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Becoming an Adult Learning Focused Institution: Why and How

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Presentation on theme: "Becoming an Adult Learning Focused Institution: Why and How"— Presentation transcript:

1 Becoming an Adult Learning Focused Institution: Why and How
Susan Kelly PhD FAPS Acting Vice President Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL) Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Enrollment Management Conference February 2, 2006 CAEL Confidential

2 Today’s Presentation Adult Learning & Economic Development
Adult Learner Characteristics CAEL’s Adult Learner Focused Institution (ALFI) initiative and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) The ALFI Toolkit Recommendations CAEL Confidential

3 The Need for Lifelong Learning in the U.S.
Skills gap 42% of occupational categories with projected new job growth in the next decade will require a college degree or other post secondary award, compared to 29% in 2000. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2001). Employment Outlook : Occupational Employment Projections to Online at, 85% of jobs are classified as “skilled” or require education beyond high school. Source: National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (2000). Before It’s Too Late. Online at, Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2001). Employment Outlook : Occupational Employment Projections to Online at, Source: National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (2000). Before It’s Too Late. Online at, CAEL Confidential

4 The Need for Lifelong Learning
At the same time, a slowing in the growth of educational attainment. A 2003 Aspen Institute Study estimates that there was a 19 percent increase in the share of workers with post-high school education over the last 20 years. That will drop to 4 percent in the next 20 years. Source: The Aspen Institute (2003) Grow Faster Together Or Grow Slowly Apart: How Will America Work in the 21st Century? Online at, Source: The Aspen Institute (2003) Grow Faster Together Or Grow Slowly Apart: How Will America Work in the 21st Century? Online at, CAEL Confidential

5 Education Has a Clear and Compelling Impact on Salary Levels and Job Stability
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2004). Education and Training Pays. Online at, Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2004). Education and Training Pays. Online at, CAEL Confidential

6 How Oklahoma Measures Up
Only 3.4% of working adults (aged 25 to 49) in OK were enrolled postsecondary education as of 2004 –a decline from 4.4% in 1994 Top States in U.S. enrolled 5.4% of population in postsecondary ed. OK’s investment in postsecondary ed. is below U.S. average OK ranks low in offering affordable higher education (state’s investment in need-based financial aid is very low coupled with lack of low-priced college opportunities) Source: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (2004). Measuring Up: State Report Card. Online at, CAEL Confidential

7 How Oklahoma Measures Up
OK awards fewer undergraduate credentials at all levels than U.S. average OK is a net importer of residents with associate degrees and a net exporter of residents with bachelor’s degrees or higher OK has large net in-migration of less educated residents (high school diploma or less) CAEL Confidential

8 The Adult Learner CAEL Confidential

9 Who is the ‘Adult Learner’ ?
Generally, 25 years or older Working FT; with kids; with other identities/roles 45% of U.S. undergrads are over 25 years old 75% have at least one ‘non-traditional’ attribute Increasing numbers of younger students (18-24) have the characteristics of adult learners—working, family responsibilities, etc. How are Adult Learners Distinct from Others? Fulfilling more roles concurrently Richer and more various experiences to serve as the context for new learning Considerable expertise and/or college level learning Strong consumer stance toward education Committed to learning that is relevant to life CAEL Confidential

10 Barriers for Adult Learners
Situational Dispositional Institutional CAEL Confidential

11 Main Factors in Decision to Enroll for Adult Learners
Convenient time and place for classes Flexible pacing for completing program Ability to transfer credits Reputation of institution Requirement for current or future job Credit for learning gained from life/work experiences Availability of online courses Availability of financial assistance Tuition Assistance for employer Availability of child care How Adults Learn Adults need to know why they need to learn something Adults need to learn experientially Adults approach learning as problem-solving Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value CAEL Confidential

12 CAEL’s Mission To advance lifelong learning in partnership with educational institutions, employers, labor organizations, government, and communities To remove barriers and expand lifelong learning opportunities for adults, regardless of age CAEL Confidential

13 CAEL’s Lifelong Learning Work CAEL’s Workforce Development Work
CAEL Connects: CAEL’s Lifelong Learning Work Colleges and Universities Adult Learners Employers and Unions Government and Community CAEL’s Workforce Development Work CAEL’s Public Policy Work CAEL Confidential

14 ALFI (Adult Learning Focused Institution) Project Origins
CAEL’s 1999 Benchmarking Study of six high-performing, adult-serving colleges and universities Best Practices in Adult Learning, a CAEL book released in 1999 Study findings distilled into eight Principles of Effectiveness CAEL Confidential

15 The ALFI Principles Outreach: The institution conducts outreach to adult learners by overcoming barriers of time, place, and tradition in order to create lifelong access to educational opportunities Life & Career Planning: The institution addresses adult learners’ life and career goals before or at the onset of enrollment in order to assess and align its capacities to help learners reach their goals Financing: The institution promotes choice using an array of payment options for adult learners in order to expand equity and financial flexibility Assessment of Learning Outcomes: The institution defines and assesses the knowledge, skills and competencies acquired by adult learners both from the curriculum and from life/work experience in order to assign credit and confer degrees with rigor CAEL Confidential

16 The ALFI Principles (cont.)
Teaching-Learning Process: The institution’s faculty uses multiple methods of instruction (including experiential and problem-based methods) for adult learners in order to connect curricular concepts to useful knowledge and skills Student Support Systems: The institution assists adult learners using comprehensive academic and student support systems in order to enhance students’ capacities to become self-directed, lifelong learners Technology: The institution uses information technology to provide relevant and timely information and to enhance the learning experience Strategic Partnerships: The institution engages in strategic relationships, partnerships, and collaborations with employers and other organizations in order to develop and improve educational opportunities for adult learners CAEL Confidential

17 An Example of One ALFI Principle in Action
#4: Assessment of Learning Outcomes Multiple techniques used Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) for course credit is one PLA is: The evaluation for college credit of the knowledge and skills one gains from life experiences (or from non-college instructional programs) including employment, parenting, travel, hobbies, and volunteer service CAEL is a pioneer in the field of Prior Learning Assessment CAEL took the lead 31 years ago in articulating the philosophical basis for PLA and developing a set of policies and procedures for carrying it out in an academically sound manner Today, CAEL offers face-to-face PLA training workshops to colleges and universities across the country and a one-of-a-kind On-line PLA Certification Program Next on-line PLA Certification Program begins June, 2005 CAEL Confidential

18 PLA Helps With Retention and Success
PLA & Performance: 2001 Simpson College study: 75% retention for those with PLA vs. 38% for those without PLA Portfolio PLA students tend to show higher cumulative GPAs (Studies in University of Maryland University College, and in 2003 among 1600 students in 4 Illinois public colleges) CAEL Confidential

19 PLA is Important to Adult Learners
2000 College Board study of 1500 adults rated ‘credit for prior learning policy’ as more important than ‘small class size’ or ‘availability of financial aid’ CAEL Confidential

20 The ALFI Assessment Tools
Adult Learner Inventory (Noel-Levitz & CAEL) adult student survey based on ALFI Institutional Self-Assessment Survey (CAEL) is for adult degree program administrators Both tools piloted in and released in 2004 To date, nearly 50 institutions have used the ALFI Toolkit; 29 community colleges currently participating in new pilot of tools created specifically for them CAEL Confidential

21 Institutional Self-Assessment Survey
Available both in institutional and unit-level versions to accommodate free-standing colleges, or colleges/divisions within universities, with adult missions Completed by an institutional team across the broad range of functions: marketing, admission, financing, instruction, to name a few CAEL Confidential

22 Adult Learner Inventory
Web based 40 items rating importance and satisfaction 10 customized items for institution Demographic items with 2 open items CAEL Confidential

23 ALI Scores Importance scores
How important is it for your program to meet this expectation? Satisfaction scores How satisfied are you that your program is meeting this expectation? Performance gap scores The discrepancy between the expectation (importance score) and the reality (satisfaction score). CAEL Confidential

24 ALI Scores Scores are entered into CAEL’s national ALI database
Institutions can compare their scores to others All data is confidential and used only by the institution CAEL Confidential

25 How Institutions have used the Tools:
Facilitated rich discussion & debate Targeted areas that need attention Focused attention on adult learner needs and issues Helped with accreditation, market niche reporting, planning, & evaluation Significant correlation between colleges doing well on ALFI assessments and retention of adult students CAEL Confidential

26 CAEL’s Recommendations: Policy Level—State & Federal
Redesign Student Aid to Support Adult and Lifelong Learners Make Education Tax Credits More Accessible to Working Adults Promote and Support Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLAs) Develop a New State-Federal Partnership in Higher Education for Working Adults CAEL Confidential

27 CAEL’s Recommendations: Policy Level—State & Federal
Encourage a Change in Reimbursement Formulas for Public Institutions Encourage Colleges to Develop Better Transfer & Articulation Processes Highlight Needs of Adult Learners Through State-by-State Comparisons CAEL Confidential

28 CAEL’s Recommendations for Institutional Change
Use an Array of Payment Options for Adult Learners e.g. Deferred balances/payments for tuition reimbursement students Provide More Flexible Delivery of Student Support e.g. Educational Advising, Career Planning Focus on Making the Teaching-Learning Process Relevant to Working Adults CAEL Confidential

29 CAEL’s Recommendations for Institutional Change (cont.)
Measure Institutional Responsiveness to Adults e.g. CAEL’s Adult Learning Focused Institution (ALFI) Self Assessment and Adult Student Inventory Develop Strategic Partnerships Between Higher Education and Business e.g. Work with business to establish learning goals and make resources available to employees CAEL Confidential

30 CAEL’s Recommendations for Institutional Change (cont.)
Assess the knowledge, skills & competencies of adult learners and assign credit e.g. Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) for learning from life/work experiences Help adult learners overcome barriers in time, place, and tradition e.g. accelerated programs, worksite programs CAEL Confidential

31 CAEL’s Recommendations for Institutional Change (cont.)
Make use of technology to provide relevant and timely learning experiences e.g. Online courses and degree programs Mount National Marketing Campaign To Individuals: Market the benefits of postsecondary education to adults by demonstrating expansion of income and quality of life To Institutions: Market the value of adult learning to postsecondary institutions, especially those now primarily serving traditional-aged students Mount National Social Marketing Campaign (cont.) To Business Leaders: Market the competitive advantage gained through a high-skilled workforce CAEL Confidential

32 Higher Education and Business Partnerships
For More Information… Susan Kelly PhD FAPS Acting Vice President Higher Education and Business Partnerships CAEL 55 E. Monroe St., Suite 1930 Chicago, IL 60603 (312) CAEL Confidential

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