Designing an Apprenticeship-Based Degree Program
The following are the steps that Reach University took to design an apprenticeship-based degree program, and we suggest the below as guidance:
Get ready to begin the design process
Map content and outcomes to demonstrable competencies
Link competencies to activities that can be done in the field
Crosswalk activities, competencies, and credit hours
Create syllabus template/guidance to reflect the above
Define expectations for students, faculty, and evaluators/coaches/mentors
Get Ready to Begin the Design Process
To begin the design process, you should have the following in place:
An identified point person who will lead this process. This should be someone who has deep insight into the curriculum of the program.
Measurable competencies that students will have mastered at the level appropriate for graduation when they complete their program. Ensure that these are clear and documented and that it is truly possible to evaluate whether a student has mastered this competency.
Assessments that are related to those competencies. These should link to each competency, and these should also be organized and accessible.
Map Courses to Measurable Competencies
The first step in the design process is to look at the measurable competencies for your program(s) as outlined above and to determine which courses will enable students to achieve each of them. Your work product should be a document that lists each competency and the course that will enable students to develop that competency.
Link Competencies to Activities that Can Be Done in the Field
Next, you will take those same competencies and look at what might happen in the field (activities) that can be linked to the development of those competencies. Consider how these competencies might be developed differently in different contexts (e.g. a Pre-K classroom versus a 4th-grade classroom). Your work product should be a document that lists each competency and examples of activities that would enable students to develop that competency.
Crosswalk Activities, Courses, and Credit Hours
The next step is to determine the number of hours it will take the average student to complete each activity and the number of hours of instruction that the student will receive in that course, and then complete the credit hours calculation.
Create Syllabus Template and Guidance to Reflect the Above
In the syllabus, include:
A description of how the activities are homework that is happening in the field in an on-the-job experience. This – combined with tracking activities in the Craft tracker – will help to reduce the likelihood that you will need to go through a substantive change process with your accreditor because you are simply offering a different type of homework. (You will still need to verify this with your accreditor).
A description of how activities completed in the field map back to the competencies required for this course and credit hours for the course so that students can clearly understand these connections. For example, at Reach University, the general class configuration is 17% lecture, 50% on-the-job experience, and 33% traditional homework (essays, readings, etc.).
An explanation for students regarding how to track their information in the Craft tracker.
Sample language is as follows:
Define Expectations for Students, Faculty, and Evaluators
It is important to clearly outline expectations for each group. Here is a sample:
Students: In addition to regular class expectations (attend class, complete other work via your learning management system [LMS]), ensure that you are tracking activities and uploading related artifacts in the Craft tracker.
Faculty: Ensure that you are working with your students’ evaluators in the field and reviewing their Craft trackers to bring what is happening in the field back into the classroom, and make connections between theory and practice in the field via Socratic/reflective discussions.
Evaluators: Use the Craft tracker and ensure that you are consistently approving and/or returning activities with feedback. Upload relevant assessments or evaluations. Have mentoring conversations with students. Share information back with instructors so that they can deepen those connections.