December Articles of Interest for Higher Education Professionals

The Association for Institutional Research shared the following publications of interest for higher education professionals. Click on each of the titles to access full articles. The synopsis of each article is credited to the Electronic AIR Newsletter (November edition).

Complete College America’s (CCA) Time is the Enemy report on degree completion explains the primary reason students fail to earn a degree is life gets in the way. Life circumstances can be particularly challenging for nontraditional students, who currently account for 75% of the postsecondary population. These students tend to enroll part-time which extends the time to graduation and increases the probability that life circumstances such as family, economic crises, or job demands will impede progress towards a degree. CCA identifies several actions states can take to improve graduation rates including streamlining the curriculum, rethinking remediation policies and incorporating developmental instruction into credit classes, and eliminating unnecessary credit requirements.

The Road Ahead: A Look at Trends in the Educational Attainment of Community College Students, a policy brief from the American Association of Community Colleges, presents data on rising levels of educational attainment at community colleges. Over the past 20 years, the percent increase in awards conferred by community colleges is double the increase in enrollment, and transfer rates are higher as well. These gains are the result of the many constituents (e.g., students, families, colleges, and communities) working together with a focus on attainment and outcomes.

Prior Learning Assessments: Tools to Help 21st Century Students Achieve Their Postsecondary Education Goals and Keep America Competitive, a brief from the Center for American Progress and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), reports that adult and nontraditional students enter postsecondary education with learning acquired outside of a traditional classroom. The brief outlines several ways to assess adult students on what they already know. These learning assessments help adult learners save time and money by providing college credit for prior learning. Several initiatives of prior learning assessments are highlighted.

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