Initiatives: Alternative Credentials

Alternative credentials offer institutions a way to validate a range of knowledge, skills, and abilities students have developed, deepening the level of information otherwise provided through student transcripts or resumes. Well-designed alternative credentials help students to articulate their skills and academic accomplishments and make visible, through digital badging or other means, the specific learning outcomes students have achieved, what artifacts students produced to demonstrate their learning, and how those outcomes were assessed.

Within this area of focus, the Kirwan Center has recently launched the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Digital Badging Project. The project brings together teams of leaders from Maryland 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities to increase the availability, quality, and visibility of IPE through digital badging. The project will provide a means by which faculty and staff can align IPE activities with nationally recognized IPE competencies and ensure there are sustained opportunities for students to practice and improve in the competency areas. Moreover, the project will provide the means by which students can more clearly communicate their achievement of IPE competencies to employers. Seven Maryland institutions are currently involved in the initiative.

Past projects include the Badging Essential Skills for Transitions (B.E.S.T.) initiative, which was designed to more clearly communicate graduates’ career-ready skills to employers through digital badging. B.E.S.T. focuses on eight essential career-ready skills—Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Globalism, Interculturalism, Leadership, Problem Solving, and Professionalism—with a system-wide, scalable approach to career preparation aimed at maximizing the value of curricular and co-curricular opportunities already available to students. Nine USM institutions participated in the initiative.

Also within this area of focus, the University System of Maryland partnered with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) to participate in their Lumina-funded national project to develop pilots for the Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR)

Finally, the Kirwan Center led a partnership of seven USM institutions in a systemwide project aimed at addressing the region’s digital technology workforce needs, through a collaboration with the Greater Washington Partnership's Capital CoLAB. Digital Generalist and Digital Specialist credentials are now being offered across the seven USM institutions and development work continues in this area. 

Our Work in Alternative Credentials

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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.