The Concept of Competence and the Challenge of Competence Assessment

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Henning Salling Olesen

Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark

This session will explore developing a language that can grasp the re-configuration of life experience and learning that is involved in competence development.

In order to promote new lifelong learning opportunities you need practices of assessing and recognizing individuals’ competences across different regimes of recognition, in particular business/industry and the formal education system. Recognition by business and industry applies an instrumental perspective and refers to structures and mechanisms of the labor market, assessing the perceived ability of the subject to function in the work situation. Recognition by the educational system is based on documented completion and description of formal curricula, based in an academic worldview.

The notion of “Competence”, borrowed from social psychology, is supposed to serve as the new “general equivalent” of human capability. In practical assessment this notion of “competence” is placed in a tension between the need for standardization and comparability, as it is outlined in the Qualification Frameworks (EQF and NQF) and the need for sensitivity to individual pathways. The acknowledgement of the subjective nature of competencies means that the assessment must also be sensitive to subjective diversity and the contextual nature of informal learning.

This session will explore the challenge of developing a language that can grasp the re-configuration of life experience and learning that is involved in competence development.


Program