Prospects for competency-based education in Canada

June 13, 2014

An article in University Affairs examines the potential for the growth of competency-based education (CBE) programs in Canada. CBE models offer credentials based on demonstrated proficiencies, not on time spent in the classroom. Such programs are typically very flexible, allowing students to move through course material and complete assessments as they wish. Several institutions in the US now offer CBE programs but the model hasn’t yet caught on in Canada to nearly the same extent. York University professor Brian Abner attributes that to a higher PSE credential attainment rate among working Canadian adults, as well as the lower cost of education in Canada. Dianne Conrad, former Director of the Centre for Learning Accreditation at Athabasca University, says Canadian institutions’ reluctance could also the be the result of cultural attitudes: some feel CBE “smacks too much of training,” and Canadian universities in particular “balk at talk of competencies and learning outcomes.” She says CBE “challenges the traditional belief that the professor holds all of the knowledge and that it must be disseminated in the classroom.” University Affairs