A Modest Proposal: Simplifying Articulation, Respecting Local Autonomy, and Responding to "Common Course

Published:
September
2009
Author:
Pilati, Michelle, Faculty Coordinator, C-ID
developing and piloting elements of a "supranumbering" system for use across all higher education segments. Intersegmental discipline faculty have convened to develop descriptors for courses that commonly transfer. These descriptors will eventually be used to qualify courses for a C-ID number-a "supra-number" that would be used to identify comparable courses. The ultimate challenge for C-ID has been to clarify what implementation would look like. Ultimately, it has been planned that existing courses (via review of course outlines of record) would be reviewed, and, if consistent with the descriptor, would receive a C-ID number. What then? Where's the benefit? What does a C-ID number really mean? Over the summer, the Academic Senate convened a group of articulation officers to consider these questions and to look at how C-ID could facilitate articulation and transfer more generally.

C-ID has developed a process for creating and vetting descriptors that identify the central components of courses-the elements that are generally expected to be there. If articulation could be based on these descriptors, one way to gain articulation could be by submitting a course outline of record to C-ID. Receiving institutions would review C-ID descriptors for articulation and indicate their willingness to articulate courses that have the components outlined in the descriptor. This would provide a system-level statewide mechanism for articulation. In other words, this would provide a "one-to-many" articulation system whereby a course is deemed comparable to a descriptor. Under this system, receiving institutions-in-state, out-of-state, two-year, four-year, private, public-could indicate their willingness to accept courses to fulfill their requirements based on their C-ID designation. Imagine the simplicity of a new college being able to indicate its willingness to accept an array of courses through the C-ID process that would then translate into articulation with up to 110 community colleges. And imagine the value of having intersegmentally-developed descriptors of courses that commonly transfer.

Articulation by descriptor can only work with faculty involvement. In order for this system to work, the descriptors need to be fully vetted. They need to accurately reflect the core elements of the courses that must be present for their transferability. Draft descriptors for a variety of disciplines are currently available on the C-ID site and need review by faculty in the course discipline, related disciplines, and by articulation officers. All faculty are encouraged to visit www.c-id.net to learn more and to consider this modest proposal that would simplify articulation and student movement, while respecting the differences that make us what we are. Articulation by descriptor is an idea whose time has come.