Experiential Transcripts @ the AACRAO Tech and Transfer Conference

June 12, 2015 - June 12, 2015

The transcript as a document has worked tremendously well over the years due in large part to its transitive qualities and more or less standardized format. As a method of recording a student’s academic progression based on the credit hour it has and continues to do its job. But as more institutions embrace non-traditional modes of education delivery such as competency-based education (CBE) and direct assessment, registrars are beginning to amend their institutional transcripts to reflect the student experience in a way that is similarly transitive while also being useful to a wider range of stakeholders.

So far, it’s safe to say that there is no “one size fits all” solution. But at this year’s AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference, there will be a number of sessions and panels set to provide insight from some of the pioneers in the extended transcript arena. These are part of the planned “Extending the Framework” track.

One such panel, Issuing Experiential Transcripts and Competency Reports: A Registrar’s Perspective, will be split into two distinct parts: the first will be a panel discussion amongst four registrar’s currently developing and/or currently offering supplemental transcripts that incorporate experiences in conjunction with traditional academics; the second is intended to be a more interactive session with audience members actively shaping AACRAO’s framework on the extended transcript, based on sessions from AACRAO meetings and from the audience’s collective professional experience. We recently got in touch with some of the panel members to get a bit more context on their own experiences; read on to find out more.

Part I: The Panel

Joellen Shendy – Associate Vice Provost & Registrar at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC)

Ms. Shendy is leading one of two work groups with IMS Global, focusing on defining a CBE core record and producing an extended transcript for CBE. In addition, she is the Chair of the Business Systems and Processes Strand of the Competency Based Education Network (CBEN), a national consortium for designing, developing, and scaling new models for student learning.

At UMUC, she is working towards creating an eT (extended Transcript) which is intended to demonstrate what a student can do rather than what courses they have taken. The document is intended to be more interactive and clear for both students and employers than the traditional transcript. Her work with IMS Global will provide an open source standard for an eT that can be used by anyone.

Rodney Parks - Registrar and Director of the Summer College at Elon University

Elon University first engaged in experiential learning in 1994 when it began to offer the Elon Experiences Transcript (ETT). This was a separate document from the academic record, issued by the Student Life department, which tracked students’ required co-curricular experiences, such as “Leadership,” “Study Abroad,” and “Undergraduate Research and Internships.”  

In 2012, the registrar’s office, in conjunction with faculty and academic advisors, developed a Co-Curricular Transcript (CCT) which includes aspects of the ETT, but in a more robust, illustrative format. This format, according to survey results collected by Elon University, was presented to employers and students for feedback on the layout and the value of the content it contained.

Storing this CCT as a custom co-file in Colleague made it easier for the registrar’s office to offer the transcript for retrieval at no additional cost to students and alumni. Starting in 2013, however, Elon decided to combine the transcripts into one certified PDF, though the experiences and the academic record retained some key visual differences. One of the challenges beyond the obvious technical integration was disseminating information to the student population on the differences between the two transcript types.

These developments resonated with both students and employers; “Elon saw orders for CCT transcripts increase from 3 officially printed in 2012 to 727 in 2013 alone. Today, [using a national vendor] Elon is running approximately 52% PDF to 48% paper transcripts, with 20% of those PDF orders including the CCT.”

Brad Barron - Associate Dean and University Registrar at Furman University

At Furman University, when the decision was made to offer an experiences transcript not unlike Elon University’s, Brad Barron and other university officials first ensured that the ownership of learning outcomes would reside solely with the university, not any other source. To make the record-keeping process efficient, the university decided not to incorporate an evaluative component for these learning activities. Instead there is a simple binary recordation – the student either did or did not complete the activity. Finally, the experience transcript is only available online in PDF format, which serves to both keep costs low for retrieval and delivery while also allowing for context-setting links to be incorporated without cluttering the document with too much information.

As a result of these decisions, the final transcript that students see is clear and concise, accurately detailing experiences ranging from internships, programs, and seminars. And from the backend, administrators can assign codes that translate to the existing SIS, such as the personal learning ID and the experience learning ID.   

Darin Hobbs - University Registrar and Director of Academic Records at Western Governors University

All Western Governors University (WGU) courses represent competencies required for the conferral of a degree. WGU chose to imbed program competencies within course structures to impart a familiar experience to students and a transcript to employers and other colleges, to name a few stakeholders.

Although WGU’s supplemental transcript is still being developed, it will be a listing of the competencies mastered within the degree program(s). High-level competencies will be represented, as well as the more granular competencies subsumed therein. The printed transcript may be simply a hierarchal listing of the program competencies.

Ideally, the supplemental transcript, in electronic form, will be a document that may be a drill-down of the competencies and how those are mapped to courses. Thought will be given to represent competencies with badges that may be presented via on-line presence, such as LinkedIn, Vitae, etc.).

Part II: Developing the Framework

AACRAO Past President Brad Myers, University Registrar at the Ohio State University, and Vice President for Records and Academic Services Tina Falkner, Director of Continuity and Compliance at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, will facilitate an interactive session with the goal of establishing a broader framework AACRAO can use going forward with the extended transcript. This session is intended to be the culmination of the “Extending the Framework” track.

Ideally, campuses around the country who are considering experiential learning can use the framework developed at this year’s AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference. Mike Reilly, AACRAO’s Executive Director, hopes that attendees will bring their own expertise, along with what they learn attending sessions and panels in the transcript track to shape this framework . Even if you are not attending the meeting this year, you can check out the draft white paper on the framework here.


AACRAO is here to help

Join the AACRAO Community

Advocacy, exclusive programs, newsletters, podcasts, and collaborative meetings. The benefits of membership are immeasurable.

Contact membership today