Four Strategic Decisions to Consider when Creating a CBE Program

African American college student in classroom

While Competency-based Education (CBE) programs are still a relatively small part of the higher education landscape, they have grown tremendously in recent years. The number of students in CBE programs has grown fourfold since 1990, and by 2020 Eduventures estimates “that as many as 750 colleges will offer CBE programs and that overall enrollments will exceed 500,000 students.” Even with this growth in interest, educators find few comprehensive resources outlining how to get there. As discussions continue, the need is growing to examine the various models, approaches, and lessons learned from the early innovators in CBE programs, and to better understand how the pieces all fit together to drive measurable change in student progress.

In our recent blog post, we introduced our CBE Playbook – a framework to help administrators conceive, plan, and implement CBE programs. In this podcast, we highlight key aspects of the playbook as well as discuss the four key decisions you will need to grapple with while planning CBE initiatives. These include program management, program design approach, financial aid and accreditation, and program and degree strategy. We also break down each decision area to explain different approaches and possible models, and help weigh the critical factors you need to consider when evaluating which methods are right for your institution.



Hear directly from institutions implementing CBE programs in our upcoming webinar, The CBE Playbook: Top Tactics and Most Overlooked Strategies, on October 8 at 2pm ET.


About the Podcast Participants

Daniel Goldsmith leads the institutional strategies team within Pearson’s Consulting Services organization. For the past ten years, he has worked with leading private- and public-sector organizations to identify new opportunities, manage critical challenges, and transform organizations. Prior to joining Pearson, Daniel worked in higher education at Eduventures, where he helped develop the firm’s educational technology practice, and at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he conducted research on strategy, management, and digital business. He has also worked outside of education at the United States Senate, in private equity, and as a management consultant for a global strategy firm. Daniel completed an MBA at the Brandeis International Business School and a BA in government from the University of Virginia, and has published over 15 peer-reviewed articles on management and quantitative methodologies.

Paul Bowers is a strategic consultant for Learning Strategies with Pearson Higher Education and has worked at the forefront of educational technology and distance learning for 32 years. Paul has served on the Board of the Instructional Management System (IMS, now IMS-Global), the Board of Advisors for the Monterey Institute NROC open courseware project, and on the Iowa Educational Telecommunications Committee. His approach to online education is informed by seminal philosophies and strategies for engaging students in rich and meaningful learning communities that produce deep learning outcomes. Paul has served in a variety of roles at public and private higher education institutions, including 22 years as a faculty member as well as serving as Director, Dean, and Vice President for online and adult learning at several institutions, including Buena Vista University, Cleveland State University, and Hiram College. Paul also has worked extensively with community colleges and universities as a consultant for educational technology in private practice.