Competency-based learning proving popular

“The Mastery view isolates specific learning outcomes or objectives in a course,” said Jared Stein, Instructure’s vice president of education and research. “It clearly highlights the students who are achieving a mastery of outcomes, as well as students who are near mastery and those folks who are at risk of failing those competencies.”

Stein said the feature, which works side-by-side with the traditional gradebook, can help instructors know when to intervene with a student’s progress.

“There’s really a growing interest in alternative forms of assessment,” he said. “Teachers have been clamoring for this kind of thing. They have big ideas for competency-based learning, but haven’t had an intuitive and easy to understand way of tracking it.”

Meanwhile, an East Carolina University researcher has also developed and licensed a competency-based assessment technology. The university granted AAL Informatics the exclusive license of the assessment technology, called XComP.

R. Todd Watkins Jr., assistant dean of dental education and informatics at the ECU School of Dental Medicine, said the assessment tool he created makes it possible for institutions to assess all outcomes from all courses mapped to specific competencies. The platform captures all the data needed for university self-study and program accreditation.

“The real value proposition is overall competence,” Watkins said. “That’s always important to remember.”

On a daily basis, XComP, a sort-of initialism for eXtensible Competencies Platform, culls thousands of detailed pieces of data from exams, skills assessments and other coursework, and displays it graphically on a grid, rendering an up-to-date picture of student performance.

The grid allows students, faculty, and administrators to immediately identify strengths, weaknesses, and curriculum deficits. The program “doesn’t care about the percentages you get,” Watkins said. “But which areas of the exam you miss.”

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