Southwestern College to Offer Competency-Based Learning Options | Southwestern College Professional Studies

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Southwestern College to Offer Competency-Based Learning Options

Southwestern College to Offer Competency-Based Learning Options

WINFIELD, Kansas – Southwestern College has been chosen to join a select group of schools that will work together to develop new models for student learning.  The group is called the Competency Based Education Network (C-BEN) and includes 30 institutions and four public university systems. Southwestern College was selected for participation through a competitive process. 

“It is a tremendous honor to be added to this network,” said Richard Merriman, Ph.D., president of Southwestern College. “SC has a great history of offering original learning experiences for students. Being chosen for C-BEN is positive proof of our commitment to flexible options that meet individual needs. By assessing the knowledge and skills that students already have, the competency model of learning enables students to showcase their abilities.  Then, by evaluating their learning in different ways students can discover both what they know and how well they know it.”

“That’s the key to good learning” said Andy Sheppard, Ph.D., Southwestern College provost. “Learning comes in all kinds of forms but the trick is finding the right support when you need to know more. Competency-based learning models align well with the mission and values of SC because students will receive more guidance from faculty members and mentors.  Also, because students work at their own pace as they develop a skill, they have the opportunity to save both time and money while earning their degree.”       

The Competency-Based Education Network is a national consortium for designing, developing and scaling new models for student learning.  The institutions take part in a research-and-development phase, funded by Lumina Foundation, to provide an evidence-based approach to advancing high-quality, competency-based education capable of serving many more students of all backgrounds.

Some C-BEN institutions use competency-based programs to reduce the time and cost of a college education as students can take courses at their own pace. Additionally, there may be opportunities for students to demonstrate learning they have previously acquired, allowing them to start a program with additional credit.

“Being asked to join the Competency-Based Education Network is a great honor for Southwestern College,” said Amy Lash Esau, Ph.D., academic dean for Southwestern College Professional Studies. “This is a select group of institutions who have been picked to explore this form of education that may be able to make college more affordable and flexible for students in the future.”

In joining C-BEN, Southwestern is committing institutional resources to innovate and develop new competency-based programs and will have support from the network for the development. The first competency-based program at Southwestern is expected to be in place in 2015.


About Southwestern College

Southwestern College provides a values-based learning experience that emphasizes intellectual, personal, and spiritual growth. Founded in 1885 by the United Methodist Church, the non-profit college offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees on-ground and online. Students prepare for careers and graduate studies with courses that foster critical thinking and effective communication and are characterized by meaningful professor-student interaction. The main campus, located in Winfield, KS offers a traditional residential experience.  In 1994, Southwestern began offering programs that embrace prior learning and facilitate career progression for working adults, members of the armed services, and persons in transition.

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