Competency-Based Education


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There has recently been a significant buzz in the US regarding so-called "Competency-Based Education" (CBE) and the rise of CBE based universities such as Western Governors University in Utah that do not have classes, lectures, due dates, or homework as it is commonly known, but only exams and projects. Students take as much time as they need to complete projects/essays/papers and can retake tests and fix and resubmit essays that they failed. The point is that every student is expected to achieve mastery over the subject matter, however long that might take.

Other terms for the same concept are "Mastery-Based Education" and "Outcome-Based Education".

CBE actually strikes me as a return to a more traditional European model of education where students may choose how and where to study as long as they can pass the applicable standardized examinations for the qualifications that they want (diplomas, degrees, etc.). British A-level qualifications appear to largely follow this model - An A-level in Maths is an A-level in Maths, regardless of whether it was studied at a a prestigious ancient Public School of England or at the Last-Chance School for Drunken Delinquents with Severe Behavioral Problems - Secured Lockdown Wing.

CBE is also receiving a lot of praise as a potential solution to the problem here of people taking out loans to be re-taught things that they already know or could have mastered on their own much more cheaply because someone else (e.g. an employer, professional regulatory agency, etc.) will only accept a traditional educational credential.

Do you think CBE is a good idea or a bad idea? Have you had any experiences with it? Would you say that CBE is, in fact, more traditionally European, or do you think it is a recent innovation?

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