Key points to develop a successful CBE program

E-Learn Team
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A successful CBE (Competence-base Education) program1 should be able to offer students:

Highlights for a strong CBE degree program to drive proficiency2:


An assigned coach, mentor, or advisor:
This person checks in with the student while the student is enrolled and helps to guide, plan, and prioritize their academic learning process to ensure success.

Customized learning plans

The student works at his/her own pace.
A CBE program allows the student to demonstrate real world work experience.
∗ Designed programmatic, objective
Students can progress toward course objectives by demonstrating the knowledge and skills required at each step (competency) along the way.

Instructors have a lot to gain
from a well-planned CBE delivery model because it helps to free up the faculty member’s time for development of innovative curricular strategies.

A competency-based pedagogy
with a competency-based delivery model distributes the responsibilities for teaching and learning across the program instead of adding multiple responsibilities with a faculty member.

Learning becomes the constant
and time becomes the variable. Some students can progress through the course at their own pace, while other students might take more time and practice to advance.

The CBE model is very interactive
because the program and course competencies must be aligned with institutional, industry, and employer expectations and requirements to enable students to reach their individual goals.

Institutions must create a well-developed system
to help students who get stuck at one particular stage for a long time, without completing their instruction in a timely manner.

In order to be successful,
faculties and institutions have to be careful about the programs they are offering in a CBE model.  It would be easy to identify “competencies” in technical areas such as math, sciences, and physics, but more difficult for subjects like history or literature which are more subjective.

CBE in the workplace and steps businesses can take to implement CBE3

As of right now, not many employers are aware of CBE. However, a Competency-based Education can boost a student’s employability rate since the employer can know which skills and competences the student has mastered.
For CBE to achieve its full potential as a disruptive force in higher education, employers must recognize the validity of specific competencies and the value of concrete skill bundles required for a targeted job opportunity.
CBE efforts have focused more on the benefits for students and institutions and less on the perceptions of employers.
Businesses that are interested in CBE programs must better understand how employers currently approach hiring and the strengths and weaknesses of a competency-based approach.
Hiring managers who have a favorable view of the CBE model and its graduates constitute a small minority when looking at most businesses.
Once familiar with the CBE model, employers are highly enthusiastic about the model itself and its potential yielding of prospective hires.
CBE programs can continue to increase their relevance by partnering with employers (something most hiring organizations strongly desire) to determine the targeted competencies needed for specific jobs.
Today, many hiring managers are more intrigued by potential employees that can prove they are capable of doing the job.

Infographic: TRiiBU Studio


Thankaberry, A. S. February 29th, 2016. A CBE Overview: The Recent History of CBE. The Evolution. February 25th, 2017. From:

Thankaberry, A. S. February 29th, 2016. A CBE Overview: The Recent History of CBE. The Evolution. February 25th, 2017. From:

Chip Franklin, R. L. (2015, April). Employers perspectives on Competency-Based Education. Center on Higher Education Reform – American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved February 21 2017

About the Author

E-Learn Team
Openness Initiative
E-Learn is a community openness initiative started by Blackboard. It’s a partnership designed to help educators share insights, perspectives and practices for the purpose of achieving student and institutional success.
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