What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Competency-Based Education (CBE) approach to curriculum development?

Define and describe the key terms in the stem. What happened in the 3210 course that drew you to this stem? What elements of the 3210 course are addressed by this stem?

While researching and preparing for the week two activity of the course, I realized that I lacked knowledge on competency based education. I realized that I needed to enhance my knowledge on competency based education. The main reasons for enhancing my knowledge were to learn more about this type of education to ensure I had a solid understanding for my assignments in this module as well to benefit the learners that I am responsible for as an educator.

The advantages of competency based education are; “is aimed at providing the learner with the knowledge, skills and attitudes” (Applications of Competency based Educations: In the Context of Diversity and Change) in a specific job or profession, students are required to have a minimum level of competency in both knowledge and skills components. It promotes ownership to the learner for their learning, utilizes a variety of learning methods, and uses an “objective assessment and a performance assessment”

(The Benefits of Competency-Based Education for Adults). And uses assessments and evaluations methods that are used in the workplace. An example for the practical nursing program is skills testing on medication administration. The student must perform safe medication administration using the ten rights of medication administration to a simulated patient. The Integrated Nursing Practice lab is set-up like a hospital, with a medication cart with all supplies, medication administration record, and the patient has a hospital identification band on. This form of education ensures the employer and that the applicant is job ready with the minimum industry standards for the specific job classification. Regulatory bodies have insurance that the applicant has achieved the minimum required competencies. Competency based education is usually not taught in one single module but is integrated throughout several modules or the entire curriculum this enhances the learner’s knowledge and or skills.

Disadvantages of competency based education are that “the learner often focuses on the assessment instead of completing assignments” (The Benefits of Competency-Based Education for Adults). The reason for this action by the student is that grades are based on assessments not activities or assignments. Often Instructors focus on developing assessments.

The elements of competency based education are addressed throughout the whole module of 3210 Curriculum Development. If you are working with competency based education it is in all aspects of your course materials, the curriculum, Instructor and student syllabus, DACUM charts, learning outcomes, performance outcomes and lesson plans.

Why did you choose this stem? What caught your attention? What thoughts and/or feelings do you associate with this stem? How did the 3210 course help (or not) you learn more about the material associated with this stem? What did you do to help yourself learn more about this material?

I focused on this stem as I needed to research and learn more about competency based education as it relates to the Practical Nursing Program curriculum which I am currently teaching. Competency based education focuses on providing the learner with the knowledge, skills, and attitude to problem solve in a field of study (Application of Competency-based Education: In the Context of Diversity and Change). While preparing the learner to have entry level competencies for a specific job classification.

What caught my attention was that the learners are required to obtain minimum competencies in both knowledge and skills to be deemed successful in the course. This is essential in a nursing program; the learner must have the theory and demonstrate the ability to apply the theory to a skills component to ensure safe competent patient care.

As I reflected on this stem I realized that competency based education is the only form of education for health care programs. As it requires the learner to achieve an expected level of competency in a specific area and develop problem solving skills. These are essential components for health care providers to achieve prior to entering the work force.

Prior to taking this module of the PIDP I lacked knowledge and understanding of competency based education. I was aware that the practical nursing students had to develop minimum competencies in order to be deemed successful, but was not aware how it was outlined in the curriculum. I have never reviewed the curriculum for the course I am instructing until I found it while researching for this module of the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program. It was not for lack of trying on my part, I had made several requests to my employer over the years for a copy of the curriculum. I was always only provided with the Instructor syllabus for the modules I was instructing.

In order to understand more about competency based education I reviewed the 3210 course manual several times, engaged in on-line research, and reviewed other learner’s post and feedback from the Instructor and reviewed textbooks related to adult education.

What for you was a turning point in your understanding of this material? What key insight(s) have been generated for you as you reflected on this stem? Why are these insight(s) significant and/or relevant?

The turning point for me regarding competency based education was when I was deciding on what focus to use for the development of my curriculum. I knew that I needed to learn more about competency based education as it relates to my practice as an Educator.

The key insights generated as a result of this stem are that competency based education utilizes observable and measurable outcomes to evaluate the learner to determine if they have meet the minimum required competency. The learner must have the ability to integrate knowledge into skills to achieve a pre-determined level of competency. This form of education uses defined learning objectives or performance objectives to measure the student’s level of competency. With competency based education there is five stages of competency. These stages are “novice, advanced beginning, competence, proficiency, and expertise” (PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development Course Guide). As the nurse gains knowledge, experience, and future education they will move through the stages of competency.

These insights are relevant to me as an Educator in a nursing program as the learners must be achieve a level of competence prior to proceeding out to clinical practicum to ensure safe competent care to the public that nurses serve. By using this type of curriculum it ensures that the learners have achieved the required level of competence.

How has this stem and the insights you have gained from this journal reflection influenced your ideas of teaching? How will this educational experience inform your professional practice? What are some related practices or activities you plan to introduce (or continue using) in your teaching?

This stem has influenced my teaching by reinforcing that the learner must ensure that they can integrate the knowledge into skills upon completion of the module. The Provincial Practical Nursing Program is modeled after Jean Watson’s theory of caring and is a spiral model of education. This allows the learner to build upon prior knowledge and experience throughout the program. As the student advances through the program they will be achieving highly levels of previous competencies learned.

This educational experience will influence my professional practice in many ways. I will need to ensure that all assessments and evaluations have measurable performance objectives. It has validated for me that this type of educate accommodates many different learning styles. Therefore I plan to continue to use a variety of learning activities in my class. Examples are lecture, class discussion, group work, case scenarios, and self reflection.

The one practice that I will continue to do is that the learners in the module Integrated Nursing Practice are required to complete a skills testing at the end of the module. The learner is provided with the skills checklist that will be used by the Instructor during this testing. This allows the learner to know exactly what they are expected to achieve in
order to be deemed competent in that area.


Gruppen, Larry D., Mangrulkar, Rajesh S., Kolars, Joseph C., Competency-based education in the health profession: Implications for improving global health, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 15, 2013, http://healthprofessionals21.org/docs/CompBasedEd.pdf

School of Instructor Education, April 2012, PIDP 3210 Curriculum Development Course Guide. Vancouver, BC: Vancouver Community College

Sudsomboon, W., Applications of Competency-based Educations: In Context of Diversity and Change, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 15, 2013, http://www.journal.kmutnb.ac.th/journal/47318255313174.pdf

Robinson, J., The Benefits of Competency-Based Education for Adults, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 15, 2013, http://www.evolllution.com/program_planning/the-benefits-of-competency- based-education-for-adults/

The Competency Group, The Benefits of a Competency-based Approach, Retrieved from the World Wide Web on March 15, 2013, http://www.thecompetencygroup.com/competency-solutions/discover-the-benefits-of-a-competency-based-approach.aspx

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