Documenting the Aims of Higher Education in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University Of Wisconsin–Madison
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This report presents a community-based participatory action research project conducted by a group of University of Wisconsin–Madison undergraduate students to document how Wisconsin residents view the aims of higher education in the state. While questions regarding the purposes of higher education have long been debated, recent reforms in Wisconsin regarding higher education funding, governance, and objectives have brought new attention to these issues. The aims most commonly discussed included economic development and employment, civic and community engagement, social mobility, personal growth and enrichment, and critical thinking and interpersonal skills. Additionally, participants discussed concerns regarding obstacles that impede access to and achievement in higher education, such as affordability and institutional supports. The study indicates that Wisconsin residents do not want higher education to be focused on a single aim. Rather, it demonstrates the need to value the multiple aims higher education serves and support higher education students.