Teachers College, Columbia University

Academic Learning or Occupational Skills? Discussing a Dichotomy

Date and Time: October 30, 2019 6 p.m.
Location: New York, NY
Venue: Grace Dodge Hall | 179

The Fall 2019 issue of Dædalus, Improving Teaching: Strengthening the College Learning Experience, features 12 essays exploring the quality of students' college experience in the classroom. A live webcast featured the issue's editors, Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson, as they discussed the importance of attending to quality and note that it's woefully absent in most public policy discussions of higher education.

Following the conclusion of the webcast, Thomas Bailey and Clive Belfield, who wrote the essay, "The False Dichotomy between Academic Learning & Occupational Skills," led a conversation at Teachers College. In their essay, which was published in Fall 2019 issue of Dædalus, they compare academic and vocational program goals with a focus primarily on community college students and argue that a separation of tracks presents a false dichotomy. At this conversation, the authors suggested educational paths are accumulations of general education followed by terminal work-related education, which they label the Gen-Tech framework. The conversation at Teachers College was an opportunity to discuss the Gen-Tech framework and its implications for students and schools.

Associated Papers


Director Emeritus and Senior Fellow
Community College Research Center
Research Affiliate
Community College Research Center
Sandy Baum
Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute
Professor Emerita, Skidmore College
Michael S. McPherson
President Emeritus, Spencer Foundation
Nonresident Senior Fellow, The Urban Institute