At Ashford, quality does matter.
Commensurate with Ashford University's mission to provide "high quality learning opportunities and degree programs" multiple assessment initiatives are underway to support course development and other improvements to the learning environment that support this purpose.
The Quality Matters (QM) process is used to achieve standardized, quality curriculum design and to incorporate research, national best practices benchmarking, and external peer review as quality management resources. Quality Matters is a faculty-centered, peer review process that examines 40 specific course design elements, under eight broad standards, to assess the quality of online and hybrid courses and the alignment of critical course components. Ashford University is the first university in the nation to be recognized by Quality Matters for its institutional-level implementation plan.
Through the use of quality standards documented by Quality Matters, Ashford University has intentionally woven into the fabric of instruction best practices in online instructional design. Courses must include well-defined, measurable learning outcomes. All courses are designed to ensure that outcomes are appropriate, that all components align with and support the learning outcomes, and that the courses reflect a cognitive level appropriate to the subject matter and course level within the curriculum. Ashford University has more courses certified by Quality Matters than any other institution in the nation.
Transparency by Design
Ashford University communicates its commitment to online education through its membership in Transparency by Design. Transparency by Design is a consortium of accredited colleges and universities aimed at providing adult learners with better information about choosing a degree-granting, online education institution. Transparency by Design provides adult learners information on program-level learning outcomes, how outcomes are measured and how students performed on these measures. Also, the site provides adult learners additional information on student satisfaction, progress rate, and other related data on each member institution participating in the initiative. This partnership provides additional resources that will help students make informed decisions about their education. This type of partnership will raise the bar and motivate all participating institutions to reach new levels of achievement. Ashford University looks forward to collaborating with other institutions on significant transparency issues.
Essential to Ashford University's Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan is the incorporation of Waypoint Outcomes, an electronic grading rubric and assessment data-gathering tool which is integrated with the learning management system. There are two central features of Waypoint. The first is the significant improvement in quality of feedback to students from their instructors. Using a strategically designed rubric with well-defined evaluation criteria and optional editable feedback, instructors can quickly and efficiently grade papers while still providing robust and meaningful feedback to students. The other important feature is the ability of this tool to gather data on how well students are meeting course, program, institutional, and other learning outcomes. Each individual criterion in a grading rubric is mapped to one or more outcomes.