Competency education

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College pilots competency-based education

Competency Education

Salt Lake Community College is using a $2.5 million Department of Labor grant and existing college resources to roll out a competency-based education (CBE) model within the SLCC School of Applied Technology. The goals are to develop a delivery model that addresses the unique needs of adult learners, and to offer those learners options not available in the traditional academic model. The SLCC program targets working adults who are underserved by traditional education models. Successful pieces of the pilot will be scaled to the larger SLCC community.

SLCC is using the CBE initiative to respond to the local, state and national demand for educators to find ways to increase recognition of prior learning, completion, retention and persistence of college students. The design of the model includes strategies to improve those outcomes and looks to reduce time to completion and cost of attendance.

While some components of the model are already in place, the SLCC long-term vision of CBE is to implement a robust, scalable and cross-disciplinary program that would support the expansion of CBE into more academic areas of the college. SLCC leaders believe this is a unique and innovative approach to providing solutions for adult learners and that the combination of benefits and flexibility to students will provide access and incentive for a population of adults not currently accessing higher education. 

The program will help reduce a student’s time toward completion and, as a result of an accelerated schedule, lower the cost of attending college. It is the recognition of prior learning that helps speed a student through assessment. Students will use a self-paced, self-directed type of learning that relies on technology-enhanced educational resources to help adult students realize the ability to customize their approach to learning.

Competency-based education at SLCC incorporates a flexible blended delivery system made up of online and face-to-face instruction. By the time students are finished, industry-designed transcripts will list competencies mastered – or in other words, what students can do – instead of broad concepts seen in the typical course titles listed on transcripts that potential employers are left to interpret.