What is competence?

What is competence?

Oxford Dictionaries define competence as ‘the ability to do something successfully or efficiently’.

The first article in this series discussed What’s in a qualification level? and Appendix 1 included a list of common command verbs, which can be used to indicate the complexity/depth/technical level of assessment criteria.

In this article What is competence? we explore the level of command verbs in more detail as we consider the demonstration of competence.

Competence is the key measure of any vocational qualification – all vocational qualifications are designed to enable the learner to develop the competence required to be able to perform a particular job.  Learning outcomes and assessment criteria within a vocational qualification will cover the knowledge and skills required to perform all or part of a specific role. Often vocational qualifications are mapped to the relevant National Occupational Standards and as such may be a ‘license to practice’, a minimum agreed standard for entry into an occupation, or progression within their profession. In addition, competence as defined in Apprenticeship Standards and End-Point Assessment Plans may include required behaviours and/or values.

These applications of the concept of competence define the term via their assessment criteria and outcomes.  However, competence in reality can be considered a combination of many interconnected elements which result in a learner/professional collating the right information, using the right method at the right time to be able to make solid judgements and decisions to initiate the right outcome or action at the right time and in the right way.

In order to deem a learner competent against an assessment criterion, or occupational outcome, it is essential to ensure that the appropriate assessment method is chosen to measure that competence. A qualification that assesses vocational competence should include a range of assessment methods that specifically facilitate the demonstration of the relevant competences. Skills can be assessed using practical observations, or work-based evidence, whereas knowledge and understanding can be assessed using questions and answers, and written examinations. Some assessment methods, such as professional discussions or questions and answers, can be used to strengthen other evidence, demonstrate a deeper understanding of a topic, or explain why certain actions were taken in a particular circumstance.

Read the full article What is competence? here.