Competency-based Education (CBE) programs have attracted great interest across higher education over the last decade. These learner-centered programs are designed to teach students particular competencies, and students advance through a program based on demonstrated mastery of a competency rather than on credit hours or grades.
The National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (NSPCBE) is an annual, web-based survey of postsecondary institutions in the United States, geared toward assessing the state of the CBE field, including both institutions that are interested in adopting CBE and those already on the adoption pathway.
The survey will be administered over three consecutive years (2018-2020) to provide important information about the early development of the field to policymakers and practitioners. Survey questions include:
- How many postsecondary CBE programs are there in the US?
- What different CBE program models are being used in the US?
- How many students are enrolled in CBE programs in the US?
- How many students have received a CBE credential in the US?
- What are the accelerators and barriers to adopting a CBE program?
Additional survey questions are designed to shed light on whether, how, and why institutions decide to adopt CBE; how effective they are considered to be; and how these institutions envision using them in the future.
The 2018 NSPCBE includes responses from over 500 colleges and universities, making it the most comprehensive and detailed survey of the CBE field to date.
The survey was co-led by AIR and Eduventures®, the research division of ACT™ | NRCCUA™.
- Motivations for adoption: Institutions see CBE as a way to serve nontraditional students and improve workforce readiness.
- Scope of adoption: Many institutions’ adoption activities fall short of full CBE programming.
- Scale of enrollment: Most CBE programs currently serve relatively small numbers of students.
- Faculty role: Faculty are still fulfilling a broad range of roles in active CBE programs.
- Barriers to implementation: Perceived barriers to CBE implementation represent both internal and external factors.
- Future of CBE: Most institutions are optimistic about the future of CBE.
The report on the survey explores critical questions and recommendations for program leaders, institutional leaders, and policy makers who are interested in CBE programs. Future editions of this survey, currently planned for 2019 and 2020, will continue to track these questions and the evolution of CBE programs in higher education.