What to consider when building a competency-based education program

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Creating competency-based education (CBE) programs can seem daunting; if the right things are not taken into consideration, results can be less than successful, or the program can take a wrong turn. More and more higher education institutions like Texas A&M-Commerce, South Texas College, and Northern Arizona University, have implemented CBE programs, and students, instructors, the institutions, and the economy are seeing the benefits. What are their secrets to success? Even though each institution is unique, below are some of the items they took into consideration. Whether you’re in the planning, growing, or optimizing stages of your CBE program, these insights could help.


Program Strategy and Planning

Assess the institution’s capability to implement a new CBE learning model including formulating a strategy, developing a program model, , and implementation planning.

Consulting Services

For an outside perspective consider bringing in a consultant to help assess the demand and market for CBE program and guide you through key decisions for your program model, including accreditation processes, evaluating direct-assessment or credit-based options, creating a financial plan, and providing faculty development and student support.


Assessment and Curriculum Development

Once the program strategy, goals  and program model are set, the next part of the  plan for is curriculum design, assessment strategies, content, and student support tools. Each will need to be aligned to the unique learning needs resources identified in your competency-based program model.

Curriculum Services

Who will create the curriculum? Will you rely upon internal teams to produce it, use open education resources, or perhaps pull together a team to partner with your institution to develop an online curriculum that meets specific needs. Another question to ask is, “Who can help you transition to an online system?”

Online Tutoring

Just as your institution provides on-campus tutoring, how will you provide this service online? Some questions to ask are: How extensive a service will be provided? Who will manage it? Since students study at all different times, and days, will you provide a service that is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?


Data-Informed Learning Design and Analytics

The use of data and analytics to guide institutions will become standard in the near future. An institution will need to consider how to build such a system or look for a partner to assist with the design and use of data to increase student engagement, drive timely and effective interventions, and support learning, retention, and completion in CBE programs.

Data and Analytics Services

Keeping students engaged is critical to program success. Items to consider to improve outcomes is the use of data to increase persistence and retention outcomes by identifying key risk areas in high-enrollment, general education courses, and at-risk students.


Learn more and/or contact a Pearson team member by visiting our CBE webpage.