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Sunday, September 06, 2015

Student Support Is a Must: Improving Competency-Based Education Through the Student Perspective

Photo: Jasmine Hicks
Photo: Justin Yeater
Jasmine Hicks, National Field Director and Justin Yeater, State Outreach Coordinator writes, "Today's student population isn't exclusively bright-eyed 18 year-olds fresh out of high school. Many students are returning to school years later. They're juggling kids, family responsibilities, multiple part- or full-time jobs, among other commitments, and so the need to accommodate this growing segment of students is very important."

Competency-based education (CBE) is an innovative model of higher education defined by the Department of Education as "transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery... regardless of time, place, or pace of learning."

Sounds pretty awesome, right? Completing a degree on your own schedule, whenever and wherever you want is a model that has the potential to change the game for a lot of students. Plus, the Harvard Business Review said CBE "is the key to filling the skills gaps in the workforce."

Recently, Young Invincibles talked to CBE students around the country about different aspects of their program -- likes, dislikes, cost, motivation, and more. Students raved about one thing: the support they receive from advisors and coaches.

That's because when all classes are online and students don't have much, if any, face-to-face interaction with instructors, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Advisors and coaches in CBE programs play an essential role for student success. One student said, "motivation is very important because you don't have a professor face-to-face. You're on your own time, independent. That's why it's so great we have the tutors here." Another student said, "We definitely need motivation. That is essential. We have an amazing team of staff members; they definitely do a good job of motivating us."

Support can look different across institutions, and include coaches, advisors, and tutors. At Match Beyond in Boston, a program that partners with Southern New Hampshire University, coaches are on site all day to help students with their projects. Students can also visit their coaches to discuss life skills. According to one student, "They like to make sure that you can do your work and succeed in the program." Another student said, "I thought college [wasn't] for me, I was going to mess it up, because I know what type of student I am. They really work with me here and it's on me." And finally, "...I like the atmosphere and staff at Match Beyond. It's better than being in a classroom and you feel like you're getting that one-on-one."
Read more... 

Related links
Defining Competency - Inside Higher Ed
Competency-based learning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: Huffington Post

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