How the University of Petra Became an Internationally Accredited Institution

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Established in 1991, the University of Petra, located in the capital of Jordan, Amman, is a young, yet acclaimed higher education institution in the region. With around 7,400 undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in one of its eight faculties, the University of Petra (UOP) is considered one of the best private universities in the country, having already achieved the Quality Management ISO 9001 certification for supporting higher education and the Higher Education Accreditation Commission’s Quality Assurance certificates, among others. Let’s explore Blackboard’s role in supporting UOP’s success.

Located in West Amman, the University of Petra has around 7,400 undergraduate and graduate students in the faculties of Arts and Sciences, Administrative & Financial Sciences, Pharmacy & Medical Sciences, Information Technology, Architecture & Design, Law and Mass Communication, and Engineering.

The university is considered a center of excellence for its research, skills development, applying knowledge to new technologies and technology transfer, and is well known for unleashing students’ minds towards new horizons of thought, philosophy and logic. According to the institution’s website, “UOP provides an intriguing environment of freedom of thought, inquiry, interactive and blended learning, and R&D facilities.”1

In addition to having achieved the Quality Management ISO 9001 certification for supporting higher education and the Quality Assurance of the Higher Education Accreditation Commission certificates, the university is also the 1st runner-up on the QS ranking of private universities in Jordan.2– all outstanding accomplishments to have achieved in only 27 years.

In September 2018, a research team from UOP’s Faculty of Information Technology registered in the US Patent Office for a Portable Neck Treatment Device (PNTD). Using the Internet of Things (IoT) to link patients with physicians, the device is the first of its kind in the world. PNTD helps alleviate neck pain with a pre-programmed, automated technology. The invention is another example of the high-quality work that has been taking place at the University of Petra in recent decades.3

Online Learning Tools to Improve Teaching and Learning

The relationship between UOP and Blackboard began in 2010, when Blackboard Learn was implemented at the institution. According to Dr. Saheer Al-Jaghoub, associate professor and dean at the university’s Faculty of Administrative and Financial Sciences, the solution has been very useful in “performing exams, providing teaching material and making course material available 24/7.”

“The University of Petra has always been improving its teaching and learning processes and one of the initiatives in this area has been utilizing online learning tools to deliver courses,” says Al-Jaghoub.

After implementing in selected courses at the beginning, the use of Blackboard Learn has developed over the yearsat UOP, now covering all courses within the Faculty of Administrative and Financial Sciences.

Having started using the EAC Visual Data tool recently in March 2018, with a pilot within the Faculty of Administrative and Financial Sciences, UOP considers its initial results promising as they were able to obtain analysis for questions and outcomes assessment, along other useful data. Prior to adopting the EAC tool, there was a need to collect the data manually from Blackboard Learn, as well as performing calculations for student achievement of Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), which took substantial time and effort.

The use of the EAC Visual Data tool, which leverages Blackboard Learn to deliver detailed course-level data on student learning, has also contributed to improving teaching and learning processes at the university. “Both tools helped us to increase teaching and assessment efficiency, as well as measuring student outcomes. This contributes to the continuous improvement of our programs,” shares the dean.

The Road to Obtaining International Accreditation Certificates

UOP believes in the importance of assessment and accreditation to improve academic processes at the institutional level. In order to get there, in 2006, the university took part in all activities and workshops organized by the Al Hussein Fund for Excellence (HFE), which include participation in Assessment of Higher Education Academic programs, Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods workshops, Strategic Planning for Quality Assurance projects and Capacity Building Support workshops. The institution then participated in the HFE Auditing Program and in the Quality Management System project (QMS – ISO 9001) launched in 2010.

Later in 2015, the university extensively worked to gain the institutional quality assurance certificate from the Accreditation and Quality Assurance Commission for Higher Education Institutions (AQACHI),followed by the programmaticquality assurance certificatefor the Faculty of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences in 2017. Currently, the Faculty of Administrative and Financial Sciences is working to obtain international accreditation for its programs from EQUIS and AACSB International, both renowned accreditation bodies.

UOP also excelled in international accreditation. In 2017, the Faculty of Information Technology achieved ABET accreditation for Computer Science and Computer Information Systems, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences was certified by ACPE this year, as well as the Department of English Language and Literature which was accredited by ASIC, also this year.

“Building culture and disseminating knowledge were two of the major challenges that faced the processes of accreditation and certification. One of the challenges has been obtaining assessment data for the ILO and calculating student performance against ILOs in various assessments. Preserving significant achievements is usually harder than attaining them. Thus, continuous quality management is our objective,” Al-Jaghoub points out. 

While some accreditation bodies require annual visits, others request audits within two, five or six-year cycles in Jordan.

“We thank Blackboard consultants who have been working with us in the implementation project for their support, and we look forward to continue this fruitful cooperation in the future,” Al-Jaghoub concludes.

Notes:

A Top Private University in Jordan

The University of Petra believes internationalization of educational institutions is becoming increasingly important. The relevance of university global rankings has increased all over the world not only because it fosters the evaluation of higher education quality, but also because it promotes the competitiveness in the educational market.

UOP was ranked as a top private university in Jordan by QS Top Universities Ranking. Among the many indicators considered in order to include higher education institutions in the ranking are academic reputation, employer reputation, international faculty, international students, faculty staff with a PhD, web impact, and research papers per faculty.

“Continuous effort is undertaken to keep up with the dynamic, globally competitive environment to attract renowned scientists and talented students from all over the world. Prestigious educational curriculums, research activities, innovation and community services are always our top priorities,” affirms Al-Jaghoub.

Blackboard Workshop to Develop ILOs

In March 2018, Blackboard’s Senior Consulting Specialist, Dr. Ruth Newberry, delivered a workshop at the University of Petra regarding the developing of ILOs. Although the university had been working on developing ILOs prior to the workshop, a new approach was presented by Dr. Newberry to all participants, especially teaching staff at UOP’s Faculty of Administrative and Financial Sciences. “Dr. Newberry’s vast experience and the knowledge that she shared with us was very useful. We have also benefited from her advice in relation to the international accreditation processes and requirements,” the dean says.

Sources:

University of Petra. (n.d.). University of Petra | About UOP. Retrieved from https://www.uop.edu.jo/EN/AboutUOP/Pages/default.aspx

QS University Rankings: Arab Region 2018. (2017, October 16). Retrieved from
https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/arab-region-university-rankings/2018

Qasem, A. E. (2018, September 21). UOP Portable Neck Treatment Device (PNTD). Retrieved from https://qswownews.com/uop-portable-neck-treatment-device-pntd/