The Roles Competency-Based Education and Co-Curricular Transcript Play in Today’s Education
The language of learning has come a long way since we were first taught our fundamental ABCs. Today, concepts like CBE (Competency-Based Education) and CCT (Co-Curricular Transcript) are transforming the way students prepare for higher education and the workforce. But what are they and how can they help?
Competency-based education acknowledges and supports the notion that students learn in different ways and at different paces. It also challenges the assumption that students can only learn inside a classroom. Students who participate in CBE programs are given the opportunity to move forward based on his or her ability to master a skill or competency, instead of information solely gleaned from textbooks. This tailored approach not only can produce more efficient student outcomes, but it can also give students an advantage when applying for jobs. How? Students that are products of successful CBE programs develop higher critical thinking, problem solving, organization, innovation, and communication skills. They can also demonstrate what they’ve learned through multi-faceted projects, portfolios, and assessments. Because of this, they can contribute and be successful as they take their next steps—whether it be furthering their education or starting a job. This readiness gives them more confidence in what they can offer a potential employer and allows the employers to see them as a valuable commodity who won’t require the amount of training an employee without these skills would.
If CBE supports the idea that what students learn outside the classroom is valuable, then there must be a way physically show it. That’s where a Co-Curricular Transcript (CCT) comes into play. A CCT is a unique and organized method for students to record their involvement in activities such as athletic, leadership, service, and educational experience. Not only do these out-of-classroom activities foster the total development of the student, but they also encourage life-long learning and responsible citizenship. When coupled with a student’s academic transcript, a complete picture emerges of the student’s total education, both inside and outside-of-the classroom. What goes on an individual’s CCT will depend on the parameters set up by the school they attend. For example, at Purdue University-West Lafayette Campus, a CCT experience is a participatory activity that can be in conjunction with student organization membership or with a department or an area on campus. A student’s CCT is compiled in BoilerLink, then verified and administered through the Office of the Dean of Students.
CCT advocates argue it will help graduates be more competitive in the job market, or if they are in the process of transferring to a four-year university. Others argue a CCT is superfluous and offers no additional value than a traditional resume would. Whether or not schools are completely on board with CBE and CCT, they are part of today’s educational conversation. So, institutions at every level should at least take a closer look at the benefits they offer, so that they can be certain they are meeting all their students’ needs.
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