Marian University Professor and Competency-Based Education (CBE) expert Polly Manske recently presented at the Fast Track to Success Conference in Austin, emphasizing the fundamental building blocks needed to create successful CBE programs.
CBE programs award students credit for demonstrating mastery of a topic, giving students credit for what they have learned through experience and allowing them to move through a program faster.
Marian University puts CBE into action with its MPath Flexible Program in degree programs such as the Master of Arts in Education (With License) Area of Focus – Special Education and the Master of Arts in Education (With License) Area of Focus – Teacher Education.
Manske, who teaches in both graduate programs, chose to focus on CBE because it leads academic institutions “to embrace more student-focused, outcomes-based approaches to teaching and learning.”
The Fast Track to Success Conference provides a forum for educators from institutions around the country to share strategies, outlooks, data, and lessons learned in the development and implementation of CBE and other innovative education models.
The conference is hosted by the Competency-Based Education Consortium (CBEC), which is a partnership of Texas institutions of higher education that share best practices in CBE formats.
At the 2019 conference, Manske delivered a presentation called “Curriculum Planning: Creating the ‘Good Bones’ of a Viable CBE Program.”
Manske said in creating online CBE programs, academic leaders discover that “perspective around curriculum development for both new programming and conversions of existing programs is critical to successful planning and implementation of CBE models in higher education.”
A key component of online courses is to provide students the opportunity to have meaningful and consistent interactions with professors and fellow students, Manske said, adding that this is a key to improving student learning and outcomes, as well as increasing overall student satisfaction.
Creating a Sound CBE Framework
Manske said that creating a framework for CBE courses requires:
- Multiple opportunities for student participation
- Focus on content mastery
- Ongoing feedback and support
- Real-world application of learning
- Necessary faculty
- Professional learning
- Fidelity of implementation
Manske said, “such integral planning creates the ‘good bones’ of a viable CBE program.”
Marian University is considered a leader in this area because of its MPath Flexible Program. One of the many advantages of MPath is its 12 starts dates a year for online courses. Students have more than 30 classes to choose from every four weeks. The online learning platform was designed with adult learners in mind.
MPath offers adult learners a personalized learning system that gives each student a clear path to follow to attain their degree. As noted by Manske, it’s a “student-centered approach” that actively works to make the college education experience better for professional, independent learners.