Dinnertime Talk: Credit hours vs. competency debate continues

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14 2012 2:59 p.m. MST

Anecdotes and personal stories abound supporting a new study's findings: traditional college credit hours represent seat time, and that doesn't always equate with learning.

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The failed connection between "seat time" and student academic progress is the subject of a new report released by a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C. Anecdotes and personal stories abound supporting the study's findings: traditional college credit hours represent seat time, and that doesn't always equate with learning.

Deseret News staff writer Celia Baker recently wrote about the issue, citing other sources as well as the "Cracking the Credit Hour" report, which shows most American college graduates don't know as much as they should, and suggests that changes in the credit hour system could spur improvement.

Baker writes: "The credit hour's clout is weakening ... with a dawning realization that four years spent in college does not guarantee success at a job. A 2006 study by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that 69 percent of college graduates could not perform basic tasks such as comparing opposing newspaper editorials or comparing the cost per ounce of different foods."

She continues: "A survey by the Association of American College and Universities showed that one-third of employers said 'no' when asked if college graduates are well-prepared to succeed in entry-level positions in their companies. And when employers drill down to grades on transcripts when screening job applicants, it's hard to tell what graduates know."

Questions:

Is the traditional collegiate credit hour system broken?

A college degree should signify a transformational process that results in a learned person, but that doesn't always happen. Why?

What are possible solutions, alternatives?

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