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Curated content on higher education presented by the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP).
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New Directions for Higher Education: Q&A with CAEL’s Tate on Prior Learning, Competency-Based Ed

New Directions for Higher Education: Q&A with CAEL’s Tate on Prior Learning, Competency-Based Ed | SCUP Links |

DiSalvio: Some note that the greatest risk to traditional higher education is the growing interest in competency-based or prior-learning education models. Could you explain the source of this alarm?

Tate: I think the source of the alarm is different for prior-learning assessment than it is for competency-based education. On the prior-learning assessment side, what most people are concerned about is that it will take students away from the classroom. The fear is that it will reduce the participation of students in courses. And further, that the faculty will have less of a role in the students’ education because so much of the learning will be coming from outside the classroom.

The quality question that is frequently raised is: “How do we know that the student really has this knowledge?” But when you get under that question, you find that the concern is really that the faculty will not have the same control over a student’s learning as they would if it were under their auspices in their classrooms, internships or research. So there is some reasonable amount of alarm over faculty loss of control. Usually that makes its way into a quality argument. But it’s often really about the issue of control, rather than quality.

On the financial side, there is fear that prior-learning assessment will diminish full-time equivalent enrollment generation. The financial concern and the faculty concern are very closely related. The financial issue is related to the potential loss of credits—and revenue—generated within the institution. These are legitimate concerns, but what we try to demonstrate is that people, in fact, don’t take fewer credits, but rather tend to take more credits because they stay in school longer and are more likely to graduate. They tend to persist and this means the institution will not lose the revenue.

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

Good interview. DiSalvio interviews Pamela Tate, president and CEO of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

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Essay on changing ideas of time, space and learning in higher ed | Inside Higher Ed

Essay on changing ideas of time, space and learning in higher ed | Inside Higher Ed | SCUP Links |

But, unfortunately graduation does not necessarily mean that a student has learned anything. For graduation to be meaningful it must represent measurable, verifiable achievement of specific learning outcomes, a goal toward which many organizations and institutions are working. 

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

A nice, fairly comprehensive, and definitely useful description of issues and resources related to student competencies. The author, Alexandra W. Logue, is executive vice chancellor and provost of the City University of New York.

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Liberal Education | Fall 2013 | Index

Liberal Education | Fall 2013 | Index | SCUP Links |
President’s MessageIf Competency Is the Goal, Then Students’ Own Work Is the Key to Reaching It
By Carol Geary Schneider 
Ultimately, we need to evaluate the “transformative” claims made for any specific innovation—whether digital, face-to-face, or blended—against the evidence of student competency that is (or is not) transparently demonstrated in students’ own portfolios of educational accomplishments.


The MOOC Moment and the End of Reform

By Aaron Bady 

There is almost nothing new about the kind of online education that the word MOOC now describes. It’s been given a great deal of hype and publicity, but that aura of “innovation” poorly describes a technology that is not that distinct from the longer story of online education and that is designed to reinforce and reestablish the status quo.

A Plea for “Close Learning”
By Scott L. Newstok 
Some people pushing for MOOCs, to their credit, speak from laudably egalitarian impulses to provide access for disadvantaged students. But to what are these students being given access? Are broadcast lectures and online discussions the sum of a liberal education, or is it something 
more than “content” delivery? 

MOOCs and Democratic Education
By Leland Carver and Laura M. Harrison 
If MOOCs are truly on the point of “revolutionizing” higher education, then several important questions must urgently be raised and discussed—questions grounded in core social beliefs about the purpose of education.

PERSPECTIVESExperience Matters: Why Competency-Based Education Will Not Replace Seat Time
By Johann N. Neem
A good liberal arts education is not just about learning to write well or to think critically, or any other specific outcome or competency. Instead, it is also about putting students into contexts in which they are exposed to new ideas, asked to chew on them, and to talk or write about them.

A Troubled Adolescence: What the Fifteenth Birthday of the Bologna Process Means for Liberal Education
By Paul L. Gaston
If the vision of Bologna should prove insufficient to sustain its agenda, the most important accomplishment of the Bologna Process may be its having established a base camp from which a more important climb can begin.

Toward a Field of Interfaith Studies
By Eboo Patel
Scholars from a range of fields have long taken an interest in how people who orient around religion differently interact with one another. As the activity in this area increases, one crucial role for the academy is to give some definition to what is clearly an emerging field of research, study, and practice.

A Plea for Civil Discourse: Needed, the Academy’s Leadership 
By Andrea Leskes
Once we accept that students need to become adept civil discoursers—for their own and democracy’s good—how can college education foster this important skill?


Thoughts on a “Liberating” Education
By Robert A. Scott
Undergraduate education is and must be as much about character and citizenship as about careers and commerce.

Society for College and University Planning (SCUP)'s insight:

A good issue. Lots of addressing of the competency issue.

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