Fundació Jaume BofillUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

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We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Debats d’Educació by giving the educational community the opportunity to air its views

Jaume Sarramona
Jaume Sarramona
Professor Emeritus of Pedagogy at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

The three things I’ve learned

If you can't design an evaluation strategy linked to the proposed competency, it is not clear
1

Competencies as learning objectives

Having to define competencies as milestones in a programme, course, stage of education, etc., tests our capacity to specify the aims that we wish to achieve and provides us with evidence that we are not always clear about these. Then our genuine understanding of the concept of competencies is also put to the test, for it is easy to fall into the tendency to define limited educational objectives, or goals that are too abstract and unattainable. This act of defining is not a simple formal exercise, but rather it clearly conditions the methodology that needs to be employed in both the achievement and the corresponding evaluation of these goals. As a result of all this, competencies have had the effect of injecting a shot of realism and of encouraging the educational system to engage with life.

2

The evaluation of competencies

Evaluation is always susceptible to easy criticism, especially by those who do not know how to undertake it. I have learned that if you are not capable of designing an appropriate evaluation strategy linked to the proposed competency milestone, it is because this milestone is not clear or you lack knowledge about the evaluation itself. In fact, evaluation puts the entire proposal of a competency-based educational programme to the test, and this explains why in practice the formulation of competency objectives does not go beyond their formulation on paper. Only external tests of the system along the lines of PISA and the tests that have been made in Catalonia by the Evaluation Council since 2001 constitute examples – improvable in some cases, but nevertheless generally valid examples – of what core competency-based evaluation entails. The improvement proposed by the competencies will become clear when each programme evaluates them appropriately.

3

The mythification of the official gazette

As a result of the curriculum that emerged from the LOE (Spanish Organic Law of Education) and its counterpart in Catalonia, it has been possible to observe the acritical imposition that its publication in the corresponding official gazettes has exercised over the educational system as a whole, including university academics. This explains the fact that for years what someone was able to publish in the BOE (Spanish Official Gazette) at the time under the heading of “core competencies” was the undisputed reference of academic programming and proposals. It has not mattered that those eight competencies were not core, but “key” competencies for the European Union, that is to say, not curricular, but cross-curricular, nor that they were not really competencies, but blocks of competencies. The conclusion has been a lack of truly core competencies linked with curricular areas and, therefore, the non-existence of a general reference for the system as a whole. This situation is in the process of being solved in Catalonia through the definition of core competencies by areas and by stages in compulsory education.

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