Competency-based education (CBE) is one response to the growing demand for higher education and changing demographics: 68 percent of people with high school degrees (or equivalent) enter some form of higher education immediately after high school, according to the latest data (2014) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). However, 74 percent of undergraduates are nontraditional. Furthermore, 21 percent of working age Americans have some college credit but no degree—and perhaps have incurred debt without the economic benefit of a college degree.
CBE is also one key path to bridge the gap noted by Lumina Foundation and other higher education leaders: By 2025, more than 60 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary education. Yet today, only about 40 percent of Americans have that education.
We simply can’t ‘get there’ for the U.S. population to reach 60 percent with college degrees in 10 years if we don’t attract more students and expand the variety of educational models that we offer people.
UW-Extension Provost Aaron Brower in a post in The Evolllution.
CBE increases access to higher education for people who need an education that fits around their work/family lives. CBE also acknowledges that many people have developed skills and knowledge outside of classroom settings, including through previous education and work experiences. CBE allows them to demonstrate what they already know and can do. They then can move on to develop and prove mastery of new knowledge and skills and thus progress through a program more quickly.
By speeding time to degree, CBE can reduce costs for students while maintaining high quality educational programs.
While most of the introductory courses aren’t necessarily material that is new to me, it’s still thought-provoking. I enjoyed writing assessment essays for my information ethics course. I’m really looking forward to the higher-level courses as well. Flex allows me to show what I know to move on and prove I’m ready for the next level.
CBE focuses on learning outcomes—what students know and can do with their knowledge—and that appeals to federal regulators and others interested in accountability.
CBE is not a magic cure for all that ails American higher education. However, if done well, it is a scalable model that provides opportunities for students to use prior knowledge and skills to reduce both the time and the costs of higher education.
The Christensen Institute reports on examples of institutions successfully innovating CBE models in “College Transformed: Five institutions leading the charge in innovation.”
|Lumina Foundation set Goal 2025 to increase the proportion of Americans with high quality degrees and certificates and other high quality credentials from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2025 to meet workforce needs.|