Part of Western Governors University
Partnering with business, a founding principle for WGU, holds extra significance in the wake of COVID-19’s economic disruption and uncertainty. WGU worked with business and political leaders to develop a unique educational model that combines workforce needs with student experience. We call it competency-based education (CBE). Our grads call it the best way to learn.
With CBE, students graduate based on skill rather than credit hours. This market-driven and results-oriented teaching method tailors each student’s degree path to what they know and what they need to know in the workforce. This model delivers less time to degree completion (average of 2.5 years for a bachelor’s degree), higher salaries, and less student debt. Although this approach was once considered untested, it has become the golden standard of adult learning and is widely regarded as the future of higher education.
Students make progress towards their degree by demonstrating the knowledge and skills required at each step along the way. Learning becomes the constant—and is demonstrated through mastery of learning objectives, or competencies—and time becomes the variable.
Assessments to assure students’ mastery of the competencies are aligned with relevant, industry-demanded skills and abilities. This practice ensures that WGU degrees are reliable and secure, and assists our students in the interview process by easing the separation between education and workforce experience.
A valuable aspect of the CBE model is its ability to incorporate the realities that people master subjects at different rates and bring diverse levels of prior experience and knowledge to that mastery. CBE programs allow students to progress through the curriculum at an individualized pace.
Learning resources that students use are aligned with competencies. The learning resources (developed locally, licensed from commercial vendors, or adapted from open educational resources) are high quality, accurate, engaging, at the appropriate level of difficulty, and be well matched to the learning objectives defined for the course.
The CBE model is very interactive. The program and course competencies must be aligned with employer and further education requirements to enable students to reach their individual goals. Course delivery, learner support, and assessments must be adjusted to the new model.
Competencies are the core of the CBE curriculum. CBE programs are developed with an explicit and transparent connection to the workforce. Consequentially, instruction reflects the skills and knowledge that students will need at the next stages of their development, whether it is further education or employment.