Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Lilian Hill

Committee Chair Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 3

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Dr. Holly Foster

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Abstract

Competency-based education (CBE) has been around since the late 1800s but has recently served as a revamped pedagogy designed to respond to some of higher education’s most pressing issues today: low degree attainment and problems of equity; lack of alignment between education and the job market; low and slow graduation rates; high tuition; and poor academic quality. Despite the promises of CBE to resolve these issues, the approach to learning lacks much empirical data. The researcher provided a summary of current research on CBE and identified gaps in the literature. Three gaps were identified including why CBE had failed in the past (and how the reasons for its previous failures are being used today in new CBE quality standards), literature on assessment practices (and how institutions are or are not following these best practices), and reporting on student outcomes including graduation, race/gender equity, and job placement compared to traditional programs. These three gaps led to the creation of three research questions directed by three theoretical frameworks (Lewin’s 3-Stage Theory of Change and Force Field Analysis, Bigg’s constructive alignment theory, and Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation), as well as one conceptual framework (phenomenology) to tie the study together. The research questions were addressed using multiple research methods including a rubric-based assessment, qualitative interviews, and statistical analyses. All the questions in this dissertation were related to the overall purpose, which was to evaluate whether CBE will have vitality in American higher education today. Vital success was defined as two or more research questions having positive or successful results. Failure was defined as fewer than two research questions having positive or successful results. Based on the results of RQ 1, RQ 2, and RQ 3, the competency-based education movement will likely fail again. However, it is hoped that this research will provide valuable information to those working in competency-based education so they may adjust their programs for better chances of vitality.

Available for download on Monday, May 11, 2020

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