Learning with a Purpose Is Today's Goal in Higher Education

Colleges must recognize the changing world and the changing student, Stockton Provost and Executive Vice President Harvey Kesselman says.

It is the obligation of institutions of higher education to provide their students with a quality education that supplies graduates with the knowledge and skills to enter the workforce and be productive, engaged citizens today and throughout their lives.

Those of us who work in the field of higher education must take this obligation seriously and promote it in a substantive way. A critical aspect of doing so lies in the ways colleges teach and students learn. Colleges must adjust to meet the changing needs of a global economy, and students must be prepared to compete in an increasingly global workforce. This is a fundamental concept that must be achieved.

Institutions that fail to recognize we are teaching a different kind of student and teaching in a different kind of world will be literally left in the dust of traditional teaching and learning methods. Colleges and universities must meet this challenge head-on or fail.

In today's increasingly global community, high school students want to graduate with an expectation of getting into a good college or university of their choice. College students want to leave their institution not just with a diploma, but with skills and abilities with which they may successfully compete.

Recent analyses have calculated that by 2018, 64 percent of all New Jersey jobs will require postsecondary education. In fact, New Jersey ranks second nationally in the percentage of those jobs that will require a bachelor's degree and seventh in those requiring a graduate degree.

To that end, has taken a leadership position. Through directives of our 2020 strategic-planning process, study teams have embarked on the task of determining what we call "essential learning outcomes" or ELOs. These are outcomes our students need to achieve in order to compete and thrive today and well into the future. Stockton's longtime goal of making a degree more valuable to our graduates as time goes by has never been more of a challenge. However, it is a challenge that can and must be met.

We believe college students need to master the following essential learning outcomes:

• Quantitative reasoning

• Information literacy

• Adapting to change

• Competence in the major area of study

• Communication skills

• Creativity and Innovation

• Global Awareness

• Teamwork and Collaboration

• Critical thinking

• Ethical reasoning

Stockton is setting up metrics for measuring our effectiveness in these areas, both in teaching and in learning. Standards will be set for our students to achieve, and competency will be demonstrated by all students as they complete their studies.

Stockton was founded on an experimental model that serves us well in our quest to adapt to the changing needs of today's students, and we are fortunate to have a talented faculty that is dedicated both to the ideals of teaching and to putting those ideals into the best possible practices.

We believe a college degree has more of a critical value in today's world than ever before. It is not, however, enough to believe it. We must demonstrate that belief on a daily basis and produce graduates who show it where it matters most: in a competitive and changing employment marketplace.

By delivering graduates who fill employers' needs today and in the future, Stockton will fulfill its educational mission, serve as a model for other institutions and leave no doubt as to the value of a college degree


Harvey Kesselman is provost and executive vice president of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.


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