may differ depending on the program(s) being evaluated.

Pre-Doctoral Dental Program

Conference #1

  • Dean of the College
  • Assistant and Associate Deans
  • Site Visit Team
  • CODA Staff

Conference #2

  • University President
  • Dean of the College (optional)
  • Assistant and Associate Deans (optional)
  • Site Visit Team
  • CODA Staff

Allied Programs

Conference #1

  • Program Director
  • Faculty of the program (optional)
  • Site Visit Team

Conference #2

  • University President
  • College President
  • Dean of Allied Programs
  • Program Director
  • Faculty of the program (optional)
  • Site Visit Team

Advanced Education Programs

Conference #1

  • Program Director*
  • Faculty of the program (optional)
  • Site Visit Team
*and/or others at the program's discretion

Conference #2

  • Institutional Representatives (CEO, CAO, Hospital Administrator, for example)
  • Site Visit Team

Even if you are not participating in the final conference it is important for all Site Visitors to be knowledgeable about the process. This knowledge will help you write your section of the draft report.

A preparatory executive session is held just before the final conference. This is the time to review the report contents and to rehearse the presentation with team members who will be attending the final conference. Guidelines have been developed for each program type to help Site Visitors prepare for this important conference (Appendix 6.1).

General guidelines for the conferences include:

  1. Thank the hosts. Begin the session by thanking them for their participation in the Commission's voluntary accreditation process.
  2. Describe the protocol and process for the final conferences. The sequence of the final conference is reviewed with the attendees. They are provided verbally with a summary of the findings of the site visit team standard by standard. They are asked to delay questions until the entire report has been read. In addition, they are reminded that they cannot record the meeting, but they are encouraged to take notes. It is usually important to restate that the role of the visiting team members is to present the findings of the site visit team based upon accreditation standards.
  3. Move from the general to the specific. The conference begins with an overview of the report. The attendees are told how many suggestions and recommendations are contained in the report prior to beginning with a detailed account of each. (Review Unit 5 as a reminder of the details required in the final report. This detailed accounting is also included in the final conference.) It is not enough to tell the program administrators that the team will make a recommendation about an area such as the curriculum. The verbal report must spell out the specific deficiency and make a recommendation that is targeted to correcting the deficiency.
  4. Progress through the standards in numerical order. The Chair of the site visit team will begin by reading the first standard for which there are comments and stating whether there is a suggestion or recommendation. If there is a suggestion, it is usually read first, followed by recommendations.
  5. Be thorough. It is important that all of the recommendations in the final report are included in the presentation of the report during the final conferences. (The goal is not to give the program administrator(s) the "big picture" and fill in the specific recommendations after leaving the site.) The program director must be fully informed in detail of the findings before the conference is over.
  6. Answer questions but do not prolong the exchange. After the report has been completed there may be questions. Answers should be formulated in order to clarify issues for program or institutional representatives; however, they should not defend either the standard in question or the report. It is important that the responses be as accurate and succinct as possible. If there are concerns or defensive behaviors demonstrated by the institutional representatives, the chairman/staff representative of the site visit team should reiterate the role of the team (to find facts) and try to move to the conclusion of the conference.
  7. Summarize the sequence of events that will follow the site visit. The Chair should review the accreditation steps following the site visit.
    • The preliminary draft report will be sent to the institution approximately 6-8 weeks after the site visit.
    • The institution will have 30 days to respond. They are encouraged to look for and respond to factual inaccuracies or differences in perception, and to report progress made in implementing the recommendations since the site visit.
    • The report and the institutional response will be considered by the Commission, and the accreditation status will be determined.
    • The report and accreditation status will be sent to the institution within 30 days following the CODA meeting.
    • Thank the institutional representatives again.

Additional Suggestions

In addition to the general guidelines in the preceding paragraphs, there are several other helpful suggestions that may be applied to the final conference:

  • It is important to take an appropriate amount of time. The final conference is a critical part of the site visit. Rushing through it is an affront to those involved. It encourages a breakdown in communication and creates problems later if the institution receives a site visit report that contains suggestions and recommendations not discussed at the final conferences.
  • It is sometimes important to reiterate the differences between recommendations and suggestions so that the institutional administrators are clear on the formal responses that are required.
  • It is important to be complete and include all of the recommendations that will be in the final report. The program director must be informed in detail of the findings before the site visit is over. Encourage the program director to begin addressing recommendations before the written draft is received.
  • Maintain a professional demeanor throughout the final conferences. The tone of the final conference should suit the message. Don’t make them laugh if the report is negative. If the recommendations are numerous and serious, the attendees should not smile as the recommendations are discussed. It may be tempting to reassure the institutional representatives, but it is better to deliver the final report in a manner that conveys the seriousness of the recommendations.
  • Do not ask the program or institutional representatives to help write the report. The final conference must reflect the contents of the site visit team's final report. It is not appropriate to "do the program a favor" and ask them for information they would like to see in the report.
  • Maintain control. The final conference is not a discussion or a debate; nor is it an opportunity to re-conduct the site visit. The report reader should do most of the talking. The institutional representatives can ask questions at the conclusion of the presentation, but disagreements over the standards or the site visit team’s findings should not be part of the final conference.
Discharge of the Site Visitor Responsibilities

Once the final conference has ended, your responsibilities have been discharged. If the program director or someone else from the institution contacts you after the site visit, it is critical that you refer the individual to the appropriate Commission staff.

Under no circumstances should you communicate the proceedings of the site visit team activities to anyone who did not participate in the site visit. Remember you have made a commitment to confidentiality (Refer to Unit 2).

After completing the site visit, it is important not to leave any notes or materials behind that might be read by institutional personnel. Please take home with you all material that include personal notes. These should be securely destroyed once the Commission has acted on the report. The Commission has developed guidelines for the secure disposal of site visit information. Shortly following the site visit, an email will be sent to you with a reminder on the appropriate, secure disposal techniques to destroy both electronic and paper site visit information.

Practice Questions
  • Question 1:
    Three months after you participated in a site visit, the program director confronts you at a national meeting. She is furious because the Commission granted the program "approval with reporting requirements" and "intent to withdraw" accreditation at the next meeting. She says that you implied that the deficiencies were minor and that she had nothing to worry about. Actually, you are surprised by the status granted by the Commission. What do you say to the program director?
  • Question 2:
    You are in a bar having a drink with two program directors from New York. They are discussing a third New York program, which they believe to be "terrible" in all respects. Unbeknownst to your colleagues, you have recently conducted a site visit of that program and determined on-site that the program is quite good. What do you say?
  • Question 3:
    You return from a site visit and your fellow colleagues ask you specific questions about salaries, course loads, and tenures of the programs' faculty members. How do you answer their questions?
  • Question 4:
    You are surprised by your findings during the course of a site visit. The institution has a national reputation for excellence and a number of eminent individuals on the faculty. However, you have found many serious deficiencies. Before the final conference begins, the dean leans back in his chair and asks you with confidence: "Well, are you impressed?" What do you say?
  • Question 5:
    The final conference has ended and you are about to leave the institution. As you get into the taxi, the dean says: "Since the recommendations were relatively minor, I guess we won't have a problem, will we?" What do you say?
  • Question 6:
    Your neighbor's daughter is currently working for a dentist and is interested in applying to a dental (assisting/hygiene/laboratory technology) program. Your neighbor knows you are a Commission Site Visitor and that you visit programs throughout the country. Your neighbor asks you for an assessment of the programs. What do you say?
  • Question 7:
    During interviews with faculty on a site visit, you are surprised when your fellow Site Visitor starts talking about other programs she has visited. She is giving examples of the right and wrong way to do things based on previous site visit experience, identifying specific programs by name. What do you do and what do you say?
Unit 6 - Conclusion

When you conduct a site visit for the Commission on Dental Accreditation, you are serving as the Commission's representative and you are bound by Commission policy and procedures.

The rules are generally designed to:

  • acquire accurate information
  • apply CODA Accreditation Standards and policies
  • preserve confidentiality
  • promote objectivity
  • safeguard the institution’s rights
  • maintain the integrity of the accreditation process

You have been chosen as a Site Visitor because of your expertise, your willingness to serve your profession and your interest in continuing to learn about the educational process. As a site visitor, you are assisting the profession by ensuring the Accreditation Standards are upheld.


Conducting The Final Conference On An Accreditation Site Visit

The final conference takes place between the visiting committee and the program administrator/director and any other individuals the program wishes to involve in this conference at the end of the on-site evaluation. In addition, a meeting with the administrator(s) of the sponsoring institution usually takes place immediately following the final conference with the program administrator/director.

  1. Thank your hosts. Review the process and the manner in which the final conference will take place.
  2. Explain that the team assessed the program's compliance with the standards at the time of the visit.
  3. Request that questions and comments be deferred until the team has completed their review. No recording devices are allowed according to Commission policy, but note taking is encouraged.
  4. Explain that the visiting committee will present its findings and conclusions in the form of recommendations which relate directly to the "must" statements in the standards, and suggestions for program enhancement. If a standard is not addressed, the team found that the program met or exceeded the standard.
  5. The program can begin work on correcting the identified deficiencies as soon as the visit is over. All progress made can be reported to the Commission in the response to the report.
  6. Move through the report standard by standard, beginning with the first standard for which a suggestion or recommendation is made. The program administrator should be allowed to ask questions at the conclusion of the team's presentation.
  7. At the conclusion of the team's presentation, explain the steps in the accreditation process.
    • The preliminary draft report will be sent to the institution for review and comment four to six weeks after the site visit.
    • The institution will have thirty days in which to respond.
    • The report and the institution's response will be reviewed by the Commission on Dental Accreditation during its Winter (January) or Summer (July) meeting. The Commission grants the program an accreditation status. The institution will be notified of the Commission's decision within 30 days after the meeting at which its report is considered. Concluding remarks – Thank the hosts once again and let them know that the team's responsibilities are over and if they have any further questions regarding the site visit evaluation, they should contact the appropriate Commission staff.

Conducting the Opening and Final Conferences on an Allied or Advanced Dental Education Site Visit

Opening Conference: may be with the chief executive officer, institutional administrators, and program administrator/director or just with the program director.

  • Thank your hosts. Begin the session by thanking them for their participation in the Commission's voluntary accreditation process.
  • Set a tone of mutual trust. Facilitate introductions, i.e., allow the CEO to introduce the institution's staff; the staff representative or chairman or dentist-consultant/Commissioner will introduce the visiting committee.
  • Summarize the Commission's responsibility as an accreditation agency. Briefly review the Commission's peer review process – institutional self-review, on-site evaluation with report and response, review committee review, Commission review, and report to the institution and program.
  • Explain that the purpose of the on-site evaluation is to periodically (i.e. every 7 years or every 5 years for OMS) assess the program's compliance with the Standards at the time of the visit. Mention the date of the Commission's last visit (i.e. June of 2015 – GPR and Perio, 2017 – OMS).
  • Reinforce that the visiting committee's findings and conclusions will be based entirely on the Commission's Standards for the respective program(s).
  • Explain that the team will function as peer reviewers and fact finders by conducting interviews and looking at documentation.
  • Briefly explain that the report could contain recommendations and suggestions; remind the administrators that the Commission makes the accreditation decision.
    1. Remind the institution/program that the visiting committee's findings will be reviewed with the institutional representatives during the final conference.
    2. Remind everyone present that the information obtained during this interview and the remaining on-site interviews will be treated confidentially.
    3. Your first question should be directed to the CEO if present at this session. Start with more general questions and gradually narrow the focus. Ask the administrators to explain ambiguous or contradictory responses in the self-study.
    4. The suggested schedule limits this opening session to about 45-60 minutes. Process systematically to be sure that all areas are covered.
    5. Conclude the opening session by allowing the administration a few minutes to clarify any

Start Unit 7 - Final Assessment

This unit will instruct you on how to submit the final assessment.

You can view a full list of the modules on the New Site Visitors page.