Competency-based learning VS Traditional way of learning.

Competency-based learning is an approach. It allows the students to get mastery regardless of any environment,  over any skills or competency at their own pace.

What do you learn in this article?

  1. Introduction & Definition
  2. Key features
  3. Benefits
  4. Traditional way of learning VS competency based Learning
  5. Examples

Let’s First understand first what is a competency?

Competency is the ability of a person to perform any task successfully. Using knowledge, skills, and ability one can perform any competency.   It can lead to a more efficient student outcome.

Competency-based learning has many other terms such as –

  • mastery or high proficiency-based learning
  • a personalized learning system.

It fosters continuous learning of the students at their own pace. Also helps to develop students’ critical and creative thinking. It fosters the holistic learning of the students.

Now let’s discuss the five points working definition of the CBL- competency-based learning system. We can call it a key feature of a Competency-based learning system.

Key features of a Competency-based learning system

Let’s discuss key features in the detail.

1. Demonstration of mastery.:

Competency-based learning emphasizes on Demonstration of mastery. In which students are continuously engaged in the learning process. Where they are motivated by the teacher to demonstrate their skills and abilities.  

2. Well defined learning outcomes for competncy based learning:

To achieve the skills or knowledge, there should be well-defined learning outcomes for the students to achieve. 

3. Meaningful types of Assessment for competncy based learning: 

Competency-based learning supports the personalized learning system. Therefore assessment also becomes personalized. Assessment of the student does after achieving the attained learning outcomes. In other words, we can say it is a positive assessment system.

4. Support system for competncy based learning :

CBL supports each participant who is part of the learning process. Students get timely support as per their learning needs. So that it is also known as a personalized learning system.

5.Creation of knowledge for competncy based learning 

Competency-based learning is a student-centric approach. Where students learn by applying their skills, ability, and knowledge. Which further helps to develop critical and creative thinking among the students. Students demonstrated their own skills or knowledge. To achieve the decided learning outcomes. The assessment is also done after completely achieving the desired learning outcomes. So it helps students to create their own knowledge and to learn which becomes holistic and lifelong.

Now I hope you can understand the concept of Competency-based learning. And how it works? Now let’s discuss the Benefits or Advantages of Competency-based learning.

Benefits or Advantages of Competency based learning.:

We saw above how competency-based learning works. Now as it is a child-centric approach. It has many benefits too. Let’s see what they are?

1. Flexibility to learn in competncy based learning : 

In competency-based learning students learn at their own pace, It is an individual learning approach. So that a child can control his own learning. There is no specific set parameter to achieve. Or neither any set specific semesters nor hours. He can learn from where and when the child wants to learn. So it promotes flexibility in achieving learning outcomes. 

2. Assessment flexibility for competncy based learning 

 Learning is flexible so assessment is also flexible. The teacher assesses the students after completing the particular learning outcome. Here assessment is formative and continuous. 

Further CBE focuses on “Assessment as learning ”. And “Assessment for learning.” where the learner is assessed at his own pace. Assessment techniques are different from student to student. Therefore we can say it is a positive and flexible way of assessment.

3.Growth oriented Learning for Competency based learning:

Competency-based learning promotes a growth-oriented mindset. Where it gives a chance to each and every participant to achieve the learning outcome. It has focused on personalized learning. So each child gets an equal chance to gain knowledge. And It masters the skills to acquire the knowledge.  It continuously helps the children to improve and perform better. 

4. Qualitative learning outcomes for Competency based learning:

It does not promote rote learning and memorization. Students learn from their own experiences. They learn through demonstrating his or her skills or ability. From which Students acquire the knowledge and achieve quality learning.

5.Enforce deeper learning:

6. Personalised learning

We discuss many times, it is a personalized learning approach. So students observe, explore and demonstrate his/her own skills or knowledge. As a student, experiences himself. And involve individually in that process of learning. The knowledge which he acquires from those experiences is everlasting and deeper.

To make your ward learning experiences more interesting and enjoyable. You can also use some experiential learning approach-based activities. Which is not only interesting but also very practical and learning-oriented. Click on the experiential learning approach and you can find many activities here.

7.Holistic development:

Students demonstrate their skills or ability. And achieve mastery over it. Therefore, The learning outcomes they achieve from CBL are broad and holistic. 

8. Develop Critical and creative thinking :

To demonstrate any skills or knowledge.  The child has to think. Thinking is the first stage of the learning process. Here to acquire knowledge or skills, the child does not only have to think critically but also creatively. So it helps to develop critical and creative thinking among children. 

9. Building of Knowledge in competncy based learning :

Creation and building of knowledge is a key feature as well as major benefits of CBL. Students do not have pressure to complete assessments or learning. As he learns at his own pace. Students gain knowledge from their own real-life experiences. Students observe, explore, apply creative and critical thinking and lastly demonstrate it and achieve mastery. During this process, also interconnects his knowledge with other subjects and learning, Multidisciplinary approach or interdisciplinary approach helps to build everlasting and new knowledge.

There are many activities and ideas which you can use to connect your one topic with many or one subjects. To learn more about integrated learning. Just click on the link. You can find many activities for your kids.

10.Timely support:

The teacher provides support to the children as and when required.  Here assessment is formative so students and parents are provided timely feedback. And the teacher provides timely support for the progress of the child. 

Now, at this point, I think you understand what competency-based learning is? Its benefits bring more clarity to the concept. Now let’s discuss why we opt for CBL instead of the traditional way of the teaching-learning process. Let’s understand these 8 parameters of learning.

8 Parameters of learning- Competency-based learning VS The traditional way of learning :

  1. Outcomes
  2. Mindset
  3. Culture
  4. Support system
  5. Pedagogy
  6. Assessment
  7. Proficiency standard
  8. Advancement

Now let’s discuss this in detail for a better understanding.

The traditional way of learningCompetency-based learning
The traditional way of learning focuses on memorizing and rote learning. So learning achieved from these is low quality and temporary. 
Competency-based learning on demonstrations of skills and knowledge. So learning outcomes are broad and holistic. It forces on qualitative  and deeper learning
The traditional way of learning is based on a fixed mindset. It identifies the achievers, lower and higher achievers. On the basis of their marks, the teacher decides his/her learning and performance.
It is based on a growth-oriented mindset. It masters the skills to acquire the knowledge. And achieve the learning outcomes. It promotes continuous improvement and performance.

Culture & support system

The traditional way of learning follows the olden or traditional schooling system. It has a rigid and ruled-bound approach. And exam-oriented learning system. 
Competency-based learning adopts the inclusive classroom culture of learning. Where every learner gets equal participation in the learning process. Irrespective of any differences. Where all students participate and learn. 
Support system: Traditional ways of learning have a need-based support system. If students are found needed above or below the norms.  Then they are supported by teachers. Here you can find flexibility in learning. An Individual learning-based support system. Where the Teacher offers support to everyone as per the child’s requirements. It supports every learner irrespective of any differences.

Pedagogy & assessment :

Pedagogy: It adopts a single curriculum based on age. Or we can say one size fits all pedagogy. Competency-based learning focuses on a multidisciplinary approach or interdisciplinary approach. It is based on learning of science (facts). Further, it promotes personalized learning. 
Assessment: Here assessment is summative in nature. And checks what the child learned. Further, it applies the One size fits all – approach for assessment. Grade landmarks are awarded after completing the assessment. And promoted to the next grade. Here assessment is formative in nature. It focuses on- Assessment as learners. & Assessment for learners. It is a positive way of assessment. Where students asses flexibility at their own pace. And assessment techniques are different from student to student.

Profecincy standard and advancement

Proficiency standard: 
Proficiency standards are not defined. It is in the form of marks or percentages.
In Competency-based learning specific rubrics clearly shows the proficiency standard of the particular child. 
It is a traditional learning system where students are upgraded to the next level regardless of what they learn.
Competency-based learning is not time-based. It advanced or upgraded the child to the next level, after demonstrating mastery of skills. 

So we can say both have sky-high differences in the learning process. We definitely can conclude by saying that Competency-based learning is a better learning approach than the traditional way of learning.

Now let’s understand it with an example. How we incorporate CBL in our classroom. How do we plan our lesson using CBL? At the primary level, we can consider three main competencies. Under which you can divide many sub-competencies.

 Main competencies are:

  • Language competency
  • Mathematical competency
  • Environmental studies or science competency.

Further, you can divide them into sub competency of that particular subject.

Main competencySub competencies
Language competencyListening
Mathematical competencyUnderstanding of the basic concept
problem-solving ability and
Ability to Compute
Environmental studies or science competency.Observation & Identification
Discovery of facts
Sub Competencies

To achieve mastery over the whole competency. First teachers have to divide into sub-competencies. And can plan teaching-learning outcomes accordingly. Now let’s understand it With examples.

Examples of Competency based learning

Grade :1                                            Subject: Mathematics.

Teaching-learning outcome: To learn and understand numbers 1 to 10. 

To achieve mastery over the above learning outcomes. Teachers can plan various activities. Such as-

  • Objects counting
  • To count the fingers
  • Count and write
  • Match with numbers
  • Drawing and pasting

As you can see above, students use leaves, matchsticks, flowers, and stickers to count. So here you can see :

  1. Students demonstrate the activity means they achieve the mastery over this competency.
  2. You can see progressive growth here. Children at a time do not learn. Do not apply rote learning. But they count and understand the numbering.
  3.  Each and every student participates in the activity.Teacher adopt inclusive classroom culture here. Give equal chances to learn numbers.
  4. Teacher provides help when and where required by the child in counting numbers.

5. As we can see above the students use matchsticks, leaves, and flowers. They also can use vegetables, fruits, toys, and many more things to count. Here the teacher can use a multidisciplinary approach or an interdisciplinary approach to teach.

6. If students understand and learn. Then only they give an assessment. Assessment is in the form of formative not summative. When and where the child wants to give an assessment on number counting.  The child is continuously observed by the teacher during this course of learning. 

7.As per the decided specific rubric teacher assess the child.  Example of rubric for counting numbers.


The above table of rubrics clearly shows the proficiency standard of the particular child. If a child successfully demonstrates the mastery of counting numbers 1 to 10. He can upgrade to the next level. Above examples clear the concepts of Competency-based learning. 

Examples:2 for competncy based learning :

Grade : 3 Subject: English

Competency: Creative writing

Teaching-learning outcome: Able to write a few lines by observing the picture.

Here the teacher gives a picture. Instruct the students to observe the picture and write a few lines on it. 

It is the topic of English. Here the child allows observing the picture. The individual child tries to observe. And try to achieve mastery over creative writing skills. Further students can apply an interdisciplinary approach to learn. Where they can connect with Environmental Studies, Art, and mathematics.

The teacher assesses the students on the basis of their regular creative writing skills. Teachers can follow the following specific rubric. The rubric clearly shows the proficiency standard of the particular child. 

Rubrics for Creative Writing Competency.

Conclusion :

Now I think you have understood What is Continuous baked learning? Why it is important in today’s education. It helps in the holistic development of the child. And its personalized learning system, so that children learn in a joyful environment. He not only has the flexibility to learn but also the flexibility for assessment. So I can conclude by saying that Continuous based learning is a better option than the traditional way of teaching-learning. Hope you understand now. 

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