An outcome-based approach to earning a college degree or credential. Competencies are statements of what students can do as a result of their learning – Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions.
How ready is your institution for CBE? The following eight criteria should be reviewed including institutional readiness, definition of your specific approach to CBE, academic strategy, financial aid, the role of the faculty and administration, changes in rules regarding admissions and requirements, how to integrate CBE with your learning management systems, and finally how to approach accreditation and measure student success.
The HLC defines Competency-Based Education (CBE) as “an outcomes-based approach to earning a college degree or other credential. Competencies are statements of what students can do as a result of their learning at an institution of higher education. … The curriculum is structured around these specified competencies, and satisfactory academic progress is expressed as the attainment or mastery of the identified competencies.” This definition emanated from the June 2, 2015 adoption of Common Framework for Defining and Approving Competency-Based Education Programs by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC). CBE embraces three paths to instruction: a credit-based approach measuring progress through credit or clock hours; a direct assessment approach measuring progress on the demonstration of competencies; and a hybrid approach measuring progress with both credit or clock hours gained and assessment of competencies.
Competency-based education has been offered in a small number of colleges and universities since the 1970s. Recent growth has been spurred by endorsement from the federal government to allow financial aid for students in these non-traditional programs. Nine actions administrators should take in creating these programs include developing meaningful and measurable competencies, linking competencies to assessments, making the program self-paced, structuring courses to make them transferable, recognizing that the program needs radical changes in curriculum, establishing avenues to measure student success, mentoring to keep students on track for success, recruiting faculty dedicated to this CBE, and working closely with management and student information providers.
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) works to enhance learning opportunities for adults. CAEL states “We have always believed in the power of what students know and can do, even if that learning occurs outside of a classroom.” The Council endorses CBE as it offers flexibility to students in getting credit for what they know allowing them to augment their knowledge by focusing on their competencies that correlate with employer needs. They eschew student achievement based on time spent in the classroom (credit hours) and endorse college credit based on verifiable expression of skills acquired. Their services help faculty and staff evaluate institutional readiness for CBE, faculty awareness and preparation for CBE, and CBE program implementation and quality assurance. They provide a CBE Readiness Quiz for institutions considering CBE implementation