Faculty and others at UW-Milwaukee and UW Colleges are working diligently to develop the curricula for the first group of Flexible Option programs. They are articulating the competencies that will define the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that students will be expected to master, and beginning to identify the assessments and performance standards by which student learning will be measured. The paradigm shift from thinking about course development, to competency development is significant, for instructors and all who are involved in UW Flexible Option development.
Attention is being paid to curricular integrity, to ensure that the quality of the degree obtained through the UW Flexible Option is equal to the existing quality degree offered by UW-Milwaukee and Colleges. Programs’ faculty and staff are assuring that the totality of competencies and assessment activities under development align with the UW System’s Shared Learning Goals and the learning outcomes particular to each UW institution, and will allow for students to be assessed not only on mastery of individual competencies, but also on their abilities to synthesize and apply competencies in their field of study.
In competency-based education (CBE), assessment of student learning is high stakes: students make academic progress only when they demonstrate mastery of individual competencies as defined by program faculty. Assessments under development range from pencil and paper and multiple-choice tests, to papers, clinical-like observations and interviews, and student portfolios.
A psychometrician is being hired to help plan, coordinate, and execute activities to ensure the accuracy and validity of competency-based assessments and gather data instrumental to improving the assessment process. Faculty are also beginning to think about the kinds of content, that is, the instructional and learning materials and resources students will use as they move toward readiness for competency assessment, as well as the kinds of strong advising UW Flexible Option students will need. Professional development is being provided, including an assessment workshop planned for June.