Competency based education (CBE) is a novel approach to education that permits the students to master skills and abilities at their own pace, regardless of how long it takes. It stands out from other the traditional learning styles, because instead of measuring the classroom time, it only measures learning. Therefore, while most universities and colleges consider the learning time as a constant and the learning outcome as a variable, competency based education keeps learning as a constant and lets time vary.
In such courses, students progress by demonstrating the competencies that they have mastered, required for a particular course. Competencies are the skills, knowledge and abilities that are the key to effective or high performance with regard to a particular job or field.
The students can therefore quickly skim through the material that they already know and focus on what they still need to learn, thereby accelerating their progress towards a degree. This opportunity to learn in one’s own time, helps reduce the overall cost of education and cut off any other additional tuition costs, since the credits are received as soon as one proves their mastery of a particular competency. The option to finish these programs more quickly can help save all that time that a traditional degree course with a specific set of class hours, would otherwise take.
Competency Based Education is flexible since there are no classes, no commute and no specific semester schedules. Students can take these classes online, on their convenience, when and where their schedule permits. Such a program is also personalized since one can design their own learning plan, based on their knowledge and goals. Regular mentoring, advising and feedbacks from an academic coach add the supportive factor to these programs, helping the students with their assessments and online sources.
The most important benefit is the real life experience gained through these programs. Unlike traditional courses, the students in these programs spend a lot of hours on field, which helps in the development of real world skills. These students are better equipped to take on challenges and therefore stand out in the crowd. These courses also make students job ready.
However, there are a few limitations and disadvantages of these competency based education programs. There are chances that these learning styles may not fit the preferred approach and style of many students. There are chances of an increase in procrastination amongst unmotivated students. These courses can also, in some cases, end up being more costly because of an absence of a fixed time frame. These course credits are usually not transferable. Also, it requires students to be self disciplined, self motivated and able to plan and work independently, which might not be possible for all students.
Overall, the pros of competency based education outweigh the cons. These programs provide an opportunity to several adults with some college experience but no degrees. The option to complete the course requirements at their own pace helps them balance their commitments and work towards better job opportunities and higher earning potentials.