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A centerpiece of Guttman Community College's first-year experience learning model is the Ethnographies of Work (EOW) course, a required yearlong social science investigation of workplaces that helps students better understand and exercise agency around their future career paths. In a normal semester, our students would be found observing work throughout the city, ethnographically mapping workflow and power structures, talking to New Yorkers about their work experiences, and exploring possible careers. When COVID-19 ravaged through New York in March, we couldn't just take traditional fieldwork pedagogies and put them online. Instead, we needed to redesign our fieldwork experiences so that students could meet the learning outcomes in the virtual world in ways that are equitable, inclusive, and student-centered.

This discussion with President Belle S. Wheelan from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the third in a series of brief video interviews with leaders of the seven regional accrediting bodies in US higher education. To get an accreditor’s view of assessment, we asked each leader what they have been hearing and thinking about during the pandemic related to two critical areas: the campus climate toward assessment at their member institutions and what expectations the accreditors have for useful evidence of student learning.

The attributes that students need to succeed in college and in their careers are not always neatly bundled as “skill sets” like writing or critical thinking. In addition to students’ academic capacities and physical health, success depends upon qualities like resilience, self-confidence, agency, and empathy. These attributes, often called mindsets, speak to an individual’s personal and interpersonal development and, more globally, their well-being. To discover the impacts on students’ mindsets and skill sets during the pandemic, AAC&U is partnering with Columbia University’s Global Psychiatric Epidemiology Group (GPEG) research team to support the federally funded National COVID-19 Higher Ed Student Impact Study examining the effects of COVID-19 on student well-being, decision-making, and academic and life outcomes.

A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce uses data from workers and analysts to explore the competencies—or knowledge, skills, and abilities—most associated with career success. Taken together, the findings provide quantitative support for a common refrain among educators: that the mix of general and specific learning associated with the US college degree is exactly the kind of learning students need to succeed in the modern workforce.

This discussion with President Heather Perfetti and Senior Vice President Christy L. Faison from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the second in a series of brief video interviews with leaders of the seven regional accrediting bodies in US higher education. To get an accreditor’s view of assessment, we asked each leader what they have been hearing and thinking about during the pandemic related to two critical areas: the campus climate toward assessment at their member institutions and what expectations the accreditors have for useful evidence of student learning.

As a Black man, I have personally experienced racism and the trauma that comes from being its target. I have endured questionable treatment during traffic stops; have been watched or repeatedly asked by a retail clerk, “May I help you with something?” for fear that I was shoplifting; and have avoided running in certain neighborhoods, to name just three examples. The trauma associated with experiencing racism is real, and addressing this truth is an essential first step toward transforming society. But I am just one individual. How can any one person or organization elevate the enormous issues of equity, antiracism, and democracy during this time that’s calling us to action? One way is to “unite for truth” by supporting the work of those within the higher education community who are confronting racism.

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