ERIC Number: EJ861147
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
College Outcomes for Work, Life, and Citizenship: Can We Really Do It All?
Liberal Education, v95 n1 p14-21 Win 2009
When the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) launched the Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative in 2005, they certainly knew that it would not be easy to achieve the sort of transformation needed to ensure that higher education serves all students--and society--more effectively. The LEAP initiative builds on many years of prior work, including innovative educational reform efforts at colleges and universities of all types across the country. In fact, AAC&U and its member institutions have been hard at work on the educational challenges inherent in the LEAP vision for many years, most recently through the Greater Expectations initiative (2000-2006) and, since 2005, through LEAP itself. As part of the Greater Expectations initiative, AAC&U identified promising reforms at a variety of leading institutions and facilitated multiyear dialogues with faculty members, academic administrators, employers, accreditors, civic leaders, and K-12 educators. These dialogues made it clear that something fundamental is shifting in society, in economy, and in educational institutions. AAC&U learned from these leaders and practitioners that higher education is, indeed, in a period of profound transformation, and the reason is that society itself is setting higher expectations for citizens and workers in the twenty-first century. The research and dialogues conducted as part of the Greater Expectations and LEAP initiatives have also made it clear that some of the core elements of an excellent education endure: (1) the development of intellectual powers and capacities; (2) ethical and civic preparation; (3) personal growth; and (4) self-direction. But the particulars of educational excellence are necessarily always in flux. What counts as powerful knowledge changes periodically as societies, cultures, and economies change. Some might ask whether the LEAP vision is too broad, too idealistic, too ambitious. Others might ask whether AAC&U's claim to discern an emerging consensus on essential learning outcomes is really just a cynical or even disingenuous assertion designed to forestall inappropriate governmental intervention or, in a purely self-interested way, to limit trends toward narrow vocationalism at all levels of education. In this article, the author focuses on two key questions: (1) Is there really a consensus about outcomes across a wide array of stakeholders?; and (2) With a single set of learning outcomes, can several goals really be accomplished at once--preparing students to be critical and informed citizens, while also providing them with skills and knowledge to succeed professionally in a competitive global economy?
Descriptors: Higher Education, Citizenship, Schools, Global Approach, Educational Quality, Educational Change, Faculty, Educational Innovation, Outcomes of Education, General Education, Focus Groups
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A