Could universities ever award a degree based solely on proficiency, rather than on credit hours?
It makes a lot of sense — and it would certainly be the key to much-needed reform of higher education. According to an article on The American Interest website, The University of Michigan is apparently developing a competency-based Masters of Health Professions Education.
The article cites an NPR report that notes, correctly, that the current system measures “not how much you’ve learned, but how long you’ve spent trying to learn it”:
The conventions of the credit hour, the semester and the academic year were formalized in the early 1900s. Time forms the template for designing college programs, accrediting them and — crucially — funding them using federal student aid.
But in 2013, for the first time, the Department of Education took steps to loosen the rules.
The new idea: Allow institutions to get student-aid funding by creating programs that directly measure learning, not time. Students can move at their own pace. The school certifies — measures — what they know and are able to do.
If this is really happening, then it’s a revolutionary — and absolutely necessary — development. It will drive costs down by reducing or eliminating unnecessary courses, and bring higher education into closer alignment with the realities of the job marketplace. Too late, unfortunately, to benefit the Millennials who have racked up enormous student loan debts while wasting untold credit hours on meaningless courses that equip them for very little in the real world. But that’s another story.
You can read the entire article here.