The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has released a report highlighting expert recommendations on enhancing the quality of undergraduate education, including insights from Workcred executive director Roy Swift, Ph.D. Workcred is an affiliate organization of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The NAS report underscores the importance of building stronger relationships between educators and industry and addressed major initiatives that serve as solutions for quality education.
The report, "Quality in the Undergraduate Experience: What is It? How Is It Measured? Who Decides?, Summary of a Workshop (2016),"is based on feedback from a December 2015 workshop planned by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Board on Higher Education and Workforce, with funding from the Lumina Foundation. Dr. Swift served on the committee and participated in the workshop, which focused on several major themes including defining quality, improving quality, and measuring and communicating quality.
The NAS report recognizes several important initiatives that are working to improve the quality of education, including Workcred, which serves to strengthen workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively. Another effort highlighted, the Credential Transparency Initiative (CTI), is a joint venture of George Washington University's Institute of Public Policy, Workcred, and Southern Illinois University to help align credentials with the needs of students, job seekers, workers, and employers. The initiative will develop common terms for describing key features of credentials; create a voluntary, web-based registry for sharing the resulting information; and test practical apps (software applications) for these stakeholders.
The report also features comments from Dr. Swift, who advocates for stronger relationships between higher education and industry, noting that "higher education should acknowledge that learning occurs in many environments and needs to bring industry's real-world challenges to the classroom." Several experts also emphasized that they believe the United States' accreditation process can play a significant role in improving the quality of undergraduate education.
The NAS report also lists suggested actions to further the conversation around quality in undergraduate education, including improving data gathering, sharing, and communicating, publishing best practices and guidelines, and learning from other industries, among other recommendations.
Formed in 2014, Workcred's mission is to strengthen workforce quality by improving the credentialing system, ensuring its ongoing relevance, and preparing employers, workers, educators, and governments to use it effectively. An affiliate of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Workcred is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation. Workcred's independence as a legal entity maintains separation from and respects the impartiality of ANSI's accreditation services.