MSHE Program

I completed an MS in Higher Education Administration and Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. This work significantly enhanced my experiences as an academic administrator, while allowing me to critically explore several new areas, including the crucial intersections of student services, HR, finance, and internal and external relations.

Master’s Project

For my master’s project, I conducted a mixed-methods study of the motivations and barriers institutions face as they develop blended and online learning programs. This work stemmed in part from a project I completed while serving as a Senior Research Associate at the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching at Northwestern, where I conducted a major needs-assessment for the School of Professional Studies (SPS) aimed at evaluating and improving the professional development and support of faculty teaching in several fully online master’s programs.

You can read the complete project here: Developing Online and Blended Courses in Scientific, Technical and Professional Programs.


 Other Courses and Projects Completed

“Research Methods I, II, and III” (Lois Trautvetter)

A series of three courses designed to help students develop an original research question, compile a lit review, and then conduct primary research that culminates in the Master’s Project. Specicially, the sequence covers both the theory and practice of research in the social sciences, including such topics as quantitative and qualitative research methods, (such as surveys, interviews, observation, and artifact/archival analysis), the ethics of experimenting with human subjects, IRB approval, grant funding opportunities, and appropriate citation and presentation of research findings.

“History and Philosophy of Higher Education” (Gene Lowe and Susanna Calkins)

Among other things this class examined the wide diversity of institutions throughout the history of the United States, and in particular, the relationships between institutional mission,  local communities, and wider social, political and economic influences across five distinct periods.

“Budgeting and Finance in Higher Education” (Jake Julia)

The course focused on the budget and planning cycles, and in particular, the role various budgeting models (including incremental, zero-based, performance, etc. ) can have in bringing about institutional and programmatic change.  For my final project in the course I examined the financial impact that the DIY education movement may have on different types of institutions, and how elite schools–which have been slower adopters of blended and online education models–are positioned to benefit most from these new trends. (“The Financial Impact that MOOCs and Open Course Initiatives May Have on Non-Elite Colleges and Universities.”)

“Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (Greg Light and Susanna Calkins)

Team taught by the Director and Associate Director of the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, the course focused on the evolution of higher education pedagogu and andragogy. In particular, we explored the shift from teaching-centered and student-centered modalities to more learning-centered approaches. We also examined teaching and learning as research practices–that is, education as both a topic of scholarship, but also evidence-based teaching as a form of research in itself. For my final project in this course, I analyzed the Massive Open Online Coures (MOOC) experience from the student-perspective: focusing specifically on the Coursera course, “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges taught by Celine Caquineau and Mayank Dutia at the University of Edinburgh. (You can read my final paper here: “Towards a Theory of MOOC Learning.”)

“Proseminar in Higher Education” (Eugene Lowe)

This course focused on the diverse range of higher education institutions in America today, as well as provided an overview of the professional practice of academic administration. Over the course of several projects I examined how some distance education programs (such UIC’s new Extended Campus), as well education start-ups like Coursera, are attempting to occupy a space between the traditional non-profit and proprietary education markets. Specifically, using the work of Abu-Saifan on social entrepreneurship, I examined organizations that seek to be both highly-mission and highly-entrepreneurial focused, arguing how these new entities may be the biggest drivers of change within higher education in the coming decades.

“Assessment in Higher Education” (Rachelle Brooks)

The course examined the major methods in which assessment and programmatic evaluation are being currently being practiced to improve higher education, as well as the larger public policy context driving the transparency and accountability agendas at most institutions. The course culminated in each student presenting a systematic assessment plan aimed at improving the performance and quality of a specific program.

“Structure and Governance in Higher Education” (Elizabeth Hayford)

The course focused on the organization and governance of colleges and universities, and in particular, the characteristics of presidential leadership, and the dynamics of change. Specifically, we examined the internal organization and culture of several institutions, and analyzed the role of external groups affecting higher education, including consortia, associations, foundations, state governments, Congress and the Department of Education.

“Higher Education Policy” (Andrea Bueschel)

The course examined major theories about the public policy process and their applications in analyzing areas of major importance to higher education (including student aid, tax incentives for charitable giving, scientific research, affirmative action, and accreditation). For my final project in this course, I examined the impact that regional and national accrediting agencies play in the proprietary education sector, and attempts to reform Department of Education regulations concerning the transferability of credits between accrediting bodies and across sectors.

“College Student Development” (Payne-Kirchmeier)

This course explored in detail the characteristics of today’s college students, and reviewed the literature on student development theory–particularly the cognitive, psychological and identity challenges many college students face. In particular, the course examined the critical role that student service professionals play in supporting the development of students beyond their academic experiences.

“Law and Ethics”  (Graham and Harjani)

Co-taught be members of Northwestern’s own general counsel office, the course centered on the legal and ethical issues most impacting higher education administration. Topics included the framework of federal, state and local laws that apply to higher education institutions; the legal difference between public and private institutions; tort liability and negligence; constitutional rights; civil rights; discrimination and harassment; FERPA and student privacy; discipline; affirmative action; athletics and Title IX; student disability accommodations; campus crime; homeland security issues; and off-campus study programs.

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