How Competency-Based Learning is the Antidote to the Crisis in Traditional Education

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

The word “crisis” has figured prominently in discussions about the world’s educational system for years. Even industrialized nations are falling far short of their educational goals. This erosion is due in part to an insistence in clinging to outdated ideas, such as an emphasis on time spent in training versus actually achieving set goals.

Persistent educational gap and economic crisis prevent many from improving in life and clearly affect the state of business and industry. To stay competitive, companies must have properly educated its members. If they cannot hire the people that already have the competences, then they will have to develop the people who don’t. One of the methodologies that better adapts to lifelong learning and would help reduce inequity is Competency-Based Education (CBE). What is more, companies that bring effective training online and support a culture of lifelong learning will have a significant advantage when it comes to filling skills gaps, innovating, and solving problems.

Competency-Based Education

Traditional education is largely based on time spent at various educational institutions. Student life is measured in years and semesters spent sitting in classrooms. Competency-based education simply means that students move on when they’ve mastered the subject matter. They often take classes online or engage in a hybrid experience of online and in-class education. They are finished when they have accomplished the goal of learning. For many, this process means they learn more in less time. Other students who may need more time to meet their learning goals can get that time. They do not get “passed on” simply because they have put in the time. Despite experts best efforts, social promotion in elementary and secondary schools is still alive and well.

Competency-based education is also less subjective. The standards for completion are clear, and students who do meet them must continue the course until they do. Of course, they will need access to individualized support, which the classroom teacher and educational aides should be able to provide.

Experts on competency-based learning see it as a way to increase student success, promote teacher-student relationships, add flexibility and save educational dollars. According to Harden et al. CBE is ‘‘a performance-based approach at the cutting edge of curriculum development (that) offers a powerful and appealing way of reforming and managing medical education’’ and it can also be applied to every other field of apprenticeship. Embracing a better educational method is the only way to bridge the gap between what students need and what they currently have.

Competency-based Education in the Workplace

Competency-based education serves several purposes in the workplace, including closing the education gap that employees bring to their job.

According to Heather E. McGowan: “50% of the content in an undergraduate degree will be obsolete within five years. This dramatic change whipsaws workers from job to job, from employer to employer, career to career”, that means a great amount of workforce continuously training to stay relevant. Moreover, “as machine intelligence advances, humans will offload work to machines, and then adapt, re-skill, and redeploy to new, uniquely human work. That process of adaptation requires a foundation in learning agility and a mindset that prepares them for change.”

This type of technology-based education also allows businesses to train their employees in job-specific skills, improving their communication, computer knowledge, sales and marketing, etc. These personalized courses give employees the flexibility they need to pursue courses outside of their workday if necessary. They also address a company’s specific needs. This type of learning is not time-based or too generalized and allows the business world to improve its current workforce instead of seeking to replace it.

In the past, an employee might have to pursue additional training on their own in order to be promoted or improve their job performance. Not all workers have the time or resources necessary to pursue these efforts. That’s why the marriage of education and business benefits everyone.

Some features of Competency-Based Education

Chris Sturgis stated that:

  • “Student success outcomes are designed around preparation for college, career and lifelong learning. Traditional systems narrowly prioritize and measure academic skills, often at the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Competency-based systems emphasize ensuring that students can apply academic knowledge and skills to new contexts and become adept problem-solvers and independent learners.
  • “Districts and schools nurture empowering, inclusive cultures of learning. The traditional system tends to emphasize order, safety and high achievement.
  • “Students receive timely and differentiated instruction and support. In traditional schools, students often have to fail before they receive support.
  • “Research-informed pedagogical principles emphasize meeting students where they are and building intrinsic motivation.
  • “In competency-based districts and schools, grading systems are rooted in the learning sciences. Failure and mistakes are part of the learning process.
  • “Learners advance based on attainment of learning expectations (mastery) through personalized learning pathways. In traditional schools, students advance to the next set of content and the next grade level whether or not they need more time to master the content.”

The world’s educational crisis is real and ongoing. It affects all aspects of daily life, especially in the business world. No one is satisfied with the current state of education, and these problems have left many workers with a skills deficit. Within this scenario lifelong learning aided by CBE, seems the logical steps to shorten the gap, to contribute to the future workforce and to help to change the entire concept of effective educational methods.

What do we do?

In Capabilia we choose to influence positively all the students that take part on our platform through the Competency-Based Education model, targeting the real transformation of their habits, real-life issues approaching, their analysis abilities and possibilities. Whereby our instructional designs, we take our students through the learning process rewarding and encouraging the effort as a progress strategy. This way, students’ mentalities are stimulated to change.

This slight change of point of view has a great value within the job market. Thanks to this model and a combination of multiple factors, students achieve a unique correlation between theory and practice, targeting final innovation. Students are put through dynamic, practical and new testing systems, which broaden the toolbox utilized and, as a result, they acquire more opportunities in real-life situations.

Improving lives through learning experiences. Delivering a transformative and effective learning experience, everywhere.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store