Our response to COVID19

The QA Commons is mindful of the dramatic and transformational impact COVID-19 is having on all institutions of higher education. As an organization, we are adapting our services to support preparing graduates for the workplace that is now changing more precipitously than ever.


Shippensburg University: A Leader in Noncredit Teaching and Learning

Short-term, adaptable, and frequently designed to meet workforce development needs and expectations… Noncredit curricular offerings give learners a chance to sharpen their interpersonal, leadership, and technical skills, boosting their marketability and confidence in today’s workplace. QA Commons has been delighted to collaborate with Shippensburg University’s Office of Workforce Development, first as a third-party evaluator for its Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) sponsored #Prepared4PA pilot project and then in developing a set of noncredit quality assurance materials for the department. This blog post explores the construction of these diverse and user-friendly quality assurance materials to support noncredit student learning.

The growing interest in noncredit coursework is no surprise given rapid shifts in student demographics, the urgency to increase the number of skilled workers to meet regional economic needs, and public interest in shorter-term, stackable learning opportunities. According to Lorelee Isbell, Associate Vice President of the Center for Career and Workforce Development,

“The durable and technical skills required for today’s jobs are drastically different than they were just five years ago. As a regional public university, Shippensburg is well-positioned to create latticed pathways that provide learners flexibility and ease in navigating between education and career. These pathways upskill and reskill the region’s workforce based on the demands of employers. Ensuring rigor and quality in all of our programming, including noncredit training and development, is a priority for our institution.”

To ensure learners in noncredit courses receive the same quality experience and instruction that Shippensburg Univesity is known for, the Office of Workforce Development staff collaborated with QA Commons to construct a methodical process and accompanying materials for program selection, development, and execution. Specifically, QA Commons designed: (1) a course development proposal form allowing faculty and or employers to formally pitch a noncredit course for university approval; (2) a labor market guide to assessing economic need and employer engagement, and (3) an instructor interview protocol to gauge teaching aptitude and content knowledge. Undergirding these materials is a quality assurance process designed to be comprehensive but not unnecessarily onerous. This systematic process includes three key features:

  • Ensuring alignment with labor markets, hiring needs, and occupational demand
  • Ensuring the strength of course design and necessary partnerships
  • Screening instructors for technical knowledge and experience, as well as teaching aptitude

Additionally, QA Commons developed a noncredit guide available to instructors, offering an overview of best practices in noncredit teaching and learning. Four concepts strengthened the Shippensburg and QA Commons partnership –  Employer Engagement, Quality Credentials, Adult Learning Theory, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. Because each concept plays a pivotal role in the mission and vision of the Office of Workforce Development, it was important that the new noncredit materials reflected these principles.

“Shippensburg University has proven itself to be a very deliberate and effective provider of noncredit offerings,” said Michelle Deasy, Vice President at Quality Assurance Commons. “Their focus on collaborative, employer-validated solutions that refine workplace competencies are in line with the university’s vision of developing students, faculty, and staff who have the abilities, skills, and values to compete and contribute to their community in an evolving world.”

In order for noncredit courses to meet the needs of today’s economic workforce, institutions of higher education are pressed to purposefully design short-term, flexible, and content-driven curricula. Shippensburg University is a leader in this effort, offering coordinated and quality noncredit courses that meet the needs of learners employed in the local region. QA Commons takes great pride in this collaboration toward elevating people and communities across Pennsylvania.


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