New challenges and new opportunities: Competency-based education and the libraries


Competency-based education is growing in popularity as a flexible and responsive way to certify and credential the skills students acquire during their educational path. In a traditional coursebased degree program common in higher education, students typically take a variety of courses for which they receive a simple letter grade, and, having successfully completed a collection of courses at a ‘C’ level or better, are awarded a degree. Potential employers have legitimately asked, so what do students actually know? Competency-based education attempts to address this question by providing more granularity in describing and documenting individual skills, knowledge, and attitudes students have demonstrated in the course of their educational careers. Librarians in higher education generally provide one-shot or consultative services for courses, but ultimately, the determination of the student’s competence is often administered by the disciplinary faculty rather than the librarian. Since information literacy can be a small focus of any individual course, students can pass at the course level without demonstrating any information literacy competencies. Competency-based degrees, with their enhanced granularity, provide new opportunities for librarians to interact with faculty to advance student information literacy outcomes. At Purdue, the Libraries collaborated with the College of Technology in the creation of a four-year competency-based degree program that requires the equivalent of four credits of information literacy badges. These badges are created and administered by librarians, although they are embedded in other classroom experiences. This provides unprecedented involvement in the curriculum and evaluation of student achievement of information literacy competencies. This paper provides an overview of the process by which the partnership between the College of Technology and the Libraries came about, how the program was developed, and a review of the pilot implementation of competency-based courses.

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@inproceedings{Fosmire2015NewCA, title={New challenges and new opportunities: Competency-based education and the libraries}, author={Michael J. Fosmire and Amy S. Van Epps and Marisa Exter}, year={2015} }