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Project Title:Competency Reports for Graduates of Personalized Learning BA ProgramsInstitution Name:Northern Arizona University Innovation Category:Instructional Design and Delivery Project Director:Alison Brown, Associate Vice President for Academic AffairsContact Information:(602) 776-4671, Alison.Brown@nau.eduWebsite:http://www.nau.edu/personalized
Project Description:Project Description: Northern Arizona University’s Personalized Learning (PL) competency-based degree programs prepare students for post-graduate employment by requiring that they demonstrate what they have learned. Upon graduation, each student receives a Competency Report that concisely details his/her competencies, including the areas in which he/she has demonstrated mastery. A Competency Report can be tailored to fit each job description and highlight relevant skills. The intention is for the Competency Report to evolve, based on employer and advisor input, to become a brief online “knowledge portfolio” for graduates to use to highlight and authenticate their skills. PL’s Competency Report supplements the traditional credit hour transcript. 
Objectives:

Develop a clear, concise report that can accompany graduates’ digital profiles (LinkedIn, portfolio websites, etc.) and résumés via an online link.

  • Enable NAU graduates to stand out in today’s demanding job market by clearly showing potential employers the skills and competencies they possess.
  • Demonstrate that a curriculum built on a strong liberal arts foundation produces graduates with the critical thinking and writing skills that employers indicate are essential in today’s labor force.
  • Create a new standard for employers to authenticate the knowledge and history of a potential job candidate.

Outcomes:
  • Creation and use of a paper-based Competency Report for all early PL graduates, followed quickly by a transition to an online, auto-populated report.
  • Graduates of the PL programs will eventually be able to customize the Competency Report display to highlight those skills relevant to a particular job description.
  • NAU will partner with relevant thought leaders and employers to help inform curriculum updates and refine the Competency Report over time.PL program administrators will remain engaged with graduates up to three years beyond graduation, gathering employment information, including their use of the competency report in their professional and future educational endeavors.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:An initial challenge encountered was how to best communicate that PL’s Competency Report is not a replacement for the traditional paper-based credit-hour transcript that has long been utilized by higher education institutions. Initial paper-based drafts of a Competency Report have been met with criticism by academics because few understand they were meant to show potential employers a job candidate’s true learning history and skillset in a concise format. Technological challenges include the process of building the larger database that will, in the future, prepopulate each online digital learning portfolio. 
Evaluation Approach:NAU is taking a collaborative approach to developing PL’s Competency Report, seeking out advice and counsel from leading assessment specialists and major employers. Development of the Report is in a phased evolution, much like the greater Personalized Learning initiative, with features added/subtracted as we advance our technologies and knowledge.
Potential for Replication:We believe the eventual digital portfolio nature of the Competency Report will prove very attractive to employers, which will drive wider adoption by other institutions. There is high potential for other competency-based programs to create similar tools for graduates. However, traditional degree programs may find it difficult to translate classroom time and credit hours into demonstrated skills without a great deal of manual input by individual faculty members.
Additional Resources:

See article in Inside Higher Ed, Competency-Based Transcripts. August 9, 2013

An additional contact person is Fred Hurst
Senior Vice President of Extended Campuses
Email: Fred.Hurst@nau.edu
Phone: (928) 523-6598

CEO-to-CEO Contact:John D. Haeger , PresidentJohn.Haeger@nau.edu
(928) 523-3232
Date Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013