White paper describes how a skills-aligned curriculum provides the foundation of a career-focused ecosystem for adult learners

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–University of Phoenix has released a new white paper, “Ensuring Educational Excellence and a Career-Focused Experience through a Skills-Aligned Curriculum Map,” by authors Mary Elizabeth Smith, M.Ed., director, Learning Innovation and Strategy, and Nick Williams, Ed.D., director, Assessment. The white paper discusses how the digitized skills-aligned curriculum provides the foundation of a skills-aligned higher education ecosystem featuring career-relevant, skills-based education and authentic assessment for working adult learners.

“As the labor market continues to increasingly focus on skills and implement data analysis and artificial intelligence to understand skills gaps, higher education programs have a mandate to arm their learners with skills confirmed by authentic assessments,” states Doris Savron, vice provost, Colleges, Assessment and Curriculum at University of Phoenix. “University of Phoenix programs built on a skills-aligned curriculum map are part of a career-focused ecosystem designed to illuminate career pathways and resources for our students and alumni, and which informs our future-state strategies on new support products and technologies.”

The white paper describes how a skills-aligned ecosystem provides a vehicle to help students realize the power of their education more quickly and efficiently by validating skill acquisition throughout their educational journey. The foundation of this experience, the digitized skills-aligned curriculum, is evident throughout the career-centric design of courses, measured through authentic assessment, and supported with technology.

“Our digitized skills-aligned curriculum serves as the source of truth for all University innovation,” states Smith. “Sharing taxonomies of skills and learning outcomes – and the relationships among them – develops a shared awareness and common language for university stakeholder groups who facilitate student learning.”

The white paper is part of a planned series detailing the University’s development and deployment of a skills-aligned curriculum. In turn, this now informs the development of tools and products, which is growing a system of lifelong career support for students and alumni.

In 2023, the University’s innovative skills-aligned curriculum culminated in 100 percent of associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs open for new enrollment being fully skills-mapped.

Smith is the Director of Learning Innovation Strategy in the Center for Teaching and Learning at University of Phoenix and previously served as the Research and Implementation Strategist and the Director of Curriculum Development. For over 30 years, Smith’s career in education has included working in curriculum development, learning design, faculty development, faculty, and e-learning roles for four universities and several community colleges as well as two educational software companies. She holds a bachelor’s in Speech Communication and Journalism from Southern Illinois University and an M.Ed. in Educational Media and Computers from Arizona State University.

In his role as Director of Assessment, Williams coordinates student learning outcomes assessment efforts across multiple platforms, including direct measures of student performance within and outside the classroom, student survey systems, and digital badging projects. Before moving to higher ed, Nick was a K-12 teacher for several years. His advanced degrees include an Ed.D. in leadership and innovation from Arizona State University, an M.Ed. in educational measurement from University of Illinois-Chicago, and an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from University of Notre Dame. His research interests include effects of norming faculty raters for student learning outcomes assessment efforts, culture of assessment, and user experience of students and faculty for field experience and assessment programs.

The full white paper is available at University of Phoenix Thought Leadership hub and as a direct link here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.



Sharla Hooper

University of Phoenix