Competency-Based Education, Put to the Test

An inside look at learning and assessment at Western Governors University

Kassidy Fann clears off the table in the tidy kitchen of the wooden triple-decker north of Boston that she shares with her husband and a pair of inquisitive cats.

Fann takes a seat and opens her laptop. There’s no sound but the creaking of the pipes and the rain against the windows. Then a disembodied voice with a slight southern accent says hello.

“I will be your proctor today,” says the voice, which belongs to a woman named Leigh Ann Majerik, who’s in an office in Hoover, Alabama. Majerik will supervise as Fann takes a test—called, in this case, an assessment—to gauge her progress toward the master’s degree she’s pursuing in science education and physics from the online Western Governors University.