Measuring What Matters: Competency-Based Learning Models in Higher Education

Measuring What Matters: Competency-Based Learning Models in Higher Education

Measuring What Matters: Competency-Based Learning Models in Higher Education

Measuring What Matters: Competency-Based Learning Models in Higher Education

Synopsis

Intended as a toolkit for academic administrators, facultyand researchers to deal effectively with the rapid emergence of competency-based learning models across higher education, this volume provides practical advice and proven techniques for implementing and evaluating these models. Drawing from a recent National Postsecondary Education Cooperative project that examined data and policy implications across public and private institutions as well as an industrial setting, readers will find an inventory of strong practices to utilize in evaluating competency-based initiatives. Issues discussed include practical concerns of measuring and reporting competency; the critical connections between the skills employers seek and student preparation for them; the connections between distance education, accrediation, and competencies; and the difficult procedure of setting appropriate passing standards for assessments. With a bibliography on competency literature and a framework for creating competency models, this volume is an invaluable tool to researchers and practitioners alike. This is the 110th issue of the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Institutional Research.

Excerpt

The pathways to learning no longer lead automatically to
traditional institutions of higher education. Instead they
lead most directly to learning opportunities in which
competencies are defined explicitly and delivery options
are multiple. This new paradigm will ultimately redefine
the roles of faculty, institutions, and accreditors.

We are in the early stages of a learning revolution. New learning pathways have been forged by intense competition from organizations whose sole purpose is to deliver learning (anytime and anywhere) and by rapid advances in information technology. Forged by expediency, these paths no longer lead automatically to institutions of higher education. Instead they lead most directly to learning opportunities that are intensely focused and are populated by learners and employers who are chiefly interested in the shortest route to results. In this paradigm, learning products are defined explicitly, delivery options are multiple, and a level of granularity not captured by traditional student transcripts (which display only credit hours and course titles) drives assessment. Most postsecondary institutions have been slow to accept these emerging realities, preferring instead to continue to package curricula in the standard lengths of the academic term and in traditional delivery formats. The bridge between the traditional paradigm, which depends on traditional credit hour measures of student achievement, and the learning revolution can be found in competency-based approaches. At a minimum, the shift in how potential students view their expanded learning options— especially issues connected to convenience—should cause most institutions to examine the menu of their current offerings. There is, however, often a considerable gap between intentions and actions. The difference creates an emerging field in which institutional researchers can play a major role.

The threat to traditional postsecondary institutions brought about by the movement toward competencies has not gone wholly unrecognized. The demand for certification of competencies that is not met by traditional higher educational providers defies measurement because there is no reporting . . .

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