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Competency Based Learning

The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has dedicated this academic session 2020-21 for "Competency Based Learning".

Competence based learning

Skills connected to Critical & Creative thinking, Problem Solving, Collaboration and Communication are core to successful living in the 21st Century. Competency is a set of skills, abilities, knowledge that helps an individual perform a given task in real life. Every learning should go into the imbibing of skills that will help the individual perform tasks or take actions to lead a productive and joyful life.

The task could be as simple as going out to buy groceries or as complex as flying a plane. Each of such tasks require a set of skills, abilities, knowledge and even attitudes to be able to perform the task at hand effectively and efficiently. For buying groceries, the learner should be able to navigate the route to the grocery store on a map, prepare lists of purchases to be made, estimate the expenditure, locate the items in the store, pay the bills, check that the total mentioned in the bill is correct and the list matches the actual purchases, etc.

Several competencies are required here to succeed, and all these competencies or skill sets should also be acquired in the process of learning or schooling, only then school education would be considered effective and fruitful. Competency-based learning or Competency based Education (CBE) is an outcome‐based approach to education to ensure proficiency in learning by students through demonstration of the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes required for dealing with real life situations at the age and grade appropriate level. 

Competency-based Education (CBE) and Learning outcomes

To understand the relationship between Competency-based Education and Learning Outcomes, please note the following:

  • What is it that the student should be able to do after student has undergone the learning process - Demonstrate the Outcome of Learning or Learning Outcome
  • What is it that the student needs to learn/know in order to demonstrate that particular set of Learning Outcomes - Curriculum
  • What are the classroom transactions, activities, that will become the basis for this kind of defined outcome of learning - Pedagogy
  • How will the teacher check the learning or how will the student demonstrate that learning - Assessment
  • How will teacher know at what level of learning the student is - Criterion Referenced Testing
  • What is the sum total of Learning Outcomes, Curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and criterion referenced testing as mentioned in the bullets above - Competency-based Education

Characteristics of Competency Based Education Mode

 Objectives

  • To follow a more practical and professional approach where first of all predefined, real life based, application-oriented competencies are defined.
  • To ensure attainment of competencies through precise measurable learning outcomes in behavioural terms.
  • To go beyond mere accumulation of knowledge from textbooks and tests to enable students to practice acquired competencies in their daily life.

Content

  • Competency based education focuses on minimum required core content.
  • It specifically defines competencies to be attained after a certain time interval in which a specific part of the curriculum has been covered. 

It is contrary to traditional learning approach which keeps increasing the content by following the inconsistent principle ‘greater the content, greater the achievement of students.

 Pedagogy

  • Pedagogical processes are child centric and inclusive in nature as the focus is on individual achievement.
  • Interdisciplinary Instruction (including scholastic as well as coscholastic areas such as Arts, Story Telling, Sports, Work Education and SEWA etc.), Collaborative Learning, Cooperative Learning, Reciprocal Teaching, Discussions, Group Projects, Peer Tutoring, Blended learning with integration of ICT (Flipped Classrooms), Computational learning based on logical reasoning, decomposition, patterns, Experiential Learning, Problem Based Learning, Games,
    Case Studies, Simulations, Portfolios, Presentations, Projects are the main teaching-learning processes under this approach.
    • The idea is to support student’s ability to become an independent/selfreliant and lifelong learner by using a variety of interactive methods.
    • Pedagogies also take care of individual differences of students, issues of social nature of learning and present challenges in a graded manner
      to make learning child-centered.

Assessment

  • Criterion reference assessments that measure the attainment of Learning Outcomes are essential feature of CBE.
  • It involves Objective as well as Performance Assessments.
  • Objective Assessment have predetermined, correct responses items like MCQs, oral responses to questions, and short-answer written responses based on what students know and know how to do.
  • In performance assessments, focus remains on what learners can do with their knowledge involving assessments of critical thinking, synthesis and affective and psychomotor skills.
  • Reporting of Assessment result is done on the basis of rubrics and students must be able to demonstrate required level of competency in order to progress to higher grades. 

Concepts and suggestions for success of CBE

As proper framing of the Learning Outcomes and linking them with pedagogical processes is crucial to the success of CBE, attention is drawn to the following concepts and suggestions:

Learning Outcomes (LOs)

  • These are formal statements that tell us what a student is able to do after learning a given topic/concept.
  • The learning described in outcomes should encompass the essential and significant knowledge and skills students should develop in a course.
  • In this process, they generalise their learning and integrate it with other areas of their lives outside school. This helps them learn concepts in a more focussed and meaningful way.
  • LO should be a clear and concise statement of the skills that the students will be able to demonstrate after the instruction is over.
  • LOs should be observable and measurable and clearly understood by all stakeholders – students, parents and teachers.
  • They delineate not only the cognitive achievement but also the values, life skills and attitudes students would demonstrate at the end of a unit.
  • Learning Outcomes provides opportunity for teachers to reflect on the curriculum, context of learning, content, application and assessment to be designed for ensuring the achievement of desirable degree of Learning Outcomes.
  • Thus, LOs are extremely important tool for students, teachers, parents, administrators and policy makers.
  • Teachers need to use learning outcomes as a tool for improving education, not as an end in itself.

Writing Learning Outcomes on the basis of the framework provided by NCERT

A complete Learning Outcome will consist of:

  • An observable behavior or an action verb and any special condition for displaying the outcome. Action verb denotes the intended domain in the taxonomy of cognitive domain and focuses on cognitive processes operating on different kinds of knowledge dimensions like factual, procedural, conceptual and meta-cognitive.
  • After the action verb comes subject content for which the action is being taken followed by explicit level of achievement (if not implicit) and condition of performance (if required). The performance level considered sufficient to demonstrate mastery.

Test items prepared and matched to the LOs assembled before starting instructions.

LOs usually have the following features:

  • unambiguous language
  • behavioural activity
  • measurable outcomes with desired performance criteria
  • linked to teaching and learning methods
  • assessment and evaluation aligned with overall competencies mentioned in the framework developed by NCERT

NCERT Learning Outcomes Documents:

Suggestive Pedagogical Strategies for achievement of LOs

  • Knowledge of LOs paves way to self-assessment by students who would learn to compare their achievement against the stated outcomes
    instead of comparing them with their peers.
  • This would also help them to internalise the learning outcomes.
  •  Therefore, teachers may:
    • communicate the learning outcomes in as unambiguous way as possible to students at the start of a lesson;
    • use LOs as Advance Organisers and ask students to paraphrase them in order to get complete understanding of their meaning;
      • work out the instructional activities, pedagogies, and assessments most likely to ensure that the stated outcome of learning is achieved;
      • plan lessons by selecting and arranging developmentally appropriate content and process while taking care of social and emotional contexts and varying learning styles, aptitudes, and abilities of students;
      • use techniques like collaborative learning, problem solving and others mentioned above under the characteristics of assessment, as well as connect the classroom, lab, and experiential activities to requirements of the desired level of learning
      • the most important aspect of the whole learning process is that the learner at every level, for every subject, for every topic, should be able to connect all learnings to real-life practice;
      • facilitate experiences that advance students’ critical thinking and creativity;
      • use technology to relate local and global societal issues and responsibilities with the curricular contexts;
      • make use of resources available at DIKSHA Platform in this reference; and 
      • continuously improve professional capacity by researching and participating in various capacity building programmes.

Suggestive Assessment Practices to gauge achievement of LOs

  • Performance in CBE is always seen vis a vis given criterion or standard of performance.
  • It can be integrated with Assessment for Learning and Assessment as Learning.
  • Some of the features of assessment of LOs could be:
    • Assessment must:
      • be Authentic i.e. it requires application of knowledge and skills to real world problems and demands decision making to determine optimum use of knowledge and skills in a given situation;
      • necessarily match with the Learning Outcomes cited in the beginning;
      • be reliable, valid and based on critical and creative thinking;
      • assess ability to integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes.
    • A balance between assessment ‘for’, ‘as’ and ‘of’ learning should be maintained for optimum results and minimum stress on students;
    • Multiple methods of assessment like portfolios, presentations, group projects, open ended questions, MCQs, short answer and long answer problems, reflective assignments involving measurement of capacity to analyse and evaluate experience in the light of theories and research evidence;
    • Rubrics must be shared with students prior to the test.

Cartoon series on joyful reading

To focus on the importance of these competencies, the Central Board of Secondary education in collaboration with Central Square Foundation, New Delhi is bringing out two cartoon series namely ‘Cogito’ and ‘The Question book’ to promote them through joyful reading. 

In ‘Cogito’, the conversation between Ankit and Ankita explores how to know the truth of something. Learning and understanding the process of problem solving and recognizing its patterns is a lifelong activity and a skill that can be applied both in personal and professional lives.

In the other series “The Question Book” Ankita and Ankit have discussed the Process of problem solving.

To access these, click on the following links

Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA)

PISA is a competency based assessment which unlike contentbased assessment, measures the extent to which students have acquired key competencies that
are essential for full participation in modern societies. 

PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.

Learnings from participation in PISA help to introduce competency based examination reforms in the school system and help move away from rote learning. The CBSE and NCERT are part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.

To know more, click here

Source : CBSE



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