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Northwest Missouri State University

 Dr. Matt Walker(Photo by University Photography)

Dr. Matt Walker

Dr. Matt Walker, Assistant Professor
Dr. Nathan Wilson, Associate Professor
Mr. Brian Swafford, Instructor
School of Communication & Mass Media
Competency-based Education Initiative

Dr. Matt Walker, Director for the School of Mass Media & Communication is working with a team of faculty including Mr. Brian Swafford and Dr. Nate Wilson in creating a competency-based learning model for the new online Masters of Arts in Strategic Communications. Competency-based learning (CBE) is a teaching model which provides flexible learning opportunities for students. It is a self-paced type of program that allows students to move through the program based on their time. Resources and content are pushed to students via the course site. Before moving on to a new competency, students must meet the requirements for that particular competency. CBE is very learner-centered. Students can receive credit for prior learning experiences.

Northwest is the first state institution in Missouri to develop a CBE program. A pilot or beta test will be conducted fall 2016 with a small number of students. Students will help in determining the updates to the program. The program will go live in the fall of 2017. The School of Mass Media & Communication was awarded a grant from the Hawthorne Foundation in January of 2015.

In May of 2015, the areas of the curriculum were finalized. The major domains and subdomains were identified. In October of 2015, competencies were identified. These are the areas that students must meet requirements before progressing forward. Somewhere around 85% will be the requirement level for the competency to be achieved. In November the graduate council approved the program. The Board of Regents approved the program in December. The State is set to determine approval in April. Assessments were completed recently for the competencies which included associated rubrics. Currently, the team is researching for the content and digital resources to help students to meet the competencies.

The faculty role in this program will be as a mentor to students. Basically faculty will provide some tutoring and mentoring for the students in the program. An initial interview with students will help guide the student in entering the program regarding their prior learning experiences. Admissions requirements are similar to traditional requirements. Faculty will be engaging with students in a one-on-one environment via e-mail, phone, web conferencing, etc. The program requires 33 total units. The program is beneficial for working professionals, more affordable and more attainable is the goal. If you have questions regarding this new initiative, contact Dr. Walker at