Editor’s note: Gordon Scott McLean, MA, has served as a contributing faculty member, lead faculty, and subject matter expert in the BS and MS in Communication programs since 2009. He studied at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Scott and his family live in Gig Harbor, Washington; they also devote time to building a rural high school outside of Puerto Montt, Chile.
We can hardly open a web browser or newspaper without seeing a headline about the state of higher education today. Articles proclaim the need for quality teaching and learning in our colleges and universities, debate what constitutes quality teaching and learning from many angles, and highlight excellent outcomes and/or poor results. The message is clear: We want a better future, and we recognize that education plays an important role not only in our professional and personal success, but also in the world around us.
Higher education provides a proven ladder to opportunities, and we all need access to that ladder. Educational accomplishments translate to real-world benefits: higher lifetime earnings and more opportunities. We need education in order to thrive, but as the headlines attest, it is anything but easy for students around the world.
With all that in mind, Criterion Three is the first of two criteria looking at teaching and learning. The focus of Criterion Three is specifically on the institution’s resources and support services, the quality of those resources and support services, and the rigor of its academic programs. Our assurance argument emphasizes not only Walden’s commitment to high-quality programs, but also the high-quality faculty, staff, and resources in place to support them.
We live in a dynamic, diverse world, increasingly connected through technology and mobility. One size does not fit all—and it doesn't have to. We compete and collaborate in global marketplaces, and our education must adapt to reflect our modern reality. Walden University reflects this modern reality. We bring faculty members who have real-world experience together with passionate students who are dedicated to achieving their academic goals while honoring the responsibilities of their profession and work—wherever they are in the world, all over the globe. We use technology to create learning communities that bring together people who are diverse, multilingual, multicultural, rich in experience, and centered around our common goal: educating students to carry out positive social change.
Teaching and learning at Walden can take on numerous forms. In addition to the learning outcomes for each course, Walden students receive extensive practice in academic writing, critical thinking, and using evidence to support arguments. Learning also extends to the students’ academic and professional goals, and how to translate academic learning into skills to be used in their fields. Walden provides numerous support services and resources, such as the Academic Skills Center, Writing Center, and Career Services Center, to help ensure that all students can succeed in their academic work and effectively put their education into practice.
The faculty members at Walden are a critical element of our quality as well as our inspiration.
Our faculty members have the appropriate credentials and skills to excel in their university roles, and they keep up with training and professional development to stay current in their fields. Eighty-four percent of our faculty members possess doctorates, and another 3% have earned JD or MD degrees; the remaining 13 percent hold master’s degrees.
Our credential review process matches faculty expertise with course/mentoring assignments. The university provides faculty members and students with a plethora of educational resources and support services geared toward success. The faculty portal provides easy access to excellent classroom teaching resources, and the Center for Research Quality and Center for Student Success provide numerous study aids for students. In addition, faculty members may attend regular educational programs through the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE). The CFE also supports a variety of development and training resources to ensure that instructors are adept and enriched in their teaching roles. Faculty members are a regular presence in the online classrooms and are fully engaged with students. Faculty members are also encouraged to pursue professional development opportunities by authoring and presenting scholarly research with the support of grant money and time.
While the headlines may call education to the forefront, it is for good reason: Education is important to all of us.
The Criterion Three subcommittee has shown that Walden University provides quality teaching and learning opportunities for working adults around the world. In honoring our commitment, we propel our students to advance themselves, provide more opportunities for their children, and become stronger pillars in their communities.
Do you have any other examples or suggestions to add? If so, please share your comments, questions, or thoughts with Pathway to HLC Excellence at HLCFeedback@waldenu.edu.