THE UNIVERSITY’S TEACHING AND LEARNING MODEL

THE UNIVERSITY’S TEACHING AND LEARNING MODEL
The mission of University of Phoenix is to provide access to higher education opportunities that enable students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve their professional goals. As a result, the University's teaching and learning model is grounded in the theoretical and empirical literature of learning and cognitive psychology. The University employs best practice from recent education literature, as well as best service practices that enhance the academic experience for students who are new to higher education. This combination increases student retention and successful degree completion.
Active Learning
The model is based first on the assumption that the learner's active involvement in the learning process is essential to good practice. Thus, in all modalities University of Phoenix classrooms are intended to be dynamic learning spaces. Instructors are expected to serve as facilitators of learning who manage the learning process by engaging learners in a variety of activities (lectures being but one) that lead students to an understanding of course content and the development of academic and professional competence. By involving students in a variety of learning activities, respect is demonstrated for diverse ways of learning and knowing. Interaction and participation in classes and Learning Teams is expected of those students in the bachelor and master degree programs. Students entering into Axia College who are pursuing an associate degree are involved in collaborative learning activities, but are not required to participate in formal Learning Teams.
Collaboration
The effectiveness of cooperation and collaboration in enhancing learning is well and widely documented. Structures that encourage and facilitate collaboration are central to the University's teaching and learning model. Working students frequently come to formal learning activities with greater life and work experience. This means that learners themselves can be invaluable resources in enhancing their own and others' learning. Traditional pedagogy emphasizes a top-down, vertical transfer of information. Students with rich and varied experience find benefit in instructional practices that encourage collaboration. This adds a robust horizontal dimension to the learning exchange as students teach and learn from one another. Good practice in education capitalizes on this dimension to the students’ advantage.
Emphasis on Application and Relevance
There is wide agreement in the literature that students learn best when bridges are built between new knowledge and the learners’ experience. Practices that encourage reflection and application are based on the recognition that a learner's experience provides a context through which he or she is more able to construct meaning from new information. It also makes learning relevant to the learners. In University of Phoenix courses, students' experiences and current circumstances are interwoven with subject matter in class discussions as well as in individual and Learning Team and other collaborative assignments. Real-world relevance is critical to basic comprehension as well as to maintaining student interest. Students very often say they are able to apply at work the next day what they learned in class the night before.
University-Wide Learning Goals
The University's faculty leadership has established five broad "learning goals" that guide curriculum development, instruction, learning assessment, and program evaluation and improvement. The first of these goals, Professional Competence and Values, relates to the discipline-specific course and program content. University of Phoenix wants graduates to attain levels of theoretical and practical disciplinary knowledge appropriate to the levels of degrees or credentials they are earning (i.e. bachelor, master, or doctoral level). The remaining four goals relate to the development of competence in essential intellectual and social processes that will enable graduates to practice their professions successfully.
Curriculum
The University has created a centrally managed, faculty-developed curriculum with objectives and outcomes that are carefully defined. Individual instructors then have the responsibility to expand and enhance the basic curriculum by augmenting it with current resources and practices. The curriculum is under continual content and quality review.
Convenience of Time and Place
University of Phoenix classroom programs are offered at times and in places that are convenient to adult learners. Classes are held primarily in the evening and on weekends when learners are most likely to need access. The University’s goal is to make access to programs and services convenient to its student population. Wherever possible, campuses and learning centers are located at strategic locations near major freeways and thoroughfares that permit convenient access.
Access
Access in the 21st Century means many different things. To the student in rural America or the working parent with children at home, access may be possible only through an Internet connection. Those students usually work toward their degrees through the Online Campus or through courses offered via FlexNet®, a combination of classroom and online learning. The University's goal is to make access to programs and services available to all those who wish to avail themselves of them and to work to completion of a degree program.
Program Format
University of Phoenix is a non-term institution and does not operate according to a traditional academic calendar. New student cohorts can begin at any time. Typically, graduate courses at University of Phoenix meet for six consecutive weeks and undergraduate courses meet for five weeks. When a course ends, the next course usually begins the following week. This intensive calendar allows students to achieve their educational goals in a more time-efficient manner. The University's low student/faculty ratio and class size that averages 13 students facilitate active learning and collaboration and encourage time-on-task. As a rule, bachelor and graduate degree seeking students take only one course at a time. This allows them to focus attention and resources on one subject, a structure that enhances learning and helps students balance ongoing professional and personal responsibilities.
Student-Friendly Services
University of Phoenix has found that adult students tend to hold higher expectations of student services than their younger counterparts. They expect from the University the same level of attention they expect from any other service provider. Increasingly, that implies 24 x 7 access to student services. This is one of the University’s major initiatives -- to move to electronic or telephone access as much as possible while still providing face-to-face service when needed. For example, rather than ask students to go to a bookstore to purchase books and class materials, all curriculum, course materials, and learning assets can be found online at any hour of the day within the electronic course materials. Students may contact a representative at any time throughout their enrollment to discuss transfer credit application and degree completion options.
Learning Teams
In addition to regular course instructional sessions, bachelor's and master's level students meet weekly in Learning Teams. Learning Teams are small groups of three to six students drawn from within the larger cohort. Learning Teams are an essential design element in the University's teaching and learning model through which students develop the ability to collaborate -- an ability expected of employees in information-age organizations and one of the University's primary learning goals.
Attendance Requirements
Students are expectedto attend team meetings and actively participate in the team's activities. At the end of each course, students are given the opportunity to evaluate the contributions of each team member to the accomplishments of team goals.
Learning Team Time and Meeting Requirements
Learning Teams meet weekly between course workshops. Some Learning Team meetings are faculty led and are intended to present new academic content and provide guidance on ongoing, collaborative projects and assignments. In standard three semester-credit undergraduate courses of five workshops, teams should meet together between workshops for approximately five hours per week. In standard three semester-credit graduate courses of six workshops, teams should meet together each week between workshops for approximately four hours per week. (Note: A small number of courses offered by University of Phoenix may differ in the number of credit hours and workshops. Please consult the Instructor Syllabus for Learning Team requirements for those courses).
Appropriate Meeting Locations
Learning Teams are required to select sites for Learning Team meetings that are conducive to learning. The following locations are considered acceptable: University of Phoenix classrooms and study rooms; local, city, or state libraries; university or college libraries; and company or corporate training or meeting rooms. A student residence or other location would be acceptable if the following criteria are met:
1. An individual seat for each student.
2. A desk or flat writing surface for each student.
3. An adequately lit environment to ensure the ability of each student to read.
4. A quiet environment with no ambient noise such as loud music.
5. An adequately controlled room temperature to allow for the comfort of each student.
6. The ability to access University Library services either by phone or Internet.
7. An adequate provision for restroom facilities for both genders.
8. A place for convenient student parking.
9. Virtual and teleconference meetings may be appropriate substitutes for some of the activities normally done face-to-face. Content and team objectives for the week need to be taken into account when decisions to meet other than face-to-face are made.
Learning Team Log
During each face-to-face workshop, members of a Learning Team meet together to schedule their next meeting time, duration, and place. This information is entered on a University of Phoenix Learning Team Log, which is turned in to the faculty member at the start of the next class. As the team meets, the log is used to document the attendance of members and record the learning and process of the team.
Learning Team Charter
During the first meeting of a Learning Team in each course, teams complete a Team Charter using the University's Learning Team Charter form found in the Learning Team Toolkit within the electronic course materials. This is completed by team members in a collaborative process and a copy is submitted to the instructor at the second workshop.
Faculty
University of Phoenix faculty members are accomplished managers, technology leaders, professional educators, corporate executives, financial officers, healthcare and human services professionals and leaders in other professional arenas . A listing
of faculty may be obtained at each local campus. Current contact information for each campus may be found at http://www.phoenix.edu.
Academic Quality and Outcomes Assessment-Ensuring Consistent Quality
Over the last three decades, University of Phoenix has made significant investments in developing and maintaining institutional research capabilities. These systems measure and evaluate the University's effectiveness in achieving objectives and improving institutional processes. Assessment is an ongoing part of every degree program at every campus. Assessment occurs throughout each learner's program of study, with various measures being taken at the time of registration, throughout their programs, upon graduation, and several years following graduation.
The comprehensive nature of the assessment system and the longitudinal data produced, provide the University with significant and meaningful input that is used to review and improve every aspect of the institution. Data gathered from course evaluations and student learning outcomes are used in the curriculum development process, as well as in the creation of faculty development tools. Administrative support systems are also streamlined and made more user-friendly, building on the analysis of information gathered.
Student Technology Recommendations and Competencies
In an effort to assist students with adequate preparation for their course work at the University of Phoenix, technology recommendations and competencies have been established. These recommendations and competencies are in effect for the School of Advanced Studies, and the Colleges of Graduate Business and Management, Undergraduate Business and Management, Education, Information Systems and Technology, Health Sciences and Nursing, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and General and Professional Studies. To that end, students will need to access and use the hardware and software as described below. Additional recommendations and competencies may be required for particular courses/programs. Students using software and hardware other than that recommended must still meet the technology competencies. Please note that due to the rapid rate of change in information technology, hardware and software competencies will be updated on a regular basis. Some courses in the College of Information Systems and Technology may require additional software.
Technology Recommendations
The University recommends that students have access to a computer that meets the following specifications:
Hardware & Peripherals
Software/Applications
For the College of Information Systems and Technology, access to additional software is required - all required software is listed within the electronic course materials. As of this catalog printing, the following software is used:
For the Master of Science in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner and the Post Masters Family Nurse Practitioner program, we recommend the following:
Note: If the student needs to purchase the indicated computer system, the College of IS&T recommends the student consider acquiring a portable computer (laptop or notebook) for use during classroom demonstrations. The School of Advanced Studies requires Doctoral Students to bring a laptop computer to the residencies. Once enrolled, discounts on computer hardware and software can be found in the Student Store on the http://ecampus.phoenix.edu website.
Technology Competencies
Students attending the University of Phoenix are expected to have the ability to complete the following activities:
Complete, send, and receive assignments to faculty or other students using e-mail and attachments/files.
Use the University of Phoenix Electronic Library also known as the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and/or Internet for research and completion of course assignments.
Use the appropriate software for the course. (The University uses as standards Microsoft® Office products including MS® Word, MS® Project, MS® Excel, MS® Power Point, etc.)
Online Learning System
The University’s Online Learning System (OLS) is a computer- and web-based learning environment that has replaced the traditional classroom for many University of Phoenix students. It offers a convenient medium for faculty-to-student and student-to-student interaction. An easy-to-use, easy-to-access system, OLS allows students “to go to class” to engage in individual and group discussion or lectures, anytime or any place! OLS works with most Internet Service Providers. It features a familiar “Windows” type format, which makes navigation fast and easy. A full set of capabilities allows students to complete 100% of their education and administration online (Doctoral students are required to attend residencies). In addition to participating in the full range of class meeting and study group activities, students can communicate with instructors, interact with classmates, and conduct their research online. They can also:
Even without the new software, students can log on to our Web site from any Internet Service Provider – so they can check their e-mail and access student services from any location and computer.
Distance Education
The University of Phoenix recognizes that adult professionals are sometimes faced with obstacles that prevent continued commitment to classroom instruction. Students may be employed in remote areas, may be traveling extensively on the job, or may have been transferred on the job following the start of a degree program. Because the University of Phoenix was developed to provide educational services to adult learners, distance education options were developed to allow these students to continue their life–long learning when faced with such obstacles. Distance education options include computer–based educational modalities that are group-based. The same rigor expected in the classroom exists for distance education students when completing curriculum goals, objectives, and outcomes.
FlexNet®
Select University of Phoenix locations offer degree programs through the University’s FlexNet program. This learning modality combines the online and campus-based classroom experiences into one. Through FlexNet, students attend the first and last night of class at one of the University’s campus-based locations, while the remaining nights of class are conducted online.
Group-Based Online Education
The Online computer–based educational delivery system has extended the boundaries of the classroom. It is an outgrowth of the University’s recognition of the technological transformation of the workplace. The Online program utilizes the Online Learning System (OLS) that makes group learning possible independent of time and location. Rather than gathering in a classroom, students and instructors interact electronically and asynchronously. Unlike other forms of distance learning, such as directed study, online education is interactive and participative. Online students can complete their University studies from virtually anywhere in the world.
Structure
Students in the group-based Online program benefit from the same quality, real world-oriented education that as distinguished the University of Phoenix since it was founded. Students become active members of a learning group of between 7-20 adult learners, and work in smaller learning teams each week on required projects and assignments. Students complete one course at a time, then move on to the next course in the same way as students who meet face–to–face.
Process
When students are admitted to the program, they are provided with all the information needed to connect to the Online Learning System. Prior to the start of the first class, students become familiar with the system through an Online orientation. At this time, group members will become acquainted through an exchange of professional and academic backgrounds. Additionally, students will be introduced to their first instructor who will explain the nature of the course and give the first assignment. Each week’s instruction begins with a general class meeting. Here, the instructor introduces all the material to be studied, gives assignments, and answers questions.
Key Features of the Group-Based Online Program
Interactive Learning
Computer conferencing exchanges are student–centered, involving dynamic and extensive sharing of ideas, opinions, and information. As a result, knowledge building occurs as students examine each other’s written arguments and positions.
In the face–to–face classroom environment the instructor often produces 60–80% of the oral exchanges. Research shows that in the online learning environment, the instructor produces only 10–15% of the verbal interactions. In this way, adult learners are much more actively involved in their own education, an element that the University of Phoenix has found to be essential to adult learning programs.
Equitable Participation
As anyone who has attended a traditional classroom setting knows, one or two students can often dominate any class discussion, while more reserved students sit silently. In the Online setting, no one readily dominates. While some students might spend more time communicating, everyone must participate. Participation, therefore, is more equitably distributed and active for everyone, as each student has equal access to the “floor.”
Time and Place Independent
All communications in the University’s Online computer–conferencing system are asynchronous rather than real–time. While this naturally imposes some limitations, it has been found that asynchronous communications result in increased access for students since they can control the time and place for their participation. They enjoy far greater flexibility since activities need not be simultaneous. Asynchronous communication also enables both students and faculty to synthesize material at their own pace and to provide well thought out responses free of the pressure of instantaneous feedback.
OLS is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, enabling adult learners to choose the times when they believe they are best prepared to engage in particular learning activities and spend as long as they wish working on them. The result is that the Online adult learner has increased control and has more options than in the classroom.
(Note: There are two scheduled downtimes a month. They occur on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Sunday.)
Computer Text–Based Communications
All of the Online communications are text–based, and the users (students and faculty) are able to maintain an ongoing common transcript which greatly enhances opportunities for reflective interaction. At any time they choose, students can review and reflect on the transcripts they have stored in their computers. These archives invite students to organize and reorganize the body of ideas being developed in their class.
(Note: There are two scheduled downtimes a month. They occur on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month from 11:00 p.m to 5:00 a.m. Sunday).
Services Provided
Through OLS, students are able to contact the Learning Resource Center to request literature searches and have them forwarded directly to their personal “inbox” on the Online Learning System.
The University staffs a technical support help desk 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Confidentiality
The electronic computer–conferencing system shall be maintained by an employee of the University (System Operator) who is required by University policy to uphold the confidentiality of any messages she/he may review in the process of tracking overall system usage, and ensuring that the system is functioning properly. The Director of Academic Affairs, the Vice President, Executive Director/Department Chairs, and certain university administrators may review the archives of class meetings and to assist in the resolution of grade disputes, grievances, and charges of academic dishonesty, if required.
Policy on the Illegal use of OLS
The University of Phoenix retains the right to monitor the Online Learning System conferencing system, via the System Operator, in order to verify appropriateness of use.
Illegal activities are expressly prohibited and include such things as distribution of “pirated” software, distribution of unauthorized surveys, exchange of “hot” billing numbers for long distance charges, and messages that are pornographic, slanderous, or offensive by community standards.
Illegal activity will be deleted by the System Operator and the originators of such messages may be denied system access on a suspended or permanent basis.