Home Editor's Pick Competency-Based Education Might Permanently Alter Secondary and College Education
Competency-Based Education Might Permanently Alter Secondary and College Education

Competency-Based Education Might Permanently Alter Secondary and College Education

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Get more information about degree programs at American Public University.

By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS

When we think of college, we usually think of the traditional mode of education. For example, about 120 credits are needed to successfully complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree.

To achieve this degree, students take classes that are normally worth three credits over a 16-week semester. Whether you are sitting in a classroom on a physical campus or attending an online school from home, nearly every college in the country operates this way.

However, there is a flexible form of education that is gaining popularity. It’s called competency-based education (CBE). It is an approach to teaching and learning that emphasizes the mastery of core skills and knowledge, rather than concentrating on abstract concepts.

Many high school and college-level educational professionals understand student complaints about the traditional education model. Most of what students learn in college is forgotten shortly after the final exam. That is just how the human brain works.

CBE Has Several Benefits over Traditional Educational Methods

Competency-based education actually gives students the time to master skills at their own pace. In addition, this educational method aids student retention by focusing on skills and knowledge that are essential to each student’s career goals.

Many schools that are experimenting with CBE are online schools. They offer flexibility, interactive learning programs and the ability to master skills at the pace best suited to the student.

Students’ Opinions about Competency-Based Education Are Mixed

Some former college students whom I interviewed offered mixed opinions on competency-based education.

In theory, competency-based education seems like a great idea. It provides another stream of skilled professionals, can lower tuition costs (and national student loan debt) and promotes retention.

On the other hand, some of those former students were concerned that less structure would lessen students’ motivation to complete their degrees. The few schools that are currently using competency-based education promise personal mentors, innovative learning environments and/or dedicated faculty. But within academia, there is concern that students will be less inclined to complete their degree without the time-honored formal structure of education.

Where do you personally stand on this issue? Is competency-based education a model that interests you? Competency-based education could soon become common in secondary and higher education.

Get more information about degree programs at American Public University.

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