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Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is an educational delivery model which assesses a student’s mastery of pre-defined competencies for advancement toward a credential, often at a personalized pace (C-BEN, accessed 2021). Competency-based education uses learning instead of time as the measure of student success. Inherent to this model’s use of defined learning outcomes, CBE leads to greater transparency and accountability to both students and stakeholders and can lead to more efficient student outcomes (EDUCAUSE, accessed 2021).

Although competency-based education can encompass a number of different modalities, most programs rely heavily on digital learning, especially online and blended learning (U.S. Department of Education, accessed 2021). In addition to leveraging online and blended learning, many CBE programs may also utilize adaptive learning technologies and other types of digital student supports. Competency-based education programs appeal to the many types of students, including those with some credits but no degree. Additionally, competency-based programs offer the flexibility, defined outcomes (which increase employability), and acceptance of prior learning – all of which make them attractive to this growing demographic.