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WKU joins Competency-Based Education Network

As a member of Kentucky Commonwealth College, WKU, along with the University of Louisville, will join other institutions throughout the nation to participate in the Competency-Based Education Network, or C-BEN.

C-BEN is a national consortium of colleges and universities that work together to address shared challenges to designing, developing and scaling competency-based degree programs. It’s comprised of 34 institutions and public systems representing 82 campuses.

“The members of C-BEN are dedicated to accelerating model development in ways that also help inform the field. The new members, like WKU, are high-caliber institutions, and we are looking forward to working with them,” said Alison Kadlec, Senior Vice President, Public Agenda.

WKU recently designed a new modularized competency-based distance learning model of its Advanced Manufacturing on-ground degree. The bachelor completion program will be offered through WKU On Demand, which offers students more flexibility than traditional classes. Through WKU On Demand students can start online coursework at any time, and coursework can be completed on a schedule that is convenient for them.

“This is a significant step for WKU toward expanding our distance learning programs to include competency-based education,” Associate Vice President Extended Learning & Outreach Dr. Beth Laves said. “This program of study will be especially attractive to adults looking to improve their employability.”

Dr. Laves said competency-based formats are a growing trend in higher education. The format measures learning instead of how much time students spend in the classroom. Students progress as they demonstrate specific competencies or, in other words, prove their knowledge and skills required for that course. Once students prove their competency, they can progress to the next course, regardless of the amount of time they need.

According to the U.S. Department of Education website, “This type of learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant to each student and tailored to their unique needs. It also leads to better student outcomes because the pace of learning is customized to each student.”

C-BEN is funded by Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education, and is managed by Public Agenda.

“By joining the C-BEN, we will be part of a network dedicated to expanding research and development and high-quality competency-based education to reach out to even more students,” Dr. Laves added.

For information on the competency-based Advanced Manufacturing bachelor completion program at WKU, contact Tanja Bibbs, assistant director distance learning, at bibbstn@wku.edu or call 270-745-2106.

Contact: Susan Esters, (270) 745-8922

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