2Center or American Progress | A ‘Disruptive’ Look at Competency-Based Education
promoe disrupive innovaion. Lasly, we ouline a number o recommendaions orpolicymakers on how o aciliae disrupive innovaion o ransorm higher educaion.
Competency-based education primer
Compeency-based educaion is an oucomes-based approach o educaion where heemphasis is on wha comes ou o possecondary educaion—wha graduaes know andcan do—raher han wha goes ino he curriculum. Wih a compeency-based approach, you do no begin preparing a course syllabus by ideniying conen and readings.Insead, you begin by ideniying compeencies and hen selec he conen, readings,and assignmens o suppor suden atainmen o hose compeencies. Wih a compeency-based approach, sudens advance when hey have demonsraedmasery o a compeency, which is dened as “a combinaion o skills, abiliies andknowledge needed o perorm a ask in a specic conex.”
Masery is he sole deer-minan o progress, which means ha delivery opions muliply and expand since any insrucionalmehod or insrucional provider ha can move asuden oward masery is heoreically accepable.In compeency-based educaion, assessmen isembedded in every sep o he learning process inorder o provide sudens wih guidance and supporoward masery. Tis heighened level o assessmenis designed o build compeencies in real ime. Teollowing gure, rom he Naional Possecondary Educaion Cooperaive’s repor “Dening and Assessing Learning,” provides a simple ye powerul visual o he compeency-based approach: As described in he repor, he rs rung a he botom o he pyramid consiss o
traits and char-acteristics
—hese are he oundaion o learningand depic he innae makeup o individuals upon which urher experiences can be buil. Te secondrung consiss o
skills, abilities, and knowledge
developed hrough learning experiences broadly dened o include ormal educaion, work, and paricipaion in communiy aairs. Te hird rung,
, are he oucome o inegraed learning experi-ences, in which skills, abiliies, and knowledge are ocused on he perormance o aask. Finally, he op rung,
resuls rom he applicaion o compeencies. Assessmen is deeply embedded a all sages o his learning process.
DemonstrationsCompetenciesSkills, abilities, and knowledgeTraits and characteristics
Assessmentof performanceAcquired skills,abilities, andknowledgeDeveloped in thelearning processFoundation
Learning experiencesIntegrated learning experiences
A S S E S S M E N T
FIGURE 1A conceptual learning model
Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2001.