Moving from a Degree-Centric Postsecondary System to an Incremental Credentialing System: What Happens to Learners’ Financing Options?

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Building Incremental Credentials

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Define Incremental Credentials

DESIGNING INCREMENTAL CREDENTIALS

Define Incremental Credentials

Many higher education institutions have found that components of existing curriculum can be unbundled and re-bundled into new credentials that meet the needs of learners and employers. In other cases, new curricula must be developed to address gaps in credentialing. Similarly, industry credentials can be divided to create smaller increments that lead to a larger credential. Also, prerequisite credentials or other additional credentials can be developed to meet identified gaps.

  • Redefine credentials by recombining unbundled components to create credentials more manageable in size for learners.
    • Which introductory parts of existing credentials can be recombined to provide learners with entry points?
    • Which prerequisite skills or competencies, addressed across multiple fields, can be combined to create entry points for learners who then can choose to go different directions?
    • How can a credential be divided into multiple, smaller credentials to provide more completion points for learners?
    • How can more advanced components of a credential be recombined to create specialties for learners?
    • What other skills or competencies can be added to existing credentials to provide specialties or more advancement?
  • Create new credentials to fill credentialing gaps.
    • Do learners need transition skills to move from one program to another? What are they? How might they be developed into credentials?
    • Which prerequisite skills are needed to progress from one credential to another?
    • What transition skills are needed to move from school to work? From work to school?
    • Which industries or business associations could partner to strengthen learners’ skills development or to  integrate workplace learning with academic learning?
  • Integrate prior learning into credentials.
    • How can workplace and experiential learning be incorporated into the credential?
    • How can prior learning address prerequisites for some credentials?
    • How can the assessment of prior learning integrate workplace and academic learning?

Common Types of Credentialing Pathways

  • Full degree is broken into incremental credentials with all or most of the degree represented (credit-based).
  • Incremental credentials are developed to fit into a part of the degree, additional requirements are needed to complete the degree (credit-based).
  • Incremental credentials focus on a specialization for the degree (credit-based).
  • Incremental credentials provide different tracks to degree (either in whole or in part) – usually there are core parts that everyone takes, and different cohorts take track options (credit-based).
  • Incremental credentials are awarded based on courses already completed – learners usually have not continued with the institution (credit-based).
  • Credit for prior learning is embedded into the credentials and degree (credit-based).
  • Specific skill development is aimed for employment (usually noncredit based).
  • Specific skill development is aimed for articulating noncredit to credit learning.

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