Term Paper: Competency-Based Education Chambers, D. Etal

Pages: 9 (2440 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Such a plan of vocational training has often proved to be more successful in the second task than in the first: Because there was often little post-course evaluation of how well an individual had learned new skills or concepts (or because the skills and concepts in a course had little to do with the specifics of the particular worker's job) such courses often failed to produce significantly better trained workers.

Conversely, what we might call the American style of training, which has tended to be more results oriented and less concerned with rewarding individual workers, has tended overall to produce a number of workers who are good at their jobs but not necessarily very satisfied with their positions - which means that they are more likely to move to another firm, taking their skills with them.

Thus while overall the literature certainly suggests that competency-based education tends to produce workers who are well qualified for the particular tasks that their jobs entail (and, at least as importantly) are generally well trained in the less specific but obviously vital skills required by managers, firms should be cautious before they join any stampede toward highly rigorous competency-based education programs. Or at least cautious about such programs that do not maintain the element of rewarding skilled employees for the work that they have already done that was inherent in the course system.

The goal of competency-based educational programs should be a dual one: They should produce workers who have the needed skills to do their job as it is configured in the present but they should also have the desire to continue to learn and grow with their jobs. It is difficult to believe that any individual will need exactly and only those career skills at the end of his or her career as that individual needed at the beginning. Thus no worker is likely to be able to succeed unless he or she has the willingness (as well as the ability) to continue to learn new skills and new perspectives throughout the course of his or her life.

Petrillo (2003) summarizes the importance of lifelong learning - a focus that is at the core of competency-based education training programs.

Individual responsibility for lifelong learning requires the person to become a truly active, engaged learner. Self-direction in learning is the professional ability to initiate or persist in educational activities without external reinforcement. Individuals who are able to adapt to this behavior and systems of beliefs can easily justify the costs of learning.

This insistence on the importance of lifelong learning contains within it a number of different elements, as Petrillo suggests. These include primarily A willingness to change. This is a more difficult issue than it might at first seem: Humans, the authors argue, are genetically programmed to accept and even encourage some change while at the same time we are also genetically programmed to reject rapid, radical change. Evolution has conditioned us, as it has conditioned other biological entities, to change gradually. Anyone who wishes to make lasting changes either in an organisation as a whole or in the individuals who collectively make up organizations must address both the mechanics and dynamics of change as well as the dynamics of stasis.

Another key element that competency-based education programs must address is something that is far too often overlooked in management strategies for change: Change for its own sake has little appeal. Profound change is difficult to accomplish but it is possible if it is well planned and - most importantly - change in a positive direction. Change that makes people's lives worse is even harder to accomplish, and yet often management plans either do precisely this or fail to stress how change will in fact make an organization and the lives of the people in it better.

Competency-based programs must both themselves justify the reasons why they are asking people to change and inculcate in those people the ability in turn to justify change when it is introduced into their organizations.

The literature on competency-based education also reminds us that a key element of any training and/or evaluation program is the fact that the dynamics of the process of change are quite often not linear, which affects the way it must be planned for. Change is less time-consuming and easier at the beginning of the process than it is at the middle or end, and trainers and managers must plan accordingly. Not only do they have to allow for more time to be spent on planning and instituting change as any initiative for change moves forward, but they also have to provide better support for those making the changes as the process goes ahead.

Another key point that runs through this literature is the unsurprising but still perceptive and significant idea that in both in changing the work habits of individuals and in seeking to change the overall internal culture of organizations those with authority must actively provide the kind of support need to institute profound change. This can include finding a partner to support those at the top of the organization, building coaching into line management and creating an overall organisational culture that encourages people to seek help and support when they need it rather than stigmatizing them or penalizing them for not being entirely and always perfectly self-sufficient.

Competency-based education is a powerful tool and one that should be widely implemented. However, like any tool, it is most effective when used carefully, thoughtfully, and skillfully. It cannot be effected by simply buying a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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