Competency Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) has become a focus in higher learning. The idea behind this concept is that students learn at their own pace. Unlike regular programs, students move on as they are ready. They are not held back by due dates and time restraints. This means that busy adult learners can work in their spare time or experienced students breeze through beginner’s courses. CBE has found its home in the online learning community, but it isn’t best for everyone. Before committing to a CBE program, you must decide if it is right for your students and instructors. Consider the following pros and cons of competency-based education programs:

The Pros of Competency-Based Education for Students

CBE is best for adult learners who seek e-Learning solutions after being out of the classroom for many years. These adult learners have on-the-job experiences that are valuable in CBE programs. This allows students with existing knowledge to move forward and save time and money. Similarly, those students with few workforce readiness skills can take their time to understand new information. The biggest benefit of CBE learning for this type of student is the freedom. They can study and complete work on their own time, after children are in bed or after work.

The Cons of Competency-Based Education for Students

Despite the benefits, competency-based education models are not a good idea for every student. In order to work, the student must be a self-starter. Those who struggle to focus will have the most trouble with a CBE program. This is because there are no regular deadlines to keep them focused and on track. As a result, they lose interest and fall behind. Those with no prior higher education experience may also prefer working with classmates.

The Pros of Competency-Based Education for Instructors

When a CBE program is in place, there is a change in the role of the instructor. Instructors in this type of program act as a guide to eager students. They don’t have to send reminders of due dates or pressure students to finish their work. Instructors have more one-on-one time to engage with students and do not have stacks of papers to grade at once.

The Cons of Competency-Based Education for Instructors

In typical programs, students work in groups. In doing this, they learn from one another and can answer each other’s questions. With competency-based education programs, instructors are the go-to contact. This may mean that instructors answer the same questions several times. Their online course development must also take into account that students may move through the course at different speeds.

While there is a balance of pros and cons with CBE, there are other factors to consider. First, competency-based education may be hard to apply to certain fields. Programs where students must discuss abstract ideas and thoughts, such as in psychology or art for instance, are not ideal. These programs fare better in skill-based institutions, although minor changes can be made to suit a number of fields. Overall, each institution must adjust competency-based education policies to fit with its own unique mission.

Sources:

https://www.ed.gov/oii-news/competency-based-learning-or-personalized-learning

https://library.educause.edu/topics/teaching-and-learning/competency-based-education-cbe