Project-Based, Competency-Based Curriculum Design at College for America at Southern New Hampshire University

Concurrent Session 7

Brief Abstract

College for America (CfA) at Southern New Hampshire University aims to make a college degree achievable for every working adult by offering programs that are online, competency-based, project-based and directly applicable in the workplace. CfA’s curriculum is designed so that adult learners develop specific competencies through the completion of various workplace-relevant projects. CfA Projects are unique because they are designed around groups of competencies and set in fictional, yet realistic organizations. The organizations, each developed with a complete cast of characters, appear throughout the curriculum to provide continuity and familiar settings in which students demonstrate mastery of the competencies. (See supporting document “Drip&Dry.jpg.”) CfA Projects require students to assume roles in different scenarios and produce realistic workplace deliverables. An example might be an assignment from a supervisor to analyze customer survey data. The project-based curriculum approach is very effective with adult learners who already have life and employment experience, as it allows them to utilize what they already know and then learn what they need to know in order to master competencies embedded in a given project. This approach encourages a whole population of students who might not otherwise return to college to do so in a way that feels relevant to their lives and experiences.