Excellence in online education is fostered through an ongoing cycle of data collection and analysis of learning outcomes.
Charles Town, WV (Vocus) September 15, 2010
Excellence in online education is fostered through an ongoing cycle of data collection and analysis of learning outcomes, according to Dr. Frank McCluskey, PhD, executive vice president and provost of American Public University System (APUS). McCluskey shared his vision for ensuring academic quality and integrity as a featured speaker in a recent APUS webinar.
To promote accountability among both faculty and administrators, APUS begins with the assumption that its faculty are the experts, and undergoes a data collection process to better assist them in translating their expertise into student learning. “We want to help them free our students from fixed ideas, cloudy thinking and imprecise analysis,” said McCluskey. “We want to liberate the learning already taking place.”
The data collection process encompasses library and learning Resources, curriculum assessment of academic rigor and external feedback from expert reviewers and the Industry Advisory Council. It also includes an analysis of faculty credentials and expertise to ensure breadth and diversity, curricular mapping and program benchmarking with similar programs and institutions.
An additional core APUS best practice is to reciprocally inform both internal and external stakeholders on the achievement of student learning outcomes, added McCluskey. “One means of ensuring free and open communications is the Transparency by Design initiative, of which we are one of fourteen charter member institutions,” he said. “Another is our Learning Outcomes Assessment website, which continuously documents the results of our data collection efforts.” The site can be found at http://www.apus.edu/community-scholars/learning-outcomes-assessment/index.htm
It’s not enough to simply incorporate assessment data into decision-making processes, according to Jennifer Stephens Helm, Ph.D. associate vice-president and dean of assessment for APUS. “We use a number of nationally benchmarked tests and validated instruments to measure learner engagement, learner success, and learning outcomes,” said Helm. “One such measure is the National Survey of Student Engagement, in which APUS is one of the few fully online, for-profit institutions of higher education participating.”
APUS also uses the Educational Testing Service’s (ETS) Proficiency Profile to measure skills of college program graduates, and ETS performs a major field test for seven of its undergraduate majors upon graduation, noted Dave Becher, director of academic information analysis for APUS. “In addition, we participate in the Community of Inquiry end of course survey, which has been proven to be a reliable instrument for helping measure learning outcomes with more than half-a-million students to date.”
To access an archived playback of the APUS webinar, visit:
About American Public University System
American Public University System, winner of the Sloan Consortium’s 2009 Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education and two-time recipient of Sloan’s Effective Practice Award, offers more than 100 online certificate and degree programs through its American Public University and American Military University institutions. APUS’s relevant curriculum, affordability and flexibility help more than 70,000 working adults worldwide pursue degrees in subjects ranging from homeland security to management and liberal arts. For further information, visit http://www.apus.edu.