Competency-Based Education and Higher Learning: The Key to Staying Competitive

Provided by Purdue University Global

As more working adults seek to stay ahead of the curve in their professions and advance their careers, it becomes clear that acquiring a high-quality education not only provides financial security, but also a competitive edge in the global market.

Many people throughout the country understand the significance of a college education and its capability to provide better job opportunities. According to a report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education about 84 percent of those Americans surveyed believe that a higher education is extremely (37 percent) or very (47 percent) important to get ahead in life. Among them, 66 percent of those who didn’t go to college say they wished they had and 62 percent feel that going to college would have improved their present standard of living significantly.

Traditional Trends vs. Alternative Online Methods of Higher Education
The higher-education landscape has evolved tremendously over the years, specifically due to the prevalence of online learning. It’s no surprise that this flexible online learning structure has gained such momentum, with the number of students taking online courses growing to 5.8 million nationally. In fact, Kathleen S. Ives, chief executive officer and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium, states that “the trend of increasing distance education enrollments in the face of declining overall higher education enrollments suggests an important shift in the American higher education landscape, with contemporary learners leaning in to online options.”

Trends in Competency-Based Education for Online Learning
Aside from the flexibility of online learning, the advent of competency-based education has revolutionized how adult students learn. With a competency-based education approach, students earn a degree based on their ability to master a skill. Though very different from conventional learning, this specific method is designed to accelerate student success based on existing knowledge and clearly focused goals.

The benefits of competency-based education include:
 Skills-based learning—Students embark on a discipline-specific and professional curriculum that links to advantageous career outcomes.*
 Self-paced—Students can control the pace of their learning without feeling confined by a set learning process.
 Flexibility—Students have a flexible learning option void of any rigid schedules.
 Affordability—Although costs may vary by institution, online competency-based education may be less expensive than traditional institutions, due to decreased operating costs.
 Direct pathway to expertise—Students acquire real-world skills in their chosen field, leading them toward becoming knowledgeable experts.

Further, the U.S. Department of Education found that transitioning away from seat time in favor of a structure that creates flexibility allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning.

One particular university—Purdue University Global—has found a way to successfully master this technique. As an innovator of next-generation learning, Purdue Global developed a unique formula that allows adult students to achieve a high-quality education while effectively applying a competency-based education strategy. With the development of the ExcelTrack™ competency-based learning path, students at Purdue Global have an opportunity to explore personalized learning that gives them more flexibility to speed past curriculum that they already know and spend time on information they need to learn. In fact, a myriad of educational institutions has begun to understand the value of competency-based learning.

*Purdue Global cannot ensure employment or career advancement. Learn more about competency-based learning at Purdue Global.