SNHU is proud to offer high-quality, academically rigorous online programs that provide immediate value to students as they seek to advance professionally and academically. Assessing and improving program quality is a key focus in the College of Online and Continuing Education, one that is evolving with new, advanced and enhanced quality assurance measures.
“When we talk about students’ success, obviously we want to make sure they are successful in college. But there is a longer-term side to that as well,” said Associate Vice President of Academic Quality & Assessment Randall Case. “We want to make sure students master the skills and abilities necessary for them to transform their lives and realize their personal and professional aspirations. SNHU’s focus on program and course quality is part of our promise to students.”
The COCE Academic Quality & Assessment team is charged with ensuring our courses meet high academic standards and deliver the outcomes we promote to students. Efforts this year include:
- Program reviews, in which industry professionals and faculty evaluate our online degree programs. These reviews enable us to verify that the outcomes that drive our curricula are aligned with what industry leaders expect employees to know, do and be in their workforces. A recent review of information technology programs brought together high-ranking professionals from such companies as Intel, Compaq, state offices of Information Technology and Cloud Industries Health, as well as University College faculty. The review was positive and included recommendations for strengthening programs to help us best prepare students for where the industry is heading. The Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and MBA programs also have been reviewed, and reviews are planned for the remaining COCE degree programs.
- Course reviews, in which the Academic Quality & Assessment team has examined content and provided guidance on outcomes and assessments for more than 150 courses so far this year. The team will review more than 800 COCE courses through the summer to compile data on any with outcomes and assessments that need significant improvement.
- Quality assurance measures that include the creation of an enhanced, more rigorous rubric to ensure all COCE courses adhere to our high standards. This new rubric goes beyond the national, industry-standard rubric used previously because our courses routinely scored very well and the team wants to identify areas for additional improvement.
“The alignment between outcomes, assessments and learning resources is a linchpin of program quality. It helps ensure a coherent student experience by articulating precisely what outcomes students should possess, providing them the tools and resources to master those outcomes, and finally providing feedback on both students’ demonstrated mastery and the effectiveness of the learning resources,” said Case.
In keeping with the university’s drive to collect and focus improvement based on reliable data, the Academic Quality & Assessment team also is working to improve course evaluation and student satisfaction surveys, developing an assessment for the COCE orientation course, assisting the academic team with term-end course analysis to identify best practices, and monitoring student success rates.
“Here you see a level of review and detail rare in traditional course approval processes,” said President Paul LeBlanc, Ph.D. “In addition, we are adding staff whose sole job will be to look ‘inside’ every active class every week to monitor and assess the quality of the teaching and learning. Add to that our automated monitoring of things like the discussion boards and grade books, and I’d stack our quality assurance against anyone else’s.”