As part of Walden University’s approach to continuous improvement, it participates in academies run by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Walden has completed the Academy for Assessment of Student Learning and is currently participating in the Persistence and Completion Academy.

Academy for Assessment of Student Learning (2006–2011)

Walden University participated in the Academy for Assessment of Student Learning, sponsored by our regional accreditor, The Higher Learning Commission, from 2006 through 2011.

Walden was one of 46 colleges and universities accepted into the academy its first year (2006–2007). Institutions accepted into the academy agreed to work with other participating institutions on a multiyear sequence of activities to share “best practices” and innovations in learning outcomes assessment. Participation lasts for four years, but Walden opted to participate for a fifth year in order to further continue and complete plans.

Each institution in the academy selects, plans, and implements projects to determine the most important outcomes learned by graduates, advance the use of learning outcomes assessment, and improve student learning. Some of the main accomplishments to come out of the academy include:

  • Establishing university standards for creating assessment plans
  • Revising school and college mission and vision statements
  • Broadening the involvement of staff in student learning assessment
  • Revising the learning outcomes assessment cycle and format
  • Introducing the graduation survey, employer survey, and ETS Proficiency Profile
  • Implementing faculty review panels to examine samples of student work
  • Extending the membership and role of the University Assessment Council

As part of its role in the academy, Walden shared its work on learning outcomes assessment with other colleges and universities as well as assessment mentors Dr. Kelly Funk (Michigan State University), Dr. Jenell Bramlage (University of Northwestern Ohio), and Dr. Robert Mundhenk (visiting scholar, HLC). Walden was also asked to share its experience and accomplishments with other universities entering the Assessment Academy via a conference presentation.

Walden currently has two individuals who serve as mentors for other universities going through the Assessment Academy process. These individuals review and give feedback on the plans submitted by other institutions in order to assist them in strengthening their institution’s assessment processes.

  • Dr. Shari L. Jorissen, Office of Institutional Research and Assessment
  • Dr. Sandra Harris, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Persistence and Completion Academy (2017–Present)

Walden University was accepted into The Higher Learning Commission’s Persistence and Completion Academy as part of the spring 2017 cohort. The academy is a four-year commitment during which Walden will share with and learn from other institutions strategy for improving student persistence and completion.

The purpose of the academy is to help institutions build capacity for evaluating and improving student persistence and completion rates through evaluation of institutional data. Each participating institution must identify a specific project or initiative to engage in during the four-year process, with the goal of implementing the initiative institution-wide by the end of year four. In particular, the academy will help institutions define, track, and analyze student retention data, and implement clear goals and strategies for student population groups.

A Persistence and Completion Academy team guides and leads the institution through the academy. Walden’s Persistence and Completion Academy team includes:

  • Annie Pezalla, College of Education
  • Walter McCollum, Office of Student Affairs
  • Jan Garfield, College of Management and Technology
  • Mark Whitley, Student Support Team
  • Max Lill, Academic Advising
  • Josh Saunders, Product Management
  • Rebecca Jobe, Student Progress Initiatives
  • Jim Lenio, Office of Institutional Research and Assessment
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