Designing a New Comprehensive Learner Record
Morgan State University, an urban public research university in Baltimore, Maryland, is known for its excellence in teaching, intensive research, effective public service, and community engagement. For over 150 years, Morgan State has served our increasingly diverse community with distinction.
In its continuous effort to meet the educational and professional needs of students, Morgan State is redesigning its transcript system to include a competency-based comprehensive learner record (CLR) and digital wallet, which will allow students to collect and showcase their educational experiences and achievements to employers. The CLR is being developed as part of a consortium comprising Morgan State University, ETS, University of the District of Columbia, and Territorium (a world-class platform for CLRs). Below, I share lessons learned during our ongoing collaboration.
Take a Holistic View of Students’ Education
Morgan State’s current transcript is a limited list of courses, grades, and degrees. During a Morgan State education, students acquire a variety of traits and competencies needed for lifelong learning and career success such as communication skills, critical thinking, leadership, technological proficiency, teamwork, career and self-development skills, and a commitment to equity and inclusion. Students also engage in a variety of cocurricular activities such as internships, service-learning, and student organization leadership that are not reflected in transcripts.
The goal of the CLR is to develop new forms of verifiable learning records that will include a variety of academic and workplace milestones, including courses, the acquisition of competencies and skills, and achievements in their jobs and internships. This formative tool will empower students to express qualifications and articulate their dispositions in a more complete way than they could with a résumé and traditional transcript.
Gather Input and Data from across Campus
Since the beginning of the project, the team has systematically engaged all segments of Morgan State University in developing the vision and charge to create a gold-standard CLR certified by the IMS Global Learning Consortium. The team has solicited feedback from units across campus, including academic affairs, student affairs, alumni engagement, information technology, the registrar, career development, athletics, the graduate school, institutional research, general education, and student government organizations. We are continuing to use surveys and focus groups to gather additional input from our stakeholders and improve different aspects of the CLR and digital wallet.
After examining Morgan State’s learning management system and data accumulated by various units on campus, the project team developed an action plan to create a secure and centralized database that will host the academic and cocurricular achievements of undergraduate and graduate students. Expected to launch by April 2022, the database will be integrated with the Canvas learning management system and students’ CLR and digital wallet on the Territorium platform.
Learning Outcomes and Career Competencies Should Guide the Work
We are using a variety of institutional and discipline-specific outcomes, benchmarks, rubrics, and industry standards to serve as frameworks for building and validating academic and cocurricular achievements displayed within the CLR. Students’ signature assignments and evidence of the competencies they developed will be based on discipline-specific outcomes, assessments, and scoring systems in fields like teacher education, engineering, business, nursing, social work, and computer science.
Courses across multiple disciplines are being redesigned to include a competency-based education model to facilitate the use of badges, certificates, and micro-credentials. Standards and guidelines such as the National Association of Colleges and Employers career-readiness competencies, as well as institutional outcomes, will serve as foundations for achievements in general education and gatekeeper courses. The Researcher Development Framework, which describes the skills and behaviors of successful researchers, will also be utilized to link students’ research to assessments and scoring systems.
Industry and employer standards will also guide the alignment of student learning outcomes with on-the-job achievements. The project team is developing templates that will give structure and consistency to the mapping of course and institutional assessments to student learning outcomes and professional standards.
Solomon Aloa is assistant vice president for outcome assessment and program review at Morgan State University.
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