Understanding Accumulated Student Debt, Rising Tuition, Public Policy

ASDThe impact of accumulated debt on federal financial aid policy/funding, state financing of higher education, institutional enrollment strategies, and student college going decisions is complex and difficult to unravel. The New York Federal Reserve Bank has released a staff report contributing to the understanding of the complex intertwined dynamics that deserves a thorough read and discussion at the institutional strategy level. I have some issues with causal inference and conclusions but the issue is of paramount importance. There are significant implications and ramifications to their findings. I have selected a couple of resources that help focus the dialog on strategic issues.

Consider the finding “We find that institutions more exposed to changes in the subsidized federal loan program increased their tuition disproportionately around these policy changes, with a sizable pass-through effect on tuition of about 65 percent.”

  • What does this actually mean? Does it infer that institutions’ adjusted tuition is based upon aid formulas rather than true labor and compliance costs? How does this play across sectors, types, regions and states? What are the political ramifications of this finding and what will happen in the hands of politicians in a national election cycle?

Consider the data published in the Chronicle of Higher Education that indicates “just 20 universities are responsible for a huge share of graduate-student debt, amounting to more than $6.5 billion in a single year (2013-14).” and goes onto show that Walden University ranked first with $756,336,024 in graduate student debt. (Walden U. Responds to Report on Graduate-Student Debt)

  • Billions spread over 20 institutions gets everyone’s attention. Is this an expose on exploitive strategy or does the data need to be contextualized? Contextualizing the data is something that needs to be done more adroitly by the higher education community. Again what are the implications and political fall out?

Consider the intensifying focus on the earnings to accumulated debt ratios being examined at the programmatic level as examined in the Brookings study included below.

  • The emergence of the relationship between debt, funding and earnings will intensify. The rate of return and schedule of payback, the value to society not just the individual will be asked again and again, and the focus on outcomes will become more intense and more heated.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank in their July 2015 Staff Report examines the

Credit Supply and the Rise in College Tuition: Evidence from the Expansion in Federal Student Aid Programs

 When students fund their education through loans, changes in student borrowing and tuition are interlinked. Higher tuition costs raise loan demand, but loan supply also affects equilibrium tuition costs—for example, by relaxing students’ funding constraints. To resolve this simultaneity problem, we exploit detailed student-level financial data and changes in federal student aid programs to identify the impact of increased student loan funding on tuition. We find that institutions more exposed to changes in the subsidized federal loan program increased their tuition disproportionately around these policy changes, with a sizable pass-through effect on tuition of about 65 percent. We also find that Pell Grant aid and the unsubsidized federal loan program have pass-through effects on tuition, although these are economically and statistically not as strong. The subsidized loan effect on tuition is most pronounced for expensive, private institutions that are somewhat, but not among the most, selective.

Huffington Post published the Average Student Debt Burden In Each State

Published data from the Department of Education, College Board, and The Institute for College Access & Success bringing student debt burden to the state level.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Reported “As Graduate-Student Debt Booms, Just a Few Colleges Are Largely Responsible

Published data focused upon graduate student debt burden as a separate issue. According to their table just 20 universities are responsible for a huge share of graduate-student debt, amounting to more than $6.5 billion in a single year (2013-14). Walden University ranked first with $756,336,024 in graduate student debt.

Brookings Reported in November 2014 an analysis of Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment

Brookings published an analysis of accumulated debt ratios for students enrolled in specific program types. The report also provides an interactive feature, Undergraduate Student Loan Calculator, to calculate the share of earnings necessary to service traditional loan repayment for 80 majors.

In closing

The relationships between accumulated student debt, graduates earning potential,  the earning to payback cycle alignment, and managing tuition price and discounting ratios, form a major issue stream that weighs heavily on the future of higher education. Institutions who understand this will focus on embedding as much value in their curricula as can be achieved. Then they will create a value narrative to guide implementation and align their institutional effectiveness model to close the loop and provide evidence of value. The context involved in achieving a higher value narrative requires we recognize the paradigm shift now underway. To align with the paradigm shift we must examine ways to future proof strategies within the broader context of how higher education is evolving.

Join us at one or more of our Institutes to more deeply explore critical issues facing higher education and strategies to address them.

A Primer on Academic Strategies

What is Academic Strategy?

There are a number of perspectives from which this question can be approached. We will focus on only one in this brief.

The purposeful development of academic initiative(s) designed to secure an institution’s, school’s, college’s, or program’s strategic position in the competitive global digital learning marketplace.

Why are academic strategies important?

Academic strategy is essential in developing quality, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability in colleges and universities.

Academic Strategy Illustrated

Figure 1: Academic Strategy Illustrated

Another major reason in today’s world is the massive paradigm shift to a Global Digital Learning Ecosystem. The new learning ecosystem is ubiquitous (everywhere), content rich (has everything), and is available to the learner at precisely the time when they need or want it (convenient). The new ecosystem provides unprecedented learning access to digital native populations (by definition under 35 years of age, but significantly broader than that). Digital communications provides unprecedented access to information, thought leaders, knowledge providers, learning communities, curricula, creative tools and tutorials. The new learning ecosystem changes all of the academic rules of engagement.

What are the implications of the paradigm shift and its impacts on colleges and universities?

Because the new paradigm and the new global digital learning ecosystem changes all of the academic rules of engagement, planning must focus first and foremost upon the master academic plan for the future. This means the MASTER ACADEMIC PLAN assumes primacy in the institutional planning hierarchy. Serving as a Master Plan it guides the other plans and nurtures the institution’s energies toward the new paradigm.

Are academic cultures too parochial and focused upon self-interest to make the transition?

Certainly some are, but by no means all. There are a host of academic visionaries that lead the transition into the future. Further, we must remember that not all resistance is due to parochial self-interest. A great deal of consternation occurs over concern for the best interest of the learner and what is believed to be the holy grail of quality undergraduate education—small class size. Legitimate concern sets off a myriad of myopic arguments fed by beliefs of what is coming rather than deep reflection about what should a college or university look like in the new global digital learning ecosystem. MIT faculty have taken a very deep look at that very question. Certainly the founders of EdX, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, their 38 charter members, 27 members and 7 national and regional consortia adopting the EdX platform. The founding of Western Governors University is testament to the transformation. Georgia Tech’s new OMSCS in partnership with Udacity and ATT is a great example that academic cultures, programs and institutions can move judiciously toward optimizing the emerging global digital learning ecosystem.

How can an institution proceed using small steps that build toward a larger transformation?

The development of academic strategies is a complex undertaking. The first assumption centers on the principle that “Curriculum drives enrollment, enrollment drives revenue, revenues drive everything else!” This principle of sustainability translates into two primary focal points for academic strategy, the curriculum, and the learner. The economic challenges of sustainability are not counter to academic quality they must be synergistic with academic excellence. Focusing upon learners first provides a clearer perspective of the individuals who seek, find and enroll in programs of study. The learner-centric approach must simultaneously focus on the tenets of academic quality and effective learning. To foster this focus, we have developed the Learner Centered Curriculum Framework around seven strategic questions guiding academic planning.

The questions for higher education are a matter of Academic Strategy and are learner-centric in nature. Seven framing questions focus attention on the learner and learning:

  1. Who are the learners?
  2. What objectives do the learners seek?
  3. What learning provider models are available to the learners?
  4. What learning theories and methods are appropriate for specific learners and the objectives they seek?
  5. What is the optimum curriculum architecture for an institution or educational entity?
  6. What specific curriculum can be configured to meet the learning needs of the learner population(s) an institution has chosen or been charged to serve?
  7. What support services are necessary to enable specific learner population(s) to successfully complete the curriculum and meet their objectives?
The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework

Figure 2: The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework – The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework developed by Michael G. Dolence as an integrating concept linking Enrollment Management, Strategic Planning, and Curriculum Design, Development and Delivery

Answers to the seven questions orient the planning and analysis discussion on an integrated array of factors that must be considered as institutions ponder pathways to sustainability. Each of the seven questions must inform and be informed by the institution’s overarching strategy for sustainability, strategic position in the academic marketplace, and performance in terms of utilization of resources and educational outcomes. Answers to each question help inform and build the master academic plan. The master academic plan informs and sets the strategic framework for recruitment, retention and operational portfolios and performance. Policy enables and assures effectiveness, efficiency and overall quality of the enterprise. Analytics informs all aspects of strategic and operational functions.

The Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix

Figure 3: The Strategic Enrollment Management Matrix

The intersections in the matrix establish deep queries and framed analysis of the relationship of the institution and its master academic plan to the global learning marketplace. One fundamental element of that analysis is the strategic analysis and evaluation of the institution’s curriculum architecture.  The task of assessing the existing curriculum architecture against the seven dimensions of strategic enrollment management has resulted in the formulation of a proficiency based curriculum architecture model.

Proficiency Based Curriculum Architecture Model

Figure 4: Proficiency Based Curriculum Architecture Model

The new model is built from the IMS chassis of Reusable Learning Objects and Modules existing courses and programs, and the recognition that communities of practice are beginning to drive new program planning and expanded views of the value of state-of-the-art curriculum. The proficiency based curriculum architecture model provides for the design, development and implementation of more granular curriculum, that can be assembled and reassembled into programs that address credit bearing curricular applications as well as practice based applied learning requirements. The model expands the usefulness and application of curriculum to a much broader educational marketplace. The new expanded view of curriculum provided by the proficiency based curriculum architecture model opens new options for higher education.

Introduction to Academic Strategic Variables

The development of academic strategies involves manipulation of variables within an educational entity (e.g. institution, college, school, program, or department) in order to gain strategic position in the global learning marketplace. The development of academic strategies is both art and science and is enhanced by the depth and breadth of knowledge of the options available to an academic strategist. Academic strategy development requires both systems thinking and contemporary knowledge of cognitive research and learning strategy. The following, while not exhaustive provides a foundation for understanding the roots of academic strategy development.

  • Curriculum Architecture Strategies (using variables strategically to align curriculum with market segments)
    • Term Variables: adjust enrollment periods to align with market segments requirements or shorten time to course completion. Examples include 4 week term, 8 week term, 15/16 week term or open term.
    • Schedule Variables: adjusts synchronous learning engagements to align with market segments requirements. Examples include traditional day schedules, weekend colleges, and evening schedules.
    • Granularity Variable (see proficiency based curriculum architecture model, above,  with 7 Tiers rather than 2): adjusts curriculum content, courses, and engagements into smaller components permitting deeper assessment, application across multiple programs of study, and access for necessary developmental coursework.
  • Content Strategies
    • Curriculum Scope: defines the breadth and depth of academic programs in an institution’s portfolio.
    • Community of Practice Focus: identifies trans-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary programs of study designed to address emerging needs of society and concomitant interests of learners.
    • Discipline Focus: provides a clear definition of specific elements of content for promotion and consideration by learners, employers, faculty, and philanthropy.
  • Assessment Strategies
    • Integrated Assessment: allows the assessment of learning and curriculum, including the collection of data associated with it, to occur routinely within the curricular engagement process.
    • Digital Assessment Support Systems include a wide range of digital formative assessment tools as well as systems for learning outcomes management (i.e. Canvas, Angel Learning).
  •  Learning Environment
    • Campus Master Plan: provides a rational design view of a campus and the strategies to create an effective, efficient learning environment supporting the academic community.
    • Academic Facilities Portfolio enhances specific academic facilities to highlight their design features that promote effective learning and scholarship.
    • Learning Management Systems (LMS): is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of digital courses. The use of LMS as a strategic element provides unprecedented information and control over digital curricula and learner assessment and engagement.
    • Digital Learning Environment (serving synchronous and asynchronous learning engagements) recognizes the ubiquitous critical mass of digitized information and resources, creative tools and communications options open to learners, scholars and academic leaders.
  • Strategic Positioning Strategies
    • Packaging (See Georgia Tech, Western Governor’s links above) push the boundaries of existing portfolios by combining the pieces in creative and effective ways.
    • Transformational efforts redefine the rules of engagement to optimize position and performance in a new paradigm.
    • Preeminence defines efforts to achieve the acknowledged status of best of breed.

In closing

The need for forward thinking academic strategies is demonstrated daily across higher education. Institutions considering changes to their core curricula, departments developing new programs, schools and colleges developing strategic plans or Master Academic Plans, institutions developing academic enrollment management initiatives, institutions approaching accreditation review, re-accreditation processes or responding to findings from a review are just a few of the prompts for deep thoughtful reflection on academic strategy.

Note: This brief Primer is designed to illustrate the elements of academic strategy and how they relate to each other. It is neither complete nor exhaustive.

American Higher Education in Crisis?: What Everyone Needs to Know®

A MUST READ

Goldie Blumenstyk’s new book, American Higher Education in Crisis?, should be required reading for anyone interested in the future of higher education — faculty, trustees, executives, and government officials, as well as analysts and pundits. , President, Georgia Regents University

Goldie

“American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know,” deconstructs the journey into the future for higher education by posing the key questions facing higher education, policy makers, leaders, and academics. The books narrative, well worth the read, is structured into four narrative parts.

  • Part One: Students, focuses 14 questions from the learner. A provocative read, providing a sound introduction to some key issues. The scope of the book does not address many questions surrounding learning. What is learned, how it is learned, and what role does the learning experience play in the future of America and global communities. These questions, when viewed in light of the emerging global digital learning ecosystem, make the answer to the ‘crisis question’ a more profound yes.
  • Part Two; Costs, Spending, and Debt posits 32 questions regarding finance and economics. The questions focus on subjects common to the mainstream news and topics of interest in the existing fiscal conundrum. They do much to demystify and clarify the issues. The approach is helpful. A more analytical approach would be required to address the larger question of what is the strategic economic value of higher education as a foundation for building a new model for financing the enterprise. When deeper analytical details are considered, the portrait of the crisis grows more profound  and more complex as all 50 states and the nations around the world grapple with fiscal sustainability.
  • Part Three; Who’s in charge? Leadership pressures-from within and without is framed by 15 questions on selected topics. They provide a succinct populous view of some of the key issues and public dialogues and frame the most common fairly well. These may serve to open a Pandora’s Box of leadership challenges facing academe.
  • Part Four: What’s ahead is framed by 12 fairly short-termed questions. Acknowledging disruption as a major force confronting American Higher Education the author opens the door to deeper discussions concerning the future of higher education institutions

The real quest is to devise a sustainable learning system. Higher education globally is experiencing a Paradigm Shift to an emerging Global Digital Learning Ecosystem that is paving the pathways to the Learning Age. As the dawn of the Learning Age sheds new light on the potential of a Global Digital Learning Ecosystem, education can be expected to pass through at least three stages of change.

  • Disruptive change, characterized by two paradigms colliding abruptly. Fear, anger, disbelief, and resistance are natural reactions during this period of adjustment. (see Digital Darwinism)
  • Adaptive change, characterized by educators making use of the functionality of the digital environments but resisting substantive change to the system that controls and manages it.
  • Optimized change constructs a new system around the new paradigm and the adaptive learning culture that it nurtures. New realities shape the need for validated credentials and new features and functions evolve within the emerging digitized learning environment.

The Author’s deep experience covering higher education is evident in this work. While the issues Higher Education faces go beyond the acknowledged scope of this book, the challenges summarized in it, are a great starting place. It is a must read for anyone believing they have a right to an opinion on American Higher Education.

 

Introducing the SRS Method for Mission Review and Strategy Development in Colleges and Universities [Video]

Developing strategy is a delicate and reflective process. Six interactive framing concepts help to shape strategy in higher education. The SRS Method is designed to provide a point of reference for the discussion of the six concepts. The SRS Pyramid depicts the schematic outlining a formal method for reviewing a mission statement and developing strategy in colleges and universities.

The SRS Pyramid frames seven interactive constructs built around and reflective of mission that shape an institution’s vision, focus its strategies, and achieve its position in the broadest global learning sphere. The SRS Pyramid recognizes that mission defines the role of an Institution within its defined sphere of influence. It is designed to provide a common reference point for structured dialog regarding each of the seven concepts and the relationships they have to mission and its fulfillment.

Dialogue begins with mission at the base of the pyramid and is directed right for a discussion of the Sphere of influence and left to illuminate the Role or roles played in that sphere or spheres. An institution’s or entity’s (school, college, department, program) sphere is defined by its geographic reach, competitive and collaborative contexts, and the communities of practice that influence or are influenced by the entity. The role of the entity – its purpose and function – within its sphere is defined by its mission. Environmental scanning and analysis (e.g., SWOT, GAP or other situational analyses) evaluate changes within the sphere for their impact on mission and role. As Sphere, Mission, and Role conditions and interactions are understood; strategists, planners, and constituents can invest in the creative process of determining a Vision for the future. Strategies are then developed to enable the vision. When implemented, the strategies modify and sustain an entity’s Strategic Position within its sphere of influence. In summary, Mission defines Sphere and Role, Vision relates Role to Strategy, Strategy redefines Strategic Position within and organizations Sphere of influence.

SRS Pyramid (Diagram)

The Sphere of an entity is defined by its geographic reach, competitive and collaborative organizations, subjects, disciplines, and communities of practice influenced by; and whose influence is exerted on the strategic entity. Each strategic entity is defined by its mission within a sphere that defines its role (purpose and function) within the sphere. Environmental scanning and analysis (often referred to as a SWOT Analysis for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) inform and evaluate changes within the sphere and how they impact mission and role. Environmental scanning without an analysis is a waste of time.

Once the Sphere, Mission, Role conditions and interaction are understood strategists, planners and constituents invest in the creative process of determining a vision of the future in which strengths are sustained or enhanced, weaknesses are addressed, opportunities are capitalized on and threats are mitigated. Strategies are then developed to enable the entity to realize its vision. When implemented the strategies modify and sustain the entities strategic position in its sphere of influence.

At the center of the pyramid lies the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework (LCCF) providing a conceptual structure to guide dialog and inquiry about curriculum. It frames curriculum in its broadest strategic context and provides a framework for the design, implementation, and evaluation of curriculum within the broader context of institutional mission, vision, and strategy. The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework, help unravel and clarify the complexities of translating mission, vision, and strategic position into effective curriculum as mapped across seven interlocking constructs:

  1. Learner Populations;
  2. Learner Objectives;
  3. Learning Provider Models;
  4. Learning Theory and Methods;
  5. Curriculum Architecture;
  6. Curriculum Configurations; and
  7. Learner Support Services

These constructs are, in turn, decoded or operationalized through seven learner-centered questions. When asked and answered, the questions are ideal for building, improving, and sustaining design integrity across curricular elements and guiding a wide array of institutional internal and external alignments.

The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework is a tool that helps frame strategic dialog and analysis around the principles and practices of the concept learner-centered academic environments. This article describes the seven learner-centered questions that emanate from the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework and  help frame a basic enrollment management perspective useful for strategic enrollment management professionals when they dialog with academics. The table below can be printed and guide deeper insight into the options revealed through each question.

Overview of the CCSPM Model [Video]

The Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model (CCSPM) provides a framework for strategic planning in higher education. This video provides a brief overview of the Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model and its functions.

What is the Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model?

The Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model is built specifically for higher education, and centers as the name suggests, on the curriculum. It is designed to import whatever planning has already occurred in an institution avoiding the unpleasant prospect of starting over. It integrates seamlessly with accreditation self-study processes, and if implemented in time, can become the core of the accreditation process. The Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model can also integrate academic program review into the overall institutional strategic planning initiative providing unprecedented cohesion between academic and institutional plans. The process is designed to run continuously, refreshing itself each cycle and providing an effective communications process resulting in clear understanding among the array of both internal and external institutional constituents.

The Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model is conducted through seven interlocking planning activities including:

  1. Identification and definition of Key Performance Indicators
  2. Detailing of a Learner-Centered Curriculum Architecture
  3. Conducting an External Environmental Scan
  4. Conducting an Internal Environmental Scan
  5. Building on the knowledge and insights gained in the first four activities then engaging in strategic, operational and action planning
  6. Implementation and integrating plans into the management process
  7. Evaluation to determine effectiveness that feeds back to the internal environmental assessment

Curriculum Centered Strategic Planning Model

About the Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model

The Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model was designed and developed by Michael G. Dolence, President of Michael G. Dolence and Associates, a consulting firm serving higher education and the vendors and public policy entities that engage with it worldwide. The Curriculum-Centered Strategic Planning & Management Model is the next generation of strategic planning model that evolved from the Strategic Decision Engine published in Working Toward Strategic Change (Jossey-Bass 1996).

Adult Learning Achieves Primacy Across Global Societies

The number of adults engaged in formal learning around the globe in any giving year is astounding. Increasingly adult participation in learning is enabled through the robust emerging Global Digital Learning Ecosystem. Globally this is  nurtured by such applications as universal language translation. Together these factors help define the rapidly evolving Learning Age. There are a number of sources for global data on adult participation rates in education and formal learning. Global efforts are not directly comparable but together they illustrate the massive investment people from around the world are making in continuous learning. The questions for higher education are a matter of Academic Strategy and are learner-centric in nature. Seven framing questions focus attention on the learner and learning:

  1. Who are the engaged learners?
  2. What objectives do engaged learners seek?
  3. What learning provider models and curricula are available to the learners?
  4. What learning theories and methods are appropriate for specific learners and the objectives they seek?
  5. What is the optimum curriculum architecture for an institution or educational entity in the 21st Century?
  6. What specific curriculum can be configured to meet the learning needs of the learner population(s) an institution has chosen or been charged to serve?
  7. What support services are necessary to enable specific learner population(s) to successfully complete the curriculum and meet their objectives?

In this post we will focus on the numbers of learners in the adult learning marketplace. We begin in Europe.

An Overview from OECD

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international economic organization of 34 countries founded in 1961 (with roots back to 1948) to stimulate economic progress and world trade. OECD maintains the Indicators of Education Systems (INES) program that provides data on the performance of the education systems in the OECD’s 34 member countries and a set of partner countries, including non-member G20 nations. In a report Skills Beyond School they report adult participation in Education and Learning in OECD Member countries. Combined the European population covered by OECD is a little more than the U.S. at just under 400 million. Findings include:

  • Across the OECD, more than 40% of adults participate in formal and/or non-formal education in a given year. (This is the same range as U.S. adult participation rates.) The proportion ranges from more than 60% in New Zealand and Sweden to less than 15% in Greece and Hungary.
  • On average in the OECD area, an individual can expect to receive 988 hours of instruction in non-formal education during his or her working life, of which 715 hours are instruction in job-related non-formal education.
  • Overall, 27% of adults in OECD countries have looked for information on learning possibilities in the preceding 12 months, and 87% of those seeking information found some.
Figure 1: Participation rate in formal and/or non-formal education, (OECD Chart C5.4)

Figure 1: Participation rate in formal and/or non-formal education, (OECD Chart C5.4)

 

Figure 2: Participation rate in all and in job-related non-formal education, hours of instruction per participant and per adult in job-related non-formal education, 2007 (OECD Chart C5.2)

Figure 2: Participation rate in all and in job-related non-formal education, hours of instruction per participant and per adult in job-related non-formal education, 2007 (OECD Chart C5.2)

 

Figure 3: OECD Expected hours over the working life in all non-formal education and in job-related non-formal education, 2007

Figure 3: OECD Expected hours over the working life in all non-formal education and in job-related non-formal education, 2007

 

European Numbers from Eurostat Indicating Changes in Rates Over 20+ Years

Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union situated in Luxembourg. It provides the European Union with statistics that enable comparisons between countries and regions. The Adult Education Survey (AES) is a household survey on lifelong learning. People living in private households are interviewed about their participation in education and training activities (formal, non-formal and informal learning). The target population of the survey is composed of people aged 25 to 64. The survey takes place every five years and its results are published on Eurostat website. Eurostat also provides Population Statistics of European countries.

Figure 4: Adult Learners Age 25 to 64 Who Reported Receiving Education

Figure 4: Adult Learners Age 25 to 64 Who Reported Receiving Education

 Source: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/tgm/table.do?tab=table&plugin=1&language=en&pcode=tsdsc440

The variability in participation rates among the European nations is profound. The focus on assessing and enhancing participation in educational activities however, is universally among the highest priorities. For deeper insights a visit to the OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, is worth the time.

U.S. Adult Participation Rates Numbers from NCES

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary U.S. entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education. The National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) provides descriptive data on the educational activities of the U.S. population, thereby offering policymakers, researchers, and educators a variety of statistics on the condition of education in the United States. The latest numbers for the U.S. Adult Participation Rates is for 2005.

Figure 5: U.S. Summary of All Adults Enrolled in Any Program 1991-2005

Figure 5: U.S. Summary of All Adults Enrolled in Any Program 1991-2005

 Participation Varies by Age Category

Breaking out the rates by age group highlights that Eurostat begins its age classifications of adult learners at 25 where as the U.S. NHES included 17-24 year olds.

Figure 6: U.S. Adult Participation in Education by Age Group

Figure 6: U.S. Adult Participation in Education by Age Group

 

The U.S. Undergraduate Demographic

Reflecting on the characteristics of enrolled college students informs a deeper look at adult learning strategies. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation published an effective demographic infographic detailing what America would look like as 100 College Students.

Figure 7: Demographic Characteristics of American Undergraduate College Students

Figure 7: Demographic Characteristics of American Undergraduate College Students

Comparative rates from Canadian Study

Each nation exhibits a competitive concern over educational achievement by adult learners as a main component of their economic vitality strategy. The Conference Board of Canada has produced a  website that presents data and analysis on Canada’s national and provincial performance relative to that of 15 peer countries in six performance categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health, and Society.

How Canada Performs is a multi-year research program to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in the socio-economic performance of Canada and its provinces. It helps policy-makers, organization leaders, and all Canadians answer the following questions: How do the quality-of-life report cards for Canada and its provinces compare to those of peer countries? Is Canada’s quality of life sustainable? Has there been an improvement? What must Canada and the provinces do to provide a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians?

Figure 8:  Adult Participation in Education in Canada Compared to 15 Countries

Figure 8:  Adult Participation in Education in Canada Compared to 15 Countries

Source: Adult Participation in Education in Canada Compared to 15 Countries

Asia and Africa reflect a wide range of Participation

For Asia a great place to start is The State and Development of Adult Learning and Education in Asia and the Pacific report by UNESCO. Insights from the report help establish the climate for Adult Learners.

The history of adult learning and education is a hit-and-miss story – starting off with strong rhetoric, promises and expectation and concluding in limited success, and even neglect and disappointment in too many cases. Adult learning and education has been conflated into the broader agenda of education and development more at the level of discourse than in action. In the arena of action, it has been too often confined to a narrow interpretation of literacy skills. Hence, for most governments in developing countries where financial and human resources are limited, adult education is low in the pecking order when it comes to assigning priority to sub-sectors of the education system (Tanvir, 2008). Furthermore, NGOs are often the major providers of adult learning, although this is largely limited to adult literacy programmes, which then becomes a reason for the state not to fulfill its responsibility. (Page 7)

For Africa, the same source different publication: The State and Development of Adult Learning and Education in Subsaharan Africa.

After decades of sustained efforts to eradicate illiteracy in Africa, illiteracy rates of adults remain high with continuing gender and urban/rural disparities. Illiteracy has several correlations with low productivity, low incomes and poorer health (and susceptibility to HIV/AIDS). It hampers national development efforts. It is a bar to much adult education. The enormous growth in free universal primary education in Africa will gradually alleviate this problem, but drop-out rates from primary schooling remain high. The number of people needing adult basic education still grows and few resources are left over from primary education for children. The adult education sub-sector of state education systems remains relatively marginal and under-funded, in spite of the good economic progress in many countries since the mid-1990s.

So what does it mean?

It means the demand for curriculum among adult learners is huge and growing globally. The demand must be considered in addition to the focus on traditional 18 to 22 year old undergraduates. In order to translate that into place based learning one must define the place (the specific area in which learners reside), select the closest approximation of participation rate by curriculum category and calculate the theoretical demand. In the U.S. we begin with the U.S. and World Population Clock.  In the U.S. there is One Birth every 8 seconds; One Death every 12 seconds; One International In Migration every 33 seconds; for a Net Gain of One Person every 16 seconds. This establishes the context of rate of change over time.

Once a population and a rate is established, an adult learning population can be estimated. In the U.S. there are approximately 320.2 million people, and an estimated 180.7 million 21 to 65 year olds. Given a 40% participation rate there are an estimated 72.3 million adults in the U.S. Learning Marketplace Annually. Of course these are rough framing estimates but they indicate that adult learning is a well established and important strategic element of social and economic vitality. It must also be a strategic element of framing higher education strategies for the next millennium. To approach these markets new academic strategies must be developed.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014

Since 2007,  Jane Hart has conducted a survey of the use of web based learning tools. She has published her results in a top 100 list annually. The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014  – the results of the 8th Annual Learning Tools Survey –  has been compiled from the votes of 1,038 learning professionals from 61 countries worldwide and was published on 22 September 2014

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014

We developed the graphic to bring Jane’s work to life and provide an enhanced visual to help more fully understand the bigger picture. Jane’s work in workplace and e-learning underpins important aspects of the emergence of the Global Digital Learning Ecosystem. The emerging ecosystem brings together all aspect of learning into one learner integrated view. The implications for higher education are profound.

 

 

Faculty Increasing Use of Learner-Centered Education Practices

Faculty have steadily increased their use of Learner-Centered Pedagogies according to a comparison of faculty reported teaching and learning methods deployed in their classrooms. “The Undergraduate Teaching Faculty: The 2013-2014 HERI Faculty Survey,” a triennial national survey of college and university faculty has been conducted since 1989 by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Learner-Centered Pedagogy

The concept of Learner-Centered pedagogy has deep historic roots in the work of Dewey, Piaget, Rogers’ Gardner and Bloom (and many others) as well as the innovative models of Maria Montessori and the Reggio Emilia approach. Faculty in higher education have begun to adopt and adapt Learner-Centered pedagogies in such efforts as the flipped classroom and a host of in class and in course methods. The HERI Faculty Survey has been tracking progress in the use of these pedagogies since 1989-1990.

Changes in Faculty Teaching Practices, 1989 to 2014

Changes in Faculty Teaching Practices, 1989 to 2014

 

Class Discussions

In 1989-90 69.6% of faculty reported using class discussions in “all” or “most” of their courses increasing to 88.2% in 2008 and leveling off at just over 82% in 2011 and 2014.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is the use of small groups through which students work together to accomplish shared goals and to maximize their own and others’ potential.” – Johnson, Johnson and Holubec (ASCD 1994)

In 1989-90 20.6% of faculty reported using cooperative learning strategies increasing to a peak of 73.2% in 2008-2009 and settling to 60.7% in 2013–2014.

Group Projects

The use of group projects was reported by 15.7% in 1989-1990 growing to just under half (45.5%) in 2013-2014.

Student-Selected Topics

Incorporating the use of student-selected topics within a course has increased 8.5% in 1989–1990 to 26.3% in 2013–2014

Student Evaluations of each others work

The use student evaluations of each other’s work in “all” or “most” of their courses has nearly tripled from 10% in 1989–1990 to 28% in 2013–2014.

Table 1: Faculty Reported Teaching and Learning Methods 1990 to 2014

Comparing the reported use of specific pedagogies over a period of fifteen years.

Method 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 2014
Class discussions 69.6 69.8 67.7 68.4 72.3 81.8 82.2 82.2 82.8
Community service as optional part of course 0.0 0.0 2.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Community service as part of coursework 0.0 0.0 2.5 0.0 5.1 7.1 8.1 5.9 8.9
Competency-based grading 52.4 55.7 48.4 48.4 49.3 0.0 53.0 47.6 0.0
Computer or machine-aided instruction 13.2 16.0 18.5 21.5 29.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Cooperative learning (small groups) 26.0 32.5 35.0 37.1 41.3 47.8 59.1 56.7 60.7
Electronic quizzes with immediate feedback in class 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 6.8 7.4 15.2
Essay exams 40.6 41.7 40.1 40.9 42.2 57.6 44.3 41.3 0.0
Experiential learning/Field studies 18.8 19.8 19.3 19.3 22.3 0.0 30.0 25.6 31.0
Extensive lecturing 55.7 53.6 48.5 47.2 46.9 55.2 46.4 45.0 50.6
Grading on a curve 22.9 18.2 18.5 17.5 16.8 19.1 16.8 17.3 21.2
Graduate Teaching
Assistants
8.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Group projects 15.7 20.9 22.8 23.4 26.8 33.3 35.8 32.0 45.5
Independent Projects 34.1 37.1 33.1 33.1 35.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
“Learn before lecture” through multimedia tools (e.g., flipping the classroom) 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 21.8
Multiple drafts of written work 12.4 14.1 15.5 16.8 18.5 0.0 24.9 23.9 34.2
Multiple-choice exams 33.7 35.4 30.8 30.8 32.5 32.3 33.1 29.3 0.0
Multiple-choice quizzes 16.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
On-line instruction 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 13.9 0.0 0.0 0.0
Performance/Demonstrations 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 34.8
Quizzes 0.0 40.9 36.1 36.7 38.7 0.0 39.8 38.9 0.0
Readings on racial and ethnic issues 11.1 15.2 15.6 16.7 18.6 19.9 23.9 0.0 26.1
Readings on women and gender issues 10.6 14.2 15.0 15.9 17.4 18.2 21.1 0.0 22.3
Recitals/Demonstrations 0.0 20.1 19.2 18.0 18.4 21.4 21.9 19.0 0.0
Reflective writing/journaling 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 18.1 21.7 17.6 25.2
Rubric-based assessment 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 55.9
Short-answer exams 34.0 36.7 32.9 33.8 36.4 36.9 45.5 44.9 0.0
Short-answer quizzes 24.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Starting class with a question that engages students 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 49.5
Student evaluations of each other’s work 10.0 12.0 12.9 13.1 14.6 19.4 23.5 21.0 28.0
Student evaluations of teaching 83.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Student presentations 25.5 29.8 30.9 32.7 36.0 44.7 46.7 43.8 52.4
Student-developed activities (assignments, exams, etc) 15.3 17.1 13.1 13.3 14.4 0.0 26.7 0.0 0.0
Student-selected topics for course content 8.5 9.8 8.0 8.6 10.2 15.0 17.0 19.8 26.3
Supplemental instruction that is outside of class and office hours 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 36.1
Teaching assistants 0.0 7.9 9.5 9.4 9.2 10.1 11.8 12.7 0.0
Techniques to create an inclusive classroom environment for diverse students 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 56.5
Term/research papers 31.9 32.1 32.8 34.7 36.7 34.7 44.3 43.3 0.0
Undergraduate Teaching Assistants 2.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Using real-life problems 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 55.7 55.4 69.8
Using student inquiry to drive learning 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 47.1 45.8 56.4
Weekly essay assignments 14.2 17.6 15.9 17.9 19.0 0.0 21.7 20.2 0.0

While the advances in the use of learner-centered pedagogies maybe laudable, faculty efforts tell only part of the story of the transformation of the learning ecosystem. While faculty are engineering and re-engineering their curricula, courses, teaching and classroom instructional methods, students are busy optimizing their access to the emerging global digital learning ecosystem. These are not competing efforts but transformations on parallel development tracks and trajectories. They are neither integrated with each other nor cohesive in a unifying purposeful design but rather opportunistic initiatives.

A Parallel Universe: Technology Enabled, Global Digital Learning Ecosystem

So where are the learners in their quest to nurture and support their own learning. Students tend not to classify technology as a learning approach but rather the use of digital tools to assist in their quest to master their course material. For students, the technology is largely taken for granted and not seen as either innovative nor at the expense of other methods and tools. Increasingly, being Learner-Centered means integrating the use of technology and the realities of the emerging Global Digital Learning Ecosystem into the curriculum and learner experiences. For a thorough understanding of the current technology status examine the Global Information Technology Report 2014.

EDUCAUSE 2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies, October 2014

In 2014, ECAR collaborated with 151 institutions to collect responses from 17,451 faculty respondents across 13 countries about their technology experiences. ECAR also collaborated with 213 institutions to collect responses from 75,306 undergraduate students about their technology experiences. The research found:

  • Technology is embedded into students’ lives, and students are generally inclined to use and to have favorable attitudes toward technology. However, technology has only a moderate influence on students’ active involvement in particular courses or as a connector with other students and faculty.
  • Students’ academic use of technology is widespread but not deep. They are particularly interested in expanding the use of a few specific technologies.
  • Many students use mobile devices for academic purposes. Their in-class use is more likely when instructors encourage such use; however, both faculty and students are concerned about their potential for distraction.
  • More students than ever have experienced a digital learning environment. The majority say they learn best with a blend of online and face-to-face work.
  • Most students support institutional use of their data to advise them on academic progress in courses and programs. Many of the analytic functions students seek already exist in contemporary LMSs

Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning, September 2014

The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) founded in 2008 to address issues of educational opportunity, access, equity, and diversity in the United States and internationally published a report titled Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning. It concluded:

  • Technology access policies should aim for one-to-one computer access.
  • Technology access policies should ensure that speedy internet connections are available to prevent user issues when implementing digital learning.
  • At-risk students benefit most from technology that is designed to promote high levels of interactivity and engagement with data and information in multiple forms.
  • Curriculum and instructional plans should enable students to use technology to create content as well as to learn material.
  • Policymakers and educators should plan for blended learning environments, characterized by significant levels of teacher support and opportunities for interactions among students, as companions to technology use.

Campus Technology: Report: Digital Use Up Among College Students, May 2012

Way back on May 25, 2012,  Campus Technology , in a story written by Tim Sohn, reported on a survey, conducted that year, by CourseSmart and fielded by Wakefield Research regarding the use of technology and social media by college students. Five-hundred college students between the ages 18 to 23 participated in an online survey. The survey found:

  • 96 Percent had taken traditional courses that included online elements.
  • 79 Percent had handed in assignments online.
  • 71 Percent had taken Web-based tests and quizzes.
  • 40 Percent used digital technology at least every 10 minutes, and
  • 67 Percent said they use technology at least every hour.
  • 68 Percent said they saved two or more hours daily, and 14 percent said they saved at least five hours using technology in their learning process.
  • 51 Percent said they were more likely to complete reading assignments on time if they used digital devices instead of print.
  • 79 Percent searched for information on a mobile device immediately before an exam.
  • 78 Percent said they had received updates from professors via learning management systems or student portals.
  • 84 Percent said they had access to their class syllabi online.

In Closing

Learning is the point. Technology, as enabling and essential as it is, is not the point. Neither is ‘On-Line.’ Faculty, generally, are not Luddites, but rather careful explorers and experimenters searching for effective pedagogical practices. Technology innovations and their application by scholars, educators and innovators, to building a Global Digital Learning Ecosystem are enabling learners, to transform their educational experience. The industrial model of the 20th century, while an extraordinarily powerful system then, does not align with either the power of, nor the potential of, the new 21st century constantly and rapidly evolving Ecosystem. We cannot ‘fix’ this fundamental misalignment by enhancing the efficiency or effectiveness of existing models. The elements of a comprehensive and cohesive new academic model are emerging. Higher education leaders, scholars, and policy makers must come together to shape the educational systems of the future that optimize the Global Digital Learning Ecosystem and its impact on learning.

In our continuing effort to support our clients managing the transitions through turbulent times, MGDA is offering a full schedule of Transformational Strategies Institutes for 2015. The curricula are focused on the development of academic strategies to cope with the rapid transitions and fundamental transformations now underway.

These topics and sessions are also available as workshops:

Academic Strategic Enrollment Management (ASEM) Professional Group Launched

ASEM-Hero-LogoMGDA announced today the formation of the Academic Strategic Enrollment Management Group as a professional community of practice established on the LinkedIn social networking platform.

The Academic Strategic Enrollment Management (A-SEM) Group is dedicated to the concept of sustainability by nurturing synergy between Academic Leaders and Enrollment Planning and Management Professionals. The group is a forum for the  emerging community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to exploring and developing the foundations of academic strategic enrollment management.  The group is a community of higher education professionals serving  in such roles as academic leaders, faculty, enrollment managers, curriculum designers, marketing, institutional research and assessment engaged in efforts to build the highest quality, fiscally sustainable academic programs.

SEM MatrixTo get a deeper view please visit the Academic SEM Series to explore the Primacy of the Curriculum, the use of the SEM Matrix, the concept and power of a Curriculum Architecture, and the insight embedded in a Learner-Centered Curriculum.

You are invited to connect with Michael G. Dolence on LinkedIn and look forward to you joining our group.

 

Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: Part 3

AcademicSEM-Banner

This is the third post in the series on Academic Strategic Enrollment Management.

What is the Learner Centered Curriculum Framework?

“There’s this idea that if we just tell the story better, we will get more students,” he says. That thinking, he argues, misunderstands enrollment management and the plight of small colleges in the postrecession economy. Creating a new branding campaign might seem easier than assessing whether academic programs are meeting students’ needs. But one isn’t a substitute for the other. “It’s not what we say on our website, or how many hands we shake, or how many applications we get,” Mr. Kieffer says. “No, it’s, What are we offering?” He sees enrollment as a two-part puzzle: getting prospective students to want what a college offers, and offering what they want. “A lot of schools right now are desperate,” he says, “focusing solely on getting people to want what they offer.” — Roger Kieffer former senior vice president for enrollment at Trinity International University, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 19, 2014, Vol LXI, Number 3, Page A-18

The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework (LCCF) provides a conceptual structure to guide dialog and inquiry about curriculum. It frames curriculum in its broadest strategic context and provides a framework for the design, implementation, and evaluation of curriculum. When employing the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework, the complexities of translating mission, vision, and strategic position into effective curriculum are mapped across seven interlocking constructs:

  1. Learner Populations;
  2. Learner Objectives;
  3. Learning Provider Models;
  4. Learning Theory and Methods;
  5. Curriculum Architecture;
  6. Curriculum Configurations; and
  7. Learner Support Services

These constructs are, in turn, decoded or operationalized through seven learner-centered questions. When asked and answered, the questions are ideal for building, improving, and sustaining design integrity across curricular elements and guiding a wide array of institutional internal and external alignments.

The Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework is a tool that helps frame strategic dialog and analysis around the principles and practices of the concept learner-centered academic environments. This article describes the seven learner-centered questions that emanate from the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework and  help frame a basic enrollment management perspective useful for strategic enrollment management professionals when they dialog with academics. The table below can be printed and guide deeper insight into the options revealed through each question.  The elements under the questions are not to be used as a check list but rather a list of prompts and possibilities. We invite constructive comments and suggestions as-well-as any case examples of its use.

Seven Learner-Centered Questions

Diagram-LLCF

Learner Populations

A deep understanding of the populations to be served is required for effective curriculum design and delivery. For this reason, the very first question to be addressed is: Who are the learners? The answer flows from and can inform an entity’s strategic decisions regarding mission, vision, and strategic position (see Developing Institutional Strategy). Several questions cascade to give deep meaning to this basic question. Who are the learners of the 21st century? What learner populations does the institution currently serve? Who could or should the institution be serving? And, so on. Understanding who the learners are is an essential and often overlooked component of shaping curriculum for a changing society. The foundation of a learner-centered approach is to fully understand learning demand as segmented by salient learner population characteristics. Once understood, academic planners can identify gaps between the learner populations present in society, those the institution desires to serve, and those it currently serves. A learner-centered approach, guided by the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework, is most fruitful when supported by open inquiry and discourse regarding the learner populations found within an institution’s target market areas and those within the global learning marketplace.

Learner Objectives

A related set of questions emanates from the second learner-centered question within the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework: What objectives do the learners seek? Related questions include: What do the learners of the 21st century seek? What are their learning and credential objectives? How do objectives change in the course of a person’s life? Learners seek a vast array of learning objectives and these objectives vary over time and the course of one’s life (see 5 Bold Predictions For The Future Of Higher Education). Knowledge of learner objectives is a prerequisite for understanding motivation and, therefore, should guide the sequencing of learning experiences as well as inform marketing, recruitment, and retention efforts. Learner objectives should be a fundamental design element for the overall structure and intent of a curriculum and, therefore, incorporated early in program and curriculum design and review processes.

Learning Provider Models

A third area of inquiry flows from asking: What learning provider models are available to the learners? Corollary questions include: What options are open to 21st century learners as they seek their objectives? What curricular models, business models, and assessment models are in play? What choices do various learner populations make and why? What evidence exists on the effectiveness of the various provider models? The digital knowledge age is an age in which learning opportunities can be made available to learners anytime, anywhere. As a result, a complex network of learning resources and provider models is emerging to meet the demand for learning across multiple venues. Models range from traditional collegiate models to open-term models, online, and a host of other variations. Faculty, academic leaders, strategic planners, and curriculum designers are well advised to fully explore, describe, and understand various provider models in order to adequately assess the emerging learning landscape. Such an assessment builds understanding of emerging best practice as well as deep understanding of the competitive enrollment context of higher education. Furthermore, examining provider models and the learner populations for whom they have value builds deep insight into the learner-centered approach. Strategic curricular decisions will emerge from a synthesis of an institution’s knowledge of the populations, objectives, and models present in today’s global learning space.

Learning Theories and Methods

The fourth set of questions revolves around the learning process. Indeed, the learning process is extremely important in learner-centered curriculum design. The most effective designs reflect a comprehensive integration of learning theory and methods appropriate to successful learning. Therefore, the fourth learner-centered question within the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework is: What learning theories and methods are appropriate for specific learners and the objectives they seek? What learning methods help inform us of the appropriate curricular approach to take with specific learner populations? How do we focus the curriculum on the individual learner? The American Psychological Association developed a 14 point learner-centered framework that provides an effective baseline for discussion and design. There are more than 50 major learning theories, each focused on a different aspect of learning or learner population. Synthesizing effective curriculum requires the matching of theory and practice to learner population characteristics and objectives. The point, in short, is to systematically build curriculum to incorporate effective learning methods.

Learner-Centered Curriculum Architecture

The fifth area of inquiry emanating from the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework results from a complex, yet straightforward question: What is the existing curriculum architecture of the institution or educational entity? Does the architecture provide an alignment between the learner, the curriculum, and society? Curriculum Architecture refers to the design, structure, and relationships within and across an institution’s published curricular offerings. A curriculum’s architecture is foundationally defined by the formal programs of study authorized by a governing body that directly controls the rules of curriculum design and delivery. Thus, the architecture formalizes the curricular attributes an institution is committed to support and develop. It establishes alignment points with specific segments of the learner markets prescribed within an institution’s mission. Ideally, curriculum is both learner and learning centered. The curriculum architecture can also be used to synthesize an institution’s comprehensive academic master plan. The architecture of a curriculum describes the style, method of design, basic construction, key components, and underlying philosophies used to build the modules, courses, and programs that make up the entire diverse curricula.

Learner-Centered Curriculum Configuration

The sixth area of inquiry and discourse keenly focuses on meeting the specific and particular learning needs of the learners an institution has selected or been charged to serve. The sixth learner-centered question is: What specific curriculum can be configured to meet the learning needs of the learner population(s) an institution has chosen or been charged to serve? Will the configurations achieve intended outcomes? How will that be assessed? A particular curriculum configuration is drawn from an institution’s available (current or planned) architectural options. The configuration constructs a specific curriculum from all the elements of the architecture for a specific population seeking specific objectives using specific teaching, learning, and assessment methods. Across an institution, a wide variety of curriculum configurations are deployed.

Learner-Centered Support Services

The seventh area of inquiry within the Learner-Centered Curriculum Framework addresses the design and delivery of the array of services required by learners to meet their objectives. What support services are necessary to enable specific learner population(s) to successfully complete the curriculum and meet their objectives? Services are as important within a learner-centered curriculum as is the design and configuration of learning experiences. The curriculum alone is insufficient to deliver effective and efficient learning. Advising, counseling, and assessment are among the most important processes to be integrated into curriculum design. Too often they are add-ons. Other services are required to be sure learners are available to access the curriculum and learn. For example, assessment and placement, advising, counseling, financial aid, and a host of other services are extremely important to the process of creating learner success. As each learner population is understood, services must be fused to curriculum design so that pathways can be efficiently navigated and successfully completed.

Alternate Names

You may find the concepts outlines here referred to differently, some common alternate names are:

  • Subject Centered
  • Student Centered

SEM Matrix: Part 4

Curriculum Architecture: Part 2