"CBL makes education more transparent and learning more rewarding by establishing a goal-oriented framework. Expectations are high with CBL, but the cycle of learning encourages active reflection and provides opportunities to celebrate milestones and recognize improvement."
Competency-based learning is a philosophy that seeks to enhance the educational experience for all students by making learning goals clear, concrete, and achievable. For too long, students have been expected to glean insights from direct instruction and focus on subject-specific content knowledge. While this system works for those who are “good at school,” it also leaves many students - arguably the majority - out in the cold. Competency-based learning (CBL) invites those students who have been disenfranchised by traditional education back into the classroom by encouraging them to think about what education means for their future.
Transferrable Skill Building
In a competency-based system, students are encouraged to see a positive future for themselves and work toward it through knowledge acquisition and skill development. This means that school is never “pointless” and content is never “stupid,” because as frustrating as a new idea may be to grapple with in the moment, students appreciate the big-picture of view of what functional skills (be they physical, mental, or verbal) they’re gaining from the experience. For example, instead of learning the water cycle (which may seem esoteric in isolation), students use that same subject-specific content to learn how to describe a cyclical process - a transferrable skill that will be useful whether they choose a career as a building contractor, literary agent or musician.
Creating a Positive Learning Experience
CBL makes education more transparent and learning more rewarding by establishing a goal-oriented framework. Expectations are high with CBL, but the cycle of learning encourages active reflection and provides opportunities to celebrate milestones and recognize improvement. While traditional education expects students to “learn” things the first time they hear them and demonstrate mastery via testing, competency-based learning recognizes the trial-and-error process inherent in growth and values authentic demonstrations of knowledge and skill. This transforms school from a place where teachers seem to set traps for students to a place where students feel supported by their teachers and appreciate the role educators play in shaping their adult life.
Opportunities for Authentic Personalization
Since CBL focuses on successful outcomes, the process teachers and students use to get to those end-goals are completely open-ended. This means teachers no longer have to “teach the middle of the class,” and are actively invited to brainstorm authentic ways for each student to access content and skills. Personalization is one of the great sparks that makes CBL work. Students are more likely to be engaged by personalized learning experiences because they’re tailored toward their needs with an understanding of their strengths, weaknesses and personalities. On the other hand, planning personalized learning experiences is a much more engaging, rewarding process for teachers as well because it encourages creativity, outside-the-box thinking and the forging of meaningful partnerships with students.
To learn more about competency-based learning, download our free ebook, “Maximizing Goal-Driven, Learner-Centered Competency Education with an LRM.”