Melanie BrownEditor’s Note: Melanie Brown directs the Academic Skills Center in the Center for Student Success at Walden University. She has also supported students at Walden as an student success advisor, dissertation editor, and writing instructor. She has worked in higher education for 10 years, serving as director of The Writing Center and the Writing Across the Curriculum program at St. Norbert College near Green Bay, Wisconsin. She and her partner live in Minneapolis, are avid three-season bike commuters, and hike every year among the rocks at Zion National Park.

Criterion Four—Taking Responsibility for Educational Quality and Improvement

The Criterion Four subcommittee documents how Walden University takes responsibility for the quality and continuous improvement of its educational programs and support services. In the HLC assurance argument, we present evidence in three categories: (1) quality of educational programs, (2) data-driven improvement through student learning assessment, and (3) attention to retention and completion rates.

Educational Quality

One way we ensure educational quality is by conducting regular academic program reviews (APRs) in our colleges and co-curricular reviews in our student support centers. An APR consists of a program’s self-study, a quality assurance review conducted by the university’s Academic Quality and Accreditation office, evidence from external reviewers, and the program committee’s review of and response to the APR’s findings. The review culminates in an action plan for the program to follow to improve the quality of its offerings for students.

Specialized accreditation also denotes the quality of university programs. For more information on our specialized programmatic accreditations, visit

Continuous Improvement for Student Learning

Measurable student learning outcomes help the university identify strengths and areas for improvement in student learning experiences at course, program, college, and university levels. Faculty members, assessment coordinators, and instructional staff participate substantially in Walden’s student learning assessment processes. Two ways the university assesses student learning are by using rubrics in courses and completing annual Learning Outcome Reports (LORbooks).

  • Walden University Rubric Guide—Updated in 2014, this guide presents best practices in rubric design. This year, the university will begin using Blackboard’s electronic rubric tool, which will give students the opportunity to see their rubric requirements before submitting assignments and to keep rubric feedback accessible after their assignments are graded and returned.

  • LORbooks—Faculty members and assessment staff analyze course assignments related to program-level learning outcomes. The team reviews data from direct assessments (e.g., assignment grades, dissertation/doctoral study rubric ratings) and indirect assessments (e.g., from the university’s Student Satisfaction Survey and Employer Survey, among others) to identify points for course and program changes to improve student achievement of learning outcomes.

Focus on Student Success

The success of our students remains our top priority; therefore, we continually search for ways to help students thrive in their programs as they work toward their degrees. Faculty and administrators use data to develop student support initiatives. Such initiatives include implementation of MyDR for dissertation/doctoral study document tracking, establishment of capstone intensive retreats, and development of the doctoral proposal revision workshops in the Academic Skills Center.

As members of the Walden community, your comments on these topics are important to us. In your role at the university, how have you seen curricular or program changes implemented to help students achieve learning outcomes? Share your comments at

Man sitting at latop
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we're here to help.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our International Form if you live outside of the U.S.
Talk to your personal enrollment advisor for more information today. Please use our Domestic Form if you live in the U.S.
*Required Field
Academic Interests
Contact Information
Invalid email address
Please provide a valid phone number
Please provide a valid zipcode
Additional Information
Get Started

By submitting this form, I understand and agree that Walden University may contact me via email, text, telephone, and prerecorded message regarding furthering my education and that calls may be generated using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our privacy policy or contact us for more details.


By checking this box, I agree that Walden University may contact me by email, text message, autodialed telephone call, and prerecorded message at the contact information provided above regarding opportunities and offers to further my education. I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time and that my consent is not a condition of any purchase. I have received the Walden University Privacy Policy