Competency vs. the credit hour

Instead of earning credits for “seat time,” colleges are offering degrees based on showing competency — usually by doing well on a test. Southern New Hampshire University is partnering with employers on a $5,000 online, competency-based associate degree.

Connecticut’s community college presidents are worried about a new state law that lets unprepared students skip remediation and take college-level classes. Those who resist — or all 12 presidents, depending on who you believe —  have been told to apply for “expedited termination” by the end of the month.

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  1. These two policies, credit-by-exam and no-requirement classes make sense together. So long as students pay for their classes and may repeat classes as often as they like, self-interest will lead to enrollment at a level within the student’s reach. This might not work for seminar classes or classes where people enroll out of ideological committment. My local grocery store will sell a pot roast to an incompetent cook. Why should they care if I burn it?

  2. Well, most universities usually have a limit on how many credits one can earn (towards a degree), and in many places it’s usually a maximum of 30-32 credit hours towards a bachelor’s or 15-16 towards an associate’s.

    However, credit by examination isn’t a bad way to prove knowledge in a given field, and in many STEM fields, certain certifications actually hold as much weight as a degree or college coursework (the CCIE – Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) is a very hard certification to obtain, and the failure rate is usually close to 3 of every 4 persons who attempt it.

    I can see both sides of the argument, but I opposed the idea be implemented just to have a institution be turned into a diploma mill.

  3. Malcolm,

    Assuming that’s the case, nothing at all, but in reading about a recent scandal in Texas where high school students were given a semester’s worth of credit in a class for doing 90 minutes of work at the of the year so they could graduate on time.

    This is the type of stuff I’m afraid might start happening on college campuses, if not properly set up and monitored from the start.