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Competency Based Education (CBE) - A Detailed Guide

Competency based learning or competency based education (CBE) is an educational approach that measures learning by the skills and competencies the students master, instead of focusing on the number of hours spent in the classroom. Students progress at their own pace.

Under competency based education, the education framework is redesigned around the actual progress of students that can prepare them for the future in the competitive and ever-changing economy.

This mode of learning causes a major shift in the culture, structure, and pedagogy of the schools. It prioritizes the success of every student and eliminates the traditional model's drawbacks.

Competency based education helps students achieve better equity. It fosters deeper learning and creates a path for continuous improvement. Read on to know more.

Features of Competency Based Learning

The features of competency based education or CBE are categorized as follows:


  • Following a professional approach -  In this, real-life and application-oriented competencies are defined.
  • Focusing on textbook knowledge and real-life application of skills.

Technique for Learning the Content:

  • Competency based education (CBE) focuses on the desired outcomes.
  • This technique defines competencies that need to be acquired after a specific time interval. During this duration, a specific part of the educational curriculum has been completed.

Pedagogical Process

  • Competency based learning has student-centric teaching methods. It focuses on the achievement of every student.
  • Individual differences are addressed. The issues related to the social nature of learning are resolved to deal with the challenges that children face.
  • Simulations, portfolios, case studies, presentations and projects are the primary ways of learning under competency based learning. These measures boost a student's ability to become self-reliant. It helps them develop an attitude to carry on.

Assessment of Students:

  • Assessments are done to check if the progress of students is in line with the pre-defined learning outcomes of the CBE model
  • Objective and performance assessments are included.
  • Objective assessments include MCQs, oral question-and-answer sessions, and responses to short-answer questions. This is based on the student's knowledge attained so far.
  • Performance assessments involve gauging the students based on their critical thinking skills, synthesis, and psychomotor skills.
  • Students have to exhibit the desired competency level to move to higher grades.

Competency Based Learning Key Concepts

Here are the key concepts of competency-based learning:


Competency based education focuses on individual learners and allows them to gain relevant knowledge and required skills at their pace. Furthermore, it involves collaborative learning, so students can learn together. The process helps them learn without any time constraints.


In the CBE model, outcomes are clearly defined first. Based on this, resources and assessments are developed to support the outcomes. Teachers identify the risks associated with this learning process and build appropriate mitigating measures.


This involves teaching practices to meet the overall needs of each learner. Identifying and modifying teaching methods is one to achieve differentiation. It is applicable for communications, interventions and support for students. It can be achieved in the following ways:


It involves guiding students via feedback. This practice can help them understand and acquire the desired skills.


Students are provided with relevant learning assessments and materials based on the skills they have mastered.

Choice of learning

Students choose resources as per their choice and preference.


Students can obtain online training material according to the relationship they share with the concerned program in groups.

Personalized Message

Teachers should communicate informally with students about their performance. It is tailored as per individual needs.

Difference between Competency Based Learning and Traditional Learning Model

Here are some differences between the two approaches to learning:

  • Textbooks and standards drive the instructional design in the traditional time-based learning model. However, students are the drivers in the competency-based learning model.
  • The occasional feedback loop is the basis of instructional planning in the traditional model, whereas it is a continuous-feedback loop in the case of the competency-based model.
  • The traditional model has fewer instances of inconsistent interventions and personalization. However, the competency-based model is entirely based on the needs of the learner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Competency Based Learning:

Here are some benefits and disadvantages of competency based learning:


  • The CBE model is effective and reduces inefficiency and time spent on learning. This is because the system has diverse support systems and robust assessment forms. The learning outcomes are accessible to every learner. This boosts pedagogical precision and student achievement.
  • Competency based learning's biggest strength is its flexibility. It is helpful for students with different knowledge backgrounds, attitudes, and literacy levels.

Other practical benefits of using competency based learning in online training:

  • Setting clear desired learning outcomes at the outset. This will help students understand the measures to be taken to learn the required skills.
  • Providing quality feedback to students helps them move a step closer to their goals.
  • Competency based education and development focus on learners' holistic development. Students learn to apply learnings in real life in addition to acquiring knowledge and skills.
  • When students do not understand any concept, teachers explain it via real-world examples. This helps students to practically apply the knowledge they have acquired.


  • It is difficult to identify and agree on the most important competencies as well as the most suitable way to assess them.
  • It may be difficult to support students who struggle with learning-specific disabilities.


Competency-based education emphasizes how competent each student is in a specific subject. It does focus on students' grades. On the contrary, other learning models measure the success of students summatively by exposing them to content-weather skills or concepts. The CBE model builds a culture based on equity and inclusivity, which prepares students for life beyond school.

Suggested Read - NEP 2020 | National Education Policy 2020

Here is an explainer of Competency Based Learning in Hindi:

We help students understand and comprehend their competencies with our Integrated School Platform - a knowledge-based inclusive solution that caters to all the stakeholders of a school. Visit Teachmint to learn more about our features!

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