Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What would an on-campus, competency based class look like?

The rumblings of competency based credit is out there and seeming to grow. Think Western Governor's University. The problem with WGU is that it's pretty much on the basis of self-motivation. I hear there's a really poor completion rate (unconfirmed).

What if you paid for a "class" or better, a certification, by the week? If you achieved the competency of the class in a week, maybe because of your prior learning or experience, you got the credit in a week. If it took 6 weeks, you paid for 6 weeks. If it took a year... But you would do it in an onsite class environment, with people around you to motivate and a professor who would approach a mentor/tutor...

Just a thought as I listen to our VPAA at IWU, Don Sprowl, talk about assessment and changing times...


Burton said...

This is what I was referring to in my tweet the other day.

WGU is doing some of it, but USNH is really beginning to gain momentum. Take a look at the new revisions to Khan Academy get a glimpse of the future of assessment. Face to face education will likely change in ways that support assessment of competency, but f2f will still exist because formation takes time.

Competency assessment is in the early stages now, but once the sciences join mathematics and CS, momentum will build. We are nearing the end of the early adopters phase and getting close to the broad buy-in phase.

What would competency look like in a Seminary? What role does experience and group dynamic play in building competency? Formation takes time, but time does not guarantee formation. How can you assess formation and honor time?

To partially answer your question, it would look different for some, perhaps fewer hours of lecture. Many students will still prefer passive lecture listening to more engaged learning, there is great comfort in the familiar. If you require competency to get credit, the grading scale would go away. P/F would be sufficient.

Businesses and other institutions are growing weary of employees with degrees who still cannot write and/or balance a ledger. It is far too easy to skip class and still get a passing grade at many (most?) universities. C does not equal competency, though it will still get you a degree.

The biggest change might come in how students purchase their learning. Would they pay for their degree up-front and then complete it when they decide it is valuable to do so? Might it be pay as you go? How about a value added payment schedule offered over the lifetime of the student?

Ken Schenck said...

I can't see the seminary doing this, but it would be easy to design an MA in Biblical Studies on a competency model. I could do it in a couple hours. There would be a list of competencies ranging from Greek to Hebrew to knowledge of the history of interpretation to interpretive method. When you entered the program, you would be assessed and assigned a mentor. When you had demonstrated mastery of all the competencies, we would grant you the MA. I'd love to do one of these in philosophy myself. If you want, I'll design an MA in philosophy for NNU and then be your first student. :-)

Paul Tillman said...

Maybe I'm old school, but I can't see awarding an MA for competency, or even a BA. To me, certification is what is awarded for competency.

Ken Schenck said...

We'll see what will happen. This is the current way the wind seems to be blowing, credit for competency rather than for time experienced.