Today, APUS will be awarded the 2009 Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education at the Sloan Consortium‘s International Conference on Online Learning in Orlando, Florida. The Sloan Consortium is a membership organization of approximately 1800 higher education institutions, dedicated to improving online learning. The Gomory Award has been given annually since 2002 to “an institution that has demonstrated its commitment to assessing and improving the quality of its online education programs through quantitative application of the Sloan-C Quality Pillars.” Prior to 2002, the award was given but not named in honor of Dr. Gomory. Though schools could nominate a single degree program, a cluster of programs within a specific department or school, or the online degree offerings of the institution as a whole, APUS decided to nominate itself using the third criteria listed above.
The Ralph E. Gomory Award is named for Dr. Ralph E. Gomory, President Emeritus of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dr. Gomory has had an illustrious career that includes Chairman of IBM Research’s Mathematical Sciences Department from 1965-67 and eventually IBM’s Senior Vice President for Science and Technology, the position from which he retired from IBM in 1989. After his tenure at IBM, Dr. Gomory became President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation where he became a pioneer in the field of online education. Dr. Gomory has served as a Trustee of Hampshire College (1977-1986) and of Princeton University (1985-1989). He served as a board member of the Washington Post Company. He also served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) from 1984 until 1992. In 2007, after nearly two decades as President of the Sloan Foundation, Dr. Gomory became President Emeritus and continues to play an integral role in the development and improvement of online learning programs.
APUS’ assessment mechanisms are among the most well-developed in the country. Since 2004, we have publicly posted our outcome assessment results on our website. Our Learning Outcomes Assessment process, for example, produces invaluable feedback to academic programs on the performance of educational processes so that each program may continue to improve the quality of the APUS experience for each of our more than 50,000 students. Through the process, APUS is able to gauge what students are learning and continuously improve on the student learning environment through enhanced courses and academic programs.
APUS uses five questions outlined by the Higher Learning Commission in 2005 to guide the learning outcomes assessment process:
• How are your student learning outcomes appropriate to your mission, program, and degrees?
• What evidence do you have that students achieve your stated learning outcomes?
• In what ways do you analyze and use evidence of student learning?
• How do you ensure shared responsibility for assessment of student learning?
• How do you evaluate and improve the effectiveness of your efforts to assess and improve student learning?
APUS utilizes two tests that various students must take depending on their program level and field of study. The Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP) test serves as an evaluation of overall academic knowledge and skill. All undergraduate students at APUS must complete the MAPP test during their senior year. APUS examines student scores on the Major Field Test (MFT) as the second component to its Learning Outcomes Assessment process. The MFT is a subject-specific test that examines the student’s basic knowledge and understanding of the core curriculum in specific disciplines. In addition to completing the MAPP test, undergraduate students in the fields of Business Administration, Criminal Justice, History, English, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology will complete the MFT. Graduate students seeking the Master of Business Administration degree also complete the MFT.
APUS has grown substantially in less than two decades because of its continuing goal of improving the quality and outcomes of the learning experience for its students. APUS is dedicated to providing access to respected programs at an affordable price, tenants that many policymakers have recently embraced. Through evaluative processes like our Learning Outcomes Assessment, we have been able to continually improve our programs. I will be in Orlando today with several other APUS deans, faculty and staff to receive this distinguished award. I am very proud of receiving this recognition and am even prouder of the countless hours spent by our faculty and staff in measuring, monitoring, evaluating, and implementing improvements in online learning for our students.