Both of the recent Inside Higher Ed articles summarized above describe general education innovations that are not likely to fit neatly into course-and-credit based equivalency systems for students who transfer either to or from the institutions. For colleges and universities more dependent on either sending or receiving transfer students than those highlighted in the article, the need to stay in step with partner institutions' general education course and credit patterns can inhibit innovation.
The fact that Interstate Passport is based on learning outcomes, rather than on specific courses and credits, means that the general education programs offered by Network members could have an almost unlimited variety of approaches to how the curriculum is configured and delivered. For example, like the Passport, Ripon College's general education innovations were based on faculty conversations about, "What do we want students to be able to do?" Much like in the faculty-led process of developing the Passport Learning Outcomes, they found that, "What faculty members thought students needed to learn was nearly identical to AAC&U's data on what employers want from graduates."
As institutions become more comfortable with identifying agreed-upon learning outcomes, and documenting the proficiency of their students in achieving them, faculties may thereby become freer to be more innovative in how general education outcomes are achieved while continuing to make transfer options more efficient. The Interstate Passport Network welcomes applications from institutions with innovative general education programs that ascribe to outcomes consistent with the Passport Learning Outcomes.
Jane Sherman, Passport State Coordinator