Difference Between Traditional and Competence Based Curriculum

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Competency based curriculum refer to system of instruction, assessment, grading and academic reporting that are based on student demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they have expected to learn on the progress through their education. The general goal of competency based curriculum is to ensure that students are acquiring knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school. High education, careers and adult life. But if student fail to meet the expected learning standards they typically receive addition instruction, practice time and academic support to help them to achieve competency or meet the expected standard.

Traditional based curriculum begins with identifying activities for students. Is an educational curriculum which follows established guidelines and practices. In this curriculum there is a set of course which student must take to graduate and the order in which they are presented and to the curriculum in the form of content taught in an individual class.

The following are the five differences between competency based curriculum and traditional based curriculum;

Competency-based learning refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education. In public schools, competency-based systems use state learning standards to determine academic expectations and define “competency” or “proficiency” in a given course, subject area, or grade level (although other sets of standards may also be used, including standards developed by districts and schools or by subject-area organizations). While traditional based curriculum is an educational curriculum which follows established guidelines and practices. This term can refer both to a curriculum as a whole, as in the set of courses which students must take to graduate and the order in which they are presented, and to the curriculum in the form of the content taught in an individual class.

The general goal of competency-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve competency or meet the expected standards. While the traditional curriculum testing is used to measure accomplishment and progress. This practice has also been criticized by educations, as standards-based curricula can take on a “teach to the test” format in which students are provided with information which will help them pass a test, but not necessarily with information which they can use. For example, math education might be very based on learning set formulas and ways of doing math, but not on developing math skills which could be useful in real life.

Competency-based curriculum have become more widely used by universities and colleges while traditional based is used in primary and secondary school. This is due to the fact that in universities and colleges students are taught what they are going to practice. For example, a student who is studying educational course him/she is going to be a teacher, also an engineer student is prepared to be an engineer. This is different in primary and secondary school where by students learn so as to pass an examination only.

competency-based learning requires mastery of every individual learning outcome, making it very well suited to learning credentials in which safety is an issue while traditional learning methods use summative testing, With summative testing a student who has 80% in an evaluation may have an 80% mastery of all learning outcomes or may have no mastery what-so-ever of 20% of the learning outcomes. Further, this student may be permitted to move on to higher learning and still be missing some abilities that are crucial to that higher learning. For example, a student who knows most traffic laws and has mostly mastered controlling a vehicle could be treated equally to a student who has a very high mastery of vehicle control but no understanding of traffic laws, but only one of those students should be permitted to drive.

Competency-based curriculum is an approach to teaching and learning more often used in learning concrete skills than abstract learning. It differs from traditional curriculum in that the unit of learning is extremely fine grained. Rather than a course or a module every individual skill/learning outcome, known as a competency, is one single unit. Learners work on one competency at a time, which is likely a small component of a larger learning goal. The student is evaluated on the individual competency, and only once they have mastered it do they move on to others. After that, higher or more complex competencies are learned to a degree of mastery and isolated from other topics. Another common component of Competency-based learning is the ability to skip learning modules entirely if the learner can demonstrate they already have mastery. That can be done either through prior learning assessment or formative testing.

Also competence base and traditional have some weakness and strength as explained bellow

Strengths of a competency-based curriculum. It meets the immediate needs of businesses and professions; students are both already working, and receive advancement within the company, or if unemployed, are more likely to be employed once qualified.

Weakness of a competency-based curriculum. It does not suit subject areas where it is difficult to prescribe specific competencies or where new skills and new knowledge need to be rapidly accommodated.

Strength of traditional based curriculum. It is easy to prescribe specific competencies or where new skills and new knowledge need to be rapidly accommodated.

Weakness of traditional based curriculum. The use of summative testing produce learners who are not competent enough.

I prefer to use competency-based curriculum, due to the number of factors explained below.
It enables learners with work or family commitments to study at their own pace. For example those studying at Open University of Tanzania are studying at their own pace but they are required to meet for examination so as to test their competency.

Competence based curriculum involve students working at their own rate and structuring their own methods of learning so as to meet these objectives. This improve student’s creativity, as students use their own knowledge and methods in studying.

The use of competence based curriculum in Tanzania is highly needed as this is the only method which can improve education system in both quality and quantity. But this does not mean that the use of traditional curriculum should be slaughtered. What we want to emphasize here is the interconnection between traditional and competence curriculum so as to ‘making education better’.

Participatory versus non participatory teaching and learning methods.
Participatory method to teaching and learning are active method that encourage people or learner to think for themselves. Participants actively contribute to teach and learning, rather than passively receiving information from outside expertise. The method encourage learner to share information, learn from each other and work together to solve common problem. This method increases responsibility for planning their own learning sessions, they learn how to work together in a group, they also gain experience in using the activities and visual tools to their own field work.

Non participatory method to teaching and learning are passive method of learning and teaching where by learner regarded as ‘tabula rasa’ who know nothing despite from listening to teacher. In this method learner are passively receiving information from outside expertise.
The following are the participatory and non-participatory methods.
Starting with participatory methods.

Group discussion. This refer to an organized conversation on the relevant topic guided by the teacher in order to exchange idea, increase knowledge decided to the course action and make decision to develop learning and teaching process. Also group discussion encourage active participation of learner in learning process.

Features of group discussion are;

Interface. A basic feature is the interaction among the various members of the group. They see, they hear and communicate with each other orally by paying attention to each other.
Active participation. The effectiveness and efficiency of group discussion depend to a large extent, upon the active participation of the members. Where by members provide their fact and criticize themselves among the members of the group. In order the group to be effective all members must participate effectively.

Another participatory method is field trip. This refer to educational visit to place of educational interest outside the classroom. After the field learners make the report on what they saw and learnt from the trip.

Features of field trip are;

Learners experience the real life situation, despite of learners staying in the class and observing what teachers ask them to do. Here learners increase their experience in real life situation where by learners met with different people of different background and culture.
It is very expensive. It is expensive due to the fact that, learner must travel from one place to another which require money which can be used during the journey.

Another participatory method is brain storming. Teacher present question to student context. Student have time to think about situations and ideas. The thinking of idea is called brainstorming.

Features of brainstorming are;

Presentation of specific question. Teacher present specific question to the students, where by students should answer the question and the class should respect ideas and answer given by their fellow students.

Also the non-participatory methods are explained bellow;

Lecture method. It is the oldest procedure of teaching. It is widely used in schools and colleges. Students listen and take note. It is best to use to cover a wide topic for a short period of time.

Feature of lecture method;

It does not promote interaction in most cases, lecture method one of their features it does not allow interaction between teachers and learners. Example learners listen and to take not. But learners are not allowed to contribute, criticize, and provide argument or not allowed to contribute, criticize, provide argument or asking question, learner are regarded that they know nothing.

No consideration of individual differences. Lecture method does not consider individual difference in class. It regard all students as having the same ability as well as the class know nothing.

The first method I prefer most in teaching is discussion method, this is the method in which group discussion techniques are used to reach instructional objectives. The main reason of selecting this method are; the method result in more permanent learning because of high degree of student participation. Also the method help to determine how well students understands concepts and principles. Furthermore the method increase student’s acceptance and commitment.

The second method I prefer most in teaching is the demonstration method. This is a method of instruction where the instructor by actually performing an operation or doing a job show the student what to do, how to do it, and through explanations brings out why, where and when it is done. The reason of preferring this method is the method can be presented to large groups at short time, also the method set standards of workmanship.

The last method I prefer in teaching is the lecture method. This is a formal or semi-formal discourse in which the instructor present a series of events, facts or principles, explores a problem or explain a relationship. The main reason of selecting the method is it widely illustrate application of rules, principles or concepts. Also the method permit flexibility and adoptability to students about what is taught.

To sum up, participatory and non-participatory method use depend on the type of learners. So for teachers before choosing a method to teaching he/ she is supposed to know the learners. Children understand the lesson when taught by using participatory methods, also adult learners understand well in both methods depending on teacher selection of the method. But to some extent, participatory method is best than the non-participatory method as the participatory method encourage the student’s creativity than the non-participatory method which assume that students know nothing.

Newble D, & Cannon R. (1995). A handbook for teacher in universities and colleges; a guide to improving teaching methods. London.

Adeyemi, M (2000). Social studies in African education. Hodden and Stoughton.

Mukwa, C.W & Otieno Jowi (1988) Education Communication and technology. Nairobi. University of Nairobi.

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