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CBE Part V: Student Engagement Through Assessment

December 29, 2014

Just before Christmas blogger Audrey Watters posted an essay titled “What is Competency Based Education” that defined that term as follows:

Rather than moving students together through materials for a fixed duration of a class, CBE enables students to move at their own pace through the curriculum. They are assessed along the way, and if they can demonstrate “competency” on a particular skill, they can move forward to the next. This is seen as an alternative to traditional models where students receive a grade — and credit — at the end of the course, but that grade can range from A to D, meaning that students have attained very different levels of understanding of the course materials.

I’ve used a set of questions she posed at the end of that article to write a series on the topic of CBE, which is the instructional backbone for what I call “Network Schools”. This post is part of that series.

Can students be engaged in determining “competencies”? How might CBE help give students more responsibility?

Student involvement in the determination of competencies would likely occur in the development of the screening assessments at some post-secondary institutions. For example, given their current ethos colleges like Evergreen, Hampshire, and Bard might engage their current students in such a process and some progressive employers might use recent entrants to their workplace help them devise screening assessments as well.

As noted in an earlier post, CBE schools would engage students and increase their responsibility by including them in the assessment process for determining mastery of “soft skills” and thinking skills. Just as the best employee evaluation systems incorporate peer review, CBE assessments would incorporate student reviewers on the panels that determine mastery of abstract and interpersonal competencies. This would reinforce the skills the students mastered earlier and increase their level of responsibility within the CBE school.

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