CBE Student Studies Announcement

The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee is conducting two studies about (1) how students perceive the support that they receive from academic coaches, and (2) how students perceive their learning experiences in their competency-based education (CBE) programs. The goal of the studies is to understand to what extent student’s perceptions of their academic coaches and instructional characteristics in competency-based programs influence student outcomes.

DETA seeks participants who are students currently enrolled in a CBE program. If you lead a CBE program and have students who are currently enrolled in the program, please consider becoming an institutional partner. 

If you want to learn more about it, please complete this brief survey and you will be contacted to discuss further: 


For questions relating to this study and/or participation in the study, please contact:

Tanya Joosten (Co-PI), PhD, Director of Digital Learning Research and Development, Co-Director of the DETA Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, tjoosten[at]uwm.edu

Rachel Cusatis, PhD, Instrumentation Innovator, DETA Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, rcusatis[at]uwm.edu 

Ultimately, researching and understanding how students’ perceptions of their coaches and learning experiences. Researching CBE programs provides the opportunity for many benefits:

  • Programs can understand what students prefer or expect from their academic coaches and can better tailor their coaching support
  • Programs can understand which students might be more successful than others in CBE spaces, and tailor supports and learning experiences to different types of students

Institutional Commitment
To support the work, participating programs or institutions would provide, at a minimum, de-identified student-level data: (1) administering a survey to CBE students provided by DETA; and, (2) submitting student demographic characteristics provided by the student information systems data warehouse. DETA provides resources to assist throughout the data collection process to ensure simplicity on the part of the partnering institutions to collectively achieve our goals.

What is DETA?
The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancement (DETA) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, seeks to foster student access and success through evidence-based, cross-institutional learning practices and technologies.  Moreover, the DETA Research Center looks to identify and evaluate effective course and institutional practices in online learning, including competency-based education, specifically addressing underrepresented populations.

What is competency-based education (CBE?)
CBE is defined as “an alternative to the credit hour-based system of credentialing. Student progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery as measured through assessments and/or through application of credit for prior learning. In competency based education programs, time is the variable and student competency mastery is the focus, rather than a fixed-time model where students achieve varying results. In competency based education, as distinct from competency-based learning, the focus is on academic programs, practices, and policies” (American Council on Education & Blackboard, 2014, p. 4).