Initiatives: Alternative Credentials

Alternative credentials offer students a way to validate the range of ideas, skills, knowledge and abilities they have mastered, deepening the level of information provided through student transcripts or resumes.  Well-designed alternative credentials represent the learning outcomes mastered, how students were assessed, and how they demonstrated their knowledge and skills and provide institutions with an opportunity to support students in articulating their skills and academic accomplishments.

The Kirwan Center has been leading the Badging Essential Skills for Transitions (B.E.S.T.) working group to design, develop and explore the feasibility of digital badging to support students in articulating their skills and academic accomplishments and transferring their curricular and co-curricular experiences to the workplace. The initiative is now in a planning period to 1) continue piloting the initiative's constellation of career-ready badges as a proof of concept, 2) work more closely with regional and national employers to help them understand the USM badges and their role in the recruitment process, 3) find ways to embed badge earning opportunities in the curriculum; and 4) explore ways to take the initiative to scale across USM institutions.

Additionally, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has piloted a digital "extended transcript" to better reflect student’s progress and competency of defined learning outcomes that allows employers to understand the skills and knowledge that potential employees have gained through their college experience. 

Our Work in Alternative Credentials

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January 26, 2018

As a way to help bridge the gap between students’ accomplishments in college and their workplace readiness, the USM Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation is working with institutions within the System to develop digital badges that will help students choose experiences aimed at developing career-ready skills and better communicate what they know and are able to do once they enter the world of work.

June 19, 2017

Traditional transcripts provide basic information about the courses students took: course names, dates of the course, credit earned, and grades.  What traditional transcripts don’t provide is more in-depth information on the skills students learned and their competency in these skills.  In Fall 2016, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) piloted a digital “extended transcript” to better reflect student’s progress and competency of defined learning outcomes.  UMUC is one of twelve institutions around the country to take part in a $1.27 million Lumina Foundation grant to participate in the Comprehensive Student Record Project, a partnership between the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, to develop different models to track students’ academic progress.