Competency-Based Education Term Paper

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Competency-Based Education

Chambers, D. etal. (1996, I June). "Another look at competency-based education in dietetics." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 96 (6): 614.

While this article is focused on the usefulness of competency-based education specifically within the field of dietetics, it is helpful for those in other fields as well because it presents an excellent argument about why competency-based education is such a powerful tool. While other training (and evaluation) methods have tended to focus on specific skill sets, competency-based education is extremely helpful in teaching the integrated skills needed for higher-level positions, including helping to inculcate the kinds of critical-thinking skills that are important for management positions.

Foley, G. (1995) Understanding Adult Education and Training. Allen & Unwin: Sydney.

This is one of the most important works on adult education and training within a specifically Australian context (although a number of international examples are included). The first book to offer a comprehensive analysis of this topic, it is still considered (based upon the number of times this work is cited by others) remains in many ways the "Bible" of the field. The strength of this work is twofold: It both presents a broad-ranging and clear description of the theoretical underpinnings of the field and helps readers to understand in specific, clear ways how to link the theory of the field with their daily work.

The book covers four separate areas of adult education and training: the foundations of management a program on adult education; the historical and political context of adult education in Australia (and to some extent in other nations); ways to integrate adult education into the workplace; and how different styles of learning and teaching can be linked to each other.

Harris, R., Guthrie, H., Hobart, B., & Lundberg, D. (1995). Competency-based Education and Training: Between a rock and a whirlpool. South Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia.

This book addresses an issue that is ignored in much of the literature on this issue, which is the fact that competency-based education is in fact a rather amorphous topic: Its meaning tends to shift with the speaker and the situation. While to some extent this flexibility can be considered to be one of its strengths, it also ensures that it is difficult to design a training program for competency-based education that can be transferred from one setting to another. This lack of consistent definition also ensures that evaluation of competency-based education programs is difficult. This book considers the entire range of issues that have prompted - and that are in turn raised by competency-based education and training. While the book focuses on these issues specifically within an Australian context, it does include a number of international examples.

Hill, J. & Houghton, P. (2001, 1 April). "A reflection of competency-based education: Comments from Europe." Journal of Management Education 25 (2): 146-166.

This is a useful article in that it provides a broad overview on the ways in which competency-based education has changed since it was first implemented. It also provides a well-designed experimentally-based study in the effectiveness of such programs, demonstrating that students (and thus presumably workers) who go through them are in fact better prepared to meet the ever-changing challenges of the modern workplace.

Petrillo, T. (2003, March 1). "Lifelong learning goals: Individual steps that propel the profession of dietetics." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 103 (3): 298.

Petrillo makes the key point that is it not only "low-level" workers who must work to keep their skills current. There may be an assumption amongst both workers and their supervisors that those workers with professional degrees and in positions of responsibility do not have to make a conscious effort to maintain and upgrade their job skills. But Petrillo, arguing for the importance of competency-based education, reminds the reader that even relatively high-level jobs often contain within them a fairly high fraction of routine work and that this high percentage of time dedicated to such routine work tends to lead to a degradation of work skills as well as a disinclination to improve those work skills. She argues that CBE programs can help workers at all levels of responsibility within an organisation commit themselves to life-long learning with the result that not only will they be more competent workers who are able to contribute more to the organisation as well as finding more personal satisfaction in their jobs.

Scott, G. (1999). Change matters: Making a difference in education and training. Allen & Unwin: Sydney. Australia.

Change Matters is directed primarily at teachers and other educational professionals who are interested in developing small-scale projects for change that they can manage on their own. One of the strengths of this book is that is helps to demonstrate how the barriers to change (which can be seemingly overwhelming to an individual) can in fact be surmounted through a combination of organisation and determination. However, this book does not stop by outlining projects that can be accomplished in the individual classroom: Rather Scott demonstrates (through clear and practical descriptions) the ways in which these small-scale projects can be expanded to entire schools or companies without losing their momentum or integrity. Scott emphasizes the importance of all phases of change - including initiation, development, implementation, and evaluation (he stresses how this last step is far too often ignored) - as well as concentrating on the importance of leadership, especially the leadership demonstrated by members of the training staffs.

Smith, C. (2001, January 1). "Competency-based education and training: A world perspective." International Labour Review 140 (3): 367-368.

This is an extremely useful article for providing basic, workable definitions of some of the key concepts within the field of competency-based education and training. The author defines competency-based education as using a standards-based approach (itself based on predetermined benchmarks) to assess how much employees have learned and to what extent they are qualified to perform certain job-related tasks. The entire concept of competency-based education - which first emerged about 15 years ago in the United Kingdom and is now fairly widely used in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and a number of related European countries. Competency-based education models have replaced the assumption that simply because a worker has been on a training course that he or she is in fact properly trained to do a specific set of tasks and is a recognition of the fact that even well-trained workers must continually upgrade their skills to remain competitive in the current industrial climate.

Whiteley, A. (1995). Managing Change: A core values approach. Macmillan, Melbourne, Australia.

Whiteley argues that the key to bringing about fundamental and enduring change in any corporation (or indeed in any organisation) is an understanding that the core values of its internal culture. The first part of this book is dedicated to helping individuals recognize the "core values" of their own organizational culture. Once these values are recognized, she writes, it may often seem that they are impossible to overcome because they are indeed so integral to the organisation's sense of itself. However, in the second half of the book Whiteley - using case studies from both the public and the private sectors - both demonstrates the fact that fundamental change can be brought about and suggests specific ways of doing so.

After surveying the literature on competency-based education, it would be difficult not be enthusiastic about this model. It would also be somewhat of a puzzle as to why such a model of education within the context of vocational teaching had not been implemented sooner. This essay summarizes the key elements of competency-based education while also advocating that such programmes should be expanded.

It is notable that those countries - especially the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South African - that have most fervently adopted competency-based education programmes are those in which both schools (including universities) as well as business firms generally were the least likely to use something like a competency-based approach. Conversely, those countries (such as the United States) that have been using something analogous to a competency-based approach all along have not enthusiastically adopted formal competency-based education programmes, no doubt because they have in general felt them to be somewhat redundant.

British, Australian and New Zealand firms for a number of years after the end of the war focused on the importance of sending their employees on training courses for two separate reasons. The first of these was to improve the skills of the workers involved so that the companies who employed these constantly trained workers would remain competitive in an environment in which other firms were each constantly training their own workers to keep them abreast of important developments in our ever-changing world. The second reason - and the importance of this should not be dismissed as more and more schools and firms shift to a competency-based educational model - is that such courses were rewards to good employees, allowing them to receive a very public pat on the back for work well done as well as preparing…[continue]

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