Rasmussen offering resurgent competency-based education model


You’ll often hear that a college student’s most valuable resources are time and money.

Well, one area institution is offering coursework that frees up a student’s time to earn more money.

Rasmussen College, a regionally accredited private college with a campus in St. Cloud, has joined the national conversation hailing the advancement of competency-based education (CBE).

A resurgent education model, CBE features a curriculum in which the student is given everything needed to complete an entire course on the first day of class. The model has been around since the 1950s and re-emerged in 2013.

“American education might be measuring the wrong thing,” said Brooks Doherty, Rasmussen’s assistant vice president of academic innovation. “We spend so much time measuring clock time and seat time, we probably could do a better job measuring learning. A competency-based education prioritizes the demonstration of learning over time.”

CBE students at Rasmussen receive the syllabus, all reading material and the class final on the first day of class.

“Your class is still going to meet on a regular basis, but you can complete the course in three weeks if you want,” Doherty said.

Each Rasmussen CBE course is offered online, with the class broken down into six modules that each represent competency levels. A competency is a specific skill or knowledge area essential to completing a degree and finding success in a real-world setting.

Students are encouraged to “show what you know, as soon as you know it,” Doherty said. He said Rasmussen has more than 500 students enrolled in one or more CBE course, a figure that has doubled since they first offered the classes in January. He said student retention rates have also increased for those taking a CBE course.

“What we’re seeing from student focus groups is that students are taking advantage of that flexibility,” Doherty said.

Time is still a component in that the vast majority of CBE courses are 12 weeks long, and all six competencies must be demonstrated to complete the course. The school posts a calendar each week outlining the seven live classrooms that will be available for a given course, and each classroom is focused on a specific competency level. The competency level for each class is determined by faculty’s assessment of student need.

Staffing CBE courses is a bit different too, with one faculty member responsible for holding live classrooms online and working with students to answer questions, while a second faculty member is responsible for grading student assignments. The separation of those responsibilities helps create more meaningful interactions for students who are working at their own pace, Doherty said.

Rasmussen CBE courses are available both within major areas of study and for general education. Some examples of CBE courses: The Psychology of Social Media, Strategic Management, Organizational Behavior Analysis and Contemporary Leadership Challenges

“A lot of research on adult learners suggest they will accelerate when time allows them to,” Doherty said. “They procrastinate because they have busy lives, so if you have a learning model which gives them an opportunity to move fast if they know a lot from their experiences, you free them up to spend more time on their career or family.”

 

 

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