Rasmussen College's CBE Model

A quick look at Rasmussen College’s CBE model

What are the benefits of competency-based education programs?

Student feedback on the CBE experience
When Rasmussen College first launched its CBE program model in 2016, we saw the potential benefits this format could afford students, but were also aware of how important faculty preparedness would be. Now, a year later, we have the student feedback that confirms this potential and can guide future program development.

A Rasmussen College learner focus group provided feedback regarding its CBE experience. Notably, students saw great value in faculty involvements, as evidenced by the following:

• All students identified live faculty classrooms as the most valuable tool in their CBEs.
• All students were satisfied with their level of interaction, citing availability of faculty, quality of ONL+ (online courses that have a live classroom component embedded within the curriculum), and open discussion space.
• All students reported emailing, calling, or texting faculty; all generally received responses within 48 hours, and typically within 24 hours. One said, “Teachers are always available.”

An unbundled faculty model
The positive student feedback is attributed to our amazing faculty and to careful consideration of how the faculty role will actually operate day-to-day, combined with continual dialogue, feedback and implementation.

Many CBE programs, including Rasmussen College’s Flex Choice ® programs, feature what is typically called an unbundled faculty model. This means that the job of instruction and dialogue—that is, the presentation of new material and conversation surrounding it—is held by one faculty member. The job of assessing student learning and grading assignments is held by another faculty member. The reason for this model in CBE is twofold:

• Given the self-paced nature of CBE, the instructional faculty will almost certainly have more time lecturing and facilitating dialogue since students will not follow a prescribed pace. Not being responsible for grading and assessment allows more time for student interaction.
• Since assessment faculty don’t have interaction with students beyond feedback on their assignment, this reduces the possibility of personality bias and increases objectivity in grading learners’ projects.

At Rasmussen College, we began this extended dialogue with faculty two years before our CBE programs began enrolling students. To this day, we hold an open CBE faculty meeting every Monday morning to discuss CBE in an open and safe space. Attendees may include curious faculty members, veteran CBE faculty, skeptics, and administrators who are still unsure about this movement. Continuous feedback and implementation based on this feedback has been critical.

Additional resources for learning more about CBE
Now is the time to begin your own dialogue with CBE. Read Amy Laitinen’s pivotal Cracking the Credit Hour; check out any of the materials on the Competency-Based Education Network’s robust CBE bibliography. Learn more about C-BEN’s Quality Standards. Peruse the great research that is happening through the Journal of Competency-Based Education. The more we understand what CBE is trying to accomplish, the richer the dialogue to come.

CBE is intended to be a high-quality pathway to higher learning for some college students, particularly adult learners. The more we candidly discuss how quality CBE programs change learning and assessment, the better we can guide our students and respect the knowledge they bring to our classrooms.

eSchool Media Contributors