Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Dr. Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza

Date of this Version


Document Type



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership & Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Deryl K. Hatch-Tocaimaza. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2020

Copyright © 2020 Ignacia Elizabeth Goicolea


Micro-credentialing has become a buzz word in professional development. This new frontier has become a national trend in many areas, from business to industry. The landscape is being defined by private vendors instead of traditional educational enterprises. Vendors are competing to define and control the micro-credentialing market and take micro-credentials beyond its current context of primarily professional development to potentially, in their vision, replace testing, credentialing, and higher education overall. With the promise of expedited completion and competency, substantially lower costs, and ease of access, micro-credentialing is becoming a threat and opportunity as a disruptive and catalytic innovation for higher education. The current landscape for micro-credentialing has limited parameters and varying quality control. In response to the demand for competency-based learning and my role as a research practitioner in the field, as the executive director for the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board, this investigation centered on researching how micro-credentials are being utilized nationwide. An action research study through a socio-technical lens was conducted. Data was collected from three prominent vendors/providers and six states depicting how they employ micro-credentialing, what type of legislation was behind them, and how they are being assessed. The outcomes were used to make recommendations to Wyoming stakeholders on a framework, rules, and pilot programs for micro-credentialing, based on how other states utilize and develop micro-credentialing. Wyoming is a unique state because, in terms of higher education, there are limited options, having only one university and seven community colleges. The small population, isolated and rural aspects of Wyoming creates an opportunity to establish micro-credentialing and evaluate what elements should be required, how they will be assessed, and awarded on an intimate level across state and educational organizations cohesively to better serve stakeholders.

Advisor: Dr. Deryl K. Hatch-Tocaimaza