University of Phoenix Discusses the Significance of Competency-Based Education

University of Phoenix: Offers over 100 degree programs that can help prepare its students for more than 300 professional occupations. Popular areas of

Our experiences can teach us as equally as, and sometimes more than, our formal educators. Wouldn’t it be nice if colleges and universities considered professional experiences as reflecting what we have learned?

Thanks to competency-based education (CBE), your demonstrated mastery of a subject area, acquired through experience, might bring you closer to completing a formal education program than you have ever imagined possible.

What exactly does competency-based education mean?

With competency-based education, instead of having all learners progress through a program the same way, learners who can demonstrate mastery of certain skills or topics can more quickly advance to and spend more time on new topics, subjects, or courses. The idea is that if these learners already know, understand, and have mastered certain topics or skills, they should not be held back by the structure of their program and should be allowed to quickly move forward with learning new material.

According to the latest national postsecondary competency-based education survey conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), there were over 1,000 CBE programs at about 130 different US institutions during the last three years. Also, 80% of the colleges and universities surveyed said that they expected the number of competency-based programs in the United States to increase over the next five years. According to senior AIR researchers, this is because many institutions believe that CBE can help them overcome many of their critical higher education challenges such as better access, equity, quality, and completion while lowering costs.

The challenge, however, is that developing effective business plans, deploying performant systems, finding the right price points for offerings, and working out federal student aid and other relevant regulatory issues relevant to CBE make CBE adoption harder for many institutions than it otherwise would be. High start-up costs and higher-priority initiatives can also prevent the rollout of CBE programs that would otherwise benefit experienced adult learners enrolled in on-campus and online programs across the country.

Is a CBE program the right choice for you?

CBE programs empower adult learners to return to the classroom because they encourage non-traditional students with core skills to earn an education that speaks to their background. Doris Savron, the vice provost of colleges at University of Phoenix, also advocated for the value of CBE programs for non-traditional adult learners. Savron believed that competency-based education “allows students to set the pace for how they want to progress through the material and assessments based on using [the] knowledge they already have to demonstrate mastery in a competency area. Students have flexibility as to when they do the work, which allows them to adjust for their life circumstances and schedules.”

Adult learners often return to the classroom with an entirely different set of considerations than traditional college students. They are more likely to balance earning an education with a full-time job, family dependents and other pre-existing obligations that a traditional student may not have. As a result, adult learners typically have more barriers to earning an education. For that reason, Savron concluded that adult learners do not “want to waste time or money doing work where they already have abilities” in the area that they may want to study in college.

CBE reminds students, especially adult learners, of the possibilities of earning an education on their chosen terms. According to Savron, a competency-based education “allows for learning that is personalized to the student, enabling them to move more quickly in content areas where they may already have competencies and can demonstrate” them in a certificate or a degree program. With space to sit in the driver’s seat of their own education, CBE students can leverage program flexibility “to spend more time in areas they need to upskill,” which may not be possible in a traditional education model with standardized exams.

CBE can do more for adult learners than save them time and money. CBE can help students earn their degrees faster than a traditional program. This can empower students to refine in-demand job skills in their field of interest more efficiently than a traditional education program.

CBE programs intentionally teach their students about high-demand skills in their career area of interest. Instructors assess their students by measuring whether they master the program’s core competencies, which are taught through a project-based approach. Learning these skills through a hands-on manner first and then translating them to an assessment encourages students to pass their coursework and master their skills to get ahead in their careers. And because the programs foster a mentor-mentee relationship between students and instructors, students receive more personalized attention and advice.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix offers over 100 degree programs that can help prepare its students for more than 300 professional occupations. Popular areas of study include business, healthcare, nursing, cybersecurity and education.

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