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Designing Curriculum Using CBE

Designing Curriculum Using CBE

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, students analyze how to use the 5 design principles of CBE on curriculum development.

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In this tutorial, you'll learn how to integrate the five design principles of CBE into your curriculum development. Let's begin with a review of iNACOL's five design principles of CBE. Recall that iNACOL is the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. iNACOL is a nonprofit research organization that focuses on equity, access, and quality in technology-rich learning environments. At a 2011 conference, iNACOL developed this set of five design principles that educators can refer to when they are planning using competency-based instruction.

Principle number 1, students advance upon demonstrated mastery. Principle number 2, explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. Principle 3, assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. Principle 4, students receive rapid, differentiated support. And principal 5, learning outcomes emphasized include application and creation of knowledge.

These principles can be used as a sort of checklist that you can keep in mind before, during, and after the development of each unit or lesson in order to ensure that you are aligning your lesson or unit to Competency-Based Education. The overarching goal is to provide students with opportunities to master the skills and knowledge necessary in order to be global competitors in a 21st century environment, both in college and in their careers.

So let's take a closer look at each of these design principles in turn. Design principle number 1, students advance upon demonstrated mastery. In Competency-Based Education, students do not advance based on age or based on completion of a unit. Instead, students must demonstrate mastery of the current skill before moving on to the next skill. It's important, then, that work is appropriately challenging for students and that students are assessed based on their performance.

Pacing in a CBE environment may be flexible. Some students will finish more quickly or more slowly than other students. And the role of the teacher in this environment is to be a facilitator as students are working towards demonstrating proficiency and mastery of each skill. A great way to incorporate design principle number 1 is to use assistive technology or an online learning platform. In this type of environment, each student can move at his or her own pace through the curriculum at a pace that is appropriate for the individual.

Design principle 2 states that explicit and measurable learning objectives empower students. In a CBE environment, students are aware of the learning targets that they're working towards. And they also understand how their progress will be measured.

Once again, this means that the role of the teacher is a coach or facilitator. But it also means that learning is not only limited to the classroom walls. Students can work towards their learning goals outside of the classroom walls and outside of the regularly scheduled class period. As the unit of learning becomes defined and students are always aware of their current goals, you can implement this principle in your classroom by making sure that learning objectives are always available to students by either displaying them in the classroom or, perhaps, making them available in your online learning platform.

Design principle 3, assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. Formative assessment plays a huge role in Competency-Based Education. It's important that students receive timely feedback so that they can take ownership of their learning and their own specific data. This also helps them know what they need to do in order to adjust their own learning to increase their achievement.

Teachers can collaborate with one another to determine students' proficiency levels. It's important to assess concepts and skills using multiple contexts and multiple methods. And the emphasis should always be on learning, not on letter grades. Summative assessments can and should be used, but occasionally, at the appropriate time and adapted, if necessary, to student needs.

A great way to incorporate design principle 3 into your classroom is to increase your use of formative assessment. Make sure that students see the value of these assessments and that they receive immediate feedback in order to help them monitor their own learning and adjust their strategies as appropriate.

Design principle 4 says that students should receive rapid, differentiated support. Adaptive technology may be used in order to enhance the differentiation and personalization in the classroom. Opportunities may be provided for flexible pacing. This may be one way in which students receive differentiated support. Both teachers and specialists can provide interventions as needed.

One way to incorporate design principle 4 into your classroom is to explore the possible use of adaptive learning technology. Recall that this kind of technology responds to student mastery of concepts. And so it's helpful not only in providing rapid, differentiated support that is called for in this design principle, but it also helps in the overall implementation of CBE in the classroom. It may be worthwhile to see what options are available to you.

Design principle 5, learning outcomes emphasized include application and creation of knowledge. In CBE, learning is applied in real-world settings. The competencies involved in these applications include both academic standards and skills. The learning objectives, then, include mastery and application of these skills and of this knowledge.

Assessment rubrics will help you to measure what students must know or be able to do in order to progress. And it can be helpful to provide exemplars of student work so that students can refer to these as models while they work. Emphasize 21st century learning skills. And if possible, provide opportunities for students to apply their learning outside of the classroom.

To apply this design principle in your classroom, look for community partnership opportunities. And brainstorm ways in which students can use 21st century skills, especially technology skills, to share their knowledge and expertise with the community.

Here are some helpful tips. Competency-Based Education may also be referred to as proficiency-based, performance-based, standards-based, or mastery-based. Regardless of the terminology you use, each student in a CBE classroom receives a personalized educational experience that is tailored to the individual student's level of readiness and includes support such as differentiation and interventions as appropriate or as needed.

In this tutorial, we reviewed iNACOL's five design principles for Competency-Based Education, and we took a closer look at each of these principles in turn. So here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Do you currently implement any of the design principles as you are designing your curriculum and instruction? Can you see how thoughtful consideration of each of these principles can help you to design instruction that meets your students' needs?

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for joining me today. Have a great day.

Notes on "Designing Curriculum Using CBE"

(00:00 - 01:38) Review iNacol's Principles of CBE

(01:39 - 02:35) Design Principle #1

(02:36 - 03:26) Design Principle #2

(03:27 - 04:36) Design Principle #3

(04:37 - 05:25) Design Principle #4

(05:26 - 06:24) Design Principle #5

(06:25 - 06:54) Tips

(06:55 - 07:04) Review

(07:05 - 07:39) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Developing A Competency Based Curriculum

This site includes training resources for West Virginia University's faculty on how to develop a competency based curriculum using a multi-stage process. Although this training is for the health sciences, it provides a clear model that can be generalized for any curriculum area.

Mastery Learning: How to use proficiencies in the classroom

This presentation is in the form of Cornell Two Column Notes and provides an overview of mastery and proficiency based learning. In addition, there are sample proficiency based questions and problems to help you develop a deeper understanding of using proficiencies in the classroom.