The Teacher's Role: Facilitating Competency-Based Learning Environments

28 Dec 2023
Competency-Based Learning

What is the a2 + b2 formula? This is a very familiar math equation that most students learn in school. While some succeed in understanding the calculators, most prefer to learn the formula by heart and refer to it accordingly to solve mathematical problems.

But what is its significance, and does it have any real-life or occupational use? One can find answers to such questions in competency-based education (CBE). It is a teaching and learning model that enables students to learn and master skills.

However, implementing innovative approaches relies heavily on teachers, who must be insightful and accommodate learners' needs. Given the fact that the role of teachers is crucial for the CBE’s success, it is only fitting to take a look at their contribution to the same.

Competency-Based Learning

1. Establish A Fruitful Student-

What constitutes a wholesome instructional approach? Teaching delivery that goes beyond the conventional notes and dictates and promotes growth is ideal. One of the first steps towards that is to establish a bond or relationship between the students and teachers.

Within the context of the educational setting, the relationship must be conducive to creating self-awareness and helpful habits. Teachers must take the initiative step by step to create an inclusive and helpful learning environment.

Consequently, it will make students comfortable enough to share their doubts regarding any topic or subject. At the same time, they need to set clear boundaries so that students maintain a sense of decorum and discipline. Some great ways to establish fruitful student-teacher relationships are as follows:

  • Create opportunities for students to get to know each other through collaborative projects and assignments.
  • Provide personalized feedback sessions, enabling teachers to send recommendations according to the student’s needs.
  • Practice culturally responsive teaching, wherein teachers take into account the students' linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

2. Personalizing Learning

Competency-based education is a strategic shift from teacher-centric to student-centric instructional methodology. According to this approach, the teacher works with students to understand their needs, potentials, and areas for growth.

Teachers can implement specific exercises, discussion sessions, and assessment methods to analyze each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Some of the vital CBE strategies that teachers can implement in offline and e-learning structures are as follows:

  • Project-based Learning: Students work on projects based on real-world problems in a group of four or five. Teachers must encourage each student to take an active interest in the projects.
  • Problem-based learning: Teachers encourage students to identify crucial issues in the environment, society, and community. Then, the latter proceeds to figure out practical solutions.
  • Inquiry-based learning: Students prepare questions related to the ongoing class topics or queries and explore the possible answers to them.
  • Self-directed learning: learners take the initiative in selecting, managing, and assessing their learning activities. Teachers remain a vital source of support, advice, and direction.

Besides, one of the primary advantages of this approach is that it allows teachers to personalize learning according to the needs of students. In fact, they receive greater flexibility and support, enabling students to reach their full potential.

3. Competency-Based Assessments

Traditional examination approaches strive to assess the subject or theoretical knowledge that may or may not reflect the student’s practical understanding and skills. However, the current and future trends emphasize individual skills and competencies.

Therefore, competency-based assessment is an ideal solution, as it provides a modern and effective mechanism to assess skills and learning outcomes. Also, it helps to measure observable capabilities and behaviors.

Furthermore, it helps to evaluate whether or not students have been progressing towards the goal or if they possess the skills to succeed in a particular field.

Teachers can design a successful competency-based assessment through the following steps:

Competency-Based Learning

Identity: Core Skills or Competencies

Teachers can start by clarifying the core qualities or skills required for a particular role. They can carry out independent research or consult with subject-matter experts in their respective fields and areas of study.

Create Assessment Tools.

The assessment methods and tools go beyond paper-and-pen tests and include various mechanisms. For example, they can use role plays, case studies, work samples, presentations, mock interviews, etc.

Besides, they must align the assessment procedures according to the competencies required to be assessed.

Develop Scoring Rubrics.

A proper evaluation technique supplements the efficacy of the assessment; therefore, teachers must establish evaluation criteria. Furthermore, they must create score guidelines for individual competency to facilitate fairness in the assessment procedure.

In fact, one of the strategies that they can employ is indicating performance indicators at individual competency levels.

Pilot Testing

They conduct pilot tests, wherein they evaluate the assessment tools’ effectiveness to ensure the test’s reliability and impartiality. Also, inputs and feedback from assessors and test-takers provide valuable insights to improve or modify the assessment methods.

Evaluating the Test Results

Assessing the results of the evaluation is essential to determining the student’s competency levels. Hence, teachers can achieve the objective by comparing the results of the assessment tools with the standards or benchmarks created for a particular competency.


Last but not least, they must provide insightful feedback to the students by highlighting the positive and negative aspects of their performance. Consequently, it will allow students to understand their strengths and areas for further improvement.

Competency-Based Education: Comprehensive Guide

4. Design Relevant Curriculum

"Curriculum load" is a term that educators and parents often discuss in the context of overwhelming academic stress. Moreover, it relates to excessive learning content and material that might have little or no relevance.

  • Identify and map the general competency areas with the help of a wide range of sources of information and techniques. They can use sources such as e-learning materials, articles, advice from academicians, etc.
  • They can use various techniques, such as focus groups, surveys, readings, and observations.
  • Define specific competencies in each general area by considering its composing elements. For example, for problem-solving skills, consider the amount of time students take to find a probable solution and its practicality.
  • It is also important to raise and address some crucial questions at this point, such as: what type of content is vital for the development of specific competencies in the curriculum?
  • They must also identify and implement the instructional strategies and methods that are most useful to develop specific competencies.
  • To measure the curriculum’s effectiveness, teachers need to create standards of measurement for the competencies. Also, it will enable them to determine what works and what does not for the learners.
  • Once the teachers have defined the competencies and criteria for outcomes, they need to figure out ways for students to demonstrate their skills. They need to implement varied ways of assessing the student’s work.
  • An effective competency-based curriculum helps students apply and execute skills, knowledge, and abilities. Besides, it must strive to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
  • At this stage, the teachers can include the following questions to assess the competencies: Have the students acquired the particular competencies by the end of the program?
  • As the teacher implements the curriculum, it is critical to assess its efficacy to ensure whether or not it meets the desired goals.

5. Monitoring Continuous Progress

Unlike traditional educational or instructional models, competency-based education relies on skill enhancement. Moreover, monitoring the ongoing progress of individual students is central to the success of this approach.

That is where teachers can utilize different kinds of formative assessment methods, for example, group assignments and experiential learning activities. Also, authentic assessments are a significant part of the CBE.

Authentic assessment is a specific type of assessment that necessitates that learners utilize their skills and knowledge in a real-world context. It has the following benefits:

  • It determines the students' competencies by enabling them to demonstrate their ability to solve problems and develop creative solutions.
  • It measures the student’s critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and communication proficiency.
  • Enables teachers to differentiate instruction for students according to their individual needs and concerns.
  • Portfolios are authentic assessments that include essays, projects, etc., allowing students to develop self-directed learning abilities, confidence, and growth.
  • Debates, presentations, and experiments are examples of performance activities that enable students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-life contexts.
  • Simulations are computer programs that allow students to learn a variety of subjects, including science, history, and economics.
  • For example, for a particular psychology topic, teachers could ask students to examine a case study using several psychoanalytic approaches.

Competency-based Training for Professional Development

"The future favors the prepared" is a quote that indicates the importance of skills and abilities that could prove to be beneficial in the future. In the educational context, teachers and institutes play a primary role in teaching the core competencies.

That is why higher educational institutes must facilitate competency-based training and development opportunities for teachers. Consequently, it helps teachers learn, update their training methodologies, and expand their approaches.

Therefore, institutes can collaborate with experts and educators and conduct scheduled sessions.


CBE is a revolutionizing global educational trend, assisting in creating effective learning programs that help to attain educational outcomes. It is a productive educational strategy that helps to increase student engagement, personalization, and collaboration. More importantly, it prepares them to face the challenges of the future workplace.

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Gaurav Somani Author :

Gaurav Somani,

Academic Consultant

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