Competency-Based Education is Sweeping the Nation
As the academic landscape in the United States continues to undergo a massive shift, one important idea that has gained steam in recent years is competency-based education. It's a trend that has been taking hold in several institutions of higher learning across the country - including Western Governor's University, which is listed by Co.EXIST as being in the vanguard of implementing competency-based education - and it could provide a new model for how students experience college.
What is competency-based education?
Competency-based education, also referred to as competency-based learning or personalized learning, is a move away from the traditional accounting of college credits based on the time students spend in the classroom. Instead, it aims to award degrees based on pace of learning and measured competence, allowing students to finish their programs as quickly or as slowly as they feel comfortable.
The system has been gaining a lot of traction lately, and it received a major endorsement when the U.S. Department of Education issued a statement in support of the expansion of competency-based education in March of 2013.
The general model is that students pay a flat fee for a semester or length of time, and during that period they are afforded access to all of the materials and instruction necessary to complete a course. Whenever they feel ready, they can take a competency test. Their outcome on that test would determine their eligibility to move on in the program.
The benefits of competency-based education
Competency-based education provides a number of advantages over traditional higher learning, especially for anyone who is pursuing something like an online business degree while balancing professional and family responsibilities. That also makes realizing the benefits of an advanced degree much easier, since students won't have to take time off from work to complete their studies, which can hinder career advancement.
Other competency-based education benefits include:
- Personalized learning. Content and instruction can be tailored to each student, leading to more engagement and better student outcomes.
- Save time and money. Unlike the traditional one-size-fits-all higher education model, the flexibility of competency-based education allows schools and students to cut out extraneous time and financial costs. By creating incisive programs for each student, time and monetary costs are streamlined.
- Unique education paths. Since these programs are tailored to individual students, there is a certain amount of freedom when it comes to designing a curriculum. Many students may find that their professional lives can help them achieve many of their educational goals, using them to work toward a degree more quickly.
This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. To find out more about WGU's online degree programs, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers.