Walden University courses are offered entirely over the internet. Students access courses through their myWalden university portal. Courses have definite start and completion dates, and typically require students to log in a specific number of times a week. Select courses in specific programs may have a face-to-face requirement, depending on discipline or regulatory requirements.
The Walden online learning environment is asynchronous, meaning that students can contribute to course discussions when it’s most convenient within a specified period. There are weekly topics, required readings, and assignments listed in the course syllabus. The flow of online dialogue is preserved in a coherent format that allows students to retrace their classmates’ conversation as it unfolds.
Students should expect to spend an average of 15 to 20 hours a week per course reading, contributing to discussions, and working on assignments and assessments.
Student Responsibility in an Online Learning Environment
In an online learning environment, students and faculty are actively engaged in the learning process. In such an environment, students will encounter many viewpoints on issues that may be different than their own. Additionally, expectations for learning in a distance environment may be different from what they are used to. Therefore, students are expected to adhere to the following standards:
- Read carefully and understand the requirements as published in the course syllabus. Pay particular attention to deadlines for submitting work. Develop an alternative technology plan should the student’s primary means of classroom contact be unavailable.
- Read all postings by faculty members and classmates. Being able to provide and receive critical and constructive feedback is important for one’s academic success.
- Respect differing viewpoints based on cultural and intellectual differences as part of healthy intellectual exchange.
- Contact the faculty member if they (1) need additional feedback, (2) are unclear about any aspect of the course assignments, or (3) are not feeling comfortable with some other aspect of the course.
- Provide and receive critical and constructive feedback in the Discussion Board from colleagues as outlined in the posting rubric. Students should conduct themselves as they would in a classroom environment.
- Be aware of issues of confidentiality. Students should be especially careful of what they disclose about themselves or others in the virtual classroom environment.
Students should contact the Student Success Advising Team if they have any questions related to their program of study or if they are experiencing difficulty in the classroom.
Tempo Learning® Competency-Based Education
Tempo Learning® is an alternative modality of learning to Walden's existing course-based modality. Instead of courses, the Walden Tempo Learning® program is comprised of Competencies and rigorous Assessments. Students progress through the Tempo Learning® model by successfully passing Competency Assessments. A student must successfully achieve or master all Competency Assessments to graduate from the program.
Students who have prior knowledge of a specific Competency may choose to use this knowledge or experience to complete the Assessment at any time. Each Competency is broken down into Modules or Sub-Competencies and Learning Objectives that have Learning Resources and Activities designed to help students prepare for their Competency Assessment.
Most Assessments present performance-based tasks or situations, such as case studies. Several of the Assessments are more authentic "work products" designed as showcases for students to present to their current or prospective employers as credible proof of their new learning, skills, and abilities.
The order in which students take their program Competencies is dependent upon the program and the students' individual preferences. Provided that the program allows, students can select the order in which they prefer to work on their Competencies and assessments, but should be mindful that some competencies are prerequisites for others. Additionally, students may work on up to 3 competencies at a time. Once an assessment is submitted and the submission is reflected in the student portal, students may open up a new competency.
The Walden Tempo Learning® model is a hierarchical framework that provides students with a connected learning experience. This hierarchy connects the degree's program outcomes all the way down to the very granular building blocks of knowledge and skill sets that students must demonstrate to graduate.
Working through the hierarchy, a program is first divided into several domains or "Areas of Expertise." An Area of Expertise comprises multiple related Competencies that are each directly mapped to the program outcomes. Each Competency is then broken down into discrete Modules or Sub-Competencies. Modules or Sub-Competencies are scaffolded to provide the student with the necessary knowledge and skills required to demonstrate proficiency of the full Competency. Modules or Sub-Competencies are further broken down into Learning Objectives, which act as the basic building blocks of knowledge and skills that direct student learning and guide the successful completion of the final Assessment for each Competency. Each Learning Objective is accompanied by a set of Learning Resources and Learning Activities. Learning Resources include articles, video, audio, websites, and text chapters. Learning Activities include quizzes, interactive tools, critical reflection prompts, learning games, mini case-study analyses, and guided practice.
Competency Assessment Overview
Students' proficiency of program Competencies is measured with a detailed, varied, and extensive set of Assessments. In addition to evaluating the students' proficiency of the Competencies, Assessments also serve as tools for students to apply their knowledge in authentic work situations.
The Competency, Competency Assessment, and Rubric are presented to students, along with a set of Modules or Sub-Competencies and Learning Objectives that break down what is required to be proficient in the Competency. This presentation is designed to show students the direct link between Competencies and Assessments and what is expected of them to demonstrate proficiency.
The well-defined Rubric, which accompanies each Assessment, provides clear expectations for students and enables consistent feedback from faculty. Each Rubric row aligns with a Learning Objective. Students must meet or exceed expectations on all Learning Objectives in a given Assessment to pass the Competency. Any Learning Objectives that are not met may be repeated up to three times.
Upon completion of an Assessment, students receive feedback from the Faculty SME that indicates their level of achievement. If students do not meet or exceed expectations on one or more parts of the Assessment, they are directed back to the aligned Sub-Competencies, Learning Objectives, and associated Learning Resources and Activities for additional study and practice.
Types of Assessments
Work Products (WP) are performance assessments that evaluate student learning at the highest cognition levels. Work Products may require students to perform a task, write an essay applying their learning, craft a research paper, create a plan, build a portfolio, and complete a data analysis, among others. Work Products are highly personalized and open-ended, requiring a unique response from each student, and often simulating authentic workplace application of learning in a specific field. Work Products are evaluated by Faculty SMEs using a Rubric whose criteria align with the Modules or Sub-Competencies and Learning Objectives. Since sections of the Work Products are directly aligned to the Modules or Sub-Competencies, faculty members are able to identify which areas of a Competency students should repeat, if necessary.
Performance Tasks (PT) are another type of performance assessment. However, unlike Work Products that result in a personalized, open-ended application, Performance Tasks are based on scenarios or case studies. Using text, video, or a combination of both, students are introduced to the situation and receive all necessary charts, data, documents, and other supporting information. Performance Tasks are also evaluated by Faculty SMEs using a Rubric, although the evaluation is more generalizable than a Work Product. Like the Work Product, the sections of the Rubric are aligned directly to the Modules or Sub-Competencies.
Short Answer Assessments (SA) or Written Responses (WR) are open-ended, one- to three-paragraph responses. Students may be presented short scenarios or mini-case studies and asked to respond to prompts that test both higher and lower levels of cognition. Short Answer Assessments are evaluated by Faculty SMEs.
Selected Response Assessments (SR) or Objective Assessments (OA) are system-scored and can include items such as multiple-choice questions, ranking, sorting, or matching tests.
Knowledge Area Modules (KAM)
The Knowledge Area Module (KAM) allows students to investigate a body of knowledge by critically examining its theoretical foundations and evaluating current research and to use this work to develop solutions to real-world problems. Before starting work on a KAM, students write a Learning Agreement that defines their learning and research objectives for that KAM. The Learning Agreement must be reviewed, evaluated, and approved by the instructor who is going to serve as an assessor of the student’s work in that KAM. Completing the corresponding KAM demonstration or comprehensive paper is an iterative process that requires students to consult regularly with their assessors; do extensive reading; perform critical analysis and synthesis; design or conduct related projects; and revise, perhaps more than once, written drafts to produce scholarly products. The KAM demonstration shows students’ mastery of the requisite body of knowledge and achievement of the objectives set forth in their approved Learning Agreements.
KAM Policies and Processes
The KAM and Mixed-Model program is no longer accepting new students. Current students must complete their programs of study in accordance with Walden’s Time-to-Degree Completion policies.