St. Olaf and Capella win national honors for their focus on student outcomes

Two Minnesota schools, St. Olaf College and Capella University, were among four institutions nationwide recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation for the schools’ emphasis on student outcomes.

The Council, is an industry association of 3,000 accredited colleges and universities. Factors that CHEA considers for the award include how institutions articulate expected outcomes for academic programs, inform the public about expectations and success, and use the data for improvement. The other recipients were Portland State University in Oregon and the University of Arkansas.

Minneapolis-based Capella University is the first online university to receive the CHEA award, which noted the school’s emphasis on helping adult students meet their educational objectives.

In announcing the award, the Council lauded Capella’s faculty for having “developed an outcomes-based curricular model that begins with adult learners’ educational needs and builds programs and courses to meet those needs. The university’s assessment system capitalizes on this model to gather data on the learning process and to report on outcome attainment.”

The Council award cited Capella’s reports on the curriculum outcomes, career achievements and satisfaction of current students in its degree programs.

Capella University, founded in 1993, is owned by Capella Education Co. (NASDAQ: CPLA). According to the University website, more than 80 percent of its 31,000 students are currently enrolled in master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services, nursing, psychology, public administration, public health, and public safety.

In announcing its receipt of its award, Northfield-based St. Olaf, a 3,000-student liberal arts college,  highlighted its office of Institutional Research and Evaluation,  which gathers and makes public information about student and teacher assessments as well as individual academic programs.

The office is charged with providing “data, reports, and research that support institutional planning, strengthen student learning, and promote understanding of the nature and quality of education” according to the school’s website.

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