If you fall into the 64% of institutions that are in the planning phase of their competency-based education (CBE) program, you need to read this post, that covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about CBE.
When we ran our first Ask the CBE Experts webinar, we quickly realized you had tons of questions about how to get started with CBE. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire webinar to covering your most pressing questions about the competency-based learning model.
Here’s a sneak peek into what you’ll get in the session. We’ve asked our resident CBE expert Mike Moore to answer a few questions we’ve received.
What are some strategies for helping faculty understand the importance of first mapping out learning objectives to courses, activities, and to evidence of achievement – before sitting down with the technology?
Moore: The ‘heavy lift’ in implementing learning outcomes into a course is two-fold. First, you have to identify the outcomes to be assessed and second, you need to identify the assessments to evaluate the students’ learning.
The identification of outcomes involves figuring out how higher level competencies from a program or degree relate to the material that’s covered within the course. This process is the ‘mapping’ of learning outcomes. From an instructional design perspective, this mapping provides guidance on what kind of material should be taught in the course.
But all of these decisions can be made completely outside of the learning platform. I’d suggest going through this mapping exercise on paper or creating a spreadsheet first. Then you can enter the data into the technology. This also provides a forum for faculty groups and program coordinators to discuss the coverage of content and alignment of materials and assessments, before the ‘building’ phase starts.
How do you move CBE up the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy? In other words, how do I sell CBE to the tenure-track professors who believe it’s not possible to implement CBE in their own ephemeral and specialized field (i.e. global finance, strategy, etc.)?
Moore: It depends on what your goals are for using a CBE approach. Not all CBE concepts work well for every scenario. Not all assessment types are well supported in higher level courses or in assessing higher level cognitive skills (i.e. courses that require higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy).
The CBE model will work well if the goal is to provide self-pacing of content for students. In this case, the level of reasoning and analytical skill required by the student does not affect the student course flow experience. However if the goal of CBE is to provide automated evaluation of student work (e.g. automated grading of quizzes), then I would suggest an alternative assessment method be used for higher level courses, and be moderated or evaluated by a faculty member.
Automated grading works well with lower level Bloom’s concepts, where multiple choice, true/false and fill-in-the-blank question types are appropriate. However for courses that require a higher level of cognitive skills (such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation), other assessment types become more appropriate (i.e. written essays, case study analyses, and observational grading). The challenge in these situations becomes more about how to manage a class list of students at different points in the course, taking different evaluations, at different times. Here you can use your CBE solution to deliver automated and personalized communication tools, augmented assistance, and possibly adaptive learning.
What is the role of the instructional designer in a CBE program?
Moore: Instructional design is a very important component of an effective CBE Program. Quite often, the existing course material was not originally developed for a CBE framework, which means the curriculum may need to be re-aligned to learning outcomes. When you develop material for a CBE course, start with identifying the learning outcomes first, and then align appropriate assessment activities to those outcomes. From there you can identify supporting resources to help students achieve the outcomes, and demonstrate mastery of those outcomes through the assessment.
This could also mean existing assessment activities might need to be re-evaluated. For instance, you may need to create new rubrics and use them as an evaluation tool. Be sure to also carefully identify the student experience. Ask yourself: Is the content engaging? Will this content hold the student’s attention, in a self-paced course? Will the student know how to navigate through the course and the activities on their own? Are there gating activities or content topics which need to control release conditions for further assessments? Think about adding automated communication tools to existing courses to help guide the student and facilitate a self-paced learning experience.
Finally, I suggest instructional designers provide a solid quality assurance process for course construction. This can help you evaluate the efficacy of activities and content, as well as facilitating a continuous improvement process for course development.
Did you find your answers? Do you have more questions? You’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask any question you want when you register for our webinar, featuring our top three experts on CBE.