Bridging conceptually academic and occupational learning and credentialing in US postsecondary education. Current developments and research insights on challenges, approaches, and perspectives

Volker Rein


In the US as in other countries, a debate drives shaping programmes and credentials in all education and training sectors along competencies. The objective is to promote lifelong learning, the quality and the transferability of learning achievements sustainably between the education pathways to better address the needs of the learners, the society and the labour markets. The increasingly knowledge-based requirements in manufacturing and service areas in particular call for appropriate conceptual adaptations in programme shaping within academic education and across the sectors of postsecondary education.  

This chapter assumes a potential compatible practice orientation in academic education and beyond for an acquisition of complete competency to apply appropriate knowledge, skills and competencies to solve complex problems and tasks. It first approaches the topic in the context of relevant developments in US postsecondary education at the system and policy level and at the instrumental and qualification conceptual level. Then it discusses research generated empirical insights on appropriate conceptual competency oriented developments within Associate degree programmes, as well as on relevant linkages to non-degree and Bachelor programmes. Finally, essential conceptual and practical implications are considered for academic and occupational learning and credentialing in US postsecondary education and training and beyond.   


US postsecondary education, academic and occupational learning, competency, connectivity, permeability

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