What is the difference between the CB learning model and traditional classroom education?
Whether learners complete a degree program centered on the competency-based model or a traditional one, many of the results are the same. Students earn the same degree and possess many of the same skill sets and knowledge, regardless of the specific model they choose.
The difference between the competency-based model and the traditional model lies more in the journey than the destination.
In both models, students are given the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they’ve gained. This is done through assessments. In the traditional model, students can expect academic progress to be assessed at certain times within a course, on the same schedule as other students. In this model, every student in a class submits an assignment at the same time or posts to a discussion board at the same time, regardless of their individual progress. A student who understands the assessed information earlier still progresses through the content at the same pace as a student who takes a bit longer, for instance.
With faculty input, students pursuing a competency-based degree can decide when to be assessed on the competencies they’ve learned. This means a student with deep experience in the field can complete a course earlier than others who have less experience or need more time to prepare for the assessment. This may translate to faster course completion, saving students time and money.
How do competency-based programs work?
In many competency-based programs, students advance through the coursework at their own pace within the term. Instead of attending scheduled lectures, for instance, students may access the material at any time. They can shape their study time around a schedule often full of work and family obligations.
At University of Phoenix (UOPX), CB students take groups of three or four courses at their own pace over 16-week periods. With the support of a faculty member, they work through the course materials. Prior to each competency assessment, students submit a written personal reflection on their learning. After grading this reflection and offering feedback, faculty work with the student as the student prepares to complete the competency assessment.
The assessments are rigorous and can take a significant amount of time and effort to prepare for. They demonstrate competencies that are applicable in the everyday work of professionals. They can often even be used as a work product to share with a student’s current or potential employer.
Once students prove their knowledge in one competency, they can move on to the next. This allows students to work through their degree requirements at their own pace within the term.