Competency-based education (CBE) is focused on getting people proficient faster. More importantly CBE is a clear description of what a person can do and to what level. CBE is the common language that training, and education, should be using aligning with their internal, and external, business & industry partners.
And this conversation is vital especially for the academic community. A recent report, Education to employment: Designing a system that works, identified that 72% education providers believe their graduates are ready for work while “fewer than half of youth and employers … believe that new graduates are adequately prepared for entry-level positions”. The same report notes that “One-third of employers say they never communicate with education providers; of those that do, fewer than half say it proved effective.” Maybe it was not effective because education has been preoccupied with grades and not on performance – they are not talking the same language
What does a “C” in English really mean? That you can spell accurately 70% of the time? Use grammar correctly the same? Or that you were able to sit in a class for the specified amount of time and pass most of the tests administered? Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning.
CBE provides a common language for education and business to use, it is focused on ensuring the individual can synthesize the content and is able to demonstrate competency with different materials and individual skills. We are talking higher order thinking skills (HOTS) that employers expect from all employees and with CBE the individual is able to describe the skills they are able to demonstrate. For the instructional designer this also keeps the focus on developing content based on the assessment strategies focused on demonstration so designed to ensure the individual will be able to use those HOTS to prove competence. Evaluation is used not to determine a grade or indicate passing or failing, but to ensure performance success and determine where, and to what level, additional remediation may be needed.
Competencies are not confined to charts, graphs, and data. A history student may be required to demonstrate competency in analyzing a political speech. A student taking an art course could be required to demonstrate the ability to analyze and evaluate a sculpture using a rubric and assessing the environmental impact on the viewer. A business student may review an advertisement by identifying the target market, the strong and weak points of the ad, and by what delivery channels would be most effective to reach the desired demographic.
CBE can create a clear pathway to a degree or certificate with well-defined performance expectations and with a robust and rigorous assessment strategy employers will have greater clarity on what the individual knows and can do. I leave you with a short (3 min) video that shows one CBE program in place and how it could make a difference to you and the learning community you serve.
Where do you see CBE impacting you and/or workforce? How can CBE help business engage and develop their workforce using education? How would you begin the conversation? I look forward to your thoughts as we travel down this learning pathway!