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Competency-based Education: Um, What’s That?!

3/04/2013 2:42 pm

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At WGU, we pride ourselves on being a competency-based university.

Students praise the way focusing on clear competencies allows them to learn what they need to know to become highly sought-after employees, without wasting time on what they already know. Alumni and employers point to competency-based education as the reason WGU graduates are so well-poised to succeed.

But “competency-based learning” is a term that encompasses a lot of things—and different people emphasize different components of competency-based education when talking about what makes WGU special.

You should read our official explanation of what competency-based education is. But you should also hear what it means to the people learning under this unique model. We asked WGU’s Facebook fans, “What does ‘competency’ mean to you, and why does it matter?” Here’s a selection of what some of them had to say.

Azim: “Spend more time learning, less time going over things you know.”

Jennifer: “It’s nice knowing I passed a course because I actually knew what I was doing and knew it well. I have friends who graduated [from other universities] with D’s and they are teaching today. That really bothers me.”

Mary: “I’m proving what I know, not memorizing facts and figures that I’ll never use again.”

Kevin: “I have had many people tell me to learn the tricks of a trade. At WGU we learn the trade, not just the tricks!”

Jessica: “To me, competency is knowing your stuff and being able to demonstrate it.”

Trina: “Competency implies understanding—the ability to put what you’ve learned into action!”

Anita: “For me it means not spending time or money taking classes on things I already know. I’m able to spend quality time learning concepts I need in order to be a great teacher.”

Martha: “It means that I got a degree based on my ability, not time served.”

Kristi: “Competency means doing what is required to learn the material, not just ‘read and test.’”

Ruth: “Competency-based learning through Western Governors University means that no one slips through the cracks on any given subject.”

Brett: “It means proving you know the subject matter and being able to proceed at your own pace. Bored and frustration are greatly reduced!”

Jesica Ann: “I look at it as putting my money where my mouth is. I am getting an HR degree that requires I pass a SHRM exam to graduate. I am being measured to an industry standard of knowledge and ability, not just a school-created one.”

George: “Competency-based is really PROOF-based learning.”

So what does “competency” mean to you? Let us know in the comments section!

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