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Northern Arizona U Students Satisfied with Personalized Learning Program

A recent survey of students at Northern Arizona University (NAU) has found that students in a new Personalized Learning program are largely happy with the new competency-based initiative.

Launched in 2012 with a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NAU's "program reimagines the college experience by focusing on developing key skills and knowledge areas called competencies," according to a news release. "The online, self-paced degrees are designed for non-traditional students who have work and life experience and want to earn a bachelor's degree for career advancement."

The foundation commissioned the survey, conducted by WestEd, the Georgia Institute of Technology and rpk Group, to evaluate the success of the program.

Findings of the survey include:

  • 96 percent of students said their interactions with faculty were positive;
  • 93 percent told researchers the skills they've learned will help with future employment goals;
  • 89 percent said they would recommend the program to others; and
  • More than half said they expected to accumulate less than $5,000 in debt over the course of the program and 37 percent said they expected to finish their degrees with no debt.

Eighty percent of the students surveyed said they worked full time. The ability to set their own pace, affordability, flexibility and the competency-based model were cited as reasons for enrolling in the program.

NAU's Personalized Learning offers BA and BS degrees in computer information technology, small business administration and liberal arts. More information is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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