Friday, August 23, 2013

The Key to Models for Completion--Institutional Urgency

Back in the news is the national charge to support post-secondary degree completion, led by President Obama. And the post from the Chronicle of Higher Ed ( reminds us these are existing efforts re-visited.

Reminders are not a bad thing, necessarily. Financial aid policy and tying institutional funding to awards are more carrot than stick incentives, though there is no shortage of arguments to be made for  cutting awards that don't move a student toward some meaningful learning achievement.

There is promise in freeing the tyranny of the credit hour with several mechanisms: competency-based course and degree models, the acceptance of ACE determined credit for successful MOOC completion, PLA (credit awarded for prior training or other learning as demonstrated by exam or portfolios submitted by learners). 

A colleague of mine remarked "that higher ed culture functions on urgency," such as at the beginning or the end of the term, or in the year before the accreditation review.

Like climate disbelievers, we seem to be in a state of denial about the urgency for shifting the model. Included in the shift is the need to advise and orient students to the expectations that go with the opportunity (study skills, and decision-making), to make the college experience more goal-oriented (which we as faculty might consider both limiting and painful). Required advising, "intrusive advising" and the development of degree-maps to help students move from point A to certificate or degree most efficiently, are example of those efforts. (The FIPSE Project Maps-to-Credentials is one such effort on behalf of US military.)

In order to become conversant in the models, and competent negotiators of alternative learning models, various contingents of institutions need training and need to move beyond, "if it isn't ours, it isn't worthy." I can remember sitting in meetings in the nineties where institutions proudly proclaimed they would not accept any credit in transfer for distance delivery. Also in evidence, is how scores on AP and IB exams can be used to limit or undermine the transfer of those credits by incoming students. And the same goes for ACE credit wards. Because though trained faculty come together from various institutions to evaluate the award for a training or military experience, for example, it is still up to the local institution to decide if and how many of the recommended credit will be accepted, and whether they will be applied to a particular degree requirement, or only as an elective.

Are fear of loss of control, lack of knowledge in other instructional models, loss of teaching opportunity some of the equation? Yes. Like other curricular changes in the past, addressing these are part of the way forward. 

No comments:

Post a Comment