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ACE and Blackboard Release Research on Alternative Pathways to Degree Completion

February 23, 2015



​ACE’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation and Center for Policy Research and Strategy released research findings with implications for the future of higher education and degree completion last week at an event co-hosted with Blackboard.

Authors of the two papers released at the event discussed the findings and answered questions from the audience. There also was a panel discussion moderated by Louis Soares, ACE vice president for policy research and strategy, that covered issues surrounding the implementation of credit for prior learning (CPL) and competency-based education (CBE) on campuses. The event was accessible via webcast, and panelists answered questions from remote viewers.

The paper “Credit for Prior Learning: Charting Institutional Practice for Sustainability” identifies and addresses some of the cultural barriers and successful strategies to institutions incorporating CPL. The brief suggests a common understanding of CPL terms and definitions within and outside of higher education be developed to ensure administrators and students are aware of all the CPL options at their institutions. The brief also offers recommendations for improving CPL efforts on campuses, including on how to get faculty buy-in, build a sustainable infrastructure and collect data to demonstrate success.

The paper “The Currency of Higher Education: Credits and Competencies” explores the challenges in adapting the traditional credit hour to an information-age economy that relies on greater flexibility and productivity. The authors found that CBE programs are challenged by the systems integration, technology and process adaptations needed throughout the student lifecycle for scalability and efficacy. Students need to know how they can evaluate the quality of a CBE program, but little structure is currently available to help them in this regard.

To view some of the discussions that took place at the event, check out the Twitter hashtag #AltPathways.

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