Why isn’t everybody building competency-based programs?

The SACSCOC Board approved the Direct Assessment Competency-Based Educational Programs Policy Statement in 2013. I’m ashamed to admit that I was in a position to collaborate with faculty to develop such a program for more than six years (before beginning this consulting adventure) and I never did. The possibilities, particularly in the workforce area, are endless. Let’s talk about what such a program might look like.

Tapping in to our imagination is the first step. Imagine a program that is not bounded by a 15 week semester. Imagine a program that is not constrained by the idea of a credit hour or a clock hour. These conventional measures work well for higher education, but not necessarily for the students we serve. Rather, achieving an academic credential in a competency-based program is about acquiring and demonstrating knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA). If you are doing student learning outcomes assessment correctly then the framework for a competency-based program already exists at your institution. Imagine a self-paced program.

Start with the end in mind and work backward. What are the most advanced KSAs a student must have to be employable in the field? What mid-range KSAs are required to support development of the advanced ones? Now the foundation, what are the foundational KSAs that a student must have to support the attainment of the more advanced ones? Structure instruction and assessment to maximize flexibility. Gamify it. Develop skills and accumulate badges and then level up! Game on.

I would enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with a college to build such a program. At Southeastern Accreditation Consultants, we’re ready to collaborate and support your accreditation and strategic planning efforts. From reviewing narratives to building your documentation, we offer individualized services to best meet your needs. Contact us to get started.

Published by Douglas A. Wymer

Throughout an academic career spanning nearly 20 years, Dr. Wymer participated in many site visits (both substantive change and reaffirmation visits) for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and he has been a visiting team member for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges with the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition to serving as a team member, Dr. Wymer has served as a visiting committee chair for SACSCOC. After earning a B.S. in Biology (with a minor in Chemistry) from what was then Shorter College, an M.S. in Entomology from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Tennessee Technological University, Dr. Wymer started a rewarding career in academia. He earned tenure and achieved the rank of Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at The University of West Alabama and served in a number of administrative roles at UWA including Department Chair and Assistant Dean. He served as a Department Head at Pensacola State College and, after a year in that position, was promoted to Dean of Baccalaureate Studies and Academic Support. In 2016 he became the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Lake-Sumter State College, where he served for four years before launching Southeastern Accreditation Consultants.

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