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BEC: A New You With Competency-Based Education

January 22, 2017

This article, written by Shanika Best, was originally posted by NationNews on January 22, 2017

Competency-based education creates the platform for persons to advance, based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace regardless of the environment.

This method is tailored to meet different learning abilities and can lead to more efficient student outcomes.

As the world evolves technologically and the discussion on competency-based education and training continues, we are well aware that persons learn at different stages and in different ways. The introduction of competency-based education and training has bridged the gap between knowledge and skills. For example, an individual may be working in a particular area for an extensive period of time and therefore has acquired the skill to perform the job. 

However, the opportunity may not present itself to attain a degree or higher level education, but this does not mean that this person is unable to achieve any form of certification. Competency-based education and training creates the prospect for these persons to receive a qualification utilizing the skills and on-the-job knowledge they would have acquired in the time. I am referring to National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs) and Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR).

Should you be unfamiliar with NVQs and CVQs, these are work-based qualifications achieved through training and assessment which certifies that you are competent to do a particular job. They exist in areas such as management, occupational safety and health and human resources management, business administration, and motor vehicle operations. 

NVQs and CVQs are designed for persons to gain, improve and hone specific skills and knowledge needed to do a job. There are based on occupational standards which define the competencies, best practice and understanding needed in a given occupation. 

PLAR allows individuals to achieve credits towards the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council qualifications. These are based on evidence, for example, correspondence, emails and projects implemented, from past experience, work, and formal and non-formal learning experiences gained in a skill over a period of time. 

PLAR processes can be undertaken for several purposes, including self-knowledge, credit or advanced standing at an academic institution, for employment, licensing, career planning or recruitment. These are components of competency-based education and training. 

Should you be looking back on your experiences and reflecting on what you have learnt and if it can help you to take stock of your skills and abilities; then, yes, competency-based education and training can help you achieve this; it can assist with educational goals. In turn, these goals can help you begin to build on skills and knowledge that you have previously acquired. 

Should you be reflecting if it is possible for educational institutions, workplaces, professional bodies and other organisations to assess your knowledge and skills for the purpose of awarding credit, granting professional status or advancing your career; then, yes, competency-based education and training can help you achieve this. The process can also help you save time and money by filling gaps in your learning without having to repeat things you already know and can do.

There are many benefits in undergoing competency-based education today. It allows you to make yourself more marketable, that is it allows you to improve your promotion prospects, tests your ability, substantiates to your employer that you can do work-related tasks required to the standard and improves and hones your skills. 

Additionally, competency-based education and training enhances the quality of your work, contributing to your self-development and your organisation’s development; you enjoy increased job satisfaction, improved progress up the career ladder, achieving a recognised qualification which will provide you with transferable skills; with the benefit of being able to work across the region, Canada and in some parts of the United States. 

In attaining competency-based qualifications, it is not the intention to disregard traditional qualifications, but to have qualification which fit the purpose of general obligations towards society and Government’s economic policies. 

Statistics show that the “one size fits all” mandate results in some persons being left behind. Qualifications such as NVQs, CVQs and PLAR, allow us to address this challenge as the qualifications facilitate flexibility for both the instructor/trainer and the student, since it provides opportunities to different methods of teaching, there are tailored to each student’s particular need, learning style and ability and there is the opportunity to be re-assessed in the area which may need more work.

Finally, competency-based education and training also complements and improves upon the traditional academic approach. In conclusion, this type of training is beneficial to both employers and employees in creating a well-rounded workforce which will contribute to development and productivity. 

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Resources

CBE Network.org

A National Consortium for Designing, Developing and Scaling New Models for Student Learning

CBE Info.org

Discover the impact of Competency-Based Education on higher learning and how to implement CBE programs at your institution

HLC Commission.org

Common Framework for Defining and Approving Competency-Based Education Programs

US Dept of Education.gov

Competency Based Learning or Personalized Learning; Transitioning away from seat time.

Case Study

Evaluating Empire's First Competency-Based Learning Pilot

SUNY Empire State College piloted their first CBL courses. These findings and recommendations are based on the experiences of Empire State’s coach, faculty, technical staff, and student participants.

Read more

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