New Playbook: Incremental Credentialing in Graduate Education



Incremental Credentialing

Research is a key component of Credential As You Go. The purpose of the research is to assess the promise of system- and institution-level policies and processes as they translate into implementation of incremental credentials.


Two Priorities

Priority 1: Informing ongoing development and feasibility of the Incremental Credentialing Framework

Evidence relating to the feasibility of the Framework at the institution level will be collected through qualitative means (focus groups, interviews, and surveys) from participants opting in from (1) the National Credential As You Go Advisory Board, (2) the State Coordinating Teams, or the (3) Institutional Academic Teams associated with each of the three states in the study.

Priority 2: Assessing promise for generating the intended learning outcomes

The study design includes a comparative interrupted time-series (CITS) analysis of individual-level data. Institutional data serves as retrospective baseline information for examining new incremental credentials (and incremental credential-enhanced programs) developed by participating institutions – the Credential As You Go treatment condition – and similar credentials and programs implemented at similar institutions (the control condition).

The research applies a Design and Development Research approach, consistent with guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development (IES & NSF, 2013, August). 

See the Design and Development Research design and Data Management Plan for full information on how the research will be conducted and shared. Further information on data sharing for replication studies will be available on this website once data are available. 

How feasible is the Incremental Credential Framework across systems and institutions?

1.1 How feasible is the Incremental Credentialing Framework considering the perspectives of postsecondary systems, employers, and other state-level stakeholder groups for implementation at the institutional level within each system?

1.2 What factors influence implementation of the Framework at, and between, the system and institutional levels of state postsecondary education?

1.3 To what extent are employers partnered with participating institutions aware of, valuing, and using the emerging array of incremental credentials in their hiring and advancement practices?

1.4 How do grant-funded communication strategies (e.g., national campaign, website, communication materials) intended to advance awareness of and value for incremental credentialing further progress toward outcomes among system and institutional stakeholder groups?

1.5 Which actions support implementation of the Framework and corresponding policies and processes across different levels of state postsecondary education systems stakeholder groups, and in what ways?

1.6 How does execution of the Framework change institutions’ credentialing structures, technologies, activities, and services, considering anticipated action outcomes for personnel (e.g., changes in marketing, policies, articulation agreements, transcripting, advising, and student record systems)?

1.7 What conditions (e.g., existing student information and degree auditing systems) enable or constrain development and execution of incremental credentials at the academic area level (within institutions), particularly for similar content at different institutions? At the institutional level? At the state (and system) level?

1.8 What indicators of Framework readiness define key points in the evolution of system and institutional policies and processes for implementing incremental credentials sufficient to assess the promise of efficacy of the model?

What learner-level outcomes are realized from implementation of the Incremental Credential Framework?

2.1 Where Framework conditions meet expected levels of readiness, what suite of incremental credentials are institutions implementing?

2.2 Where incremental credentials are being implemented, how are learners’ understanding and value of incremental credentialing changing? How do options of incremental credentials influence learners’ actions (e.g., choosing programs, accepting awarded credentials)?

2.3 To what extent is participation in incremental credentials as implemented as part of this project associated with improvements to academic outcomes for learners including initial enrollment, persistence, progress in a program or pathway, and completion of a recognized credential and/or degree?

2.4 To what extent do those learners who complete incremental credentials transfer their credentials to another institution, continue their education, and/or obtain employment?

2.5 In what ways do learner outcomes differ across groups by age, gender, race and ethnicity, and prior academic and persistence performance? By academic area and institution type (community college, four-year institution)?

2.6 In what ways do learner outcomes differ between students who participate in incremental credentials versus non-participating students with regards to awareness and value, access, enrollment, persistence, progress, successful completion, and continuing education and employment?

Design and Development Research (DDR) Plan

Data Management Plan (DMP)

Priority 1 Feasibility Research: Focus Group Summary

Research Brief: External and Internal Influences Affecting the Implementation of Incremental Credentials

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes