Postsecondary Competency-Based Education
Postsecondary competency-based education (CBE) is receiving considerable attention from advocates, colleges, and policymakers as a method for helping more students complete high-quality postsecondary credentials in less time and at a lower cost.
CBE provides structured learning opportunities that are designed by postsecondary institutions and lead to recognized educational credentials. They are created by backward design from a disciplinary perspective on what a credential holder should know and be able to do and are assessed authentically. Examples include Direct Assessment programs and non-Direct Assessment CBE programs. CBE has the potential to provide access to economic opportunity, through a postsecondary credential, for more learners.
Despite CBE’s growing popularity in postsecondary education, additional research still is needed to address unanswered questions and ultimately inform the actions taken by policymakers, practitioners, and students.
What We Do
Our work includes the following:
National Research Collaborative
The National Research Collaborative on Postsecondary Competency-Based Education is a community of researchers dedicated to building evidence about postsecondary competency-based education and learning.
National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education
The National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education surveys postsecondary institutions in the United States to better understand both adoption of CBE and perceptions of CBE.
CBE Student Outcomes Research and Capacity Building
AIR’s postsecondary CBE research is aimed at studying CBE’s efficacy and providing tools to program leaders and researchers to support research, evaluation, and continuous improvement efforts.
Communicating Research Findings: Making the Case for Competency-Based Education
Measuring Student Success in Postsecondary Competency-Based Education Programs: Toward a Student Outcomes Metrics Framework
On the Path to Success: Early Evidence About the Efficacy of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education Programs
Making the Case for Competency-Based Education: Early Lessons From the Field
Key Characteristics of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (CBE) Programs: A Descriptive Rubric
Using Continuous Quality Improvement in Competency-Based Education Programs: A Quick Guide for Practitioners and Program Leaders (March 2021, PDF)
CBE and Learner Self-Direction: Findings from an Exploratory Study (March 2020, PDF)
Infographic: A Snapshot of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education Students (PDF)
Improving Measures of Student Progression: Lessons for Postsecondary CBE Practitioners and Institutional Research Professionals (PDF)
Research Explainers: What Are We Learning about Postsecondary Competency-Based Education? (PDF)