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Discussions concerning earning credit by CLEP, DANTES, GRE, and other tests.

Re: Is CLEPing Worth It?

Postby Hungry Ghost » Thu May 24, 2007 3:42 pm

Tireman4 wrote:On another forum, it has been debated about the merits of CLEPing and how bad it is. He is stating that you should either take courses online or sit in the classroom. Testing to him is just outrageous. Your thoughts.

What other forum? Who is "he"?

My thoughts?

I like the idea of prior learning assessment. But that implies that there really was prior learning and that it's really being assessed.

My concern arises when I read accounts on the DL boards of people who amass large amounts of university credit in no time at all by taking exams in subjects that they've never studied, either formally or informally. That's millish, simply by definition.

If those accounts are true, then I can't believe that the assessment instruments that make those abuses possible are credible.
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Postby Tireman4 » Thu May 24, 2007 3:59 pm

The he: UOPMegabytes
They: www.uopsucks.com
The why: We were giving posters alternatives to UOP (some on the board are disinchanted with UOP). They (the posters) were asking for alternatives. I gave them BAin4weeks.com. UOPMegabytes has these problems with it


1. He stated that they (website) sounded millish. Also used the term Spammy. This was because of the advertisements on it.
2. He finds it offensive that people can take tests to get a degree. He thinks that this is a wrong approach to education.
3. He thinks that Lawrie Miller is full of bull to think that anyone can get a degree in 4 weeks with CLEPing.

Hence, that is why I was defending Lawrie's site or least thinking that it is a useful tool.
Michael Mitchell
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Postby Hungry Ghost » Thu May 24, 2007 5:11 pm

Tireman4 wrote:I gave them BAin4weeks.com. UOPMegabytes has these problems with it


1. He stated that they (website) sounded millish

I think that the name 'BA in 4 Weeks' sounds extremely millish. It plays right into the hands of those who dismiss DL.
3. He thinks that Lawrie Miller is full of bull to think that anyone can get a degree in 4 weeks with CLEPing.

I don't know whether it's possible. (Do CLEP exams even exist in upper division major subjects?) But whether or not it's possible, I don't think that it's very credible.

It implies that a student has already done independent study equivalent not only to an entire university major, but also to all the general education subjects as well. It also implies that the student can review all of that material and be ready to take exams in under a month.

What's worse is the suggestion that people who don't have previous exposure to the material can just start at zero and get up to speed in an entire university major in less than a month by skimming study guides or something.
2. He finds it offensive that people can take tests to get a degree. He thinks that this is a wrong approach to education.

He's right in the sense that testing isn't education.

I do think that testing (and portfolios and recitals and such) are viable ways of assessing prior education. That's provided of course that real university level skills and knowledge are necessary in order to pass.

And I have nothing at all against independent study and learning that takes place outside a classroom. Right now I'm not taking any formal classes anywhere, but I try to read something reasonably scholarly (a paper, chapter, encyclopedia article or something) every day. (It's not unlike my physical exercise.)

But... I do think that a good university program offers its students a lot more than that. While it's obviously possible to learn a great deal entirely on one's own by independent study, that path usually isn't going to be optimal.
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Postby FWD » Fri May 25, 2007 3:45 am

If a student actually has to make a reasonable study effort for the exam then yes it seems a viable way to earn credit . Probably not a good way to earn an entire degree though. Regarding the time frame even the books LM recommends take a while to read.

To add to this argument I recall several sit down classes where it didn't seem like we did all that much for the credit.
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Postby mattchand » Fri May 25, 2007 2:27 pm

Hungry Ghost wrote:
Tireman4 wrote:I gave them BAin4weeks.com. UOPMegabytes has these problems with it


1. He stated that they (website) sounded millish

I think that the name 'BA in 4 Weeks' sounds extremely millish. It plays right into the hands of those who dismiss DL.
3. He thinks that Lawrie Miller is full of bull to think that anyone can get a degree in 4 weeks with CLEPing.

I don't know whether it's possible. (Do CLEP exams even exist in upper division major subjects?) But whether or not it's possible, I don't think that it's very credible.

It implies that a student has already done independent study equivalent not only to an entire university major, but also to all the general education subjects as well. It also implies that the student can review all of that material and be ready to take exams in under a month.

What's worse is the suggestion that people who don't have previous exposure to the material can just start at zero and get up to speed in an entire university major in less than a month by skimming study guides or something.
2. He finds it offensive that people can take tests to get a degree. He thinks that this is a wrong approach to education.

He's right in the sense that testing isn't education.

I do think that testing (and portfolios and recitals and such) are viable ways of assessing prior education. That's provided of course that real university level skills and knowledge are necessary in order to pass.

And I have nothing at all against independent study and learning that takes place outside a classroom. Right now I'm not taking any formal classes anywhere, but I try to read something reasonably scholarly (a paper, chapter, encyclopedia article or something) every day. (It's not unlike my physical exercise.)

But... I do think that a good university program offers its students a lot more than that. While it's obviously possible to learn a great deal entirely on one's own by independent study, that path usually isn't going to be optimal.


I believe HG is right on the money with this. Mills all over the internet offer credit for nebulous "life experience", often taken as whatever you tell them without any form of evidence (if any is even asked for). Exams such as CLEP, DANTES, NYUFLP, TECEP, and yes, even GRE Subject exams are meant as a means to display that someone has, in fact, acquired college-level knowledge on their own (or at least, elsewhere). Of course, there are also going to be those who "abuse the system" and just cram for challenge exams, but that happens in brick-and-mortar institutes as well; heck, cramming students at US colleges probably make up half the market for no-doz! The big three (four? five?) are primarily colleges which assess learning rather than primarily provide education, through portfolio assessment as well as through exams. They also do run courses, too (none too cheaply, though, which is why I opted for a Cognitive Psych course from the U of Alaska rather than the home-grown COSC one at double the cost).

I also want to say, though, that HG is also right in noting that "BA in 4 Weeks" sounds tacky and millish, even though it's not remotely millish. With that name being the registered URL, though, I have a feeling that they're pretty much stuck with it.

Peace,

Matt
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Postby SteveFoerster » Fri May 25, 2007 6:47 pm

In other countries, examinations are often the only way one gets credit -- the Heriot-Watt MBA is an example. Whoever says they're inherently unsound is pretty naïve about how things work on a big chunk of the planet.

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Postby FWD » Sat May 26, 2007 8:03 pm

While I earned a good portion of credit via testing I would not care to earn a whole bachelor's degree that way. Except for Business I don't think you can anyway. At least a few courses in your major with writing and project requirements help give you a well rounded understanding of a particular subject.
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Postby aic712 » Tue May 29, 2007 1:54 am

Michael,

I know you are referring to megabytes/admin on UOPsucks, and they are both sanctimonious and anything that has to do with phoenix (NCA, ACBSP, NLNAC, CCNA, etc) is bad. "Guilt by association"

I let it get to me at one point, and I pretty much just stopped posting there, I was trying to give people other options than phoenix, and I still got attacked, especially when I tried to explain how accreditation works.

They over-analyze and twist everything until they are right, notice how admin has the last post almost ALWAYS on many threads :)
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Postby Tireman4 » Wed May 30, 2007 2:13 pm

Yep
Michael Mitchell
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MA-History-North Carolina Central University
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Postby CoachTurner » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:42 am

It is very possible and even likely that some well read and well rounded individuals in their 30's-40's have indeed acquired the equivalent knowledge of a BA in some subject by life experience. If that person uses standardized testing (CLEP, DANTES, AP, GRE...) to demonstrate that knowledge then why would that be a problem to anyone?

I know how to type. I'm rated at 50WPM. If I were to enroll in an AAS in General Office, should I be required to sit the entire course of "keyboarding" or should I be permitted to demonstrate mastery and move on? That's the basis of credit by examination and it can extend to all levels of all subjects.

An examination of the policies of most B&M colleges will show that credit by examination or "testing out" is an accepted option. This isn't new, it's been this way at least for 26 years because I used the option of end of course exams at a state university in 1981.

In fact, many undergraduate programs are now requiring a comprehensive end of program examination. Are they doing so because they trust more in what knowledge was imparted in their classes or because they trust more the value of that comprehensive examination to display what was learned and retained?

The only people who continue to believe that credit by examination is "millish" are those who don't understand either the examination process or what a mill really is. IMHO - it's not possible for 'typical Joe' to complete 120+ hours by examination and complete upper level and major requirements. It is however possible for 'exceptional Joe' to do so.

There will continue to be naysayers regarding DL in the many permutations for years to come. Most of those naysayers will be left along the proverbial roadside as the rest of the world advances past them. Don't let them annoy us with their foundless banter - pity them for their loss.

Who was it that said average people would never want a computer in their house? Whoops!
Carson Turner
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Postby SteveFoerster » Sun Jun 24, 2007 4:35 pm

As an aside, there's a difference between CLEP tests and distance learning. Instruction and evaluation aren't the same thing, even though most American courses are comprised of both.

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Postby Lawrie Miller » Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:17 am

CoachTurner wrote:Since Excelsior is taking the full 8 weeks they warn of to evaluate my wife's single submitted RA transcript - and since it can be assumed that they can be expected to take as long evaluating the degree completion - I'd say BA in 16 weeks is pushing it at Excelsior College right now. They took almost 6 weeks to grade on of my ECE with essay.

I too like the catchy name but I think that 4-weeks is just that, a catchy name. Even with degree requirements completed before enrollment, these folks have become slower of time...8)


I take your point, and you’re not the first to make, but the name is no gimmick. It is EARN your BA in 4 Weeks, not GET your BA in 4 weeks. As noted in the text, four weeks is the minimum time within which degree credit requirements can be met. To labor the point, 4 weeks is the minimum time required to demonstrate competencies from scratch.

It does not refer to the time from first application to degree conferment, which, as you note, varies. Below is taken from the introduction on the web site.

"CREDIT BY EXAMINATION

The title of the series is BA in 4 weeks. Four weeks is the practical minimum amount of time in which this process can reasonably be completed. The process includes the completion of all degree credit requirements. There will probably be an additional delay while administrative gears whir and turn, before the actual degree diploma is cranked out.
"
http://bain4weeks.com/introduc.html

AND from the Synopsis,

"In two weeks (AS degree) or four weeks (BA or BS degree), you will have completed all degree requirements without prematurely turning gray. All that is then required is that you send in the graduation fee and wait for conferral. The diploma should arrive in the mail a week or so thereafter[after conferral]. Mount in a suitable frame for viewing and keep it out of direct sunlight."
http://bain4weeks.com/quicktour.html


You will also recall, the heart of BA in 4 Weeks, the degree manuals, which chronicle the credit gathering process, cover a four week period. That is to say, it takes a minimum four weeks to meet the degree program requirements with respect to competencies, using the BA in 4 Weeks system. Clearly, if it takes 4 weeks to complete credit requirements, it will take 4 weeks + some finite period to actually confer the degree. Getting your diploma in 4 weeks isn’t promised, suggested, hinted at, or otherwise implied.

Both the time taken to do initial assessment and the time-to-conferral after fulfilling the last of the credit requirements, vary in accordance with the students academic history at enrollment, other personal circumstance, and on the prevailing conditions at the college vis-à-vis the availability of resources relative to demand. If I had taken these unknowns into account when naming the original treatise, the title would have necessarily been less concise. (“BA in more than four weeks”; “ Meet BA credit requirements in four weeks”; “BA in 4 weeks, plus administrative processing time”?)

All that said, I’m revamping the site and updating the text and think it may be time to rename both. With what might I replace the current title?

Any thoughts?
Lawrie Miller
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Re: Is CLEPing Worth It?

Postby Lawrie Miller » Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:40 am

Tireman4 wrote:On another forum, it has been debated about the merits of CLEPing and how bad it is. He is stating that you should either take courses online or sit in the classroom. Testing to him is just outrageous. Your thoughts.


TESTING
Testing is about demonstrating competencies. Testing is assessment. Testing is NOT education. Tests seeks to measure the outcomes of education (or more precisely, the outcomes of an educational process). Testing has nothing to do with the act of learning. Testing is about demonstrating what you have learned, what you know.

Education, the educational process, is only given meaning when it is related to outcomes. There is NO intrinsic virtue in any education, education paradigm, meme, or pedagogy, that is not related to demonstrable outcomes. Claims to the superiority of this or that pedagogy, MUST be corroborated by the empirical evidence. A traditional education is better than learning online ? - (or pick your poison). How does one know?

Specifically what data demonstrate this? The only direct way of testing this would be via standardized exam. After all, that is their origin. CLEP proficiency exams scores are normed relative to the performance of a cohort of traditionally educated undergraduate students in traditional exams. The GRE subject exam results are the normalized performance of a very large cohort of (mostly) traditionally schooled graduates. Many, among the non traditionally educated, have taken these exams and in so doing, directly pitted themselves and their competence, against those cohorts. Have they been found wanting? I know of no data that evidences that. Indeed, quite the opposite.

Again, when claims are made that conflate traditional PROCESS and "an education" AKA a superior outcome, ask for a citation. How do they know? That's normally when the bloviating and vigorous hand waving begin.

With respect to credit by examination, strictly speaking, arguments about the efficacy of pedagogies is irrelevant, since as noted, credit by examination has nothing to do with leaning per se. Credit by examination is blind to pedagogies. It knows naught about them. It simply measures competencies, which can then be inferred to be the outcome of a certain process.

And there is the rub. What matters? Is it the inferential conclusions about process or the competency, itself? If A went to Traditional U., and B to a shack of learning in Tajikistan, and side by side, both are measured equally competent in some discipline, what evidence is there that speaks to the superiority of process undergone by either?

Of course, there is none. Time and again, by virtue of the success they have had in their careers, non traditionally educated graduates have given lie to that prejudice.
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Postby Lawrie Miller » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:27 am

mattchand wrote:
I also want to say, though, that HG is also right in noting that "BA in 4 Weeks" sounds tacky and millish, even though it's not remotely millish. With that name being the registered URL, though, I have a feeling that they're pretty much stuck with it.
Matt

Not stuck with it at all. I am going to overhaul the site and update the text. Might be a good time to rename it. What would you suggest, Matt?
Lawrie Miller
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Postby Lawrie Miller » Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:15 am

Hungry Ghost wrote:I don't know whether it's possible. (Do CLEP exams even exist in upper division major subjects?) But whether or not it's possible, I don't think that it's very credible.

It implies that a student has already done independent study equivalent not only to an entire university major, but also to all the general education subjects as well. It also implies that the student can review all of that material and be ready to take exams in under a month.

What's worse is the suggestion that people who don't have previous exposure to the material can just start at zero and get up to speed in an entire university major in less than a month by skimming study guides or something.


1. The site is replete with testimonials of those who have completed their degree in short order by the method. That should at least dull your skepticism. In addition, it is entirely possible for those already in possession of the requisite competencies, to complete degree requirements in a month. I have a (near) decade long standing offer to do just that, if the challenger in question will put up the money. If I fail to meet requirements, I will re-reimburse them. So far ne’er a taker. Would you like to take me up on it? If not the whole thing, how about one week for thirty semester hours? No? Then let’s double up, sixty (60) semester hours earned in ONE week. Half a degree in one week. You can extrapolate from there.

2. With respect to mastering the 120 semester hours worth of NEW material in 4 weeks from scratch, it is of course an asinine claim and not one you will find in BA in 4 Weeks. Where did you get that? You can complete requirements from scratch in 4 weeks, if and only if, you already are in possession of the relevant competencies. That is stated time and time again in the text.

Hungry Ghost wrote:
But... I do think that a good university program offers its students a lot more than that. While it's obviously possible to learn a great deal entirely on one's own by independent study, that path usually isn't going to be optimal.

Why do you think a good university program offers a lot more than that? You may surmise that it does but can you offer concrete examples? What is the “more”? Further, objectively, can you provide ANY empirical evidence at all that, with respect to performance, the methods and techniques delineated in ba in 4 weeks yield inferior outcomes? I can offer direct empirical evidence that if anything, suggests that the opposite may be true.
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