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5 Components of CBE

5 Components of CBE

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will analyze CBE using iNacol's 5 Componets


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Source: Image of iNACOL logo, Fair Use,

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In this tutorial, we will examine the five components of CBE, or competency based education, in depth. We'll begin with a brief review of CBE and it's five design principles. And then we'll take a closer look at each of those five principles in turn. We'll finish up with some helpful tips. Competency based education, or CBE, was based off of a principal with a similar acronym, outcomes based education, or OBE.

The five design principles of CBE, as identified at the 2011 iNACOL summit, include number one, students advance upon mastery. Number two, explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. Number three, assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. Number four, students receive rapid differentiated support. And number five, learning outcomes emphasized include application and creation of knowledge.

Let's examine each of these principles in turn. In design principle one, it's important to understand that students advance on their learning paths only upon demonstration of mastery of the current skill. Progression along the path is not dependent on age, a date on the calendar, or even a projected timeline. Instead, a student must demonstrate proficiency with the current skill in order to move forward.

Each student is working towards meeting expectations that are appropriately challenging based on his or her own ability levels. Pacing is flexible in multiple ways. For example, if a student determines that he or she would like to spend more time investigating a topic that is of interest, that option may be provided. The role of the teacher in CBE is that of facilitator, as students are working towards mastery and proficiency.

Design principle two in CBE references the learning objectives that students are working towards. It's important to note that learning targets in CBE are communicated clearly to students. They always are aware of what skills they are supposed to be mastering, and how those skills will be assessed. The teacher is working as a facilitator or coach as students work towards these objectives.

The unit of learning is no longer a mystery object, rather it is clearly defined. Students know what they're working towards. And the learning in CBE can extend beyond the classroom. It does not have to be limited by the classroom walls or the class period. Design principle three helps us understand the idea of assessment in competency based education. Formative assessment is key in the CBE environment.

Formative assessment occurs frequently and students are provided with immediate feedback. Formative and summative assessments are provided in multiple contexts and a variety of formats. When possible, teachers collaborate to help determine students proficiency levels. The emphasis in CBE is on the learning, not on achieving certain letter grades. And summative assessments include retakes. If a student does not demonstrate proficiency on the first try, a retake is provided, possibly in a different format than that of the original assessment.

Design principle four in competency based education clarifies the need for rapid, differentiated support in the CBE environment. Providing differentiation and personalisation which may include flexible pacing, can help students to reach their learning targets on their time lines and at their ability levels. Teachers and other specialists may provide the interventions that students need to help them meet their goals. Adaptive technology may be helpful in a CBE environment to provide this rapid, differentiated support.

Finally, design principle five addresses the learning outcomes that are emphasized in a CBE environment. The competencies that students are working towards should include real life skills and academic standards, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The application of skills and content knowledge should occur both in and out of the classroom. The use of rubrics is encouraged to assess student progress. And when possible, students should have access to exemplary work samples when creating their final products.

21st century skills are emphasized in this environment, helping to bring learning beyond the walls of the classroom. Here are a few help full tips to keep in mind in your study of competency based education. Recall that the basic idea of CBE is that it provides a personalized education at the student's level, with differentiation and interventions as appropriate. Some other terms used for competency based education include proficiency based education, performance based education, standards based education, and mastery based education.

All of these principles refer to the same basic idea as outlined above. Today we briefly reviewed the concept of competency based education. And then we took an in depth look at each of its five design principles as identified at the 2011 iNACOL conference. And finally, we learned a few helpful tips, including some other names by which CBE is referred to. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation.

This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set. Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day.

Notes on "5 Components of CBE"

(00:00 - 00:19) Introduction

(00:20 - 01:06) Review of CBE

(01:07 - 02:00) Design Principle 1

(02:01 - 02:42) Design Principle 2

(02:43 - 03:31) Design Principle 3

(03:32 - 04:04) Design Principle 4

(04:05 - 04:41) Design Principle 5

(04:42 - 05:18) Helpful Tips

(05:19 - 05:38) Review

(05:39 - 05:58) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

The Learning Edge: Supporting Student Success in a Competency-Based Learning Environment 

This is a comprehensive report on CBE. Scroll to section III to understand the design principles behind establishing a CBE learning environment.

Is There Any Difference between Competency-Based Education and Mastery-Based Learning?

This is an article by Michelle Weise that compares and contrasts competency based learning and mastery based learning. The first half of this article describes the tenets and working definition of CBE. In addition, the article connects assessment in a CBE environment with Bloom's work.