The Benefits of Competency-Based Education
The main goal of competency-based education, or learning, is to give every student an equal opportunity to master the skills needed to become successful adults. This, in itself, is one of the great benefits of competency-based education.
The search for better teaching strategies is never-ending. Teachers often spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve their students’ learning experiences. This is because what they learn (and how they learn it) will stay with them for ever.
What is competency-based education?
In basic terms, competency-based education is a type of teaching that looks at the competence that each student has in each subject. It focuses on this rather than on grades and timetables in the annual curriculum.
Competency-based education seeks to focus on demonstrating acquired learning while taking into account each student’s pace and abilities. We can define “competency” as the ability to put knowledge into practice, as the skills needed to cope with certain situations.
Students will only advance when they can truly demonstrate mastery of a certain subject.
Competency-based education and personalized learning, therefore, go hand in hand. By personalizing the learning experience for each student, teachers ensure that each student has full mastery before he or she can move on.
In this way, we achieve a major individual and group goal: students progress at their own pace and, moreover, everyone in the class achieves mastery of the content.
The benefits of competency-based education
The learner who is acquiring skills rather than just knowledge is in a continuous learning process. As an example, in order for a person to pass a particular academic course, they need to demonstrate that they’ve truly mastered different specific areas.
The use of a competency-based education system in school has great advantages. Some of the most important are the following:
- They provide flexibility for all types of learners, regardless of their knowledge background or literacy levels.
- It eliminates bias and achieves equity.
- Learners end up being better prepared and acquire the necessary skills to succeed in the future.
- Students learn how to be better learners and how to take responsibility for their own education.
The difficulties of this teaching
This type of teaching, because of its configuration, also involves some difficulties in its implementation. Among them we have the following:
- The teachers need to define and determine all the key competencies for each class. This can sometimes be complicated.
- Assessments must be more meaningful and creative
- Teachers must be constantly aware of students’ progress
- It’s essential to help each student who doesn’t understand a particular aspect, or who still isn’t ready to progress to the next stage.
That said, the disadvantages mentioned above can be overcome. If we create a well-informed, research-based system, competency-based education can be as successful as we want it to be.
This education will, of course, present challenges to school leadership. However, the end result will be that students will always be better prepared for life.
It’s important to remember and understand that seeking equality doesn’t mean giving all students the same thing all the time. What it means is that we must give each individual student what he or she needs to achieve the same ultimate goal.
In short, it’s clear that there are many reasons to reinforce and encourage the use of competency-based learning. This great change may lead to great challenges in education. Yet every day there are more educational institutions willing to implement it.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- A. Zabala & L. Arnau (2008). 11 ideas clave: cómo aprender y enseñar competencias. Graó, Barcelona.
- Johnstone, S. M., & Soares, L. (2014). Principles for developing competency-based education programs. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 46(2), 12-19.