National survey provides first clear look at competency-based ed
- A survey of the shared design elements and emerging practices of competency-based education programs by Public Agenda, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Lumina foundations, gives perhaps the clearest view yet of competency-based education in U.S. higher education.
- According to eCampus News, the more than 170 respondents had near universal agreement on four design elements: using clear, cross-cutting and specialized competencies, having measurable and meaningful assessments, creating proficient and prepared graduates, and being learner-centered.
- The most commonly experienced challenges of developing CBE programs include using data systems that are automated and compatible with one another, designing pricing models to be compatible with financial aid, and securing the confidence of external stakeholders in the quality of the credential.
Competency-based education programs have exploded across the higher education spectrum in just the last couple years. One major barrier is that third-party vendors have not caught up with products that colleges and universities need. Some companies have begun to assemble all-in-one packages but Aaron Brower, provost and vice chancellor at University of Wisconsin Extension, which is handling the UW system’s CBE expansion, prefers a modular approach. What is clear is that competency-based programs require a rethinking of virtually every system. The Public Agenda research brief offers guideposts for institutions as they beef up their programs and offers clues for policymakers considering how to support them.