How To Tackle Competency Based Education in 5 Easy Steps

Competency based education (or competency based learning) is one of those buzzwords that I hear thrown around often in the education world, but I talk to a lot of people who don’t really grasp the concept well and have no clue how they’d go about implementing it in their classroom. I’d even say that some folks I talk to are already doing it to some degree but haven’t necessarily associated the label with what they’re doing in their classroom. We’ve looked at competency based learning before, and yesterday, we looked at some of the benefits it offers, but Mia MacMeekin puts it together in 5 easy steps in the handy infographic below. Keep reading to learn more.

Competency Based Education in 5 Easy Steps

What is competency based education?

The goal of competency based education is to demonstrate a set of skills and knowledge in a selected field through authentic assessments. It allows students to learn what they need to learn in the way they learn best.

Step 1

Define and state the ultimate goal. What does the program wish to achieve?

Step 2

Design the path. What does the student need to accomplish the ultimate goal? These will become the competencies.

Step 3

Design authentic assessments for each competency.

Step 4

Add an array of content discovery resources. Create learning options.

Step 5

Gamify the course to encourage motivation, curiosity, and success.

competencybasededucation competencybenefits


  1. Rahul

    January 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Five steps are really helpful to think about the right path. Very informative article.!

  2. James L. Morrison

    January 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Great article. Hopefully you will publish a follow-up article providing examples of each step in the process.

  3. Candice Smith

    January 30, 2014 at 12:29 am

    The 5 steps explained perfectly.. Great share !!

  4. Wendy Wakeman

    January 31, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I tend to view step 5 (gamify) as only one of the ways to present Step 4 (resources) as there can be other motivators, too. I find that development time spent on the gaming aspect takes time away from my attempts to find the best variety of resources to meet the various learning styles. Just my observation…

    • Kyle Peck

      February 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

      I agree. Step 5 seems optional. (Notice that the image did not change from step 4 to 5). Great job, though. I liked the images used to convey the first four steps Useful! Thanks!

  5. Jee Dee

    February 8, 2014 at 5:24 am

    “Define and state the ultimate goal”
    Who does this? Where does the’ultimate goal’ come from? CBT is to start at the job, at the worksplace at what a ‘graduate’ is to do and to know to perform a given job / task to given standard. Too many persons graduate these days – and are joblesshaving having acquired skills and knowledge (‘ultimate goals’ set by academics detached from the world of work)the market / employers arenot interested in. I feel that step 1 needs to make it clear that the ‘ultimate goals’ are the result of needs and job analysis (national occupation profiles).

  6. Kyle Peck

    February 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Another thought… Consider using more categories of learning outcomes, and beginning the path with the lower level tasks, like knowledge. For example, using “Bloom’s Taxonomy” or another more recent one, you might have knowledge, comprehension, application, synthesis, evaluation, and creation milestones. Not every course requires all of these types of accomplishments, but perhaps they should. Every degree program should as well. Thanks again for sharing your info-graphic.

  7. Wilberforce Manoah

    February 10, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Quite nice. Is there a correlation between CBT and employability. If yes how can it be measured?