Learning Through Experience: A New Surge in Competency-Based Education

Learning Through Experience: A New Surge in Competency-Based Education

What if students were judged more on their skills than time they spent in the classroom?

Competency-based education seeks to do just that. Although the idea has been around for several decades, new research emphasizing the importance of experiential learning in classroom-based and online courses are causing people to revisit the idea that mastering skills are more important than how long it takes to master them.

The Center for American Progress released an interesting report that explores the positive outcomes of competency-based learning. Through the profiles of several students who are earning degrees either through project-based work or learning modules, the report maintains that competency-based learning has several key takeaways, including:

  • Academic rigor
  • Skills directly transferable to the workplace
  • Ability to self-pace for busy adult multi-taskers
  • Positioning students for career advancement
  • The value of peer interactions
  • Workplace skills “counting” towards degree completion

“This can be a more efficient way for students to progress toward a degree, yet it is a very different way for higher education to operate,” the report reads. “Our national imperative of a well-prepared and educated populace prepared for the jobs of this century requires new methods of postsecondary education delivery. Competency-based education should be at the center of these innovations.”

Would you like to see more institutions offering competency-based or experiential education instead of using credit hours to track student progress? Do you think the nature of competency-based learning extends beyond the classroom? Tell us what you think.

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