Competency-Based Assessments: What You Need to Know?

22, Sept 2023

Examinations are crucial to assess students’ understanding and overall knowledge, but for the longest time, it has been used to test subject knowledge. Furthermore, how much they score in exams became a focal point and concern, which is a reductive and outdated approach.

Therefore, revitalising the examination structure is a perfect solution, wherein institutes can conduct various kinds of tests, including competency-based assessments (CBA). Besides, they can carry out these tests through the conventional method or online assessment.

But what are competency-based assessments, and how can they help students?
Let us find out:

What is Competency-Based Assessment?

Competency-based assessment is an examination approach used by teachers, institutes and organisations to evaluate an individual’s knowledge, skills and competencies. Furthermore, these assessments are designed in a way to identify specific skills and abilities required for a particular job or career field.

In higher education institutes, competency-based assessments have become popular because it provides a means to measure learning outcomes. Therefore, the exams strive to test students’ knowledge and comprehension in key areas.

How does Competency-Based Assessment Work?

 Competency Based Assessment Work

1 . Pre-Assessment

The first and foremost step of implementing the test is conducting a pre-assessment, allowing you to determine the existing knowledge. So, how can you do that? You can conduct a survey or ask them to answer a series of questions through questionnaires.

In effect, you can assess students' competencies; exams are usually one-dimensional and strictly confined to theoretical understanding. On the contrary, CBA allows teachers to test the individual abilities of learners and understand the learning gaps.

As a result, they can personalise the instructional methodologies according to the learning needs.

2. Instructional Design

The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) conducted a survey that indicated that 15 lakh engineering students graduate every year. However, out of the graduates, only 2.5 lakh students succeed in getting a job in the core engineering industry.

Why is that? Is it because there are no vacant positions? Or is it because the number of graduates is very high? The truth of the matter is that companies or employers want skilled individuals with relevant competencies.

A maximum number of engineering graduates lack industry exposure and practical knowledge, which are the major reasons why they fail to secure a job in the engineering sector. Keeping that in mind, institutes prepare the instructional methodologies, ensuring it aligns with the learning outcomes.

Furthermore, they determine the competencies that students must obtain by the end of a particular course or program. After that, they develop examination activities through elaborate assessment management involving teamwork, research and discussion.

3. Assessment Activities

You must strategise assessments according to a pedagogical framework(Bloom’s Taxonomy); for instance, for the initial stage, you can use the low-level cognitive domain concepts to remember and understand.

On the other hand, you can implement direct assessment types (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) for a higher-level cognitive skill. For instance, case study analysis, descriptive written essays, and observational grading are perfect for this level.

Furthermore, teachers can implement the examinations in both ways: online and offline, and that is where online assessment management can help in carrying out the tests easily.

4. Define the Outcomes

Rote learning or memorisation and content-driven learning have been central to the education system, which leads to ineffective teaching and learning habits. On the contrary, clarifying the goals and outcomes enables you to follow a particular path.

No wonder NEP 2020 encourages outcome-based learning wherein institutes must restructure the curriculum and adopt relevant pedagogies and assessment methods. Therefore, teachers need to understand the learning gaps and different methodologies and implement the most appropriate one in the classroom.

Also, it is equally vital to declare and clarify the outcomes with the help of specific action verbs, such as describe, differentiate and compare.

5. Competency-Based Assessment Tools

Gone are the days when schools and colleges had to rely on conventional methods of conducting examinations. Nowadays, you can combine offline and online assessment platforms to carry out examinations.

5 Ways AI Can Help Scale Exams and Enhance Learning Outcomes

For instance, some of the most effective CBA assessment tools are projects, assignments, presentations, case studies, etc. Besides, these tools help to evaluate the student's strengths and weaknesses and measure their competency levels.

6. Develop Student-Friendly Rubrics

Rubrics are central to CBA because it guides students and teachers, and the latter hand them out to the exam-taking candidates before the exams start. Moreover, the rubrics are important as they inform students about the criteria based on which they will be evaluated. Therefore, the rubrics should include the following:

  • It should have clearly articulated competencies and learning outcomes.
  • They should provide clarity to the students about what they are learning.
  • It should ultimately measure student performance, reflect on learning and indicate the next steps.
  • The best rubric for CBA can be a single-point rubric which will encourage a continuous conversation between the faculty and students about learning.
  • A well-written rubric allows teachers to understand the quality performance of student work.

7. Feedback

A crucial aspect of CBA is the feedback that allows the faculty to provide continuous guidance to the students. Also, it allows the latter to get an immediate response to their assessment; for instance, when students share their assignments or take an online examination, teachers can give their feedback in real time.

As a result, students can reflect on their work and understand their shortcomings; also, you can provide personalised instructions and highlight the critical areas of improvement. Hence, the instant feedback mechanism helps to elevate their awareness of their academic progress.

8. Measuring Success

The whole point of competency-based examination is to test the individuals' capability, so teachers and students must work towards achieving a mark of criteria. Therefore, students need to study accordingly, whereas the faculty must guide them according to their understanding level.

The goal is to help them achieve mastery of the subject, practical knowledge and overall academic and personal development. And when they fail, teachers must take the necessary steps to improve their learning habits and help them gain a better understanding.

In Conclusion,

The competency-based assessment approach is helpful in evaluating a student’s abilities, knowledge and skills. It involves a number of important assessment tools; however, teachers must examine the learning gaps and develop the examination structure.

Posted By -
Gurudev Somani

Gurudev Somani,
Academic Consultant