Blog: Idea Exchange
How Kaplan University Uses Faculty Activity Reporting to Achieve Strategic Goals
With a nationwide online presence as well as physical campuses in multiple states, Kaplan University needed a faculty activity reporting (FAR) system that would allow it to provide the reporting required for Higher Learning Commission accreditation, multiple professional accrediting bodies and the state educational governing bodies to whom the university reports. But Kaplan has done much more. In addition to meeting its accreditation reporting requirements, the university now leverages data from Digital Measures by Watermark to meet strategic goals including recognizing faculty achievements and promoting community engagement.
Founded in the throes of the Great Depression, the American Institute of Commerce opened to provide postsecondary education to workers seeking better employment opportunities. At the same time, Stanley H. Kaplan began offering tutoring services to immigrant families eager to better their chances in America. Both enterprises evolved until they joined forces and became Kaplan University. Today, Kaplan is committed to general education, a student-centered service and support approach, and applied scholarship in a practical environment to help students achieve their academic and career best.
The Accreditation Challenge
“As an online school, we have students and instructors from all over the country, and that means that we must comply with education regulations that can vary from state to state,” Joni Boone, Faculty Developer at Kaplan University’s Center for Teaching and Learning shared. With so many external stakeholders and such a large faculty body, Kaplan University needed a FAR solution with the ability to tailor reports to the requests of individual states and agencies. “When we need faculty information, it has to be in one place,” Boone explained. “With everything related to faculty housed in Digital Measures by Watermark, we can pull existing reports or customize reports to quickly provide various individuals their requested information.”
The Data Quality Challenge
“One challenge we face is accuracy of reporting. At times faculty will select an incorrect category for their professional development or leave out information that could help strengthen our reports,” Boone explained. To help solve this challenge, the University recently piloted the Data Import feature to capture participation in Kaplan’s annual professional development conference. “Our goal is to save our faculty time and ensure that the professional development they are entering is correctly recorded,” Boone said.
Boone and her team are now rolling out data imports for all professional development activities sponsored by the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning and are looking for additional opportunities to import data, both to ease the data-entry burden on faculty and to continually improve data quality.
Meeting Strategic Goals
Like many universities, Kaplan has set its sights on promoting community engagement. “Since our faculty live throughout the country and are involved in community initiatives, we have the opportunity to target some of those faculty as liaisons to encourage service and educational opportunities with students in their areas and organizations with whom they are involved,” Boone explained. “We are planning to use Digital Measures to help make community connections throughout the country.”
In addition to monthly and annual reporting, university leadership also uses Digital Measures reports to monitor the professional development and scholarship of faculty. Externally promoting faculty accomplishments by automatically updating faculty profiles on its website is a powerful way to spotlight faculty who are contributing to their disciplines and strengthening the University’s reputation through their scholarship. University President Betty Vandenbosch, PhD, recognizes faculty publications and other achievements with the university via live, interactive web chats and faculty town hall meetings regularly throughout the year.