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The topic for this month’s session, “Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks,” relates to various topics in the higher education world. The question has been debated: how can professionals in the higher education realm increase expectations for their students while providing them with a safety net?

In 2012, Blackboard released “NOW is the Time to Raise the Bar for Student Success: How Professional Colleges and Universities Can use the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Drive Change. This article was designed to give higher education professionals drive for raising the bar for student success. In our current time, it is often necessary for students to employ more than one degree to qualify for a specific position in the workforce. This factor has played an influential role in the high rates of unemployment. Many researchers in higher education argue that a shift in policy towards competency-based learning and instruction is necessary to ensure student success. It is suggested for colleges and universities to integrate professional skill development into courses to better prepare students for a more competency-based workforce.

“The same kind of “disruptive innovation” that fueled the online learning movement now should be applied to creating achievement-oriented higher-education policies that tie a student’s rise through an educational institution to competency and mastery of well-de ned critical skills.” – Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School

A similar article,“Raising the Bar: Companies Up Education Requirements,” by Chad Brooks discusses the increased qualifications required for recent graduates to obtain a position in the workforce. The evidence presented by Brooks suggests the reason for raising the bar in higher education is to increase productivity. Within the past few years, employers have witnessed growth in the overall quality of work, communication, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, and employee retention.

Steven Mintz, the author of Breakthrough Pathways to Student Successsuggests various methods for preparing students to become successful in both academics and professional competency. Mintz provides several suggestions for improving instruction, which include modularized curriculum, competency-based curriculum, alternate credentials, guided pathways, ‘learn and earn’ models, and pipeline programs. Additionally, he suggests that universities must be prepared adopt new policies, which include:

  • strategies to enhance student success through engagement and motivation
  • flexible instruction delivery methods to meet the needs of all students
  • integrated and proactive approach to skill building
  • data-based methods

“Because of mismatched expectations and divergent learning objectives in community colleges and four-year institutions; uneven academic preparation among many transfer students; poor alignment among community college and university courses; and curricular roadblocks and requirements that make it difficult for community college students to apply credits toward their major. To address these challenges, four-year institutions, community colleges, and military training programs need to work together to agree on learning objectives, coverage, and assessments. A step in that direction is for these institutions to work together to develop common competency and outcomes graphs.” – Steven Mintz

Overall, there appears to be much support in favor of a competency-based approach to higher education. Will this be the next shift in higher education??


Please join us for our upcoming February 21st session on “Raising the Bar While Providing a Safety Net for Taking Creative Risks” Our esteemed presenters for the February 21st session include:

 Dave Clark-Criminal Justice
Rita Faussette-History and Political Science
Christina Pfister-Teacher Education & Sophia Paljevic– NYC Public Schools

Provisions’ sessions are held from 12:00-1:15 in Standish A&B. All are welcome and no reservations are required. Free lunch and refreshments will be available! Hope to see you all there!🙂

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