PHOENIX--Kimberly Underwood, Ph.D., MBA, chair, Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR) with the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies, joined the proceedings of the JFF Horizons conference on June 7-8, 2022, in New Orleans, LA. Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit driving transformation in the American workforce and education systems, earlier this year announced a partnership with University of Phoenix Career Institute® to support Black learners and workers in building professional social capital to advance their careers.
Competency Based Education
Competency Based Education
Competency Education is the current bandwagon of Higher Education. The structure is fairly unknown and it's an uncharted adventure for most institutions. Everyone is interested in who has a program, how they are assessing their students correctly, incorrectly, and the process of retaining and matriculating their students. While the Department of Education and learning institutions alike are concerned about affordable access to education, the academic community is also concerned with the rush to cheaper versions of education, possibly negating academic rigor and integrity of their programs. Without a rush to judgment of either side of the fence, I would like to place some facts to the audience.
Competency education is not a cookie cutter, easy-testing-and-cheaper version of education. A true competency program in higher education exhibits the same qualities as traditional higher education, including academic rigor and integration. For the naysayers who believe it’s just a cheap way of testing students and taking their financial aid, I can assure you, there is much to learn about a competency program. From my prospective in higher education, the assessments presented to students have to exceed the caliber and academic rigor of your traditional final exam. The students are not being assessed on what have learned, know or read, but what they can do in a real-world job situation. They are not applying academic theory from a text; they are applying life experience in an exam. Their life experience is not based on one professor’s tenure and experience: rather, they are based on the collective experience of business and industry leaders as well as their collective expectations of an employee on day one. Competency Education offers the employee the opportunity to show and define the achievements of what they can do, as well as what they have learned.
There is still a great need for the next generation to learn and even competency students learn and refresh material that may not be part of their purview, and, at the end of the day, the student leaves the program with the sense of accomplishment and proven skills on paper through Competency Based Education.
Dr. Jennifer Cunningham