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Reflection: The Connection Between CBE and Preparation for College and Career

Reflection: The Connection Between CBE and Preparation for College and Career

Author: Kathleen Johnson

In this lesson, you will consider how competency-based education helps prepare students for college and career. You will reflect on how you implement CBE in the classroom and ways that you can enhance your CBE skills.

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Source: Digital Access Key Image; Morgue File;

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Today, we are going to be doing some reflecting on the connection between CBE and preparation for college and career readiness. And for today's lesson, I've chosen a quote by Confucius which states, "By three methods we may learn wisdom, the first by reflection, which is the noblest." Now, by the end of the lesson today, you are going to be able to review and reflect on the approach of Competency-Based Education, or CBE, on preparing students for college and career, assessing that college and career readiness.

First, what I'd like to do is I want to take you back through and review the CBE design principles as they relate to college and career readiness. So within the 21st century, these employers, especially 21st century employers in that career setting, are really looking for a mastery of technical and foundational skills.

Here we're talking about critical thinking, about the ability to work in a team, the ability to problem-solve within the work environment. And many of K-12 schools are really helping to prepare students through competency-based education developed by iNacol to help prepare them within those technical skills as well as the foundational skills, allowing them the opportunity to develop and practice those skills within a classroom setting.

So when we talk about the various CBE design principles, those that help really support college and career readiness, we're looking at, first, that students are advancing upon mastery, second, the competencies that are included within a lesson are explicit and measurable for students, and that they can really transfer the learning that they've done in other courses into the learning that they're doing now, and the learning they're doing now into what they do in the future to really help empower the student.

Third, we're looking at the idea that assessment is really meaningful and that assessment becomes not necessarily a stressful situation, but really a positive learning experience for the students, fourth, that students who are having trouble are receiving that timely differentiated support so that students who are having difficulty learning are able to get that support based on their individual learning needs, and then, finally, that the learning outcomes that are incorporated into CBE lessons are really emphasizing the competencies and the outcomes are really based on the competencies that we've established.

So students are able to not only apply what they've learned, but they're also to really look at that idea of the creation of knowledge and why they are learning what they're learning, as well as developing those important skills and dispositions or mindsets.

The first process when we reflect is really to identify the strengths and weaknesses with in our own teaching as it is aligned to those design principles. Next, when we find any weaknesses, we are going to make sure that we can address them, so address the weakness, identify what that weakness is, and what you're going to do to help fix that weakness or alter that weakness.

You're going to create a timeline for the way in which you are going to address that weakness. You're going to plan out the resources that you're going to need to be able to move forward, and then you're going to make sure that you have found a way to monitor that progress.

So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to model for you reflecting on those five CBE design principles using my own teaching as an example. So the first principle is that students are advancing upon mastery. Here, I can identify one aspect of my teaching that aligns with this that is an absolute strength, which is that I ensure that students have the opportunity to assess themselves as we are working through a particular unit in multiple different ways.

And then once students are able to show me that they are ready to master that particular content, I offer them the ability to take that summative assessment when they choose that they are ready, knowing that they are going to have to eventually reach out in the end.

So for example, if we're talking about a speech, students can choose the day on which they give that speech. And we have a window of time before students are docked any points for being late. So once they are done with that individual speech, they can then move right on and start working on the next speech that they need to deliver in class. So that's kind of some strengths where I'm able to see students advancing upon demonstrating that mastery.

The next major design principle is that the competencies are both clear and measurable. So when we're talking about that 10th grade speech class that I used for my first example, every time a student is set up to give a speech, so much of that speech is based on their own information that they're going to bring to it. But every speech has clearly laid out for them, not only what I'm expecting of them when it comes to the content of the speech and how that aligns to the various standards that were established for 10th grade learners that align to our speech course and are being used by a literature or reading course.

But I have also clearly outlined very measurable goals that I'm looking to see in terms of their delivery of those speeches. So students have that provided before they even start developing their speech so that they are clear on what it is that they need to do.

Additionally, those elements that we've aligned out for how students are going to present themselves, the speaking skills that we have, and the self-confidence skills that we're incorporating, students have those, and they see that they are the same from each individual speech. So the feedback that they get on the first speech helps them to improve their ability to perform on the next speech.

This helps to fit right into number three, making assessment meaningful for the students. Students are getting up and acting it out. I'm not testing them on what good speakers look like on paper. I am asking them to get up and show that to me. This helps to make that assessment really meaningful for the students. And being able to consistently follow the same expectations, throughout the entire course of our class over the course of the trimester, that assessment becomes a more positive learning experience for the students because then they can take their feedback and quickly apply it.

The fourth area of the CBE design principles is that students are receiving timely differentiated support. This would be one area where I could assess a weakness, something that I would like to work on. I think that within a class of what can be upwards of 36 students, it's difficult for me to get that differentiated support to each individual student.

And so what I would like to do is, I think that, if I were to go back and address that weakness, I would say that I might break down all of those speaking elements that I am assessing them on. And then, after one speech, I can pull students based on those who have areas of need in their standing up straight and having a solid stance as opposed to those who are having trouble using ums and ahs within their speeches so that I can differentiate my teaching even within a very large classroom.

The resources that I'm going to need are just time. So I'm going to have to make sure that I can plan that into my lesson. And the way that I am going to track or monitor my progress towards that is I'm going to set little check-in points were I can say, did I meet these students? And then, let's take a look and see how they do on their next speech. Are those students showing improvement in the areas that I've identified as areas of need?

The final CBE design principle states that learning outcomes should emphasize the competencies so that students are able to apply what they're learning and develop those skills and dispositions, and that is 100% the case. I think they have a very big strength in my speaking class with this because we not only offer students the opportunity to stand up five times over the course of a trimester and deliver a speech.

But then students are also offered the opportunity to take their speaking and apply it outside of the classroom to establish opportunities for them where they can take something that they're speaking on that they feel passionate about and deliver that speech to other people within the community so that perhaps, not only are they getting the opportunity to actually get up and speak in public in a very real either collegiate or career-type assessment, but they are also able to hopefully affect change based on what it is that they are speaking about.

So that right there, I've modeled for you the way in which I've taken those design principles and reflected on the way in which I am helping students prepare for their college and their career through my individual class.

Now that we've reached the end of this lesson, you have been able to review and reflect on the approach of competency-based education on preparing students for college and their career. You've watched me reflect upon my own teaching. Now I want you to take just a moment for reflection. As you look back over those five design principles, what do you think would be the most difficult part of reflecting on those five CBE design principles based on your own individual teaching?

Now that you have finished this lesson, it is your turn to take what you've applied here further. As you begin to do that, you will find the additional resources section incredibly helpful for you. The additional resources section is designed around the content that you have learned in this lesson with helpful links that will take you for ways to help you apply your newly acquired skills.

Notes on "Reflection: The Connection Between CBE and Preparation for College and Career"

(00:00-00:18) Intro

(00:19-00:33) Objectives

(00:34-02:54) Overview of CBE Design Principles

(02:55-03:36) Reflection Process

(03:37-09:03) Model Reflection on CBE Design Principles

(09:04-09:56) Review & Reflection

Additional Resources

Montgomery County Public Schools: Quality Tools for the Classroom

Scroll down to click on templates for action planning that can be used with the whole class or with individual students. These templates are helpful for goal setting and monitoring progress toward increasing achievement and goal attainment.