Education Balanced Scorecard for Online Courses: Australia and U.S. Best-Practices

Education Balanced Scorecard for Online Courses: Australia and U.S. Best-Practices

Kenneth David Strang (University of Atlanta, USA & University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1655-4.ch020


This case presents a best-practice in higher education, whereby a balanced scorecard approach was used to assess the effectiveness of a distance education (online) course in an accredited business degree program at an Australian public university. The assessment rubric was created by applying the concept of the balanced scorecard (from management science) to measure student performance, satisfaction, as well as content and delivery effectiveness. Performance was derived from the course grades while a validated survey instrument was utilized to gather estimates of all other factors from the students. One of the key lessons-learned in the case was that rather than reinvent the wheel, it was better to reuse accreditation surveys designed for the classroom to assess online courses and leverage the management science philosophy of measuring more than just performance to evaluate program success. Similar scorecard concepts have already been applied in U.S. universities, thus their differences with this case are also discussed.
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“Are there management tools that professionals use in business that academics have used successfully in higher education? The answer to that question is yes, and the balanced scorecard (BSC) is one such tool” (Beard, 2009, p. 275). Beard refers to applying BSC in U.S. universities (and her review is insightful for practitioners). To that end, this case study similarly discusses a balanced scorecard applied to measure the effectiveness of an accredited online business course at an Australian public university (Strang, 2010).

Although the original experiment by Strang developed a BSC for university program accreditation maintenance in Australia, while comparing two identical business courses (online versus classroom-based), the focus of this study is to discuss Strang’s application of a balanced scored while, contrasting this to the U.S. approach (where applicable). A key distinction of Strang’s (2010) model is the course level-of-analysis and the integration of Australian national accreditation criteria, as compared to the 6-factor structure employed within the U.S. Baldrige National Quality Award Program (Beard, 2009; Karathanos & Karathanos, 2005). Strang (2010) integrated concepts from Kaplan and Norton’s (2001) 4-factor BSC strategy as well as the stakeholder principles in the Intangible Assets Monitor (Sveiby, 2000).

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