Another Western Governor Message

This came in as a comment on a previous WGU post. 

“Simple research would prevent false allegations.”

The author comments:

I don’t even know where to start. Lets first start with the faculty that you mention numerous times in your attack on WGU. WGU hires course mentors that serve as faculty. Every mentor I have met has a Masters degree or higher in their field. In order to be a mentor with WGU they must have a Masters or higher. A large number I have worked with have a PHD.

SMS thumb CezanneWGU is very clear, its “mentors” are not intended to function as faculty.  They are hired as coaches to help WGU students with the stress, details, and mechanics of using the online materials.  Fro what I have read and been told, no courses are “taught” by mentors and mentors are not expected to have the expertise in subject matter to teach course materials.

As for the idea of a “Masters degree or higher in their field,” Masters degrees makes sense for faculty in high schools and for some faculty at community colleges.  In most fields, however, the minimum degree for university faculty is a Ph.D.  Moreover, if you look at the requirements you at the ads WGU places, it is not usually looking for Masters degree(s) in the subject matter being taught, rather it wants a masters degree in something like on line education.

Next evaluation. All tasks are evaluated by task stream. These people are hired by WGU and must have a Masters in the field they are evaluating as well as at least 3 years working in the field.

SMS thumb CezanneSame comments as above.  As a simple test, look at their site ans see if you can find a list of the qualifications people teaching chemistry, writing, or computer science have in those fields.

As far as the competency based education. Yes you have “tasks” and assessments that must be completed to prove competency. This is no different than taking a 16 week course at a brick and mortar school where you have assigned homework and a final at the end of the class. The difference is you can work at your own pace as opposed to the pace of the professor. WGU classes have e-books, webinars, quizzes, assignments, and finals. Instead of sitting through a class for 16 weeks students can work as slow or as fast as they want.

SMS thumb CezanneAs used by WGU, “competency” is a synonym for pass fail.  There are no grades given.

The comments about “bricks and mortar” is PR speak.  There are many schools with better credentials than WGU that offer credit for work done as an intern or knowledge gained in the real world.  I think we need more of that, but do not see why anyone would accept WGU’s credentials just because they do nto also offer classes on a site taught by expert faculty. 

  The author offers links you can read for yourself below.

If you look at the WGU website and look at the Employment at WGU link it tells you the requirements for employment for each position.

Link for Faculty explanation

SMS thumb CezannePLEASE LOOK .. there is even a claim to have about a 1000 full time faculty. However, as far as I can find there are no links where one can find the names and credentials of any of these experts.  There are some names for what WGU calls “Program Faculty” but these people do not actually teach and the last time I looked most of them had credentials that would not get them a job at any of our community colleges much less the states colleges or universities.  Just for fun take a look at this job description for an IT professional in the very demanding area of Health Informatics.  So you see a degree requirement there specific for this field?  Look at the skills the job requires.  How many skilled health informatics’ folks would take such a job?

I am not going to comment on accreditation other than to note that it is a VERY weak process that serve only to guarantee a minimal level of quality.  Do you know this same agency accredits beauty schools? Certainly, no potential student would want t attend any school that was not accredited. 

I am more disturbed by a lack of data on the site about completion rates and attainment of jobs.  Scandals about for profit schools (all also “accredited”) have shown that many of these school have terrible records for  students (often using government funds) getting jobs.  WGU makes a big deal about being a “non profit” while paying its founder a huge salary and allowing him to work as a board member on companies that sell products, e.g. coursewares, to WGU.  Of ocurse this practice would be illegal if WGU were truly a state school.

What WGU offers instead of jobs data (or has done until now) is scary .  They tout anecdotal data on how happy their grads  in jobs are or how pleased employers are.  Given how competitive the job market is today, I find it very difficult to imagine an employer hiring a WGU IT grad over one with her degree for Bellevue College. The ads seem more appropriate for a late night infomercial from Hocus Pocus School of Art, then for anything I would  send a friend to.

Link for Regional Accreditation

Link for CCNE Accreditation

Link on WGU website about accreditation

SMS thumb CezanneI wish I could recommend WGU and have several times requested better information.  I would especially like to hear about  value for some students in WGU who come there from the working world.  For example, there are folks who achieve a very high level of knowledge from working in the real world.  Whether these folks actually learn anything at WGU, having an easy way to get a degree to validate real world expertise could be a good thing, again if WGU could show that it has achieved credibility in the form of employment data. 

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  1. Kate #

    It seems as if no matter what information you are presented with you are going to try your hardest to discredit this university. I am a student at WGU. I put in more work if not more than I did when attending a state university. Most people dont realize the amount of work that goes into an online degree, much less what goes in to earning a degree at a competency based school. No the mentors do not “teach” the material per say. They do conduct webinars, much like you would see at Kaplan Universiy, University of phoenix, and Ashford University. The only difference is I don’t have to sit in a class for 10-16 weeks to work through the material and understand it. I am sorry that you are displease with your lack of research. In 5 minutes I have been able to pull up more credible sources than you have been able to cite in your entire post. You keep making statements without anything to back up your claim. WGU does give a grade and GPA. The pass/fail is the equivalent of a B or in other terms a 3.0 GPA
    So lets look at some requirements for WGU COURSE mentors. There is a difference between a STUDENT mentor and a COURSE mentor at WGU. Yes the student mentors job is to “help WGU students with the stress, details, and mechanics of using the online materials.” Course mentors on the other hand are hired as expert in their field. Lets look at the Requirements for a course mentor in the Quantitative Analysis domain. Ill just pull excerpts so I do not risk boring you and maybe you will actually read the information before firing back.

    Provide expertise in the content area.
    Respond to student inquiries about content, course of study, learning resource, or assessment.
    Maintain current and active knowledge in the expertise area in order to bring examples and ideas to students.
    Communicate professionally, relate well, and share a passion for the content in an effort to motivate a diverse group of students.
    Coach students to competency development by asking open-ended questions, brainstorming next steps, and maintaining accountability.
    Provide additional resources to students based on content expertise, while maintaining the students’ responsibility for task competency.
    Empower students to develop competency by sharing a passion for the subject.
    Provide relevant information on student tasks based on feedback from graders.

    Simple right? Okay now lets look at the Education requirements.

    Required Experience
    Minimum Qualifications Education: A doctorate degree in Business or related field with 2 + years of experience teaching Quantitative Analysis in business school.

    Oh wait… DID THAT SAY DOCTORATE???? Oh yeah I think it did. Wow! Again I say do some research.

    Making the same arguments over and over is not helping your case. I wish you all the best in all of your endeavors and I really hope you do some more research. You don’t know anything about this school.

  2. Tuna #

    Cutting and pasting from their website is hardly research. Nor is a pass fail the same as as 3.0.

    Here is the deal: show me WGU data on completion rates and job data. Then show me a link to the credentials if the faculty preparing WGU kids in health informatics and nursing physiology. OK?

  3. theaveeditor #

    I also take umbrage abut your remarks about Phoenix. What do you know abut them? I have met and been impressed with students from there as well as some faculty.

    I was also impressed when I called WGU and Phoenix to ask about chemistry classes to prepare for teaching HS chem. WGU would send me a kit so I could teach myself chemistry in my kitchen. Phoenix told me they has arrangements to have me go to a community college.

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