What Are The Outcomes Of Competency Based Education?
Traditionally, schools, and the students in them, work in a fairly homogeneous way. Students in a classroom are taught, practiced, reviewed, and assessed on a given skill for the same amount of time, with the same kind of work. However, as educators, we know that students are anything but homogeneous.
- They are diverse in many ways, including the pace at which they learn.
- Enter competency based education, which aims to recognize and accommodate this diversity in learners.
- Instead of the conventional model of all students working on the same skill for the same amount of time throughout a lesson or unit, competency based education allows students to progress to new skills as soon as they have demonstrated mastery of the skill at hand.
In the same vein, students take as much time as they need to learn, practice, and review a skill until they have shown complete competency with it, without moving on to new ones that they might not be ready to learn. To demonstrate mastery, competency based education asks students to show their understanding of skill through authentic assessment.
- Authentic assessments typically require higher order thinking skills, and allow for more creativity and critical thinking, than a standard paper-and-pencil assessment.
- These types of tasks also show that students can apply the skill(s) they have learned in a “real world” context, such as with a student-led project based learning.
As with anything new and different, embedding a competency based approach into your teaching practice can be overwhelming, challenging, and time-consuming, so it is important to understand the “why” behind it. Here are five reasons to consider incorporating competency based learning in your schools or classroom.1.
Students learn for mastery The first benefit of competency based education may seem like a simple one: students demonstrate complete competency, or mastery, of the skill they are working on before moving on to the next one. This is, in theory, quite straightforward, but the effects of this benefit are significant.
When students master a skill, they often have a long-lasting understanding of it and are able to apply the skill in multiple contexts, situations, and other problems. On the flip side, when students don’t learn for mastery, they might be able to perform a skill in isolation (during a lesson or assignment that targets that skill) but are unable to apply it “in the real world,” or even to other problems that they encounter in class.
For many students, this can snowball, leading to ” skill gaps,” Skill gaps cause students to have difficulty learning new material that requires an understanding of previous material, which they might not have in a non-competency based education setting. In traditional teaching, educators spend a set amount of time teaching, practicing, and reviewing a specific skill, and regardless of whether or not students show mastery of the skill in summative and/or formative assessment, the whole class moves on to the next one based on the timing of their curriculum.
With competency based learning experience, students continue to work on the skill until they demonstrate mastery over it through an authentic assessment, proving that they have a deep understanding of it and are able to perform the skill in a “real world” context.2.
- Time and resources spent on learning and learning outcomes are more effective and efficient As pointed out above, when teachers follow a traditional teaching “schedule,” there are often students who are unable to access the material because they lack an understanding of previous skills.
- On the other hand, some students may understand new concepts quickly and not need as much time as is given on a specific skill.
Whether one or both of these ends of the spectrum are happening in the classroom, there is a waste of time and resources for both students and teachers. For students, the waste is mainly their time, as the real need is for time spent learning different skills that will either enable them to progress to more skills, or that are “beyond” the skill at hand.
For teachers, the waste is of time and resources, as it takes both to plan, prepare, and deliver instruction. Wasted time and resources can lead to complacency, frustration, and ultimately burnout for both teachers and students. With competency based education, teachers are tailoring their instruction to respond to exactly where students are at in their learning.
While this may actually require more time and resources, especially initially, the benefit is that the time and resources teachers spend on curriculum planning, prepping, and delivering will be much more effective for students’ individual learning. Similarly, once teachers have systems in place to support many different needs, such as using naturally differentiated curriculums and learning platforms, their planning, preparation, and instructional time will be not only efficient and effective for their students, but also more efficient for them.
- Plus, the effectiveness of their students truly getting what they need for their learning to ultimately progress is rewarding for teachers.
- In an extremely demanding profession, making time and resources spent on teaching and learning efficient and effective for both teachers and students is vital.3.
There is a more equitable learning environment In this day and age, most of us are aware that there is a difference between equality and equity, and one huge plus of competency based education is that it allows all learners to get what they need on an individual basis.
With the traditional way of teaching, students are taught equally, meaning everyone gets the same thing at the same pace, regardless of whether they “get it” or not. This clearly leads to some children being unable to access material due to needing more practice with previous skills, while some might feel bored or frustrated by not being able to move on to learning new skills once they have a solid understanding of the one being taught.
Naturally, when students get what they need as learners, the environment is a more equitable, and hopefully more harmonious one, instead of just getting what everybody gets. With competency based learning, this can look like students working on different skills with different materials in the same classroom at the same time.
A more equitable learning environment is an important benefit of competency based education, and one that could potentially support closing the opportunity gap that exists in the education system, which both contributes to and is influenced by inequities in the larger society. When students receive equitable instruction that is tailored to their pacing as a learner, they are able to master and build upon skills, rather than having a shallow understanding of skills that they are unable to apply independently, or feeling bored, frustrated, and potentially acting out due to being “beyond” the skill at hand.
When students have an equitable learning environment, everyone can thrive.4. There is more room for authentic learning and assessment We all know that assessing student learning is an extremely important part of teaching. Without both summative and formative assessments, teachers do not fully know their students’ understanding of the skills being taught.
With competency based education, teachers facilitate authentic tasks and authentic assessments for students rather than conventional “seat work” or paper-and-pencil tests. When students show their understanding of a skill in an authentic way rather than with a traditional test, it can demonstrate a deeper understanding of a concept, and will almost certainly result in longer-lasting learning.
For an example of authentic assessment, think about a student that has been reading a novel and focusing on understanding the themes of the novel. Their summative assessment work might look like notetaking about themes with examples from the text. For a formative assessment, rather than a multiple-choice test on which themes showed up in the novel with examples of them, or even writing a paragraph about a theme from the book with examples to show that theme, they could write an epilogue extending one of the main themes of the novel.
- This is an authentic assessment because it mimics something that one might do in the “real world”- write books! As educators, we could assess an authentic assessment such as this one with a rubric that the student follows as they create their writing.
- Rubrics usually assess students on a number scale– 1 would be a low score for each rubric category, and 4 would be a high score for each category, for example.
This shift to authentic assessment allows students to display more creativity and critical thinking than traditional assessments do, which are both important 21st century skills. They can also give students more feeling of ownership over their work, especially if there is a choice in the summative and/or formative assessments involved.
- Authentic tasks and authentic assessments are also almost always more engaging for the student and more interesting for the teacher to assess, too! 5.
- Students have autonomy over their learning In a traditional classroom, learning is typically teacher-led.
- Teachers, or administration, decide on the curriculum, the pace at which it is taught, and the way in which students demonstrate their understanding.
An important benefit of competency based learning is that it is much more student-centred, and allows students to take leadership over their own learning. When students have transparency about what they have and haven’t mastered yet in a competency based education classroom, they can become advocates for themselves and what they need to work on.
- Self-advocacy is an important skill, and competency based education is an organic way to teach students about themselves and what they need to thrive as learners.
- Understanding themselves as a learner– their strengths, as well as their challenges– is beneficial for all children, regardless of age or grade level.
Furthermore, when students have more autonomy over what they are learning and how much time they spend on learning it, as well as choice in how they show their understanding of it, they will most always care more about what they are learning, reviewing, and practicing than when it is solely teacher-directed.
This usually leads to students being more focused, determined, and productive, which can allow them to show mastery and progress to new skills more quickly than with traditional curriculum pacing. A more autonomous classroom can also encourage student independence and resilience, as children may be working on skills without as much teacher or peer support.
With its differentiation and natural tendency towards authentic assessment, equity-based approach, and ability to foster student agency, competency based education is a natural way to instill innate perseverance and love for learning in students as drivers of their own education.
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What are competency outcomes?
by David Gosselin, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Competencies and learning outcomes are two related educational terms that can create confusion. Competencies and outcomes can be written to describe the learning gained by students in individual courses (course outcomes) or for the program as a whole (program outcomes).
- They DO NOT mean the same thing.
- We will follow the lead of Hartel and Foegeding (2004) and use the following working definitions: Competency: A general statement that describes the desired knowledge, skills, and behaviors of a student graduating from a program (or completing a course).
- Competencies commonly define the applied skills and knowledge that enable people to successfully perform in professional, educational, and other life contexts.
Outcome: A very specific statement that describes exactly what a student will be able to do in some measurable way. There may be more than one measurable outcome defined for a given competency. Key Distinction: A true learning outcome is written so that it can be measured or assessed.
It focuses on what the student is able to do at end of a program (or course). Thus, learning outcomes are the basis for an assessment program that focuses on what a student can or should be able to do either upon completion of a course or upon graduation from a program. The term learning outcome is used more commonly in the context of a program or course of instruction.
The term competency is more commonly used in relation to professional fields (i.e. dentistry, nursing). Recommendation: Kennedy, Hyland and Ryan (opens pdf) recommend that when using the term competence, the definition be provided for the specific context in which it is being used and to ensure clarity of meaning, write competences using the vocabulary of learning outcomes, i.e.
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Which is not an outcome of competency based education?
‘ Students acquire high marks in the annual examinations ‘ is not an outcome of competency based education. Explanation: Competency based education is used to develop practical skills in the students.
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What is the goal of competency based education?
Competency-based learning refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education.
In public schools, competency-based systems use state learning standards to determine academic expectations and define “competency” or ” proficiency ” in a given course, subject area, or grade level (although other sets of standards may also be used, including standards developed by districts and schools or by subject-area organizations).
The general goal of competency-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve competency or meet the expected standards.
Defining competency-based learning is complicated by the fact that educators not only use a wide variety of terms for the general approach, but the terms may or may not be used synonymously from place to place. A few of the more common synonyms include proficiency-based, mastery-based, outcome-based, performance-based, and standards-based education, instruction, and learning, among others.
In practice, competency-based learning can take a wide variety of forms from state to state or school to school—there is no single model or universally used approach. While schools often create their own competency-based systems, they may also use systems, models, or strategies created by state education agencies or outside educational organizations.
Competency-based learning is more widely used at the elementary level, although more middle schools and high schools are adopting the approach. As with any educational strategy, some competency-based systems may be better designed or more effective than others. Recently, the terms competency-based learning or competency-based education (and related synonyms) have become more widely used by (1) online schools or companies selling online learning programs, and (2) colleges and universities, particularly those offering online degree programs.
It should be noted that “competency-based learning,” as it is typically designed and implemented in K–12 public schools, can differ significantly from the forms of “competency-based learning” being offered and promoted by online schools and postsecondary-degree programs.
- At the collegiate level, for example, competency-based learning may entail prospective adult students receiving academic credit for knowledge and skills they acquired in their former careers—an approach that can reduce tuition costs and accelerate their progress toward earning a degree.
- It should also be noted that many online schools and educational programs, at the both the K–12 and higher-education levels, have also become the object of criticism and debate.
Many for-profit virtual schools and online degree programs, for example, have been accused of offering low-quality educational experiences to students, exploiting students or public programs, and using the popularity of concepts such as “competency-based education” to promote programs of dubious educational value.
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What are the benefits of competency based training?
If you’re working in HR or learning & development, you’ve probably heard the term ‘competency-based training’ thrown around online and at conferences. Is it just a new buzz term companies use to appear a great place to work, or is it something legitimately worth investigating? We’ve broken down what it is, and why you might want to incorporate it into your organisation.
- So, what is it exactly? Competency-based training is used to develop valuable characteristics and skillsets in individuals, leading to greater employability and life-long learning.
- It’s also known as mastery-based learning, proficiency-based learning or performance-based education.
- It requires a well-designed framework at its core.
Competency frameworks are based on key ‘competencies’ (behaviours, skills, knowledge and attributes) that enable employees to do their job effectively. In competence-based training, these competencies become the basis of what is taught and assessed. Defining key competencies in a specific, measurable way gives learners a clear picture of the path they need to follow to become masters of that skill.
- After creating the framework, programmes of study detailing learner progression, appropriate teaching and learning approaches, assessment practices and quality assurance processes, learner support, and more, are designed.
- As the demands of our working environment are constantly changing, the way we teach and assess must change to keep up, too.
Competency-based training is designed to capture these changes by:
Developing a demand-driven curriculum to produce a workforce with the relevant skills and competencies demanded by the industry. Building an education and training system delivering competencies in accordance with nationally recognised standards. Creating an education and training system with multiple entry/exit points and with flexible delivery options to create a culture of lifelong learning. Building a system capable of recognising skills and competencies wherever and however they are obtained. Developing mutually recognised graduate capabilities through increased consultation and collaboration with industry.
As well as providing a pathway to master certain skills, competencies also help:
The development of structured learning pathways and programmes Evidence-based performance and development Blended learning approaches focused on the development of key behaviours, knowledge and skills acquisition over time whilst in the workplace. The building of qualifications to recognise learning and to facilitate career progression
What sets competency-based training apart from other, more traditional methods of training and assessment, is that it is learner-focused and flexible. Leaners are actively involved in shaping their learning journeys, supported by competencies which allow a natural progression through the hierarchy of expertise. Some of the ways that competencies support learning are by:
Focusing learning and assessment on the critical competencies. Allowing learners to work on one competency at a time, only moving on to the next competency when they have shown mastery of the current skill being learned. Allowing learners to skip learning modules entirely if they can demonstrate mastery. This can be established via prior learning assessment or formative testing. Designing flexible learning and assessment to allow for greater personalisation and choice in the learner’s journey from competence to mastery.
The flexibility and customisation of competency-based training allows individuals to develop specific competencies in a more accurate, timely manner. It also means they can work up the hierarchy of capability at a faster rate than through traditional training methods.
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