Letter to the editor: Education questions

To the editor:

The Journal-World’s coverage of KU’s plan for competency based education (CBE) left many questions unanswered. Some information may be wrong, such as the University of Southern New Hampshire (SNHU) still offering CBE (according to Wikipedia, its CBE undergrad program ended). Also, finding students who can demonstrate college level mastery in many topics is not easy. According to their websites, six-year graduation rates are under 50% for leading undergraduate CBE programs at Western Governors University and New York’s Empire State College. This would hardly benefit KU, which already struggles in that regard.

A few master’s programs are one thing, but undergraduate degree completion is another, and the provost suggested it may be a substantial enrollment source for KU. Doing this on a large scale will require considerable investment in faculty prepared to serve as mentors for students trying to complete degrees, often started many years earlier. And what about the disposition of prior coursework; how much will KU accept? SNHU allows up to 90 hours. Having worked in such a program in Chicago, I can attest that addressing these questions is a very demanding task, often requiring expertise in a range of fields. It’s a role that research-oriented faculty are unlikely to embrace.

And finally, competence is not the same as excellence. As an AAU member institution, KU is supposed to uphold the highest standards of academic accomplishment. Setting lower expectations (such as B-level work), or aspiring to be like SNHU, hardly seems consistent with that goal.

John Rury,

Lawrence

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