Noncredit programs and courses within California community colleges have long been overshadowed by credit programs and courses. In spite of the fact that noncredit generates approximately 10% of enrollment in the California Community College System, many people outside and even within the System are not aware of or do not fully understand the importance of noncredit and how it serves California's educational needs. This overview of noncredit, its history, its development, its unique identity, its current place in the California community colleges, and the challenges it faces in the future is intended to open your eyes and provide you with an appreciation for a part of the community colleges that you may never have visited before.
Many colleges offer few or no noncredit courses, and of those that do, the full potential of noncredit may not yet be exploited. While noncredit courses may not serve the needs of all colleges, we hope that the information provided in this paper will encourage colleges to re-examine the role that noncredit might play in a college's mission and service to its community.
As with the California Community College System as a whole, the issues facing noncredit are varied and often inter-related. Based on the responses to the survey conducted by the Educational Policies Committee and related research, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges makes the following recommendations.
On a statewide level:
- The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should seek to better integrate the concerns and viewpoints of noncredit faculty and programs into its discussions and work through involvement of noncredit faculty in its committees and appointments.
- The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should work with the System Office on a plan to increase the number of full-time noncredit faculty in the system and the employment of full-time noncredit faculty in all noncredit programs.
- The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should promote the role that noncredit can play as a pathway to credit instruction and encourage the local articulation and linkages between credit and noncredit that creates these pathways.
- The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges should continue to advocate for increases in noncredit funding to expand support for instruction in all approved noncredit areas.
- Given the multitude of issues related to noncredit that need to be addressed, including investigation of the wide variety of issues raised in the noncredit survey conducted for this paper, the Academic Senate should establish an ad hoc committee on noncredit.
On a local level:
- Local senates should seek to better integrate the concerns and viewpoints of noncredit faculty and programs into its discussions and work through involvement of noncredit faculty in the local senate, its committees and appointments.
- Local senates should work through local planning and budget processes and hiring processes to increase the number of full-time faculty serving noncredit programs and instruction.
- Local senates should work through local planning and budget processes to ensure that augmentations in noncredit funding are used to expand support for noncredit programs and instruction at their colleges and districts.
- Local senates should work with their curriculum committees and faculty to establish much needed and beneficial articulation and linkages between their colleges' noncredit and credit programs to encourage and facilitate the movement of students from noncredit to credit.
- Local senates should work with their colleges and districts to encourage and support data collection on noncredit programs and students in order to better ascertain needs and provide documentation of the benefits of noncredit programs and instruction.