Key question 2: “To what problem will CBE provide a solution?” Here you also should identify funding sources and regulatory requirements, as well as create a timeline for program development and implementation, identifying key stakeholders for each milestone, which leads to:

Collaboration & Creation: Effective collaboration is vital to successful innovation; early on you should build a team of collaborators and stakeholders, involving faculty, key staff (e.g. financial aid, institutional effectiveness), and industry leaders from the start, as well as cultivating buy-in from upper-level administrators. With these stakeholders, begin to build the competencies at the heart of the program.

Key question 3: “What jobs do we expect our students to get? What skills are required for those jobs?” From the answers to these questions, reverse engineer the competencies. Then develop learning outcomes and assessments—carefully designed assessments are perhaps the most crucial element of a high quality CBE program.

Key question 4: “When students finish a course, what should they know and what should they be able to do? How do we assess mastery of that knowledge and those skills, and what should those assessments look like?” At this point a number of key decisions must be made, from creating and/or identifying learning materials to support the outcomes; to staffing models (to aggregate or disaggregate: that is the question!); to such processes as Prior Learning Assessment; transcription; awarding of financial aid; and delivery of modules, competencies, and courses.

Evaluation & Implementation: Again, plans to establish methods for learner feedback, programmatic evaluation, and processes for continuous improvement should be discussed from the outset.

Key question 5: “Who will be responsible for overseeing these processes?”

Finally, act: hire faculty and staff, conduct orientations, admit students, and launch the program! Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments.

We at the ICBE are more than willing to assist if we can. A copy of the complete CBE Program Development Framework is available here.  Good luck!

About the Author:

Judith Sebesta serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Competency-Based Education. Previously she worked in a variety of positions at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and was a professor at such institutions as the University of Missouri and University of Arizona. Judith holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Her Twitter handle is @JudithSebesta.


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