Provides an implementation analysis of curriculum development, student support, and employer engagement under the Adapting and Adopting Competency-Based IT Instruction to Accelerate Learning for TAA-Eligible, Veterans, and Other Adult Learners program led by Sinclair Community College (SCC) in four information technology programs.
“In October 2012…DOL awarded a $12 million grant to a consortium led by SCC in Dayton, Ohio, to fund a three-year project titled ‘Adapting and Adopting Competency-Based IT Instruction to Accelerate Learning for TAA-Eligible, Veterans, and Other Adult Learners.’ Under the grant, lead college SCC and co-grantees Broward College (BC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Austin Community College (ACC) in Austin, Texas, are implementing programs in which they are “adapting and adopting” the Western Governors University (WGU) model of competency-based education (CBE) in four information technology (IT) programs: programming at ACC, technical support at BC, and networking and software development at SCC” (p.1).

The report discusses the development and implementation of the competency-based education models at the three community colleges in the consortium using qualitative data collected from site visits in the spring of 2015. “Data collected on site included individual and group interviews with 62 respondents across the three partner colleges. Second, site visit data were supplemented by review of key program documents from across the colleges including, for example, program descriptions, curricular materials, and presentations on topics related to curriculum development, student support processes, and employer engagement activities. Finally, the study team analyzed administrative data from the consortium’s implementation database and the colleges’ student information systems” (p.5).

The report includes a conceptual framework with a cross-cutting analysis of program implementation at the partner colleges, with each chapter addressing one component of the conceptual framework: curriculum development and delivery…learner supports…industry and workforce engagement…and internal and external contextual influences on program implementation…Chapter VII describes the colleges’ plans for sustaining, replicating, and scaling their CBE programs as they approach the end of the TAACCCT grant period. Chapter VIII concludes by summarizing the colleges’ progress to date…it also highlights key lessons learned from their CBE program implementation experience” (p.5-6).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Implementation of Competency- Based Education in Community Colleges: Findings from the Evaluation of a TAACCCT Grant.

Major Findings & Recommendations

Below summarizes the key challenges and lessons learned within the competency-based education model across the consortium: Curriculum Delivery: • “Standardized course formats decrease students’ learning curve” (p.20). • “Standards for instructor response times help students progress” (p.20). • “De-emphasized student discussion forums align with flex-pacing” (p.20). Learner Supports: • “Identifying and recruiting TAA-eligible workers is difficult” (p.32). • “Finding students who are a good fit for CBE requires careful strategies. A key challenge to the intake and enrollment process is ensuring that the colleges are enrolling students who are a good fit for the requirements of their CBE programs” (p.32). • “Coaches and faculty must work together to fully support students” (p.33). • “Supporting student access to financial aid and other benefits sometimes requires flexible solutions” (p.33). • “Student experience with learner supports varies within and across colleges” (p.33). Industry and Workforce Relationships: • “Engaging employers at the right level is challenging. A common challenge to developing employer partnerships cited across the colleges was finding the right individual within a company to engage with, and structuring the engagement so it is worthwhile to all parties involved” (p.37). • “Proximity to workforce agencies may support coordination” (p.38). Contextual Influences on CBE Program Implementation: • ”Programs can be launched without all appropriate organizational structures in place. Across the three colleges, respondents emphasized that CBE is an evolutionary process and that interested colleges should not worry about getting every piece of the process in place before attempting to implement it” (p.43). • “The colleges avoided challenges related to state and federal laws or regulations by structuring their CBE programs to be course-based” (p.45). Sustaining, Replicating, and Scaling the Programs: • “Finding the right program leadership is key to creating and sustaining an effective CBE program” (p.47). • “Learner supports may not be sustained without increased resources…such as academic or career coaching” (p.47). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)