Review by Comfort M. Sumida
Mānoa Advising Center
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

College Learning for the New Global Century and the 2008 Edition of the Executive Summary with Employer’s Views on Learning Outcomes and Assessment Approaches brings the inquiry into “what contemporary college graduates need to know and be able to do” (AAC&U 2007) to the forefront.  It looks beyond the simple numbers of enrollment, retention, and graduation; into questions students are constantly asking: “What are employers looking for?”; “How does a higher education prepare me for the workforce?”  The reality is answers to these questions are dynamic.

As the world economies change and evolve, each new generation faces a different set of challenges and expectations.  These documents seek to provide insight into the demands and expectations of today’s employers and recommendations on how to meet them.  A successful college education has many facets, and a successful employee has developed many adaptable skills.  To ensure the best future for our students, it is important higher education provides students with the toolbox of skills to succeed in this dynamic work environment.

The authors believe a liberal education forms the basis of this toolbox and provides students with the kind of learning necessary for success in the workforce and beyond.  This extends beyond the liberal arts to incorporate a broader understanding of the world and people within, preparing students to face an ever-changing marketplace with the tools necessary to adapt and grow with their surroundings.  It provides students with the ability to innovate when facing obstacles and teaches students to accept and learn from different cultures and ideas.  This imparts a greater appreciation for these differences.

This idea of a broad-based education is not new, but the idea of a liberal education is extended beyond the elite Ivy League and four-year institutions.  The proposal infuses the transmission of knowledge and skills into all aspects of every college degree from general studies through major fields in all levels; providing greater access to a liberal education and the tools for success for students of all backgrounds.

“Principles of Excellence” are presented, as promises between educators, students and employers, to best prepare students for the road ahead.  “Essential Learning Outcomes” provide a basis for assessment of programs promoting a liberal education.  To assist with implementation, recommendations are made and successful programs are highlighted.  Examples demonstrate the multitude of approaches an institution or department can take to incorporating these recommendations.  An appendix further provides information on proven teaching and learning practices.

As the initiative gains momentum, and the world shifts towards a more global focus, these reports become an increasingly important read for everyone who who works directly with students.  A well-informed advisor should be familiar with the benefits of a liberal education and how it applies to today’s labor market.  It is important we understand the demands and expectations of contemporary employers as we guide our students towards graduation and teach them to prepare for employment and success in the modern world.

College Learning for the New Global Century, (2007), Association of American Colleges and Universities, Association of American Colleges and Universities. 76pp., $25.00, ISBN # 978-0-9779210-4-1

LEAP Executive Summary (with Employers' Views on Learning Outcomes and Assessment Approaches, 2008 edition), (2008), Association of American Colleges and Universities, Association of American Colleges and Universities. 14pp. $20.00, ISBN # 978-0-9796181-3-0
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