The “Four Cs”: What CBI Brings to the Table
Over the course of my career, it’s been interesting when people have found out that I am a professor. Almost everyone responds, “Oh! So you teach.” (That’s true, though there is more to the job than that.) If the conversation continues, it gets really interesting to address what this means. Of course, professors can get thin-skinned when people assume you “only” work when you’re in class (not true) or that it’s pretty easy (definitely not true). Yet as much as I’ve heard faculty grumble about this, it’s occurred to me those in the profession haven’t done a very good job of outlining what it is we do.
A longtime colleague of mine, Matthew Roberts, has put some thought into this, and has concluded that the work of college instructors can be summed up in the “Four Cs”: curation, content delivery, certification, and coaching. (You can find a blog he wrote on this at: http://ipsative.com/blog/20) We think this model can be applied to the work we do at CBI to explain what it is we “bring to the table.” So—here is our rendition of the “Four Cs.”
“Curation” is the skill to design learning experiences for learners, from single class periods to entire programs of study. This requires that the instructor not only know specific material, but also have the necessary perspective to prioritize and organize it into a coherent learning experience. At CBI, our expertise in curation includes content knowledge in specific fields, such as human security and emergency management, as well as professional competencies in such things as career planning. Also, it includes pedagogical experience in conceptualizing courses and effectively scaffolding these into programs.
Put simply, the idea of content delivery is that the teacher transmits specific knowledge to students. While this sounds simple enough, the reality is a little more complex. “Transmission” conjures up images of faculty-delivered lectures, which does not elicit a lot of enthusiasm in either pedagogical or popular circles. There is thus a clamor for other methods, from “active” learning to immersive experiences, and various means of delivery, most notably online instruction. At CBI, we appreciate the utility of the lecture method, and believe it can be done well. We also place a high value on experiential and immersive learning, and the use of tools such as online instruction where applicable. Ultimately, we seeks means that effectively help students to learn.
Curation and content delivery are on the front end of the learning process, and thus tend to be the focus of that process. A serious commitment to learning, though, had elements on the back end. One is certification. This refers to the role that instructors have in assessing whether learning and course objectives have been met. Of course, the leading examples of this are course grades and institutional degrees. These provide students with evidence of their accomplishments, and future employers with reasonable confidence in their abilities. At CBI, we can offer a range of certifications, from certificates to accredited college credit.
This is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the learning process, largely because it does not entail the measurables of certification, nor the scheduled work of content delivery. Yet learning is not limited to schedules, content objectives, or pieces of paper. Learners need someone to come alongside them, see them for where they are at in a learning process and in life, and provide formative feedback that moves them closer to understanding and mastery. If one thinks of it as “coaching,” one can imagine this as a process in such sports as football (soccer for our American readers). Coaches do not maximize the potential of each team member by lecturing on such things as how to properly dribble the ball. They spend time with each athlete, individually assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and offering individualized instruction to improve their performance. In academics, this is often called mentoring or tutoring. For many, it’s a marginal aspect of learning, yet in making sure that every student is learning as much as they can, it might well be the most important. At CBI, we place a particular emphasis on this, notably in our initiatives in experiential learning and career planning. We place learners in “real world” scenarios and provide them with support to process these experiences. We help them translate these into practical plans for job searches and career tracks, not only with concrete assignments but also personal insight on the “ins and outs” of such a life. Ultimately, the aim is to help the learner prepare what they need to bring to the table in their future endeavors.