The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 14th, 2014
Nichele L. Pollock felt like she was
moving through college in slow motion. In seven years, she had gotten
about halfway through her bachelor’s degree.
But recently she’s been racing forward, racking up 50 credits in just
eight months at Northern Arizona University, more than most full-time
students earn in three semesters. She’s done it while holding down a
full-time job coordinating clinical trials at a medical-research
facility in Tucson. She has no classmates, no classroom, no lectures,
and no professor-led discussions with fellow students.
And she’s the model for how competency-based learning could transform higher education.
For decades, competency programs have served a niche market of adults
seeking credentials to help them advance in their careers. Now, they
are attracting broad interest and making forays into the liberal arts.
Competency programs are going mainstream.