6 revelations on faculty roles within competency-based programs

By Meris Stansbury, Managing Editor, @eSN_Meris
December 14th, 2015

New, wide-reaching report provides snapshot of faculty roles and responsibilities within higher-ed CBE programs.

CBE-programs-competencyWhen it comes to competency-based programs in today’s myriad array of higher-ed institutions, faculty spend most of their time on curriculum design, and have the most concerns about advising and mentoring.

These are just two takeaways from a recent report from the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN)—written by Project Lead and Report Author Michelle Navarre Cleary, associate professor and associate dean of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for DePaul University, and supported by Public Agenda—that, in response to the growing popularity of competency-based education, provides a snapshot the role of faculty members in CBE programs across the country.

The initial results of the survey focused on cataloging the roles and responsibilities of faculty and staff who design and deliver curricula at 30 colleges and universities and four public university systems within C-BEN. The institutions surveyed include community colleges, colleges, universities, and state systems, public, nonprofit, and for-profit schools. 143 individuals from these institutions responded to the C-BEN survey.

“In recent years, questions about the role of faculty members in CBE programs have been raised by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, regional accreditors, and in the higher education press,” writes Cleary. “With increasing scrutiny and attention being paid to CBE programs, it is vital to develop a clear picture of what faculty are and are not doing in competency-based programs.”

Initial Findings:

1.Titles: Those charged with CBE program design and delivery have a wide variety of titles, with director and professor being the most common. “This finding challenges the oft-repeated-but-unsubstantiated claim that ‘faculty has been largely eliminated in CBE programs,’” notes Cleary. However, more than half of respondents identified as either staff (24 percent) or administration (31 percent); though administrators were also sometimes defined as faculty members.

2.Careers: While most respondents (83 percent) were full-time, only 15 percent were tenured or tenure-track faculty. 17 percent reported that they worked part-time, and “only 19 percent indicated that they participated in shared governance as defined by the American Association of University Professors, a finding which supports some concerns about CBE programs lacking an independent faculty,” writes Cleary.

3.Salaries: Although 69 percent of respondents are salaried employees, others reported being compensated on an incentive-based system (4 percent), at an hourly rate (2 percent), and on a short-term (11 percent), long-term (12 percent), or consulting contract basis (2 percent).

4.Education: The majority of positions required a master’s (56 percent) or a doctorate (29 percent) degree, while 14 percent requires a bachelor’s degree, and 6 percent required additional credentials, such as a registered nurse (RN) certification.

5.Time Spent: Curricular faculty respondents spent their time on four functional categories: Curriculum (41 percent), instruction (34 percent), coaching/advising/mentoring (29 percent), and assessment (26 percent).

(Next page: CBE findings 6-10)

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