Quality, E-Quality, and Opportunity - How Educational Innovations Will Make—or Break—America's Global Future
2014 Annual Meeting
A great democracy cannot be content to provide a horizon-expanding education for some and work skills, taught in isolation from the larger societal context, for everyone else. Yet this is what the postsecondary system, viewed as a whole, provides now. And this is what we must work together to change. . . . It should not be liberal education for some and narrow or illiberal education for others.
AAC&U Board of Directors 2010
Wednesday, January 22: Pre-Meeting Symposium
NEW DESIGNS FOR INTEGRATIVE LEARNING:
Curricular Pathways, Departments, and the Future of Arts and Sciences
Saturday, January 25: Fifth Annual E-Portfolio Forum
DEFINING PRACTICE AND A RESEARCH AGENDA
ABOUT THE ANNUAL MEETING
Quality and the Big Questions
In an era marked by interdependence, economic uncertainty, and disruptive innovation, the future is global and the challenges urgent. To flourish in such a future, students must acquire both broad knowledge and high level skills—essential capacities—to deal successfully with complex opportunities and unscripted problems.
These goals determine quality standards for higher education. How can we be sure that what we expect students to learn in college matches the essential capacities graduates will need to tackle the “big questions” of this generation and of a turbulent world? Are college degrees designed to provide students with many opportunities to practice and build these essential capacities? Students, parents, employers, faculty members and other stakeholders should reject as insufficient any claims of quality education that do not centrally include students’ active and deep effort on research, projects, creative work, collaborative assignments, and other practices that foster deep learning and high level skills. How do we ensure that, whatever their pathways through college, all students have continuous opportunities to apply their learning—with guidance from mentors—to significant problems and real-world challenges?
E-Quality and Innovation
Technology continues to transform all aspects of higher education. But in our fascination with the promise of technology, are we paying sufficient attention to the connection between innovation and educational quality? Are we prepared to ensure that technological innovations should expand rather than further limit student engagement in practices—such as research, field-based learning and creative projects--that build high level 21st century capacities? New evidence is published daily on “high impact practices” that help students both persist in college and achieve at higher levels. As a community how are we using this evidence to draw educationally productive innovations from the digital revolution?
Inequality and the Opportunity Gap
As employers are the first to attest, the outcomes basic to an excellent liberal education are urgently needed in the economy and the workplace. And liberal education is—literally—foundational to democratic vitality. Policy calls to move away from liberal education therefore represent a disinvestment in expanded opportunity, and a locking in of what is already a two-tiered higher education system. In the current climate, how do we resist overemphasis on educational initiatives that are designed primarily to prepare students for their first-job? Can we instead judge the value of innovations by how well they create long-term opportunity, strengthen students’ capacities, and reverse the most inequitable features of U.S. higher education? Can we work with employers, rather than around them, to strengthen the rigor, relevance and inclusiveness of a 21st century liberal education?
For More Information about the Annual Meeting
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