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FAQs for Competency-Based Education

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is competency based education (CBE)?
  2. Is CBE right for me?
  3. What makes this program unique?
  4. How is a CBE course different from a traditional online course?
  5. What kind of assignments can I expect in a CBE course?
  6. Are there really no deadlines?
  7. Can I take a mix of CBE courses, traditional online, traditional in-person, and hybrid courses at the same time?
  8. Can I take individual CBE courses, or do I have to pick an entire program?
  9. Are CBE courses graded in the same way as other courses?
  10. What happens if I can’t maintain an 80% or above in my CBE course?
  11. What is the role of the CBE Learning Coach?
  12. Why do I need to take the CBE Orientation and SmarterMeasure Assessment?
  13. What does a CBE course cost?
  14. When can I start?
  15. I’m interested! How do I get started?

 

1. What is competency based education (CBE)?

Competency-based education courses (CBE) are designed to provide meaningful, project-based learning opportunities that encourage mastery of the knowledge and skills you need to succeed. With CBE, you can complete courses online when they fit with your busy schedule. You can move quickly through the material you already know, and take more time to focus on what you need to learn. With flexible course start dates and a learning coach to help you stay on track, you can complete the classes on your own schedule, at a pace that works for you.

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2. Is CBE right for me?

CBE courses are for busy students who can learn independently online. If you are self-motivated, eager to get your degree/certificate and have work experience that you can apply to your learning, then CBE may be right for you.

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3. What makes this program unique?

Course competencies align directly with industry standards. This means the competencies you are learning in the course are meaningful skills necessary in the workforce. You are getting a quality education on your time because you work at a pace that works for you. But don’t worry, you’ll have a Learning Coach to keep you on track to make sure assignments are being submitted incrementally.

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4. How is a CBE course different from a traditional online course?

In a traditional online course, you work at the instructor’s pace and have deadlines throughout the semester. For example, you may have to read Chapter 1 in Week 1 and submit an assignment by midnight on the Sunday before Week 2. In a CBE course, you may have a choice of which order you work on modules and which weeks you submit your work. The instructor and Learning Coach will provide guidance on when to submit your work to maintain a pace that works for you.

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5. What kind of assignments can I expect in a CBE course?

Each class is set up in a way to help you succeed. There will be various learning activities (e.g., lecture, video, projects) to keep you engaged in your learning. Practice assignments allow you to practice, practice, practice, as much as you need until you are ready for the major assignments (e.g., exam, essay, projects).

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6. Are there really no deadlines?

You must set a pace that allows you to complete your course prior to the last date of the semester. Faculty will provide a Pace Chart for completing the course during the 15-week semester. You are encouraged to set an accelerated pace in collaboration with the CBE Learning Coach. All students must meet the default pacing requirements provided below.

  1. You must log in and submit at least one assignment within the first week of your enrollment in the course in order to establish participation. If you do not submit at least one assignment within the first week, you will be dropped for non-participation.
  2. You must complete a weekly check-in reflecting on your course progress and communicate with the CBE Learning Coach on a regular basis.
  3. You must regularly make progress in your course; specifically:
    • 30% of course assignments must be completed and submitted by the Friday before the final withdrawal date. Refer to the Academic Calendar for the Last Date to Withdraw with a W.
    • No more than 5 assignments may be submitted in the week prior to finals week.
    • IMPORTANT: Failure to meet one or more of the above course progress policies could result in withdrawal from your course, a failing grade and/or ineligibility for future competency-based courses.

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7. Can I take a mix of CBE courses, traditional online, traditional in-person, and hybrid courses at the same time?

Yes! You can take courses in any format that fits your schedule whether CBE, hybrid, traditional in-person, and traditional online – or a combination of all four.

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8. Can I take individual CBE courses, or do I have to pick an entire program?

You can take individual CBE courses. You can enroll in a CBE course if it is a part of your academic plan that you create with your advisor.

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9. Are CBE courses graded in the same way as other courses?

You must pass each graded assignment in a competency-based course with a score of 80% or higher. If you are unable to earn a score of 80% or higher, you will be permitted to complete the course as if it were a traditional online course, but you will not be eligible for any future CBE courses.

  • Practice assignments: Each CBE course will contain practice assignments to help you gain mastery of course topics. You must earn an 80% or higher on practice assignments, but you are allowed unlimited attempts.
  • Major assignments: CBE courses may offer multiple attempts on labs, projects and exams. If you achieve less than 80% on your first attempt, contact your instructor for guidance and further instructions.

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10. What happens if I can’t maintain an 80% or above in my CBE course?

If you are unable to earn a score of 80% or higher, you will be permitted to complete the course as if it were a traditional online course, but you will not be eligible for any future CBE courses.

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11. What is the role of the CBE Learning Coach?

The role of the CBE Learning Coach is to help you determine if CBE is the right fit for your learning style, provide access to the required CBE Orientation and, for students who choose to take CBE courses, provide coaching for academic success.

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12. Why do I need to take the CBE Orientation and SmarterMeasure Assessment?

We understand that not everyone can learn independently online. Some people need deadlines and face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers. We want to see you succeed and the required CBE Orientation and the SmarterMeasure assessment will give you a better understanding if CBE is a right fit for you.

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13. What does a CBE course cost?

A CBE course is the same cost as a traditional online course. For further information or questions, please contact the Student Accounts Office at 978-556-3900

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14. When can I start?

You can enroll in a competency based education course before the first day of the 7th week of a semester. Seats fill up fast so contact us today!

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15. I’m interested! How do I get started?

After you have met with your advisor to determine your academic plan, contact the CBE Learning Coach Ada Greenberg at CBE@necc.mass.edu or 978-556-3034. She will orient you further to CBE and follow up with next steps. We look forward to helping you get your degree faster!

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