Efficient, Effective, and Ethical Practice in Lifelong Learning

Thomas N. Guinsburg

Abstract


This paper seeks to assess the interaction of--and tensions between--efficiency, effectiveness, and ethics in goal-setting for university continuing education programs. Its thesis is that efficiency, that is, a cost accountant's measure of productivity, is of limited utility unless we articulate thoughtfully and appropriately what we are trying to be efficient at. The goal of effectiveness, which measures the relationship between program results and program objectives, helps us to be wary of those "efficiencies" that subvert essential program objectives. Finally, effectiveness cannot be separated from an ethical view of lifelong learning: beneficial to society, collaborative rather than competitive, and keeping faith with our highest professional values and institutional standards. Only a raison d'ĂȘtre grounded in ethically based effectiveness can ensure the sort of future we want for university programs of lifelong learning.

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