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ERIC Number: EJ999422
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-May
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0013-127X
Which Core Matters More? Differences in Definitions of Quality Lead to New Debates over the Importance of Teaching Practical Skills versus Specific Knowledge
Berrett, Dan
Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v77 n9 p35-40 May 2012
Potential students hoping to gauge the quality of courses at Portland State University might be forgiven for feeling confused. On the one hand, the University Studies program, which uses interdisciplinary seminars during the first two years to develop students' core skills, has been widely praised and emulated. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation has lauded the program, adopted in 1994, as "a model for best practices in integrating assessment throughout an institution." But the same curriculum also earned Portland State a grade of F from another group that rates the quality of individual college programs: the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, an advocacy group with a traditionalist bent. Portland State is far from alone in drawing high praise from one camp of curricular observers and disapproval from another. But this dissonance is emblematic of a deeper division over how higher education needs to improve. And it comes amid growing concern from scholars, policymakers, and the public over the value and rigor of higher education. While experts agree that something needs to be done to advance student learning, conflicts persist about exactly what. Should colleges' general-education programs emphasize core skills or a core curriculum? Each side of the debate has conducted public-opinion surveys and focus groups to strengthen its case that either a core curriculum or a sharper focus on transferable skills enjoys wide support. In the debate over skills and content, both sides tend to dismiss the notion that their views are in conflict. Core skills and core content are linked with one another, they say, because neither can realistically be taught in isolation.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California; Iowa; Michigan; New York; Oregon; Pennsylvania