Developing a competency-based curriculum


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The aim of this presentation was to provide college staff and faculty with a framework for developing a a competency-based curriculum. The workshop was presented during the national conference of the Vietnam Association of Community Colleges on September 19, 2013.

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  • This is probably the most important message today. Curriculum is not just what you teach, it’s how you deliver that material and how you assess it as well.Specifically, we are talking today about a competency based curriculum…What makes a curriculum competency based? With a competency based curriculum you focus on what a learner can do…specific tasks that require certain knowledge…certain skills…and, possibly, certain attitudes.Developing a competency-based curriculum starts with determining what competencies your graduates will need when they move into the workforce. Once you have determined what they need to be able to do and under what circumstances, you will know what needs to be taught…This will be your content. The content..knowledge, skills, and attitudes being taught must be expressed very clearly in learning outcomes and objectives. Good outcomes and objectives make it clear to everyone >>> students, industry partners, parents, and curriculum developers, what the content of your program or course is and what competencies learners will have when they complete it.Those of you who are teachers MAY or MAY NOT be given learning objectives for each of your courses. If you haven’t been, it will be up to you to develop them. Each course should have 1 to 4 learning objectives. We’ll learn how to write theses correctly today.How content is taught (lectures, labs, projects…) is usually up to the classroom teacher. But, if you are going to develop and document the curriculum fully, you need to spend time here…planning your lessons…making sure they are appropriate for your learners….making sure they address the content. This is part of a complete curriculum.And finally, the curriculum includes the type of assessments you select and use. I don’t just mean final tests or projects (the summative ones)…Assessment can, and should, be part of the learning process…chapter review tests…games…student feedback tools…allow you to judge how well the students are learning and allowing the students to see for themselves what they know and what they need to focus on. And that’s all of it…it’s a lot! But when you are finished you will have a full curriculum document…You will know why you are teaching what you are teaching...You will have a plan to teach it effectively ... And you will be well situated to get your students engaged in their own learning.
  • So here are our five steps:Identify the competencies your learners will need. Write clear learning objectives for each course and each class.Select ways of teaching that will engage your students. Decide when and how you are going to prove with assessments that your students can do what they need to be able to do.And the finally step is to assess the curriculum…Not the learners this time…but, take to review your curriculum to see if it is as effective as it can be…Does it address the needs you listed in step one? Do your learning objectives make it clear to students what the course or class will entail?Are assessments used as a learning tool? Are they formative? (We will discuss formative and summative assessments later today.)Depending on what you currently have for documented curriculum, you may find yourself starting your curriculum work at any one of these steps…I have seen a lot of curriculum documents from various colleges that have required knowledge, skills and attitudes clearly listed….If you have that, step 1 is complete…Most of us…(and this is a universal problem)…need to look at our learning objectives and write SMART objectives: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited. We often see learning objectives that are not as well written as they could be. This is as true in North America as it is in Vietnam. The main reason for this is that writing learning objectives isn’t easy. At my College we have Curriculum Consultants on staff who’s job it is to help instructors write the learning objectives for their classes…This is not a bad idea…and this should certainly be one of the most important jobs of any curriculum development department at a College.And what if you have good learning objectives….Then you may just want to focus on developing engaging classes, projects and assignments. If that’s the case you can jump in at step 3 and we’ll look at a template for planning your classes.And I hope you are all interested in using assessments effectively….There is a lot of discussion about assessment and how it doesn’t work. We’ll look at standard summative assessments, some not so standard assessment methods such portfolios, as well as a variety on Classroom Assessment Techniques or CATs that can be used throughout the course.
  • Step 1How do you identify the competencies your students are going to require in the workplace? The best place to start is looking to the workplace….You, or someone working with you needs to know the job.
  • Some of the WUSC volunteers have done some great work on partnership development and I attended a workshop earlier in the year about developing a Program Advisory Committees (PAC). Teachers in a program, whether it’s IT or Nursing, certainly have an idea of the knowledge and skills (that is the competencies) required in their field. But PACs are your guarantee that your programs are well aligned and keeping up with the industry. I’ve included some online sites at the end of this workshop where you can find the presentation material from WUSC.You cannot write a good curriculum if you don’t know the occupation you are trying to train for.
  • Let’s look at one example of an occupation and the tasks involved.
  • These are the competencies our graduates will need….Sometimes when you get an industry group together the competencies they tell you they need in employees might surprise you…For instance, during one of our IT industry meetings I was speaking with a representative from BlackBerry. They have a large support group that works out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. When I asked him what the most important competencies were that BB looked for in new employees…not only did he not list any technical skills…he specifically said these are not important…”As long as they have some basic IT..” They were looking for attitude…teamwork…interest in learning…That technology is changing so rapidly that companies like BB need people who can learn technology a year from now that they haven’t even developed yet…We’ve heard the same thing from Google recently…It makes for some interesting curriculum choices…We have to teach a good set of technical skills, but more importantly…we have to make sure our students can continue to learn…We have to teach them skills for finding and evaluating information…being able to work well in a team…being a self-directed learner…These have become essential and we have to be assess that our students have these skills…
  • At the end of their training, your students should be ready to assume the occupational roles they were trained for. Your graduate profile should match the entry requirements for the job.
  • If you will look on page 3 of your workbook you’ll see you have been given a list of tasks a Computer Services Technician performs. From that list I would like you to determine specific knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the job. You also have been given two examples to help you.Feel free to work in pairs or groups of three and at the end of the exercise we’ll summarize the competencies you’ve come up with.
  • Our second topic is how to write learning objectives so that they can be easier assessed. I am going to use two different terms here and very often these terms are used interchangeably…But for our purposes we are going to discuss Learning Outcomes and Learning Objectives. Learning Outcomes are not as specific as learning Objectives.
  • A broad statement that specifies the competencies required to successfully complete a program…“good skills in electrical technology”….You will notice that that statement isn’t specific enough that you could actually say what the students will be tested on.Have the ability to self-study and the capability to adapt…Again, it isn’t obvious how these skills will be proven…This is a Learning Outcome of a program…It answers the question: Why would I take this program?
  • Our sample program out come does describe what the learner will be able to do ….in GENERAL terms.
  • Learning outcomes are appropriate for a Program that has several or a dozen courses over two or three years. Learning outcomes MAY be a course if the course is longer and involves many different topics or modules…But a learning outcome is not appropriate for a shorter course that has a very specific focus…or for a class...or for an activity…..When you can say you are teaching something very specific you should be ble to write that goal into a very specific learning objective…
  • For example…To produce a competent Electrical technician, you need to break that program down to courses….then individual classess with in those courses…perhaps then you can say specifally what knowledge, skill or attitude it is you want to test… Sometimes even in classes we are addressing several different areas of learning so…we may need to break down our goals to learning objectives for a specific activity (a lab or a lecture) within the class….When you need to do this these “activty level objectives are sometimes called enabling objectives….But no matter what you call them…at some level…either that course level, the class level or the activity level…you will need to have SMART objectives that you can assess.
  • A learning objective has a very specific syntax or structure:The active verb you start with it key: On completion of the lesson the student will be able to troubleshoot, build, repair, assess, list, recognize…Then WHAT ….what is the content Do you want them to list eight electrical connectors? Do you want them to install a standard 200AMP fusebox? And finally sometimes the action need to have parameters around it…Do you want them to list eight electrical connectors that can be used in a given scenario? Do you want them to install a standard 200AMP fuse box without using written instructions?
  • We said the verbs were very important. Often we see statements that say the student will know…or the student will understand…These verbs are fine for learning outcomes (which are more general in nature) But the learning objective gives you a way of proving that the student knows something, because he can list it or explain it or install it…. Action verbs!
  • Let’s look back on the learning objectives I set out for this session. The broad goal, or outcome, for this session is that you learn about competency based curriculum development and you understand the steps of the curriculum development process…But look at the learning objectives: Explain…Describe…Develop…If you can do these things…then I know that you have learned. I have indicated the Active verbs (red)…The content (brown) and, where required, the more specific measure (green).
  • S
  • For our second exercise I would like you to write some correctly structured learning objectives for the Basic English course in the Electronics Program …I chose this course because it is a part of many of the programs at the colleges. Your worksheet is on page 7 and pages 4-5 are a review of what we just went over here about breaking down learning goals and page 6 is a list of action verbs that are appropriate for learning objectives.Let’s take 20 minutes in groups to do this and we’ll come back and report.
  • Now you have workable SMART learning objectives. Both you are your students know very specifically what is required of them.But, your curriculum is only half finished. Now, for faculty, the work really begins.How are you going to help your students to learn what they need to know. How are you going to ensure that your students can know what they need to know and have the skills they need?This afternoon we will be talking about the rest of the curriculum…the learning experiences and the assessments.
  • This morning we discussed the difference between learning outcomes and learning objectives…When you get to the level of the class or the classroom…you should have SMART learning objectives. Then the next step is to decide how you are going to teach this or assist the student to learn it.So now we are taking about developing a plan for one class…
  • This is a template that was developed for a Teaching Methodologies workshop given to some VACC members earlier this year…
  • If you look on page 10 of your workbooks you will see a completed template for a 2 hour class…
  • Remember…Curruculum isn’t just what you teach. It is how you teach and how you assess as well.
  • We need to know our learners…This is one of the reasons the full curriculum needs to be constantly reviewed and adjusted…Each year our learners are a different group of people.
  • Your turn…Now you are going to use the Learning Objectives from the Basic English Course and develop a class plan using the template…Let’s take 20 minutes to do this…Remember to make the activities varied and interesting…Think of what will accomplish the learning goal(s) and engage the student.
  • For the final exercise today I have decided to give you are standard formative assessment. This is similar to the chapter quizzes you find at the end of each chapter in a text book….They are for the learner…He or she can use them to determine it they understood the main content of the chapter or lesson….Turn to page 12 and complete the test there…We will go over the correct answers together when you are finished…
  • There you have it….a complete competency based curriculum….It’s a lot of work to develop and each step is important…but if you have a complete curriculum in place…teaching is easy….and for young teachers the earlier they learn to produce these documents the more work it will save them in the long run…There is one final thing you need to do. Because industry changes...because our students change…because our resources (technology, etc.) changes we have to constantly review and “tweak” or adjust the curriculum we are using…maybe just the teaching methods..maybe just the assessments ….occasionally we may have to start from scratch.
  • These are questions to ask
  • Developing a competency-based curriculum

    1. 1. Photo: Darlene Redmond, Vietnam
    2. 2. Curriculum Development 5 Steps to a CompetencyBased Curriculum By Darlene Redmond
    3. 3. Darlene Redmond, B.Tech, M.Ed(IT) Curriculum Development Advisor Vietnam Association of Community Colleges Vietnam Faculty Member Information Technology Systems Management Nova Scotia Community College Canada Uniterra/WUSC Volunteer 3
    4. 4. Workshop Objectives By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to: • Define competency-based curriculum development • „ Describe the five-step approach to curriculum development • „ Develop a program or course curriculum using the five-step approach 4
    5. 5. What is Curriculum? Needs - WHY you teach Content - WHAT you teach Organization - HOW you teach Evaluation - HOW you test 5
    6. 6. Curriculum Development 1 • Identify Required Competencies (Skills, Knowledge, and Attitudes) Needs 2 • Set Learning Outcomes and Objectives Content • Develop Learning Experiences Organization • Integrate Assessments Evaluation • Evaluate and Adjust the Curriculum Success! 3 4 5 6
    8. 8. Task Analysis of an Occupation • Expert workers and employers are the best source for task analysis (Your Program Advisory Committee) • Any occupation can be described in terms of tasks • All tasks imply knowledge, skills and attitudes 8
    9. 9. Example: Safety and Health Coordinator “The Safety and Health Coordinator recognizes, evaluates, and controls workplace hazards through employee education and engineering practices to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.” What tasks are involved? What does the graduate need to know? What does the graduate need to be able to do to complete occupational tasks? 9
    10. 10. Determine Competencies Job tasks... …Competencies • Writing safety reports • Identifying unsafe acts or conditions Knowledge Skills • Developing safety program • Educating employees Attitude • Investigating accidents… 10
    11. 11. Determine Competencies Knowledge Health and Safety standards: Investigation techniques: Training tools: Word-processing, presentations 11
    12. 12. Determine Competencies Skills Analysis: Find and compare information from various sources and identify issues and relationships. Planning and organising: Develop plans of action to reach a particular goal. Written communication: Able to express ideas in writing appropriately and accurately. Questioning: Asks questions effectively and appropriately to obtain information. 12
    13. 13. Determine Competencies Attitudes Judgement: Come to conclusions based on logical evaluation of information and determine the best course of action. Attention to detail: Pays attention to even small issues to ensure that tasks are accomplished thoroughly. Decisiveness: Able to weigh possibilities and make decisions. 13
    14. 14. Develop a Graduate Profile A competent graduate can perform… KEY ORGANIZATIONAL TASKS through… What combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes? 14
    15. 15. Develop a Graduate Profile The exit point for the training program should match the entrance point for the job Graduate Profile Occupational Profile 15
    16. 16. Your Turn Exercise #1 1 • Identify Required Competencies (Skills, Knowledge, and Attitudes) 16
    18. 18. Program Learning Outcomes (based on the identified needs) Outcomes and Objectives Course Learning Outcomes Course Learning Objectives (program goals organized into courses) Lesson Learning Objectives (course goals organized into lessons) Activity Learning Objectives (lesson goals organized into learning activities) 18
    19. 19. Learning Outcomes Learning Outcomes are broad statements that specify the competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required to successfully complete a program or course. 19
    20. 20. Writing Learning Outcomes • Think of what you want your learners to do “in the real world” with the knowledge and skills they will acquire during instruction. • Write brief general statements that describe this real-world performance. State the outcomes in terms of learner competencies.
    21. 21. Example from Kien Giang Community College Program: Electronics and Electrical Engineering Technology Outcome: Students who graduate from this program will have good skills in electrical technology, especially in the field of Electrical Engineering for agriculture industrialization, have the ability of self-studying to enhance their own knowledge, have the capability to adapt to the development of their local community. 21
    22. 22. Checklist for Learning Outcomes  Describes overall curriculum outcomes  Stated in terms of learner competencies  Realistically attainable during the curriculum  Stated in terms of learner knowledge, behavior and attitudes  Describes real world behaviors to be used by the learner
    23. 23. Program Learning Outcomes (based on the identified needs) Outcomes and Objectives Course Learning Outcomes Course Learning Objectives (program goals organized into courses) Lesson Learning Objectives (course goals organized into lessons) Activity Learning Objectives (lesson goals organized into learning activities) 23
    24. 24. Outcomes vs. Objectives Learning Outcomes are broad and answer the question, “Why should a student take this program/course?” Each learning outcome must be supported and defined by one or more SMART Learning Objectives.  Specific  Measurable  Attainable  Relevant  Time-bound 24
    25. 25. Outcomes vs. Objectives "The outcome is where we want to be. The objectives are the steps needed to get there." 25
    26. 26. Learning Objectives On completion on the course/lesson/activity the student will be able to… _____ Action (use an measureable action verb!) _____ Content (knowledge, skill, attitude) And if you need to be more specific about the level of knowledge, skills, attitude… _____ Measurement (specific criteria for success) 26
    27. 27. Action Verbs Verbs to avoid: learn - know- understand Appropriate verbs: apply – install – describe diagnose – explain  
    28. 28. Workshop Learning Objectives • Explain competency-based curriculum development • „ Describe the five-step approach to curriculum development • „ Develop a program or course curriculum using the five-step approach 28
    29. 29. Checklist for Learning Objectives  Related to a learning outcome  Answers the question, “What will learners be able to do at the end of the curriculum?”  Stated in precise, observable, measurable terms  Realistically attainable during the curriculum
    30. 30. Your Turn Exercise #2 2 • Write Learning Objectives 30
    32. 32. Lesson Planning Program Learning Outcomes (based on the identified needs) Course Learning Outcomes Course Learning Objectives (program goals organized into courses) Lesson Learning Objectives (course goals organized into lessons) Activity Learning Objectives (lesson goals organized into learning activities) 32
    33. 33. Lesson Plan Template Course/Unit: Lesson Learning Objective(s): 1. 2. Enabling Objective Organization Teaching Methodology Learning Instructional Points Activity Aids Evaluation Time
    34. 34. Lesson Plan Template Organization Course/Unit: Network Administration – Windows / Week 2 Learning Objective(s): After this lesson the students will have… LO 3 - Performed routine NOS administration tasks used in a typical small to medium enterprise. LO 4 -Applied standard analysis and troubleshooting techniques for NOS support used in a typical small to medium enterprise. Lo 5 -Developed technical documentation, logs and reports suitable for a typical small to medium enterprise. Enabling Objective Teaching Methodo Learning Points logy Activity 3.5 Install network operating server software (Windows Server) with a variety of common options. Plan and implement a LAN Lab Students will install Windows Server without Active Directory services and connect a Windows 7 client via a workgroup Instructional Aids Evaluation Time Microsoft Academic Alliance for licenses (Summative) Client PCs should be able to access files share on the server 4 points 50 minute s Textbook Chapter 2
    35. 35. Lesson Learning Objective • States the specific learning goal of the lesson • Is related to the learning outcomes or objectives of the course • States what the student should be able to achieve at the end of the lesson • Indicates how learning will be measured Note: Material in this section was presented earlier this year by Uniterra volunteers Sabastian Fafard and Min Wu as part of a Teaching Methodologies workshop. 35
    36. 36. Enabling Objectives • Specific learning of a class activity • The performance students are expected to demonstrate at the end of a specified step or portion of the learning • Sub-divisions of the lesson learning objective(s) into smaller, more manageable parts 36
    37. 37. Teaching Points • The competencies (knowledge, skill, or attitudes) that are the focus of a lesson • What participants need to learn to reach the objective 37
    38. 38. Methodology How will the content be taught? • Lecture/Discussion • Demonstration/Performance • Case Studies • Role Play/Simulation • E-Learning 38
    39. 39. Learning Activities If you tell me I will forget If you show me I might remember But if you involve me, I will learn. -Chinese Proverb 39
    40. 40. Learning Activities • The average adult can sit and listen for about 10 minutes • Build active learning techniques to improve and retain attention • Vary your activities • Use different modalities to meet the learning style needs of students (visual, audible, kinesthetic) 40
    41. 41. Your Turn Exercise #3 3 • Develop Lesson Plan 41
    43. 43. Formative Assessment • Takes place on an ongoing basis as instruction is proceeding • Rates the student in terms of functional ability to communicate, using criteria that the student has helped to identify • Helps students recognize ways of improving their learning 43
    44. 44. Summative Assessment • Takes place at the end of a predetermined period of instruction (for example, mid-term, final) • Rates the student in relation to an external standard of correctness (how many right answers are given) 44
    45. 45. Examples of Formative Assessments • • • • • • • Polls/Surveys Discussion/Questions Think/Pair/Share 5 minute paper Muddiest point Peer/Self Assessment Wrappers 45
    46. 46. Examples of Summative Assessments • • • • • Exams Papers Projects Presentations Portfolios 46
    47. 47. Your Turn Exercise #4 4 • The Wrapper 47
    48. 48. Check Your Answers 3 4 1 6 2 5 learning objective graduate profile learning outcome formative assessment summative assessment teaching methodology 48
    50. 50. Quality Assurance The curriculum that was planned The curriculum that was taught The curriculum that was experienced 50
    51. 51. Evaluating the Curriculum • Does the curriculum meet the intended learning outcomes? • Does the curriculum integrate employability and life skills? • Does the content incorporate appropriately validated skills, tasks, and/or competencies? 51
    52. 52. Evaluating the Curriculum • Is the content sequenced from basic to more complex concepts in coherent clusters? • Is the content presented in an interesting and appealing manner geared towards the diversity of learners? 52
    53. 53. Thank you! Email: Blog: 53
    54. 54. References Ravalli County Curriculum Consortium, Bloom’s Taxonomy ction%20Verbs.pdf University of Chicago, Curriculum Terms and Concepts tm#develop Theory Into Practice Wiki, Classroom Assessment University of Toronto, Examples of Learning Outcomes 54