Findings from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (NSPCBE)

This report is based on data obtained from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (NSPCBE). It represents a collaborative effort between the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Eduventures®, the research division of ACT® | NRCCUA®. It includes findings based on responses by more than 500 colleges and universities—the largest institutional sample to date—about their interest in, or activity related to, competency-based education (CBE). It also compares findings to those of Eduventures’
2016 CBE study, Deconstructing CBE.

The goal of the 2018 NSPCBE is to provide a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the state of postsecondary CBE. It includes data and findings that are relevant to a range of institutional stakeholders, policymakers, researchers, and educators. It includes six key findings, based on 2018 data, and, wherever possible, comparisons to the 2016 data from prior Eduventures research. These findings include the following:

  1. Motivations for adopting CBE: Institutions see CBE as a way to serve nontraditional students and improve workforce readiness.
  2. Scope of CBE adoption: Many institutions’ adoption activities fall short of full CBE programming.
  3. Scale of enrollment in CBE programs: Most CBE programs currently serve relatively small numbers of students.
  4. Role of faculty in CBE programs: Faculty are still fulfilling a broad range of roles in active CBE programs.
  5. Barriers to CBE implementation: Perceived barriers to CBE implementation represent both internal and external factors.
  6. Future of CBE: Most institutions are optimistic about the future of CBE.
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