<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=341153139571737&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
CAEL Pathways Blog

Q&A With CAEL Staff: Becky Klein-Collins

As vice president of research and impact, Becky Klein-Collins leads CAEL's analysis of issues and trends critical to adult learner success in education, training, and career pathways. Her work has been foundational in building CAEL’s reputation as a national resource in advancing credit for prior learning/prior learning assessment (CPL/PLA). Her other research and public policy activities have focused on competency-based education, student veterans, mature workers, and system-transforming practices in workforce development. Klein-Collins regularly speaks to national audiences on topics related to adult learners, and she is the author of numerous articles and policy position papers for CAEL.



What's your favorite example of CAELs impact?
I've been at CAEL since the 1990s, so my perspective on CAEL's impact goes deep. If you look back in time to what CAEL has done on behalf of adult learners — doing the work to understand who adult learners are and what they need, educating others on adult learners, advocating best practices in postsecondary and workforce, testing new models and approaches — all of that is now becoming much more widespread. Maybe not yet mainstream, but it’s no longer niche or obscure. We are no longer the only ones in the room talking about adult learners. People know what credit for prior learning is. Institutions understand that they have to operate differently so that adult learners can enroll, progress and succeed. These days, I regularly see states launching adult “comeback” programs, or other national organizations including CPL in their policy recommendations, or policy makers advancing (and sometimes passing!) legislation designed to integrate CPL opportunities into career pathways. I also see new initiatives and strategies designed to leverage employer tuition assistance and make it more effective and impactful for learners and employers alike. I see CAEL’s legacy and impact in all of those things, and I’m very proud that I’ve been a part of this movement. 

In terms of CAEL’s more recent history, there are so many things I could mention — our fantastic membership team that is creating new ways for members to learn from and engage with each other. Our work with states on developing systemwide approaches to CPL. Our work with communities on career pathways system-building. I’m especially excited about our new CPL Equity Awards that recognize the great work that institutions are doing to put CPL in reach of all learners — they read our research and sprang into action to close equity gaps! There’s nothing better that knowing that we are playing a part to make change happen. 

If there's one piece of advice you could give adult learners and one piece of advice you could give to institutions/organizations committed to better serving them, what would it be?
To adult learners I would say that colleges and universities are not all the same. Some are  not set up for adult learners like you — the way they structure their programs can make it really challenging for you to fit learning into your schedule. But you can’t assume that every college or university will be like that. There are so many great institutions out there that are committed to make learning work for people who are juggling multiple responsibilities or have otherwise busy lives. Find them, and you can achieve your goals.  

What is the last book/movie you read/watched?
I spent a good chunk of early 2024 making my way through Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life. Eig had access to the latest FBI files that were released on King, so while part of the book explores King’s evolution as a civil rights leader and his gradual acceptance of taking on that incredible responsibility, another part reveals the FBI’s intrusive monitoring of his every private interaction (ostensibly because they were worried that he was being influenced by communists). One of my big takeaways from the book was that Coretta Scott King was amazing in her own right. I knew she was a devoted spouse and mother, but I had not known about her educational journey, her own professional aspirations, and her civil rights bona fides, which were far deeper than MLK’s when they first met. It’s a very long book but the narrative style makes it an engaging read. And it just won the Pulitzer!! Congrats, Jon Eig!

Subscribe by email