Competency Based Education

In today’s commercial environment, where market conditions are precarious and competition is fierce, there are a number of things that could cause a business to fail. But according to recruitment agency Express Employment Professionals, there are five major problems that are more concerning than others and nearly all of which are to do with employees. These are:

  • Inability to Innovate – 83 per cent of companies cited shortage of talent as their number one pressure.
  • Losing Your Competitive Advantage – Employee disengagement costs businesses $328 billion every year.
  • High Costs of Reckless Hiring – 80 per cent of turnover is a result of mistakes made during the hiring process.
  • Poor Leadership and Communication – Two-thirds of companies are more concerned about retention now than they were before the economic crisis.
  • Regulatory Nightmares (US) – In one year, federal regulations can cost businesses over $1.75 trillion.

As a result, more and more businesses are prioritising training in order to increase employee ability, enhance personal development, improve retention rates, and ultimately generate higher revenues. One of the best ways to do this is through Competency-Based Education.

What is Competency-Based Education?

Competency-Based Education (CBE) refers to adaptive outcome-based instruction that caters for the changing wants and needs of students and teachers. Employees participating in this type of training are able to progress by achieving objectives and demonstrating mastery of a certain topic or theme.

However, it is conducted at the member of staff’s own pace and allows them to demonstrate what they have learnt, as soon as they’ve learnt it. In this respect, CBE is incredibly flexible, because it allows individuals to work quickly or slowly, polish up on existing knowledge or engage with new information.

But above all else, CBE measures learning rather than time. Regardless of how long it takes for an individual to grasp a certain subject, as soon as competency is achieved, they can move onto another topic or complete their learning.

This has immeasurable benefits from an educational point of view, as students can complete courses or degrees in half the time of traditional teaching techniques. However, it can also be incredibly useful and valuable in the enterprise too, as businesses need their employees to acquire new skills and knowledge in a quick, efficient and effective way.

The principles of Competency-Based Education

  • Progression through mastery – The cornerstone of CBE is that employees can only progress to more advanced work after competency of previous skills and content has been achieved.
  • Empowerment via measurable learning objectives – By providing and setting out the measurable learning objectives of a training course or module, employees take responsibility and ownership of their learning, which increases engagement and motivation.
  • Assessment facilitates a meaningful and positive learning experience – As opposed to traditional types of examination, CBE aligns assessments next to learning objectives. Therefore, employees receive immediate feedback when testing or appraisals take place, which supports and encourages the individual to do better.
  • Immediate and differentiated support – If an employee is struggling with a certain subject or topic, they could quite easily become disengaged or frustrated. But a core principle of CBE is that both teachers and trainees should have access to technology-enabled solutions that feature predictive analytic tools to prevent this from happening.
  • Greater competency emphasises the application of learning – Employees are more likely to apply skills and expertise to new situations through a competency-based approach to training. They will also be more eager to acquire new knowledge and learn life skills.

The benefits of Competency-Based Education

A handy infographic produced by Rasmussen College points out some of the advantages that students can benefit from if they take part in CBE. However, these can be applied to a commercial environment too.

  • Quick completion time – 90 per cent of those in Competency-Based programs completed their degree quickly. Therefore, any business putting its employees through training will be pleased to know that this type of tuition doesn’t have to be a prolonged exercise.
  • Avoid repeat learning – 81 per cent of students managed to avoid taking traditional courses that covered topics or themes they already knew about. From an organisation’s perspective, relevancy, efficiency and productivity is improved with CBE.
  • Cost-effective – Eight out of 10 students said they saved money with CBE. Thus, a business doesn’t need to worry about wasting money on traditional training techniques if CBE is the more cost-effective and successful option.
  • Pathway to higher learning – 62 per cent of students went on to complete high-level coursework shortly after taking a CBE course. After completing a training program, there is every chance that employees will want to develop their skills and expertise further too.

Over half of these students also said that all of the aforementioned boons and benefits applied to them. For a business, employees could potentially complete a training course quickly and efficiently in an inexpensive way if CBE is introduced.

Wranx relationship with Competency-Based Education

The comprehensive training solution we have here at Wranx takes all of the principles and benefits associated with Competency-Based Education and make it available for any business.

Rather than giving employees an overwhelming amount of facts and figures in one go, we space out our training over time. This allows members of staff to learn at their own pace while effectively acquiring and retaining new knowledge. Spaced retention, another teaching technique that prioritises unfamiliar topics and limits training to short periods of time each day, is another method Wranx uses to accelerate learning. This also helps employees avoid subjects they already have sufficient comprehension of.

Through gamification, we also exploit the human instinct of competition and take advantage of our natural quest for greater knowledge. By applying game design thinking to training scenarios, employees become incentivised and engaged with the topics they are learning about. As a result, development, competency, knowledge acquisition and retention levels increase.

While CBE is becoming an increasingly common teaching method in schools, colleges and universities, it also has innumerable benefits for businesses too.

Written by: Persia Shahkarami

Persia is passionate about helping organizations improve employee engagement across their professional development initiatives.
Published: 25 Nov, 2014