Who evaluates WGU performance assessments?

Who evaluates WGU performance assessments?

The professionals who provide quality feedback on performance task submissions are WGU evaluation faculty members. They hold academic credentials and professional experience in their respective fields that are pertinent to the courses they evaluate, and they are critical to each student’s journey toward graduation. Although their quality feedback is an essential part of the WGU student learning experience, these faculty members are much less visible to students. To maintain the high level of objectivity necessary to deliver fair and accurate evaluations, student and evaluator information and their interactions are restricted to the anonymous performance assessment environment. In addition, evaluators dedicate themselves to delivering helpful feedback quickly, usually well under the 72-hour service level to which they are committed. They participate in student success as they observe the growth of students who improve their submissions based on their quality feedback and as they see students continue on to graduation.


Evaluation faculty members are hired based on their educational degrees, work experience, and appropriate licensure and credentials. Evaluators are subject matter experts in their disciplines who are able to apply competency-based education within their role at the university. Once hired, these faculty members undergo a rigorous online training program that develops their ability to evaluate effectively using rubrics and to provide appropriate feedback according to the specific procedures and assessments within their area of expertise. Thereafter, evaluators calibrate with other evaluators on their team, with the guidance of course leads and based on quality assurance checks, inter-rater agreement studies, and multi-variate analysis. (For further details, see “How do evaluators deliver quality feedback?”)


The map below shows where the 1,111 Evaluation Department employees live; some 962 of them are Evaluation faculty members while the remaining employees are management, administrative, and support staff. Of the Evaluation Department employees, 343 (31%) hold doctorates; roughly 994 (90%) hold master’s degrees.

 

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WGU evaluators live in every state, working full- and part-time from their home offices. Because we employ evaluators from all across the country, this removes regional bias from our evaluations. About 75 percent of evaluation faculty work for WGU part-time (on average 15 to 25 hours a week), and the majority of the part-timers are employed in academic and professional careers outside of WGU related to their evaluation area. Using these part-time professionals enables WGU to apply up-to-date industry expertise to our standards for competency.

 

Here are photographs of evaluators at some regional gatherings when they sometimes meet with other Evaluation Department members:

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Click on the Academic Area below to learn more about faculty members in in each college and general education.

Academic Area                                   

Number of Faculty  

(August 2017) 

General Education 136
College of Business 142
College of Health Professions 357
College of Information Technology 41
College of Teacher Education 286
Grand Total 962

 

General Education

WGU’s evaluation faculty represent the broad range of subject areas encompassed in general education: composition and communication; humanities and literature; social sciences; and mathematics and sciences. Currently, 28 percent of evaluators have doctorates, and 68 percent have a master’s as their highest degree held. Most all general education faculty members have taught at high school, community college, and/or university levels.


The language and communications evaluation faculty have degrees in English, journalism, language arts, playwriting, and creative writing. They bring experience from being communications directors of large agencies, teaching international students, and work at non-profit agencies. They are authors of plays, poetry, and short stories. Humanities, literature, and social sciences evaluation faculty members have diverse academic backgrounds, including historical preservation, liberal arts (history of ideas), philosophy, sculpture, creative writing, medieval and renaissance literature, U.S. and world history, social science, media technology, history, humanities, economics, sociology, psychology, world religions, and political science. They have worked in the U.S. and abroad teaching ESL, literacy, writing, acting, and in areas of their academic pursuits. Math and science evaluation faculty hold degrees in mathematics, chemistry, engineering, biology, biochemistry, and environmental science, as well as educational degrees in mathematics education, curriculum and instruction, and secondary science education. They have worked as math and science teachers and professors, analytical chemists, molecular biologists, engineers, and researchers with peer-reviewed publications. The wealth of expertise evident in these faculty members enable them to evaluate student performance assessments with rigor.

 

College of Business

WGU’s business evaluation faculty represent the gamut of WGU subject areas in this discipline: marketing, business law, leadership, ethics, accounting, finance, economics, quantitative analysis, leadership, and management. At this writing, twenty-five (18%) have doctorates and 116 (82%) have a master’s as their highest degree held.


Undergraduate business faculty hold graduate degrees ranging from organizational leadership, business administration, law, and economics to public administration, accounting, finance, and human resources. Many have advanced licenses and specializations such as: certified public accounting, strategic workforce planning, project management, business education, financial management, certified fraud examination, tax regulations, investment, marketing, six sigma-black belt, state bar qualifications, and human resources certifications. These business faculty members have worked as business owners, finance executives, consultants, controllers, managers, litigators, legal advisors, marketers, faculty, and recruiters in corporate, industry, military, and non-profit organizations. Such perspectives, gleaned from diverse business applications, contribute to the efficacy of their WGU business students’ evaluations.


Graduate business evaluation faculty bring credentials and essential work experience in the areas of WGU’s graduate degrees: management, strategy, operations, economics, decision-making, marketing, communications, healthcare management, information technology, leadership, ethics, accounting, data analytics, and human resources. WGU business evaluators have many years of professional business experience in a wide range of industries, such as Fortune 500 manufacturing and logistics companies, accounting and financial firms, healthcare and small business owners, real estate and government. Several evaluators joined WGU after high-level management positions in corporations, industry, or military service. They hold certifications such as certified public accountant (CPA), quality management (ISO 9001), six sigma black belt, American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), certified information systems security professional (CISSP), certification in healthcare privacy compliance (CHPC), professional engineer (PE), and have passed various state bar exams. The wealth of experience and education among our evaluators allows them to assess competency from a real-world business perspective.

 

College of Health Professions

To evaluate the diverse nursing, health information, and healthcare management degrees that WGU offers, health professions evaluation faculty possess expertise to cover the broad range of health assessment competencies. These include: organizational leadership, marketing, human capital, global economics, biochemistry, compliance, coding, ethics, informatics, financial management, data driven decision-making, community health, critical care, service line development, health information technology, general science, translational research, pathopharmacology, nutritional science, healthcare for specific populations, health assessment, global health, policy, and field experience. Of the current health profession faculty members at this writing, 145 (40%) have doctorates and 209 (58%) have a master’s as their highest degree held.
Evaluation faculty working with WGU healthcare and information management submissions have advanced graduate or terminal degrees in the areas of those assessments and related disciplines such as nursing, health services management, business administration, and health sciences. All evaluators in health informatics hold one or more specialized credentials such as respiratory therapist (RRT), registered health information administrator (RHIA), registered health information technician (RHIT), registered nurse (RN), certified professional coder (CPC), and six sigma black belt. These evaluators have collective experience in large healthcare organizations, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies, as well as in education and security. Team members’ varied backgrounds, accrued experience, and real-world healthcare perspectives ideally position them to effectively evaluate student competency and prepare students to learn to embrace the fast pace of change they will encounter in healthcare environments.


Evaluators of WGU’s nursing programs are subject matter experts with a phenomenal range of education and expertise. All team members have graduate degrees, and the range of specialties is impressive–from healthcare administration to nursing education, gerontology to community health, and midwifery to family practice. They include juris doctorates (JD), biochemistry PhDs, and doctorates in nursing practice (DNP). Practically all evaluators are registered nurses, with licenses across roughly 30 states, and their certifications and expertise cover a wide variety of disciplines, including nurse practitioners and nurse educators. When evaluators are not working in assisted-living facilities or emergency rooms, teaching at brick-and-mortar universities, doing clinical researching, or serving in the military, they are “nursing” their passion for preparing WGU students to become competent nurses who meet and exceed standards in the healthcare industry.

 

College of Information Technology

WGU’s information technology (IT) evaluation faculty possess the expertise required to assess IT degree competencies. These include: cybersecurity, information assurance, data management, data analytics, network operations, software development, and IT management. Seventeen (41%) have doctorates and 24 (59%) have a master’s as their highest degree held at the time of this publication. They hold graduate degrees in management information systems, computer science, information systems, software management, information security and assurance, information technology management, as well as related fields such as business administration, management, engineering, and educational technology.


The IT evaluation team has direct experience with networking, security, database administration, and programming. Most evaluators have industry-recognized certifications such as CCNA, CISSP, ISC2, CNE, CEH, MCSE, PMP, HIPAA specialist, database design, Oracle, Java, Network+, CompTIA, Sun, Adobe, Enterprise Architecture, Scrum Master, among many others. IT evaluators have hands-on experience in the field, and a large portion of them currently have leadership positions such as managers, network administrators, and IT directors. This experience and expertise in the wide and ever-evolving IT spectrum throughout many industries allow them to provide meaningful evaluations to students.

 

College of Teacher Education

The evaluation faculty in teacher education are specially qualified to conduct performance assessments in several major areas: (1) content (interdisciplinary studies, special education, science – chemistry, physics, biology, geosciences, and English); (2) effective teaching practices (pedagogy, classroom management, childhood and adolescent development); (3) licensure acquisition (pre-clinical experience, demonstration teaching, and portfolio creation); and (4) advanced programs for already-licensed teachers (curriculum and instruction, special education, educational leadership, English language learning [ELL], instructional design, learning and technology, mathematics education and science education). At this time, of the 287 teacher education evaluation faculty members, 107 (37%) have doctorates and 169 (59%) have a master’s as their highest degree.


Many of the WGU faculty members who evaluate in math, science, language arts, and social sciences are the same faculty as those in General Education; please find a description of their qualifications above. Those engaged in the specialized content areas of reading, language arts teaching, children’s literature, English language learning (ELL), health, and the visual and performing arts are uniquely qualified to evaluate in those areas. All team members have taught or are currently teaching elementary and middle school levels, and many of them have secondary-level or college/university teaching experience outside of WGU. Most of them have master’s degrees in their field of educational specialization; many have doctorates. Many evaluators have earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification, and most have active teacher certification as well as specialized certificates and endorsements. They are evaluation professionals who are also practicing classroom teachers, published authors/editors, reading coaches and interventionists, counselors, college instructors, and school administrators. These faculty members maintain the expertise to effectively evaluate WGU degree-candidate assessments in K-12 content areas, effective teaching practices, and the specialized in-classroom experiences to demonstrate teaching competencies and develop the portfolio required to obtain a teaching license.


Roughly 75% of evaluation faculty members working in the non-licensure graduate teacher education programs hold doctorates in the teaching fields of educational leadership, instructional technology, learning and cognition, curriculum and instruction, neuroscience, counseling, cultural foundations of education, special education, administration, ethical leadership, mathematics, and statistics. The others hold master’s degrees in these same and similar educational fields. The team brings a wealth of classroom, curriculum, counseling, media production, instructional technology, and administrative (superintendent and principal) experience to their assessment work. Collectively, they have worked at all levels of education -- early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school, and many have been on college/university faculties in these degree fields prior to evaluating at WGU. Each team member is enthusiastic about helping WGU students successfully meet their educational and professional career goals.

 

Conclusion

In summary, WGU faculty evaluators form a remarkable body of qualified professionals, recruited for their specific abilities, trained in the best competency-based assessment practices, and calibrated within their teams to give students effective and meaningful feedback. These evaluators strive to deliver feedback to performance assessments quickly, in a manner that is fair, accurate, and helpful. Their commitment to excellent service enables WGU students to demonstrate the necessary competencies and progress through their degree programs to graduate with the prized WGU diploma.