competencyworks higher education blog

What’s New in Competency-Based Higher Education?

May 2, 2018 by


  • This article explores how Southern Connecticut State University uses data to improve student outcomes.
  • This article explores integrating records of skills-based assessments into digital portfolios as a means to transforming the hiring process and ultimately replacing the resume.
  • Southern New Hampshire University has collaborated with The Shapiro Foundation and TheDream.US to offer 1,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students full scholarships to pursue their associate or bachelor’s degrees.
  • The Texas Public Policy Foundation, along with Goldman Insights, released a study, which explores ways competency-based higher education programs could be cheaper and just as effective as traditional higher education programs.


CBExchange 2018 Registration is OPEN!

April 2, 2018 by

Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Wikimedia Commons

This is from the Competency-Based Education Network announcing their next CBExchange for leaders in higher education interested in competency education:

Early Bird registration for this fall’s CBExchange convening is now open. This event will take place at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts in Orlando, Florida, beginning at 5:00 p.m. on September 25 through September 27, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind event, limited to individuals employed by U.S. or international higher education institutions, K-12 institutions, federal or state governments, associations, and nonprofits. Only representatives from corporations who are C-BEN members or sponsors/exhibitors for CBExchange may register to attend.

The early bird registration rate of $650 is available until June 30, 2018. After this time, the registration will be $850. Registration without late fee ends on August 24. C-BEN members receive a $200 discount off the existing registration rate. If you are not a C-BEN member and would be interested in learning more, please contact me. You can always join C-BEN or renew your membership at the same time you register for the conference, and this option will be offered during the checkout process.

CBExchange Call for Proposals Being Accepted Now

We invite you to consider submitting a presentation proposal! Proposals will be accepted through Friday, April 13. Presenters will be announced by Friday, May 4. Submit your proposal here. (more…)

Grades, College Admission, and Competency-Based Education

March 2, 2018 by

There’s a great quick read in the February AASA School Administrator on standards-based grading and the college admissions process. Four university college admissions staff were interviewed in Getting a Fair Shot about their thoughts about standards-based grading.

Here are some of my big (and small) takeaways: (more…)

Congress Should Prioritize Innovation in Higher Ed. Here are Three Ways it Can.

February 1, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at the Christensen Institute on January 23, 2018.

Washington D.C. is slowly turning its attention to higher education. In December, on a party-line vote, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce released the PROSPER Act, a bill to update the Higher Education Act for the first time since 2008.

The Higher Education Act (HEA), first passed in 1965, outlines federal higher education policy, including federal financial aid eligibility, teacher preparation programs, and how the federal government holds colleges accountable. It has also historically been a barrier to innovation in higher education, something that the authors of the PROSPER Act are determined to remedy. (more…)

Competency-Based Education: Understanding the CBE Student’s Experience

January 29, 2018 by

Jill Loveless

When was the last time a student said this about the learning experience? “I do it all at once and immerse myself in the material. Having it available gives me the opportunity to do the immersion type learning. For competency classes, there is more exposure. Writing code on a board and writing notes is not the best way to learn writing code.” Or when was the last time students claimed that the learning experience gave “a greater sense of agency over my learning”? These are just a few of the ways students described the competency-based learning experience at two community colleges.

There are approximately 600 institutions of higher education either developing CBE programs or offering them. Ryan claims that “to create this student-centric environment CBE programs need to look at the student experience holistically.” However, many of these institutions need to reallocate limited funds to implement CBE programs that require a new set of design principles based upon theory more than actual outcomes. CBE course designers have recommended coaches, mentors, CBE advisors, as well as faculty, be included in the course delivery. In spite of the growth of CBE, very little research that focuses specifically on the students’ experiences in this nontraditional design from the students’ perspectives has been published.

Beginning in 2016, I began to explore the question, What is the community college student’s experience in competency-based education courses or programs? To answer this, sub-questions to understand the student experience included: (more…)

Minerva: The Intentional University

January 23, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on January 5, 2017.

As a venture-based Silicon Valley startup, Minerva has developed slowly over the last seven years. As a new form of higher education, progress from concept to enrollment was lightning fast.

In the narrowest sense, Minerva is great new leadership development option for the world’s smartest young people. More broadly, it is a reconceptualization of the ends and means of higher education.

The blueprint is detailed in a new book, Building the Intentional University: Minerva and the Future of Higher Education edited by Chief Academic Officer Stephen M. Kosslyn and CEO Ben Nelson and with a foreword by Senator Bob Kerrey. (more…)

What Are Your Institution’s Needs for an Enterprise Technology System?

January 22, 2018 by

Information management systems are vitally important to developing and sustaining competency-based systems in both K-12 and higher education. Bravo to Polk State College for lifting the discussion with a survey that describes the needs across institutions of higher education rather than having each college and university spend the time in negotiations with vendors. Here is the information from Polk about the survey so you can share your institution’s requirements:

As the landscape of competency based education (CBE) and learner personalization continues to emerge, there has been much discussion about enterprise systems and the technology integrations that support automation and scalability of these emergent programs. Polk State College is engaging in a design partnership with a vendor to create a system that is configurable to align to the majority of variables that currently exist in your programs. In order to accommodate the realities of the programs that you are developing or currently delivering, we ask for valuable expertise and perspectives by February 12, 2018. Click here to begin the survey. While a few of the questions may be duplicative of the other surveys that have been circulated, the majority of this content is specifically aligned to the variables in your CBE programs that would need to be integrated into an enterprise technology system.

Therefore, the survey incorporates questions that ask about flexibility with configuration opportunities within each element areas listed below:

  1. credit based versus module or competency based
  2. term versus non-term or date based and related registration policies
  3. level of credential transcription by course or competency completion; in other words, the official presentation of the CBE learning on a transcript and/or supplemental transcript
  4. system recognition of academic transaction event based on the individual student rather than the course/class
  5. Grading policies and repeat policies
  6. Faculty/staffing model to academic assignments in unique ways, and tuition per unit or subscription.

This survey does NOT attempt to gather information about enterprise system needs in regard to prior learning assessment or adaptive technologies; however, if you feel that we did not capture something that is pertinent to your institution, please email us with additional feedback and information. (more…)

A Paradigm is a World of Circumscribed Tools, Rules, and Problems

January 17, 2018 by

The task of this blog series, laid out in the first entry, is to analyze the struggles for educational change in a broader context of a revolutionary paradigm shift. This historic disruption of the old education paradigm is not like pulling a light switch. It is happening on many fronts in the education world. In this blog series, smaller events will be analyzed with the intention of ultimately being able to “connect the dots” of all these changes as part of the larger revolution in learning systems. In this blog, the impact of unstated and subconscious assumptions on this process is discussed.

To really understand the impact of these innovations we must identify the logical thought structures we have learned in the old paradigm that are no longer valid in the new paradigm. These deeply seated, old thought structures can cloud our ability to clearly see how the innovation will work in an era with new rules of engagement. In an iterative process, though considering new ideas in relation to old ideas we can grow to understand the actual impact of adopting new ideas.

So much of how we view education is internal and part of our belief system about how humans and the world behave. Just as the change from a geocentric to heliocentric world on the surface appeared to just be science, at its root were many more subconscious or not so subconscious beliefs as evidenced by the church initially weighing in against the new heliocentric view of the solar system. In education, there are many beliefs about how people learn and personal and emotional experiences with learning that inform people’s ideas and how they feel about the learning process. In any conversation about education, assumptions guide each person’s conversations, but the person is not aware of many of those assumptions. It might be similar to an iceberg, 10 percent of the iceberg is above water and 90 percent is below. The same may be true with education conversations. Yet, that 90% that is subconscious informs the position a person holds about education even if s/he is not aware of those beliefs.

Most often when education conversations become emotionally charged or disconnected, is when the participants believe they are talking about one thing but actually have at the core, much deeper issues driving the conversation. Because those underlying issues are not exposed, coming to an understanding or place to move forward is difficult or impossible. To move through this education revolution to a successful realignment will take hard work on all participants’ part to continually identify the hidden assumptions about education they hold that will color the solution processes in which they are engaged. Oftentimes solutions are shot down because the logic of the old system is being used to analyze the new solution. (more…)

We Are in the Midst of a Historic Paradigm Shift in Education

January 16, 2018 by

Craig Schieber

Why is it that the state of education today is so driven by discord and disagreement about how we should be educating our children? The discord is seen in the news, government, and at local PTA meetings. The often heated arguments are characterized by a wide variety of complaints and myriads of solutions. The educational positions range from wanting to go back to a day when the educational process was simpler to advocating for technology driven classrooms. There are those who argue for increased funding for public schools clashing with those wishing to eliminate public schools altogether. Given these topics it is no wonder the conversations become so heated and then shut down. Given these realities, is there some way we can find to start having open, generative, and productive conversations about the problems in our education system?

As with any difficult conversation, we can begin by listening effectively to each other. But other strategies for effective problem solving would be helpful. I am suggesting that putting these discussions into a larger context can add that additional support in freeing up conversations about how we view learning and learning systems. In this case, the larger context is understanding that we are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in education; a shift on the scale of questioning foundations of education that are several centuries old. The changes parallel evolving technological eras. Here are just a few of the kinds of changes we are witnessing in this era of networked technology.

(Graphic by Justin McKean Paradigm Shift: Learner-Centered Paradigm & Networked Age –

In Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he discussed the process in which change occurs in the scientific world. Popularizing the term, “paradigm”, Kuhn forwarded a process of change that is set in motion when anomalies in scientific research build to a point when there are too many conflicting results in scientific experiments that are not explained by the current paradigm or theory of action. At that point a revolution, of sorts, occurs and a new paradigm is adopted by the scientific community. (more…)

Upcoming Webinars on CBE in Higher Education

December 15, 2017 by

The Institute for Competency-Based Education at A&M Commerce will be sponsoring the Spring Webinar Series again this year.

Competency-Based Education: Power in the Numbers

Jan 31, 2018 at 2:00 PM CST

Carlos Rivers, Operations Research Analyst, Texas A&M University Commerce
Shonda Gibson, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness; SACSCOC Accreditation Liaison, Texas A&M University-Commerce

This presentation will demonstrate a Data Dashboard created for the state of Texas first public, regionally accredited (SACSCOC) competency-based baccalaureate degree. The Institute for Competency-Based Education, housed at A&M-Commerce, has tracked program data and built key performance indicators for the program since its inception, so that it may serve as the beginning of a common conceptual framework. Session participants will engage in some investigation, looking for patterns and trends that grant glimpses of insight and assist in building value around the data. Coupling the data with narrative creates the opportunity for extended value by aiding in creation of powerful stories with the potential to influence stakeholder buy-in and drive innovative change.

To register for this webinar, click here. 

Measuring Student Success in CBE Programs: Progression Metrics in CBE

February 21, 2018, 2:00-3:00 PM CT

Kelle Parsons, Researcher, American Institutes for Research
Todd Nobles, Research Assistant, American Institutes for Research
Cameron Smither, Research Associate, American Institutes for Research

To register for this webinar click here.

CBE Course Demonstration

March 7, 2018, 2:00-3:00 PM CT

Dr. Amardeep Kahlon, Director, Fast Track to Success & Professor, Computer Science/Computer Information Systems, Austin Community College

To register for this webinar click here.

Expanding a Statewide Initiative: The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program

March 28, 2018, 2:00-3:00 PM CT  (more…)

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera