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Educational Improvement

STRATEGIC DIRECTION

In our graduate-level education, we will instill the specific skills necessary for our graduates’ subsequent assignments, and we aim to cultivate competencies that will make them effective leaders and decision-makers over their entire careers. We will constantly attend to the strength of our academic programs and expertise of our faculty. We will leverage varied pedagogies and educational technologies to engage students in meaningful instructional contexts that enhance their learning and skill development.

We are pursuing four strategies to achieve these goals. First, rebalance our curricula to maintain appropriate breadth and depth while also creating opportunities for students to learn a wider range of subjects outside their specializations. Second, make our curricula accessible to the highly-varied backgrounds of our students. Third, adapt our curricula to the shift ing needs of the Navy, the other armed services, and the civilians we serve. Fourth, constantly upgrade our faculty’s skills at teaching and leading research.

 

Action E1.1—Create more flexibility in residential degree curricula.

NPS develops curricula based on the stated needs of our sponsors, who usually have subspecialty code requirements that go well beyond the actual degree requirements. Students’ academic programs are fully booked, with little flexibility to study anything else. Students required to complete Joint Professional Military Education in parallel with their degree programs feel this most acutely. We believe our students’ education would in many cases be more valuable if, in consultations with our curricular sponsors, we created more space in students’ programs to accommodate more electives and other courses that broaden students’ exposure outside their professional fields. Examples include the newly-developed “all hands cyber” course and various special-topics courses on emerging technologies. We also seek the flexibility to incorporate experience-based learning such as short stays at private sector companies and non-profit organizations in the Silicon Valley area.

 

Action E1.2—Explore expansion of new programs and modes of delivery.

Many students who would benefit enormously from coming to NPS find it difficult to spend 15 -24 months in residence to complete our master’s degree programs. We also receive many requests to make some of our courses available more widely throughout the Department of Defense. We will proactively explore how more of our programs might be offered in an economical hybrid of residential and distance-learning formats. We will examine how some of our degree programs can be organized as a series of “stackable certificates” that accumulate in stages to meet the requirements of a degree program. We will expand use of self-paced, online courses for students who need refreshing of knowledge or who are missing prerequisite undergraduate courses. We will offer trials of Massively Online Open Courses (MOOCs) in selected areas where there is strong external demand including delivering courses on the .mil networks; these MOOCs will also make the educational services of NPS more visible to Naval and other officers. We will work with sponsors to create a form of continuing education to maintain the currency and relevance of the subspecialty code students earn from NPS.
 

Action E1.3—Improve the transition for incoming students.

Our incoming students face significant challenges. Up to 70% of them have bachelor’s degrees in fields quite different from the ones they are entering for graduate study. Moreover, nearly all our incoming students have been out of the classroom environment for 6-10 years. These adult learners are military experts but are out of practice with writing academically, thinking critically, and researching questions. We will foster their intellectual development through applied learning, guided practice, coaching, workshops, and discussion forums. We will continue to provide enhanced refresher courses, including through distance learning, to provide incoming students with the opportunity to refresh basic pre-requisites such as math skills and be fully prepared for our technical and strategic curricula.

 

Action E1.4—Establish a Teaching and Learning Studio.

The studio will enable various existing campus centers for teaching and learning to function as an integrated team and community of practice. Its goals will include:

  • help students develop effective communication skills for writing, presenting, researching, and publishing);
  • promote generative learning and student engagement through consistent application of research-based instructional methods;
  • support learning through the application of best practices to integrate technology and pedagogy;
  • support Actions E1.3 and E1.5 as well as other NPS and Navy educational initiatives.

 

Action E1.5—Hybrid formats of Distance Learning (DL).

Expand distance learning enrollment to reach a greater Department of Defense audience and make best use of NPS’s teaching capacity. Steps to this end include:

  • make more international partners aware of NPS programs;
  • expand the programs bringing new United States Naval Academy (USNA) graduates to NPS to Reserve Officer Training Corps graduates;
  • communicate the benefits of an NPS education to junior and mid-level officers as well as detailers;
  • examine possibilities for increasing the number of enlisted military in our programs;
  • expand how we deliver programs, particularly seeking opportunities to deliver programs in hybrid formats that combine intermittent residence-based education with distance learning for mixed cohorts;
  • explore how we serve the defense contractor community, particularly in classes and programs with unused capacity;

and

  • improve internal support services so that DL students can take full advantage of the Library, the Teaching and Learning Studio, and technical help 24 hours a day.

 


Operations Effectiveness

STRATEGIC DIRECTION

Every organization has opportunities to become more effective and efficient; NPS is no exception. As part of the Department of the Navy, we must continually adapt to ever-changing legal and regulatory requirements while maintaining sharp focus on our over-arching mission of education and research. While individual improvements in operations may not seem strategic, maintaining an efficient and supportive operational environment is.

 

Action E2.1 - Undertake initiatives to increase diversity at NPS.

It is crucial that NPS recruit and retain the best possible faculty and staff. The U.S. workforce has become increasingly diverse. We aim to make NPS a place where the most-talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, religion, political beliefs, or ethnicity, want to join and stay with. Our primary objective is to create an atmosphere that is welcoming, fair, and inclusive, in which all are committed to listening to each other with respect and appreciation for the value that our differences bring to our work.

To accomplish these goals, we will create an Inclusion and Diversity Council reporting to the President and Provost that is charged to make recommendations concerning practices that we can adopt, and other actions we can take, to make our university a magnet for the most talented individuals we want to attract and retain. The council will include faculty and staff from across NPS.

 

Action E2.2 - Become more effective at institutional advancement.

Many people within Department of Defense are unaware of the depth and breadth of NPS education and research activities, due to our limited capacity to communicate the range of NPS’s activities and accomplishments. Effective institutional advancement involves significant attention to our public affairs, protocol, outreach, marketing and communications. NPS is understaffed in these areas. As a result, potential students are often unaware of opportunities we offer, news of our research accomplishments does not reach all potential audiences, and defense leaders do not know how to tap the full capabilities of NPS to address Naval and other defense issues.We have already appointed a Director of Institutional Advancement, reporting to the president and provost. This person will coordinate NPS offices and stakeholders to promote NPS’s education and research programs to potential students and sponsors and to make our accomplishments more broadly known.

 

Action E2.3 - Review and Improve key processes and practices.

To improve our key processes and practices, we will:

  • Review policies for attracting, retaining, and developing faculty.
  • Review policies for attracting, admitting, and providing students who are missing prerequisite knowledge or need ways to refresh their skills.
  • Develop new incentives for faculty to engage in interdisciplinary activities. Opportunities for new incentives include criteria for promotion and tenure, merit step increases, special act awards, and fellowships.
  • Improve the methods by which NPS collects and distributes funds to cover indirect costs associated with sponsored research. The current model is too inflexible for our high-flux environment; it costs us work and raises the costs of the work we do have. In collaboration with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, we will develop improved  models for collecting and distributing indirect funds and for paying personnel working part time to support sponsored research.
  • Seek efficiencies in our core business processes. Key areas include travel, purchasing, contracting, property management, class scheduling, IT support, library services, thesis processing, comptroller functions, safety compliance, records management and training. We will look at both industry and other government organizations for best practices that can be adopted within NPS.
  • Improve our succession planning for leadership in key administrative and academic areas.

 

 

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