ERIC Number: EJ1095372
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Challenging Times: Examining Priorities and Proposed Reforms
Humphries, Debra; Gaston, Paul L.
Liberal Education, v101 n4-v102 n1 Fall 2015-Win 2016
For at least two decades, educators, employers and policymakers have confronted an increasingly urgent global hunger for talent --a demand for better-educated workers and more enlightened citizens. Higher education institutions and various oversight entities at the state and federal levels have attempted to respond to this rising demand for education by focusing on policies and practices that support increased graduation rates and improve efficiency. Given how much more important a highly educated citizenry is becoming to our nation's economic and democratic vitality, it is not surprising that policymakers at both the state and federal levels have been setting new priorities, enacting new policies, and proposing reforms. All too often, as business leaders have expressed their concerns about quality and actual learning outcomes, policymakers have been focusing more on access, affordability, completion and attainment rates, and, more recently, average salaries. While these indicators deserve the attention they are receiving, focusing exclusively on them represents a narrow, utilitarian, and ultimately counterproductive view of education in general and of higher education in particular. This article examines the potential for productive change and describes both what is seen as promising potential reforms and what it believed to be risky policy directions. These issues are approached in light of two realities: (1) the current accreditation system, how it does and does not meet contemporary needs; and (2) The movement that has been underway within higher education to take "learning outcomes" more seriously. The article clarifies what learning outcomes are, and discusses ways to advance, and assess them.
Descriptors: Quality Assurance, Accreditation (Institutions), Higher Education, Educational Change, Educational Policy, Policy Formation, Decision Making, Outcomes of Education, Student Educational Objectives, Educational Assessment
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A