Is Competency-Based Learning Right For Students?
The word “Competency” means to do something efficiently with skill and proficiency. It is a learning approach where education is flexible and personalized.
The focus of this method is on allowing the student to learn at their own pace and through a medium that most appeals to their learning style. This method of learning ensures that the student progresses through the academic curriculum at their own speed and depth.
This form of learning is an attempt to break away from the regular classroom model, where all the students in a class, study the same subject, at the same speed irrespective if they have grasped the topic.
On the other hand, competency-based learning focuses on mastery and personalization.
The system allows the students to continue learning the same topic repetitively until the desired learning outcome is achieved. Once the student can demonstrate this mastery of a particular subject or a skill, either through a test or some other form of assessment, they are allowed to move to the next level of the subject. This form of learning promotes individualized learning as it is designed to accommodate various learning styles. This experience makes education a personalized experience because the content is tailored to each student.
This form of learning can be offered in a classroom setting, but it is also a popular method of teaching in online courses.
What Are The Pros Of Competency-Based Learning?
- Relevant Learning Material
One of the key benefits of competency-based learning is that it is a skill-based learning program. All the programs under this form of learning are designed around the skills or competencies that are needed for a particular career. This ensures that all the material that is included in the curriculum is relevant and allow the students to develop expertise over a topic.
- Flexible Learning Process
Competency-based programs are very flexible as their structure so as to appeal to the learning process of the individual student. This essentially means that they are no set deadline for learning and no rigid schedule in these programs. The students are in complete control of their learning and control process. They decided when to enter the program, at what pace of learning and when to complete the program with a test or assessment.
- Highly Motivated Students
Competency-based programs are self-paced where the focus is on the final outcome and not the journey of learning. Since the students are given the freedom to learn at a pace that suits them and are not confined to a strict method or schedule, they tend to be highly self-motivated as they seek mastery over their subject.
- Empowered And Confident Students
One of the strongest outcomes of the competency-based education system is that the learners feel more empowered as they have ownership over their education. The control that a competency-based program offers students makes them more confident of grasping the study material at their own time, space and pace.
- Suitable For Adult Learners
A competency-based program allows the students to move as slow or fast as they wish in the learning process. This flexibility is perfect for adult learners who may also be pursuing a career or have other commitments that leave them with limited time to pursue their studies.
- Ample Of Student Support Provided
Students who are part of a competency-based learning program have access to regular mentoring, consistent advising and feedbacks from the academic coach. This supportive learning environment helps the learning process and aids the success of the student.
- Experience Provided
Unlike traditional courses, the students in a competency-based program spend plenty of time learning the concepts over and over again and gaining real-world skills. This real-world experience ensures that the students are better equipped to take on challenges and are job-ready.
- Supports Students With Diverse Backgrounds
Due to the flexibility and personalization factors, Competency-based program supports students with diverse knowledge backgrounds, education levels, and other related aptitudes.
What Are The Cons Of Competency-Based Learning?
- Increased Chances Of Procrastination
One of the biggest disadvantages of competency-based learning is that it may lead to procrastination amongst unenthusiastic students. Since there is no fixed schedule or time frame for the completion of the course, it may lead to laziness among the students. For the success of a competency-based learning program, it is essential that the students be self-disciplined, and self-motivated to be able to plan and work independently. This is not possible for all students.
- Not Suitable To Fast Based Needs Or Future Needs
Competency-based education does not suit subject areas where new skills and new knowledge need to be rapidly accommodated within a specific timeline. Additionally, competency-based educational programs tend to focus on developing skills that are needed at present and are less focused on preparing learners with the flexibility needed for a more uncertain future.
- Does Not Take Social Learning Into Account
Social Learning is when the students in a classroom learn from one another through observation, imitation, and modeling. Since the students in a competency learning program are learning on their own they often miss out of the benefits of social learning.
As with any learning model, there are positive as well as negative aspects for every institute to consider. It is important for an institute to weight in all the pros and cons and select a learning approach that will be most beneficial to the students.