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ERIC Number: EJ994775
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 17
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 85
ISSN: ISSN-0748-8475
A University without Intellectuals: Western Governors University and the Academy's Future
Neem, Johann N.
Thought & Action, v28 p63-79 Fall 2012
Western Governors University was conceptualized in 1995 at a meeting of the Western Governors Association, and founded soon after in an effort to increase degree production in higher education at a lower cost. It has expanded significantly over the past few years, driven both by increased demand for online education and by drastic state budget cuts. Touted as offering a new, faster approach to college degrees by rewarding students for what they already know, some see in it the future of higher education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, for example, lauds WGU for challenging "the century-old practice of awarding degrees based on seat time in a classroom, rather than on demonstrated competence." Rather than require students to spend time and money to learn what they already know, WGU asks students to demonstrate mastery of a set of competencies, which students can do over years or, if they are able, months. Once a student has passed the competencies, she or he is eligible for a degree. In an economy that depends on specialized technical skills and requires certification, WGU's approach rewards experience by recognizing how much people learn on the job. WGU does not offer a college education. The problem is that the very thing that makes WGU valuable for certification--its competency-based approach--prevents it from providing the kinds of learning experiences that define liberal arts college education. As other other institutions experiment with the competency-based approach--including, recently, the University of Wisconsin system and Northern Arizona University--it is important to understand where this approach might be applicable and where its application would be detrimental. The author argues that WGU's approach may help students pass licensing exams, but it does not help them become drivers. (Contains 43 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; Wisconsin