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Saving Higher Education: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program

ISBN: 978-0-470-88819-3
240 pages
October 2011, Jossey-Bass
Saving Higher Education: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor
Colleges and universities are under pressure from the government, students, and parents to make higher education more efficient and cost-effective. Based on Southern New Hampshire University’s highly successful competency-based three-year bachelors degree program—the longest running in the country—this book provides a blueprint for creating, sustaining, and growing such a program at an institution of any type and size. The book offers a proven model that not only cuts student costs by 25%, but significantly reduces program delivery costs. The 120-credit six-semester competency-based integrated curriculum approach focuses on student learning as opposed to “seat-time,” and research shows above average academic student success.
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List of Tables and Figures vii

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xvii

About the Authors xix

1. The Need for Change: Why Some Institutions Will Embrace New Pathways to the Bachelor’s Degree 1

2. Core Components of Integrated Three-Year Programs 23

3. Curriculum Reformulation: Courses into Modules 45

4. The Case for an Integrated Three-Year Model 63

5. Results, Analysis, and Proof of Concept 81

6. Value-Added Dimensions of Integrated Three-Year Degrees 103

7. Comparing Three-Year Degree Models 127

8. Stakeholders’ Questions and Answers 139

9. The Three-Year University 151

Appendix A: Colleges and Universities Offering Three-Year-Degree Programs 165

Appendix B: National Graduation and Retention Statistics 167

Appendix C: Academic Plan for Three-Year Communications Module 169

Appendix D: Academic Plan for Three-Year Management Module 175

Appendix E: Model Syllabus for Three-Year Human Relations Module 185

Appendix F: Flowchart of the Three-Year Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Development Activities 195

Appendix G: The SNHU Three-Year Program Mission Statement 197

References 201

Index 211

Additional Resources (available at http://www.josseybass.com/go/martinbradley):

Appendix 1: Sample Data Collection Course Form - Course Topics/Learning Outcomes by Program-Level Competencies

Appendix 2: Sample Tabulation of Topics/Learning Outcomes by Course and Program Competencies

Appendix 3: Sample Meta-analysis of Course Topics/Learning Outcomes by Program Competencies and Distribution

Appendix 4: Examples of SNHU Yearlong Integrating Experience Projects

Appendix 5: Comparison of Results of the ETS Major Field Test in Business Administration

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Martin J. Bradley is a professor of organizational leadership at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). He was the first director of the three-year program and then the dean of the SNHU School of Business, where the program resides administratively, and has taught in the program since its inception.

Robert H. Seidman is a professor of computer information technology at Southern New Hampshire University and executive editor of the Journal of Educational Computing Research. He was a member of the grant team that created the three-year degree program at SNHU and has taught in the program since its inception, as well as being a member of the three-year degree steering committee.

Steven R. Painchaud is a professor of organizational leadership at Southern New Hampshire University. He is a long-standing member of the three-year degree steering committee and has taught in the program since its inception.

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“While the central focus of the book is on the three-year baccalaureate degree, one of its major strengths is a highly focused, research-based discussion of innovative approaches to curriculum and program design. These innovations, such as competency-driven curricula, collaborative learning, and course management systems, hold promise for improving both efficiency and quality. For example, applying the technique shown in the book for identifying duplication among courses and treating curriculum as an interconnected system for facilitating the attainment of program competencies could likely bring significant benefits for many postsecondary institutions and their students. Owing to the strength of such contributions, this book would be of value not just to those who may be interested in the adoption of three-year baccalaureate degrees, but to others with broader interests in the reform of education in universities and colleges.” —Michael L. Skolnik, OISE, University of Toronto, for the Canadian Journal of Higher Education (Revue canadienne d’enseignement supérieur), Volume 42, No. 3

"At last a book that answers one of higher education's most burning questions: How do we provide America a cheaper, faster undergraduate experience without cheating on the old family recipe and compromising standards? At a time when challenges of college value, quality, and mission are high on the public agenda and an unprecedented number of institutions are exploring three-year degree programs, we are provided a road map that maintains academic integrity by focusing on learning outcomes rather than process inputs. Bravo and about time. This book will add value and inform the thinking of all stakeholders, even the most skeptical of faculty. A three-year baccalaureate aligns the academy with the needs and aspirations of the future. While enhancing effectiveness, it affords students what they want and need while meeting the national agenda for socially and economically productive citizens."—Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, president emeritus and University Professor of Public Service, George Washington University

"This book provides a powerful model of how to redesign a university in the interests of student learning. The authors' proposed curriculum model addresses many of the fundamental dysfunctions of higher education—the fragmentation, incoherence, and unfocused activity that produces the dispiriting results of our enormous investment. They offer an evidence-based framework for reshaping our institutions to serve the goals we all wish to achieve while beginning to address the pervasive financial challenges that undermine our efforts. This book provides a vivid and stimulating analysis of how to think about and execute constructive change. Anyone concerned about the future of higher education should read it and learn from it."—John Tagg, professor emeritus, Palomar College, and author, The Learning Paradigm College

"This book offers one thoughtful approach to a high-quality education at a significantly lower cost. If educators respond, students will win."—Margaret L. Drugovich, president, Hartwick College 

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February 29, 2012
Saving Higher Education: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program

Three-Year Degree Programs Trim College Costs

Saving Higher Education: The Integrated, Competency-Based Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Three-year bachelor's degree programs save both universities and their students time, money, and resources, and this is the only evidence-based book to show you how to create and sustain one.

Sometimes difficult challenges and opportunities for innovation come hand-in-hand, and now is such a time. With colleges and universities under more and more pressure from the government, students, and parents to make higher education more efficient and cost-effective, this book couldn’t be more essential. Based on Southern New Hampshire University’s highly successful integrated, competency-based three-year bachelor's degree program—the longest running in the country—this book provides a blueprint for creating, sustaining, and growing such a program at an institution of any type and size.

The book compares compressed/accelerated three-year degree programs with its competency-based integrated program, showing how its model not only cuts student costs by 25%, but significantly reduces program delivery costs to colleges and universities. The 120-credit six-semester competency-based integrated curriculum approach focuses on student learning as opposed to “seat-time,” and research shows above average academic student success.

The authors address university leaders’ frequently asked questions and myths about three-year degree programs; respond to the European Union’s Bologna Agreement and examine how higher education is being reshaped internationally; and include forms used for curriculum design, academic plans, and data collection. A chapter is devoted to outcomes such as retention and graduation rates, student experiences, employer reactions, accreditation reviews, and achievement on standardized tests, as well as student participation levels in extracurricular activities such as student government and varsity sports.

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