Competency-based learning

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Competency-based learning or competency-based education is a framework for teaching and assessment of learning. It is also described as a type of education based on predetermined "competencies," which focuses on outcomes and real-world performance.[1] Competency-based learning is sometimes presented as an alternative to traditional methods of assessment in education.[2]


In a competency-based education framework, students demonstrate their learned knowledge and skills in order to achieve specific predetermined "competencies."[3] The set of competencies for a specific course or at a specific educational institution is sometimes referred to as the competency architecture.[4] Students are generally assessed in various competencies at various points during a course, and usually have the opportunity to attempt a given competency multiple times and receive continuous feedback from instructors.[5][6]

Key concepts that make up the competency-based education framework include demonstrated mastery of a competency, meaningful types of assessment, individualized support for students, and the creation and application of knowledge.[7]


In a competency-based learning model, the instructor is required to identify specific learning outcomes in terms of behavior and performance, including the appropriate criterion level to be used in evaluating achievement.[8] Experiential learning is also an underpinning concept; competency-based learning is learner‑focused and often learner-directed.[7][9]

The methodology of competency-based learning recognizes that learners tend to find some individual skills or competencies more difficult than others. For this reason, the learning process generally allows different students to move at varying paces within a course.[10] Additionally, where many traditional learning methods use summative testing, competency-based learning focuses on student mastery of individual learning outcomes.[11] Students and instructors can dynamically revise instruction strategies and based on student performance in specific competencies.[12]

What it means to have mastered a competency depends on the subject matter and instructor criteria. In abstract learning, such as algebra, the learner may only have to demonstrate that they can identify an appropriate formula with some degree of reliability; in a subject matter that could affect safety, such as operating a vehicle, an instructor may require a more thorough demonstration of mastery.[13][14]


Western Governors University has used a competency-based model of education since it was chartered in 1996.[15]

The Mastery Transcript Consortium is a group of public and private secondary schools which are working to utilize competency-based learning as part of their effort to create a new type of secondary school transcript.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lytras, Miltiadis D.; Pablos, Patricia Ordonez De; Avison, David; Sipior, Janice; Jin, Qun; Filho, Walter Leal; Uden, Lorna; Thomas, Michael; Cervai, Sara (2010). Technology Enhanced Learning: Quality of Teaching and Educational Reform: 1st International Conference, TECH-EDUCATION 2010, Athens, Greece, May 19-21, 2010. Proceedings. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media. p. 504. ISBN 978-3-642-13165-3.
  2. ^ "What Is Competency-Based Learning?". TeachThought. 2016-04-18. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  3. ^ "Competency-Based Learning Definition". The Glossary of Education Reform. 2014-01-28. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  4. ^ "Seven Building Blocks of a Competency-Based Classroom". GOA. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  5. ^ "Competency-Based Education". Aurora Institute. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  6. ^ "Competency-Based Learning | Punahou School". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  7. ^ a b Sturgis, Chris; Casey, Katherine (2018). Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education (PDF). Vienna, VA: iNACOL. ISBN 978-0-692-17514-9.
  8. ^ Lattuca, Lisa R.; Stark, Joan S. (2011). Shaping the College Curriculum: Academic Plans in Context. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-04720-0.
  9. ^ Kolb, David A. (2014). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Second Edition. Upper Saddle, NJ: FT Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-13-389240-6.
  10. ^ Gervais, J. (2016). "The operational definition of competency‐based education". The Journal of Competency-Based Education. 1 (2): 98–106. doi:10.1002/cbe2.1011.
  11. ^ "New to Competency-Based Learning? Here're Five Ways to Assess It - EdSurge News". EdSurge. 2017-05-22. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  12. ^ "From Formative Assessment to Tracking Student Mastery: The Road to Competency-Based Instruction". 16 July 2015. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
  13. ^ Gene E. Hall (1976) Competency-based Education: A Process for the Improvement of Education: Prentice-Hall[page needed]
  14. ^ John Burke (1989) Competency-Based Education and Training: Routledge[page needed]
  15. ^ "Competency Based Education – WGU". Western Governors University.
  16. ^ Ark, Tom Vander. "Helping Grads Tell Their Story: The Case For Extended Transcripts". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-11-09.

Further reading[edit]