Adult Learner-Centered and Scalable Online Competency-Based Education

Adult Learner-Centered and Scalable Online Competency-Based Education

David E. Leasure (Higher Learning Challenge LLC, USA), Daniel K. Apple (Pacific Crest, USA), Amy P. Fulton (University of Michigan, USA), and Lucas B. Kavlie (Western Governors University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5085-3.ch004
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The challenges of educating a shifting demographic for a shifting job market, with a solution that enhances educational equity and effectively develops competence, has been demonstrated by WGU's implementation of competency-based education (CBE). WGU's model is scalable and maintains affordability. The chapter presents an idealized model of CBE that extends the practice and analyzes its and WGU's contribution to equitable education, affordability, and scalability. The analysis of the model's contribution to equity highlights the importance of explicitly including identity and personal factors in assessment and evaluation. The idealized model is recommended to improve equity through encouraging self-growth, identity formation, evaluation, and assessment for improvement.
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Preparing Students for the New Economy

According to Carnevale, Jayasundera, and Gulish (2016), while employment opportunities for high-school graduates have been falling for decades, it has dropped to a new low. In 2007, workers with a high school diploma or less held 39% of the jobs in the US. In 2016, this figure dropped 5 points to 34% (p. 15). In terms of volume, the report states that, between December 2007 and January 2010, workers with high school diplomas lost 5.6 million jobs, while workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher gained 187,000. Between January 2010 and April 2016, jobs for high school graduates rebounded weakly, recovering only 80,000 of the jobs lost, while jobs for holders of a bachelor’s or higher degree grew by 8.4 million jobs (p. 2).

Beyond numbers, the gap of individually realized benefits of a college degree over a HS diploma continues to widen. According to the College Board’s Education Pays 2016 (Ma, Pender, & Welch, 2016), benefits to educated individuals include greater pay, less unemployment, better health, and more socio-economic mobility. Benefits to society include higher tax revenue, greater civic engagement, and more time spent with children. According to the report, for those who do not complete a college degree, the detriments in debt and opportunity cost are punitive.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Educational Equity: The opportunity and support to fulfill one’s educational potential regardless of prior circumstances.

Competence: An evidence based belief in a performer’s capacity to perform at or above a given competency standard within a performance domain.

SII Assessment: A type of assessment that measures the elements that contribute to a given performance and produces feedback listing strengths, improvement opportunities, and insights of the assessor. The analysis identifies opportunities that will most significantly improve quality.

Validity: The degree to which an instrument measures what it purports to measure. For example, a measure of competency is valid when it predicts effective use in workplace situations for which it was intended.

Competency: One or more standards of performance quality on tasks in a performance domain.

Performance Domain: The set of all related tasks consisting of a context, prompt, criteria, and expected prior identity, knowledge, meta-cognitive skills, and supporting competencies.

Assessment: The application of criteria to measure the quality of a performance.

Evaluation: An assessment that compares the measured quality to one or more standards to support judgement of competency or other decisions.

Reliability: The degree to which repeated measurements are similar with a given instrument. Reliability may also refer to a single assessor or multiple assessors.

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