Grazing - a personal blog from Steve Ehrmann

Steve Ehrmann is an author, speaker, and consultant.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Progress on quality, access, and affordability in higher education

For much of the last two years I've been researching and writing a book: 
  1. To describe how some colleges and universities have been (re)shaping themselves in order to make sustainable gains in educational quality, access, and affordability at scale, and 
  2. From their experiences, to suggest a conceptual framework and implementation principles that can be used to pursue such 3fold gains more effectively and efficiently.
There's a lot of research and writing still to do. The book probably won't be published until late 2018 or early 2019.

Recently, the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group invited me to give a webinar on some of the most important findings and suggestions emerging from the book.  A video of the event is on YouTube at  My talk begins at 6:37 into the video, pauses for 20 minutes at 50:16, picks up again at 1:10:48 and concludes at 1:22:15.  In the talk itself lasts less than an hour.  The book analyzes a number of case histories; some points about Georgia State University's recent history and achievements are included in the talk.

Some Tentative Findings:

  1. Pursuing three gains (in quality, access, and affordability) as three independent agendas is probably not the best way to actually achieve such improvements in institutional and program outcomes.  
  2. Instead create a single constellation of changes over the years that, as a group, cumulatively improves elements of quality, access, and affordability. ("pursuing 3fold gains")
  3. There are three major ways to conceive of how how learning should be organized.  Each suggests a different, incompatible way to pursue 3fold gains. 
  4. Institutional case histories also suggest that, for 3fold gains to be sustained at scale, the constellation of changes needs to include targeted improvements aligned across: 
    • Educational strategies, 
    • Organizational foundations (including culture), to better sustain those strategies at scale, and 
    • Interactions with the wider world that also influence the sustainability of the institution's educational strategies. 
I hope you'll take a look at my talk.  Post your reactions here or contact me at ehrmannsteve at gmail.

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