Resources and Publications


Making the Case for Competency-Based Education webinar series

The Making the Case for Competency-Based Education webinar series, produced by AIR in partnership with the Competency-Based Education Network is designed to support you in using data to demonstrate the value of CBE programs for students, campus leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Getting Started With Evaluation, considers the importance of conducting evaluation, provides guidelines for summative evaluation, and delves into findings of an early study on CBE student outcomes.

Evaluation for Improvement, covers the fundamentals of two continuous quality improvement models—root cause analysis and the Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle—and how they apply to improvement within the context of CBE program. 

Aligning for Learning - Evaluating Connections, presents the importance of alignment in relation to validity of learning and evaluation of program effectiveness, and explores implications for ways to address misunderstandings in the larger field of higher education around high quality CBE programs through communication of internal alignment.

  • Module 1: The Importance of Alignment in CBE - Provides an overview of the series, then discusses the importance of aligning competencies, learning activities, and assessments.
  • Module 2: A Guide to Internal Alignment - Walks through steps for using data to ensure that competencies, learning activities, assessments and evaluative criteria are well aligned, including tracing competencies throughout a program, using data to identify potential misalignment, and engaging in continuous quality improvement to address misalignment. 
  • Module 3: A Guide to External Alignment - Presents steps for using data to ensure that competencies are aligned through programs to post-completion outcomes and employer requirements, including using data to make a case about CBE student performance and collaborating with employers.

Communicating Research Findings, explores ways in which you can effectively communicate evaluation findings and data to build support—or, make the case—for CBE.

  • Module 1: Introduction - Provides an overview of the series and a general introduction to communicating your research findings.
  • Module 2: Audience Analysis - Focuses on effectively identifying your audience and understanding how to tailor communications about data, research, or evaluation to specific audiences.
  • Module 3: Storytelling - Demonstrates using the power of narrative to further engage your audience.
  • Module 4: Data Visualization - Explores how to use visuals to present data in a way that’s more compelling and more easily digested by various audiences.


Who enrolls in postsecondary competency-based education (CBE)? Using data from programs in the CBE Student Outcomes Research Collaborative, we explore the demographic characteristics of postsecondary CBE students.

Drawing on other early research, the Framework articulates metrics that can be used across many CBE program types to build toward a common language about CBE students and outcomes. In addition, the brief articulates key challenges to that common language, calling for CBE program leaders and researchers to engage in field-wide conversations about addressing them.

This brief outlines seven considerations for CBE program leaders who want to begin gathering and using rigorous evidence as they build a case for CBE for internal and external audiences.

This report is based on data obtained from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (NSPCBE). It represents a collaborative effort between the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Eduventures®, the research division of ACT™ | NRCCUA™. It includes findings based on responses by more than 500 colleges and universities—the largest institutional sample to date—about their interest in, or activity related to, competency-based education (CBE). It also compares findings to those of Eduventures’ 2016 CBE study, Deconstructing CBE.

Broadly, this brief presents evidence that CBE programs are on the path to success in fulfilling their value propositions of broadening access, offering paths to credentials, and improving cost and quality. In the brief, we offer early findings and outline the key challenges related to data and measurement in CBE contexts.

This infographic illustrates data obtained from the 2018 National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education (NSPCBE). It is a brief summary of early findings based on responses by more than 500 colleges and universities—the largest institutional sample to date—about their interest in, or activity related to, competency-based education (CBE).


This rubric, drawn from the expertise of leaders within the postsecondary CBE field, helps CBE program leaders, their campus colleagues, and researchers describe key features of their CBE program. This descriptive rubric poses questions across six broad categories.