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Learning by Doing: Developing High-Quality CBE Course Materials

 

Are you thinking about bringing competency-based education (CBE) to your institution? You are not alone.

A 2016 survey conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges found that approximately two-thirds of community colleges and baccalaureate (liberal arts) colleges are in the planning or start-up phases of CBE.

While many institutions support CBE programs, they also have concerns about the quality of the learning experience. A common question for academic leaders is, “How can we ensure that our program delivers a quality learning experience that enables learners to achieve the expected competency?”

Learners enroll in a CBE program because they expect the learning experience to provide them with the skills or knowledge they need to succeed. Effective learning materials aligned with well-defined course competencies are critical to their success.

Before developing learning materials, the development team should map out program-level and course-specific competencies. Once mapped, it is important to evaluate those competencies against quality expectations.

The Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) recently released a set of principles and standards for developing quality CBE programs. The CBEN concluded that a quality CBE program must be designed and implemented around eight foundational requirements, including competency requirements.

The CBEN report noted that well-defined competencies include the following characteristics:
Mastery. Competencies reflect the level of mastery necessary to demonstrate the expected level of knowledge or performance.
Measurability. Competencies define measurable outcomes or performance standards using clear and direct language.
Relevancy. Competencies require that learners demonstrate skills and knowledge relevant to work, licensing, professional, or other performance expectations.
Accuracy. Competencies accurately reflect performance requirements associated with workplace and professional standards of performance.

Another way to enhance quality in competency-based learning is to include micro-credentialing opportunities in the learning experience. Micro-credentialing recognizes students’ successful completion of competency-based tasks.

Including micro-credentialing opportunities allows the institution to monitor knowledge acquisition in competency-based courses and helps maintain student engagement. Micro-credentialing also adds value to the learning experience by recognizing competencies prior to a degree or certificate being issued.

It is important that instructional designers and subject matter experts work closely during CBE planning. Their collaboration leads to improved definitions of competency and high-quality course materials.

Coming soon…Part 2 in this series describes how offering a variety of learning activities improves the effectiveness of CBE course materials.

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