The Spread of CBE Models and Practices across the Competency-Based Education Network: A Social Network Analysis


This project explores the role of networks, such as the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), in spreading and scaling-up higher education innovations. C-BEN was formed in 2014 as a network of postsecondary institutions to catalyze and support adoption of new competency-based education (CBE) programs and practices, and conducts activities that initiate and nurture relationships among its members. This project aims to understand the inter-organizational network collaboration that arises among C-BEN members, and how individual and organization relationships influence and support the adoption of CBE programs.

Learn more about the research project at

Key research questions include:

  • What is the social network structure of collaboration across the CBE ecosystem?
  • What characteristics are most associated with collaborative ties and the formation of sub-groups of actors?
  • What is the relationship between the network structure and implemented CBE models and practices?
  • Through what processes and in what ways do institutions collaborate and learn from one another to inform their CBE program models?
  • How does C-BEN influence the social network structure and processes in the CBE ION?


A mixed methods explanatory sequential research design is used to investigate the research questions, with social network analysis theories and methods underpinning the conceptual framework. Data for the study is drawn from multiple surveys (including AIR’s National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education, IPEDS, and a CBE Social Network Survey), semi-structured interviews, and archival research on publicly available data.

The flow from data inputs to research questions across study phases is shown in the below figure:

Data inputs to RQs



Bruce Haupt, University of Kentucky