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about ICO course: Competence theory and research

This is a very well-organized course held by Prof. dr. M. Mulder at Wageningen University. I highly recommend this course to those who are interested in competence-based education or assessment:

As competence is defined as an integration of knowledge, skills and attitudes, I think the teaching team has shown their efforts to stimulate us to achieve this integration through diverse readings, activities and discussions. Personally, I feel very motivated (thus, this is about attitudes) to study materials and join the discussions because of the unique atmosphere created by the teaching team.

During the fifth meeting, the topic is competence-based assessment. Competence-based assessment emphasizes a holistic and integrated way of assessing knowledge, skills and attitudes. It includes a spectrum of methods from traditional testing (e.g., multiple choice questions) to new/alternative assessments (e.g., performance and portfolio assessments). As the example that the teacher made during the meeting, a good nurse does not only possess medical knowledge and being able to take care of patients but also have certain attitudes such as sympathy and caring. Though it is difficult to measure attitudes and how they are integrated with knowledge and skills, we cannot deny its importance.

A challenging issue is in fact it is not possible to measure competence holistically. One example of competence-based assessment is Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). When judging competence, analytical criteria are always applied to decide the quality no matter whether judges are aware of their internal criteria or not. However, adding up different sub-scores of criteria is still not equal to the whole competence that a person has: "the whole is greater than the sum of parts" (Benjamin, Chun, & Shavelson, 2007). The conflicts between the "holistic" definition/approaches of competence-based education/assessment and "analytical" implementations remain an open discussion.

My PhD project aims to support learners to develop peer learning competences for self-organized learning: to know and to perform knowledge sharing and building. The lesson from this course is to include knowledge, skills and attitudes when designing intervention of peer support as well as include these three aspects as dependent measures after implementing an intervention.