With so many educational reform efforts underway across the country, student voice often gets lost in the myriad of recommendations coming from politicians, career academics, and professional educators. While out on the east coast for the Connecting Credentials National Summit, EPIC met with staff from YI Advisors, the consulting arm of Young Invincibles (YI), a national organization working to engage young adults on issues such as higher education and jobs. Our discussions with YI Advisors uncovered many synergies with EPIC’s Bridge the Divide work.

This year, YI conducted a study on student perceptions of Competency Based Education (CBE) in higher education supported by both the Lumina and Gates Foundations. The findings suggest that CBE best serves students who have assumed ownership of their own learning. In fact, student motivation was found to be a key factor in those who successfully navigated the CBE learning environment that emphasizes proficiency in skills required in an area of study instead of accumulation of credit hours. Student voice indicated that CBE programs are most likely to be successful when both instilling and directing student motivation to generate increased student success.

Regardless of educational structure (CBE or the traditional Carnegie credit), YI’s study underscores the importance of student engagement. EPIC’s Bridge Method is geared toward articulating learning outcomes at the high school and community college levels with a goal of engaging students early so that when they leave the high school environment, they are already connected to a higher education pathway and well on their way to earning credentials to enhance their economic strength and on-the-job success.