Students and employers are demanding career readiness from higher education. Competency-Based Education (CBE) is an approach to curriculum development that fosters the mastery of applicable career skills, critical thinking, and flexibility for working students.
The Babb Group’s COO Sheila Fry says, “Competency in education is the key that unlocks the door to limitless possibilities, empowering individuals to navigate the complexities of life with confidence. It is the bridge that connects learning to meaningful impact, driving progress and shaping a brighter future for all.”
Ultimately, CBE prepares students with the skills they need to succeed in the real world.
What is Competency-Based Education?
Students are motivated to complete each competency thanks to clear learning outcomes and assessments designed to demonstrate mastery. This style of instructional design keeps students engaged and constantly working on career skills.
The Benefits of Competency-Based Education
The advantages of competency-based education benefit students and educational institutions. As college administrators and professors, understanding these advantages can help you make informed decisions about implementing CBE.
Personalized Learning: CBE enables tailored learning experiences to each student’s strengths and weaknesses. With this approach, students can spend less time on competencies they have already mastered and more time on challenging or new topics, ensuring a comprehensive grasp of the subject matter.
Measurable Learning Outcomes: Competencies are clearly defined, measurable, and aligned to workforce needs. This data-driven approach helps identify areas of improvement and facilitates targeted interventions for struggling students.
Workforce Alignment: CBE equips students with practical skills and knowledge directly applicable to their careers. This alignment ensures graduates are better prepared to meet industry demands and contribute meaningfully to the workforce.
Fry also notes, “At this turning point in higher education, competency-based learning becomes a beacon of relevance and adaptability, equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in an ever-evolving world. Embracing competency education paves the way for personalized growth, fostering a generation of graduates prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow with unwavering expertise and ingenuity.”
The Role of Instructional Design in Creating Competency-Based Education
Competency-based education programs require skilled instructional designers to craft engaging and compelling learning experiences. Let’s explore the key steps they undertake in this transformative process:
Competency Mapping: Instructional designers begin by collaborating with subject matter experts and faculty to identify the core competencies that students need to acquire to achieve success – both inside and outside of the classroom. These competencies align with the institution’s learning objectives and reflect industry needs.
Designing Learning Outcomes: Clear and measurable learning outcomes are defined for each competency. These outcomes guide the instructional design process and serve as benchmarks for student assessment.
Assessment Strategies: Assessments are carefully designed to evaluate students’ understanding and application of competencies and learning outcomes. This may involve performance-based assessments, project work, practical exams, or real-world applications such as labs, reports, observations, and strategic plans.
Developing Learning Resources: Instructional designers curate or create diverse and accessible learning resources such as presentations, interactive modules, videos, simulations, quizzes, and real-world case studies. These resources cater to different learning styles and support students in completing assessments.
Data Analysis: Throughout the learning process, faculty and the institution can analyze data to monitor student performance, identify trends, and assess the effectiveness of the CBE program. This data-driven approach facilitates continuous improvement.
Competency-based education has the potential to shape the future of education and prepare students for success. By adopting this transformative approach, colleges can successfully respond to the demand from students and employers for career-readiness skills.
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