What is Competency-Based Learning?

Discover the benefits and drawbacks of competency-based learning in this informative blog post. Learn about how this teaching and learning approach works, who is using it, and its future prospects.

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Competency-based learning is a teaching and learning approach where students are assessed on their ability to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired rather than simply the amount of time they have spent in a classroom.

This type of learning allows students to progress through the curriculum at their own pace, focusing on areas where they need more support and skipping over topics they have already mastered.

Competency-based learning

How competency-based learning works?

Competency-based learning is based on clearly defined and measurable learning objectives or competencies. Students can demonstrate mastery of each competency through various assessment forms, such as projects, essays, and exams. They can also demonstrate their learning through real-life experiences, such as internships or volunteer work.

Once a student has demonstrated mastery of a competency, they move on to the next one. This also allows for a personalized learning experience, as students can focus on their areas of strength and weaknesses and progress through the curriculum at their own pace.


There are several benefits to competency-based learning, including:

  • Personalized learning: As students can move through the curriculum at their own pace, they can focus on the areas they need more support in and skip over topics they have already mastered. This leads to a more personalized and effective learning experience.
  • Flexibility: Competency-based learning allows students to learn on their own schedule, which can be especially beneficial for working students or those with other obligations.
  • Measurable outcomes: With competency-based learning, students can see their progress and understand what they need to do to reach their goals. This can also be a great motivator and help students stay on track.

Disadvantages of competency-based learning

Despite its benefits, competency-based learning has its challenges. Some of the drawbacks include the following:

  • Lack of structure: For some students, the lack of structure in competency-based learning can be challenging. With a set schedule or timeline, students may be able to stay on track and meet their goals.
  • Limited interaction with teachers: Because competency-based learning is often done independently, students may miss out on the interaction and support they receive in a traditional classroom setting.
  • Assessment challenges: Assessing student mastery of competency poses challenges. It demands different skills and strategies compared to traditional assessment methods.

Who should use competency-based learning and why?

Competency-based learning is used in various settings, including K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Companies in the corporate world use it to upskill their employees and provide more personalized training and development opportunities.

The use of competency-based learning is growing as more educators and organizations recognize the benefits of this approach. It offers a flexible and personalized learning experience to help students and employees reach their goals more effectively.

The future of Competency-based learning

The future of competency-based learning looks bright as more and more educators and organizations adopt this approach. With technological advances and online learning, competency-based learning is becoming more accessible and easier to implement. This will likely lead to continued competency-based learning growth in the coming years.


Competency-based learning is a teaching and learning approach that assesses students' ability to demonstrate knowledge and skills rather than the amount of time they spend in a classroom. This approach offers a personalized and flexible learning experience with measurable outcomes and the ability to progress at one's own pace.

Competency-based learning has become an increasingly popular approach for educators and organizations looking to provide more effective learning opportunities. However, there are some challenges, such as more structure and teacher interaction.

Competency-based learning is valuable for those looking to achieve their educational and professional goals. It offers the flexibility and personalization needed to succeed in today's fast-paced world. You can implement it in a traditional classroom setting or through online learning.

Learn more: What is Phenomenon-Based Learning?

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