3 Reasons Why Associations Should Offer Competency-Based Learning Blog Feature

3 Reasons Why Associations Should Offer Competency-Based Learning

Many professionals join associations for their educational opportunities. And, currently, many associations remain rooted in "knowledge-based learning" which focuses on what someone "knows" about their profession/knowledge area. It comes from formal education and isn't always the best approach.

Conversely, assessments in competency-based education compare performance to occupational standards. This method is taking over both in traditional education and among professional associations. It provides more personalized plans, helping learners apply knowledge in real-world situations. Competency-based models will make learning programs more affordable for associations. It will also be convenient for members and improve their approach to education.

And while data continues to support the efficacy of competency-based learning, many associations wonder how it applies to them and whether they should make the shift.

The answers are clear. Professional associations are incredibly well-positioned to lead the charge for competency-based learning. They can implement this educational framework in meaningful ways. Even more importantly, they can better serve their members through enhanced education.

Here are three reasons associations should be eager to offer competency-based learning practices.

1. Associations have direct access to employers & practitioners

Professional associations are in the best position for determining competency. They are the third-party arbiters of competence definitions. 

Employers look to professional organizations to ensure adequate skill levels in their employees. Practitioners seek the validation of association membership for opportunities in the job market.

Professional associations have access to both employers and practitioners/employees. They’re a vital part of communication between these stakeholders.

Members of professional associations provide feedback to their employers regarding their experiences. Employers provide feedback to employees—and to associations—regarding job performance. They inform industry demands that associations use to improve guidelines and certification programs.

Thus, associations are in a prime position to use competency-based learning models. They can improve their own efforts and those of employers and practitioners.

2. Association members are NOT "traditional learners"

"Traditional learning" takes place in college courses and at lower levels of education. It assumes a lack of knowledge in a specific field. It's geared toward students who spend their days engaged in educational activities.

Members of professional associations don't fall within this scope. They have a keen awareness of the specific competencies of their professions. They spend their days engaged in careers rather than school. The time-based instruction of traditional schools is often impractical.

Professionals have been through school before. They've dealt with knowledge-based learning systems. They don't need more of the same in the middle of their careers. They're beyond the point when knowledge-based learning is useful.

Association members learning while in their careers can demonstrate mastery through competency-based learning. They can exercise new skills that relate to their current position in a meaningful way.

Associations using these methods can better align their values with their industry. Associations using these new learning models will establish new paradigms for professional evaluation.

3. Professionals need continuous, dynamic learning

Re-certification and continuing education are the most important activities professional associations provide. They’re also the best use case for a competency-based learning model. 

The highest performing training organizations will focus on competency-based programs. These programs will ensure the learning process is meaningful in today’s work. It also provides what employers and the market demand: effective, quality continuing education.

There's even evidence that competency-based learning would be more effective in traditional learning.

“There are 40 years and more of recognition that long hours in classrooms followed by intensive written examinations and brief hands-on training were not meeting society’s need for skilled physicians with a full understanding of their patients’ needs,” said Carol Aschenbrener, M.D. and the Association of American Medical Colleges' executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

“As early as 1932, reports emerged saying that it is not enough to stuff students’ heads with information. They must be given greater responsibility for their own learning, and be trained on how to draw conclusions and assess a situation.”

From medicine to online marketing, older certifications are all but meaningless. It's vital to develop new criteria that evolves based on the needed skills or competencies. Associations are uniquely positioned to lead this change. Their impact can make ongoing education more effective and responsive.

It’s not too late to implement competency-based learning! Check out our online, self-paced platform to see how it helps end-users improve their learning outcomes.

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