Release Date: January 3, 2019
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo has awarded seven students with the university’s first academic badge, a micro-credential that allows students to showcase their mastery of a skill in an area of interest.
Smaller than a minor or certificate, a micro-credential program provides students with credit-bearing opportunities to gain relevant workforce skills without the financial and time commitments of a degree.
The International Outreach badge, presented to seven students by the UB School of Dental Medicine and UB School of Nursing, is the first micro-credential awarded by UB.
The program, offered in collaboration with the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and the UB Community of Excellence for Global Health Equity, recognized students for coursework examining public health disparities and participation in a two-week mission trip to Senegal.
“We created micro-credential programs so that we can provide more personalized learning opportunities for students,” says Anne Reed, director of the UB Office of Micro-Credentials. “UB is emerging as a national leader in this new way of offering coursework.
“All of the programs are tied to relevant skills. The workforce has always been skill-based, but the skills that are needed are changing more rapidly than ever before. The abilities needed now may be different in two years. Micro-credentials are suited to meet that demand.”
A new way of learning
UB piloted 10 micro-credential programs during 2018 fall semester. Subjects ranged from developing communication campaigns and applying knowledge of foreign languages in the workplace to learning to recognize child abuse and neglect in careers that require interaction with children and families.
Available to undergraduate and graduate students, micro-credentials at UB are never more than 11 credits. Each program can be completed in as quickly as one semester at no additional cost beyond regular tuition rates. Non-credit bearing programs are available as well.
The programs are themed around skills identified as essential by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Skills include critical thinking and problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration, intercultural fluency, leadership, professionalism, and oral and written communication.
Upon completion, students receive a digital badge, a clickable, verifiable credential that houses information such as the date earned, issuing institution, program criteria and work samples. The information will live on digital credential platform Credly. Students who complete a credit-bearing micro-credential earn a notation on their academic transcript as well.
Digital badges can be displayed on social media sites, such as LinkedIn, added as a link on resumes, or embedded in e-portfolios and email signatures.
Coursework for micro-credentials also align with larger certificate and degree programs, allowing students to earn badges as they progress along their academic career.
“Micro-credentials are a major trend happening across the nation,” says Reed. “Our vision is to be a forerunner in rigorous and purposeful micro-credentials that are aligned with 21st-century competencies. UB offers more types of micro-credentials than any other SUNY campus, and other universities are looking to UB as a model.”
UB will make available eight additional micro-credential programs for the 2019 spring semester. Subjects include professional writing, communicating science to the public, ethical research and more.
Skills learned across the world
The International Outreach badge is one of several badges available through Addressing Public Health Disparities, a three-credit micro-credential program offered by the School of Dental Medicine and School of Nursing.
The two-semester program examines the underlying reasons for health disparities in low-income countries and current global health interventions. Students are required to complete coursework through the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and the Community of Excellence for Global Health Equity, and participate in mission trips to provide screenings, education and care to patients in need.
“The program provides perspective to students on what is really going on in the world, gives them an opportunity to engage their skillset and help a population that has poor access to dental and oral health care, and allows them to interact with a group of patients that they normally don’t interact with,” says Joseph Gambacorta, DDS, program director and assistant dean for clinical affairs in the School of Dental Medicine.
A series of badges are obtainable for local, national and international health care outreach. Mission trips range from Buffalo and Knoxville, Tennessee to Sierra Leone and Haiti.
The class of seven UB students to receive the International Outreach badge – which included five dental students and two nursing students – completed a two-week mission trip in July to Dakar, Senegal.
Along with UB faculty and staff, students provided dental screenings and care, oral surgery, diabetes and blood pressure screenings, and primary care to vulnerable populations. During their time in Senegal, students performed nearly 1,600 procedures to help treat more than 400 patients.
By working side-by-side, dental and nursing students also received an opportunity to learn more about each other’s disciplines.
“The skill students take away is adaptability,” says Gambacorta. “They learn to work interprofessionally and see how these disciplines can work collaboratively to provide patient care, and how to engage a population that is different than their own. They can then use this perspective in practice to provide care to individuals from all walks of life.”
More information about UB’s micro-credential programs is available here.