Is our college students learning?

A college degree is supposed to signify mastery of a discipline, but testing firms see a window of opportunity for measures of college learning to help graduates in the job market, reports Inside Higher Ed.

. . .  skills assessments are related to potential higher education “disruptions” like competency-based education or even digital badging. They offer portable ways for students to show what they know and what they can do. And in this case, they’re verified by testing giants.

“This is how competencies could become the currency of the land instead of the credit hour,” said Michelle Rhee-Weise, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank with a focus on education and health care.

(Rhee-Weise is no relation to the ex-D.C. schools chief.)

The Collegiate Learning Assessment is being upgraded this year to include a work readiness component and more student-level data.

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) introduced two new electronic certificates for student learning, reports Inside Higher Ed. ACT Inc. offers WorkKeys skills assessment.

Americans spend over $460 billion on higher education every year, but what are college students learning?  The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is trying to develop the Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes  (AHELO) to assess college students’ learning, reports Ed Week. The AHELO would be a “direct evaluation of student performance at the global level…across diverse cultures, languages and different types of institutions.”

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    A college degree is not supposed to signal anything even remotely close to mastery of a discipline. That it is is one of the great lies told to me as an undergraduate for which I am most resentful. I majored in (among other things) Medieval History. That means I know a lot more about Medieval History than the person on the street.

    It doesn’t even come CLOSE to saying that I’ve “mastered” the discipline.

    A college degree is, by design, supposed to signal a general facility with a broad program (the nature of the program depending on whether the degree is a BA from a College of Letters, a BS from a School of Engineering, etc.) and now that universities have “majors”, some very rudimentary knowledge of a focused discipline that goes beyond the broader initiation.