3 Facts About Competency-Based Learning

by Grace Dickins

What is competency-based learning? It's a style of learning used to learn and teach concrete ideas, rather than abstract ideas. Often the learners will work on one competency, or aspect of learning, at a time, instead of learning a concept in whole right away. They break learning up into smaller chunks instead of looking at the big picture. The students work on one idea at a time and only move on once they've mastered the particular competency they are working on. It's a learner-focused way to educate a student and it works with the student's individual pace of learning.

Learners move at their own pace, spending more time on those areas they find most challenging and spending less time on things they can grasp more easily.

In traditional classroom settings, students go through the same material together at the same time. If a student falls behind, there are increasingly fewer opportunities for him or her to catch up with the group.

With competency-based learning, the student can be confident in his or her own ability to understand a concept fully because he or she can spend weeks learning a skill the student finds difficult while spending only a day or two on things the learner easily understands.

Competency-based learning requires the learner to master each skill or idea before moving on.

Unlike standardized testing, a competency learner will only move on to a new learning concept once the task at hand is mastered fully. With standardized testing it may be hard to measure a student's true understanding because they may guess on questions or simply memorize enough information to pass the test.

With competency-learning, the theory says, it's harder to "bluff" understanding, since the student will have to show their actual understanding. It can be a more accurate way to measure the student's learning in the long run.

It measures learning and doesn't have strict timelines.

In traditional classrooms, teachers are expected to teach under a timeline of what needs to be covered in a certain time period. Once this window of time has been reached, there is no going back, just moving on to the next topic.

With competency learning, a student may spend countless hours on what they are learning and only move on when they feel fully comfortable doing so. The quantity of topics covered may be less, but the understanding of the topic is far greater, leaving the student with an understanding and mastery of their knowledge.

Tags: learning competency
Categories: study skills