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.