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Aurora Institute

Have You Read the Recent Journal of Competency-Based Education?

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Learn Lessons from the Field

The new issue of the Journal of Competency-Based Education focusing on CBE in institutions of higher education was released last month. There are several articles that might be of interest:

Deconstructing Competency-Based Education: An Assessment Of Institutional Activity, Goals, And Challenges In Higher Education

From the Abstract: Eduventures, an independent higher education research and advisory firm, surveyed institutional leaders and other informed stakeholders on details about the strategies and operations involving CBE at their institutions. The resulting sample includes 251 institutions from across higher education and represents one of the largest samples to date on CBE implementation.

What’s interesting in this article is that the authors introduce CBE as “a menu of tools and practices, rather than a monolithic approach or linear path.” That may be true, or that may be the lens they are using. There also may be a significant risk in only thinking about CBE as tools or practices from which you can select rather than deep models that have a different purpose, assumptions, and pedagogies. I’d read this article with a critical eye – questioning the assumptions in the survey tool and analysis. There may be very different implications in terms of how CBE is organized and knowledge is transferred.

Ensuring Faculty Success In Online Competency-Based Education Programs

From the Abstract: The growth of competency-based programs means faculty are facing new challenges that require different institutional support than traditional programs. This article identifies how faculty roles are changing and discusses specific challenges for faculty in three diverse institutions, Rasmussen College, Westminster College, and Valdosta State University.

A number of recommendations are offered, including:

  • Select faculty who are open and willing to adapt their teaching philosophies and activities, particularly with self-directed learning models in mind;
  • Rethink load models to provide more time and space for faculty to set up broad and flexible hours for student engagement;
  • Re-vision observations and evaluations for tenure and promotion to include holistic evaluations for self-directed learning in action, a recognition that CBE teaching almost always happens extemporaneously in context;
  • Work internally to change narratives about online teaching as somehow less difficult, less time-consuming, and less engaging than traditional classrooms.

There is a third article I haven’t read yet regarding the experience of Republic of Korea (South Korea) with national competency standards for chemical engineers. I’ve been hearing more and more about international efforts in competency-based education in higher education where they don’t have the Carnegie unit or credit hour strangling innovation. Stay tuned.

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