Learning and Its Tokens: A Fallacy and Its Danger for Advising


  • Marc Lowenstein Stockton University (retired)




token fallacy, learning, ethics in advising, credentialism, dual enrollment, college completion agenda


I introduce the “token fallacy,” which we commit when we confuse the tokens of learning, such as grades or diplomas, with learning itself and lend the former the value that should only be accorded to the latter. I argue that the token fallacy is involved in some policies, practices, and programs that are commonly found at many institutions, such as dual-credit/dual-enrollment programs and the completion agenda. I argue further that, to the extent these practices rest on the token fallacy, they have the potential to create ethical dilemmas for advisers who are obliged to participate in those practices. I briefly discuss some tools for advisers to use in identifying and navigating such dilemmas and discuss what I see as the duty of advisers, individually and collectively, to oppose the public policy decisions that are at the root of these dilemmas.


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