Introducing the 60-Year Curriculum
“The 60YC is an expression of the university response to lifelong learning, the need for offering formal programs of education and training, not only during the years of formal matriculation, but also after graduation.”
Gary W. Matkin, Ph.D., Dean, Continuing Education
The 60-Year Curriculum (60YC) is gaining recognition across institutions as an important theme that is guiding university continuing education, and the entire university offering, from the time students enter college as a freshman until after they graduate and then later, retire.
The 60YC objective is to provide a resource that binds students to the university particularly at significant life transitions points, as they enter college, leave college for the world of work, prepare for and enter careers, improve themselves in the workplace, gain and maintain skills that are needed to stay current, upgrade or change careers, and finally, retire.
The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) is leading the way by recognizing the concept of the 60YC as being important and by developing curricula that address real-life transition points.
Beyond its importance to guiding students, the 60YC recognizes the demand for increased accountability of universities, the need for greater learner-centeredness in pedagogy, and the fact that adult students usually turn to education to help them through life transitions.
Whereas “lifelong learning” expresses the need for an individual to continue learning, the 60YC represents the necessary response from an institution to provide lifelong learning opportunities in the form of formal education courses and programs.
Most importantly for undergraduate students, the adoption of the 60YC theme fosters learner-centeredness. Surveys clearly indicate that both freshman students and their parents, overwhelmingly, see a college education as a pathway to meaningful careers and employment. Therefore, a truly learner-centered institution, like UCI, must take this primary motivation into account in its curriculum and its services.
Introducing students to real world experiences, using case studies, and requiring group work, are examples of how learning might be adjusted toward the 60YC goals. The 60YC theme helps students achieve better academic outcomes. A very large body of research indicates that undergraduate students with a strong intentionality toward what they will do after graduation results in better grades, less time to completion, reduced stress, and greater satisfaction after graduation. The earlier that this intentionality is defined, the greater the benefit. Students are aided in choosing not only the appropriate program, but also individual classes and activities, including jobs and internships. There is strong evidence that the 60YC is a powerful enhancer of academic quality.
For continuing education students, the 60YC is consistent with and supportive of learner-centeredness. It also is supportive of another trend in higher education, “active learning.” DCE courses are focused on balancing the theoretical with the applied, and strive to be highly relevant to working professionals, providing skills that are immediately and actively employed daily. As pedagogy shifts toward a more active role of students in their learning, through projects and experiential learning, the 60YC has a place.
Thus, for students who are matriculated in degree programs and for continuing education students pursuing post-graduate educational experiences, the 60YC provides the framework for a natural lifelong association between the institution and its graduates.
The chart shown here is divided into sections corresponding with common life transitions. Each section has information about current programs offered to help people deal with major changes in their lives just when they need it. For instance, behind the section labeled “Be Effective in the Workplace,” students will find courses on written and oral communications, critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving. The section on being digitally competent offers a curation of courses providing training in common digital skills such as Excel, Microsoft Office, and PowerPoint. The courses vary in length and depth, some are free, and some require a fee. This pie chart guide will grow dynamically as more courses and services are added.
The 60YC is not a fad or the latest way of emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is already recognized as playing an active and necessary role in people’s lives. No one who wishes to improve themselves can escape the investment in their own learning.
The 60YC is an expression of the university response to lifelong learning, the need for offering formal programs of education and training, not only during the years of formal matriculation, but also after graduation.
Universities cannot maintain their institutional relevance without a 60YC commitment. UCI has made that commitment and is rapidly expanding its programs from our courses on how to be a successful college student to our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) for retired people, with the bulk of our offerings focused on upgrading or changing careers. In addition to these educational programs, we are combining career services with our courses to provide an additional layer of support as people search for and prepare for careers.
Continue to look to the DCE as a guide and counselor, as well as an education provider, as you face an ever-changing world.