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Faculty Performance for Learner Success: Case Study of Capella University's FlexPath

Kimberly Pearce (Capella University, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 3:45pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere D
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 4

Faculty performance expectations in competency-based and direct assessment programs vary. Learn how Capella University's FlexPath model positions faculty to assert their expertise for learner success.

Extended Abstract

Capella University was the first institution to earn regional accreditation and Department of Education approval to offer competency-based direct assessment at the bachelors' and masters' levels. Capella's 10+ years of offering competency-based curricula and authentic assessments evaluated with criterion-focused scoring guides by scholar-practitioner faculty well-positioned FlexPath for success. As FlexPath grew from its initial offering in October of 2013, the pressure on faculty evaluation of learners' competency demonstration significantly increased. As a result, FlexPath and faculty leadership collaborated to articulate an enhanced strategy and implementation framework for faculty performance that more distinctly focuses on learner success.
This framework was built with both urgency and scalability in mind. The specific components include:

1. Explicitly defined performance expectations on both qualitative and quantitative dimensions
2. Faculty-facing development resources.
3. Leadership-facing dashboards with quantitative measures and drill-down capabilities to quickly view faculty's feedback to learners.
4. Qualitative study performed by faculty peer reviewers.
5. Regular reviews of performance with acknowledgement and coaching.
6. On-demand text mining and predictive analytics.
7. Commitment to continuous quality improvement.

Results to-date include significant improvement on both quantitative and qualitative measures. Learner satisfaction with faculty feedback is at an all-time high.

This case study will describe the environment in which FlexPath is positioned, the faculty performance expectations, the quantitative and qualitative methods we use to measure performance, the tools deployed to improve faculty development and leadership support, and our planned improvements.

Lead Presenter

Kimberly Pearce is Director of Academic Quality Analytics and Accreditation and serves as the FlexPath Academic Lead at Capella University. She has been at Capella for 12 years and has served in a number of roles including Sr. Academic Policy Analyst, Manager of Assessment and Director of Assessment and Institutional Research. In these roles she helped lead Capella to optimize its curriculum, instructional and assessment systems to offer FlexPath, the first regionally accredited and Department of Education approved competency-based, direct assessment programs for bachelors and masters level business programs. Kim provided significant leadership to the definition and launch of Transparency by Design/College Choices for Adults, the first public collaboration of colleges and universities that delivered online learning to adults, to publish quality indicators such as program-level learning outcomes assessment results, learner satisfaction, and alumni outcomes. She also spearheaded the development of Capella's award-winning Learning & Career Outcomes site at capellaresults.com. She previously worked at the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport and taught at the University of Minnesota and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kim earned her BS from Appalachian State University, her MS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is currently ABD at the University of Minnesota. She has authored numerous publications and conference presentations throughout her career.