January 2019

UNT Masters in Health Services Administration Program uses innovative technology to track degree accreditation while giving students a polished digital resume

While students create an ePortfolio to present their verified, real-world experience to employers, UNT program coordinators are able to track and present competencies to their accrediting body.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Faculty in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service’s Masters in Health Services Administration Degree Program have found an innovative way to combine the tracking of degree accreditation competencies with student career-readiness. They are part of a pilot program with UNT Career Connect – a campus-wide initiative that works with every UNT department as well as community partners to improve UNT students' written and oral communication skills, teamwork and critical thinking. They worked with UNT Career Connect’s Meena Naik and Adam Wear to develop a customized, online platform that integrates Canvas – UNT’s learning management system – with Badgr, a digital credentialing system. Badgr also automatically tracks students’ coursework achievements in ePortfolios, digital repositories that document students’ learning experiences during their educational process, simultaneously using the competencies required by the Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Management Education, or CAHME, the primary accrediting commission for the graduate degree.

In order to achieve accreditation, the degree program must be based on a leadership model. The UNT HSA master’s program uses the National Center for Healthcare Leadership model, which is comprised of 26 distinct leadership competencies students are required to meet within the core courses. Faculty must designate specific assignments in each of the required core courses that meet sections of those 26 competencies and then determine whether a student has mastered those sections by their assignment grades. Additionally, the faculty will review how far each student has come in meeting the final goal of all 26 competencies upon completion of the eight core courses in the program.

“Dr. Becky Knight and I mapped and aligned all of the course assignments and activities from the eight core courses to each of the 26 leadership competencies. When students complete core course assignments in Canvas and meet the target scores indicating competency attainment, students then earn visible badges and micro-credentials that are connected in the ePortfolio system. This lets them see, at any time, the progress that they have achieved with each of the competencies and the rewards for their hard work,” said Dr. Gayle Prybutok, assistant professor in the Department  of Rehabilitation and Health Services. “These badges show both the students and the accreditation commission how much has been completed and how far along they are in meeting the 26 competencies.”

Dr. Prybutok and Dr. Knight created an assessment and corresponding competencies chart as well as a competency model summary that allows for easy cross-referencing so students or accreditors can understand what competencies correlate to each core course required for the degree.

“The most exciting thing about this is that when students graduate from the program, they not only leave with a verified digital record of their successes, they can show potential employers how these badges tie directly to the premier accreditation agency in the field,” Dr. Knight, lecturer in the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services said. “In addition, the ePortfolio allows students to upload applied projects completed in the program, like their marketing plan, their business plan and their financial case analysis, that reflects valuable experience relevant for employers to view.”

Dean Neale Chumbler of the College of Health and Public Service says he’s impressed at the ingenuity Dr. Prybutok and Dr. Knight have shown in integrating this technology.

“Our goal is to find our students, who are among the best and the brightest, fulfilling careers in a field where they can make a difference,” Dr. Chumbler said. “Gayle and Becky have implemented a system that not only streamlines the accreditation process, but arms our students with the tools needed to standout as leaders in the field so they can stand out in today’s competitive job market.”

Dr. Prybutok plans to present the groundbreaking program by invitation as an example of a best practice at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration annual meeting in New Orleans this summer and Dr. Knight will discuss it at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting in November.

For more information on the Masters in Health Services Administration Program, visit https://rhs.hps.unt.edu/hlsa.