Academic Initiatives Fund supports creation of Education micro-credentials

NOTE: This is one in a series of stories highlighting projects supported by Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was established by the University in spring 2021. AIF projects will address key priorities outlined in Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan and position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic. To read other stories in the AIF series, click here.

Brock’s Faculty of Education is developing new micro-credentials to support student retention and expand experiential education.

The Faculty’s pilot micro-credential initiative is one of 18 projects that have received seed funding through Brock’s new Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF) to address key priorities in the University’s Institutional Strategic Plan and aid with Brock’s pandemic recovery.

“Graduating students and adult learners will need to develop and re-learn skills throughout their careers,” said Michael Owen, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “As a Faculty, we recognize that student recruitment and retention take many forms, particularly in case of adult students who are often working while pursuing further education.”

For current students, these micro-credentials will offer opportunities to build transferrable skills for the workplace. For new students, micro-credentials will serve as terminal market-focused credentials and pathways to certificates and degrees.

“Two underlying reasons drive our micro-credential offerings: formal recognition of student learning in specialized areas and increasing accessibility to university education by creating alternate pathways,” said Owen.

The Faculty’s micro-credentials, especially the Micro-certificate in Post-Secondary Education through its Adult Education program, will be available not only to students in Niagara and the Hamilton and Burlington area, but also those from across Ontario and Canada.

Two of the micro-credentials will be focused on global and international education and build on a number of existing courses.

One will create pathways for international educated teachers in the local area who are seeking to become teachers in Ontario but do not qualify for certification at present. Many of these teachers are under-employed within the education sector or are working outside the sector in lower-paid or precarious positions.

Another will allow undergraduate students to gain international perspectives on education and get experience through study abroad courses or working with local refugee and immigrant communities.

Undergraduate and Consecutive Teacher Education students will also have the opportunity to complete a micro-credential that will focus on the mental health needs of children and youth, and incorporate experiential education opportunities through internships.

These pilots will build on the Faculty’s long history of offering professional development and training through its Continuing Teacher Education program. Several of the proposed micro-credentials will build on and strengthen the Faculty’s community partnerships with school boards, Friendship Centres and non-profit organizations.

Funding provided through the AIF will help the Faculty create and modify courses, recruit students and offer program support such as experiential education co-ordination and tutoring.

Once developed, the Faculty’s new micro-credentials will launch in 2022 and be accessible through Brock’s Open Study initiative. More details will be announced in the future.

“With the support of the AIF, the Faculty of Education will expand educational opportunities for individuals across the lifespan, from high school graduates to seniors returning to fulfil their educational aspirations,” said Owen.

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