This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 5, 2017.
New Zealand has been exploring future directions in competency-based learning and assessment for decades. The movement is grounded in social justice and equity. The principles of good practice which are the focus of the conversation today should realize that assessing competency in a situated learning setting is a balancing act and an activity of social learning via communities of practice while holding all students to the same high standards with articulated outcomes of what a student knows and can do with exemplars.
An important focus in New Zealand is the research underpinning competency-based learning on how students learn best:
- Learning highlights skills that are transferable.
- Learning is situated (Lave and Wenger: 1991; Vygotsky: 1978).
- Learning occurs in the same context in which it is applied.
- Learning is co-constructed in communities of practice.
- Learning is co-operative and in a learner’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
Students work on mastery toward skills to be competent and there is an emphasis on peer-to-peer and social learning that empowers student agency. There is increasing interest in competency-based learning with an integrated approach to assessing learning. Sufficiency, timing and methods of assessment are examined in competency-based systems. Some students have control over how they are assessed (on set standards), assessments should be a meaningful part of the learning process and students (as well as assessors) are aware of exemplary work as a guide. (more…)