03 SES 13 B, Curriculum Issues Related to the Integration of Competences and Transferable Skills
During 1990s, the curriculum-didaktik dialogue made visible similarities and differences between what is viewed as core curriculum and core didaktik approaches to education, primarily highlighting the reliance of didaktik paradigm on educational content and of curriculum paradigm on educational standards. The emphasis of standards and accompanying standards-based education reforms during 1990s led to another major development in education contexts globally – the turn of the education discourse and reform towards competence-based education, skills-based education and/or learning outcomes. Emphasis on skills-based approaches was initiated in mid-90s by UNESCO under Jacque Delors leadership (Delors, 1996), followed by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Definition and Selection of Competencies (DeSeCo) project, which then led to The European Reference Framework (ERF) of key competences (Official Journal of the European Union [OJEU], 2006). More recently, with “A New Skills Agenda for Europe”, the European Commission [EC] doubled down on its push towards more skills-based education as “[…] pathway to employability and prosperity” (EC, 2016, p. 2). In the Agenda, ‘skills’ are defined broadly as what a person knows, understands, and can do. In addition, an examination of worldwide spread of competence-based education (CBE) from educational policy perspective was published by Anderson-Levitt (2017), who concluded that CBE is widespread but not global – and mostly present in Europe and Africa but not in the US and UK. Buscà Donet, Ambròs Pallares, & Burset Burillo (2017) examined the presence of research related to ‘key competences’ covering the period from 1990 to 2013 relying only on ERIC education database. They identified about 600 articles related to ‘key competences’ but did not undertake a content analysis of the articles. As a result, very little is known from the educational research perspective how CBE approaches have influenced educational policy and practice within specific national education systems, or what research questions have been addressed when examining the competence-based curricula. Davies (2000) argued that educational policy and practice gain much from systematic reviews and research syntheses. This paper aims to provide a synthesis of the state of the art with regard to educational research that focused on competence-based education and curricula covering a period of 20 years – starting with 1997 as the first year after Delors report in 1996. The following research questions are addressed: (1) How much research is reported in the peer reviewed literature about competence-based education, competence-based curricula and key competences? (2) What research methodologies are used to conduct research in CBE field? (3) What are themes, subject matter domains, educational levels, and geographical distribution of the studies in CBE research? Theoretically, the study adopts from the curriculum-didaktik approaches as two main education traditions in the Western world that shape to a large extent, for example, what education policies are implemented in school systems (Hopmann, 2015; Tahirsylaj, Niebert, & Duschl, 2015). Our working hypothesis is that CBE is an educational reform that represents an extension of social efficiency ideology within the curriculum tradition, which in turn emphasizes the instrumental value of education, most often showing up in the form of competences and/or learning outcomes to be mastered by students in a given education context (Schiro, 2013, Pinar, 2011; Deng & Luke, 2008; Kliebard, 2004).
This study is a systematic review, and more specifically it falls within ‘narrative reviews’ category as the goal is not to seek generalizations but to identify and analyze key issues related to CBE from educational research perspective (Davies, 2000; Educational Research Review, n.d). The search strategy will rely on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) framework (Liberati et al., 2009), which is one of the most established frameworks for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The PRISMA framework outlines key stages to search for the articles, develop inclusion and exclusion criteria and evaluate articles that are part of the sample. We will use the following 3 search terms: ‘competence-based education’, ‘competence-based curriculum’, and ‘key competences’ in five major international social science databases, including: ERIC; Scopus; Springer Link; Taylor & Francis Online; and Web of Science. For inclusion criteria, we will rely on (1) the type of publication, including journal articles and conference proceedings; (2) timeframe: 1997-2017; (3) field of study: education (or social sciences), (4) language: English, and (5) Peer-reviewed. For exclusion criteria, we will set: (1) Not in primary and secondary education; (2) In vocational education; (3) Not about competence-based education and (4) No full-text accessible. The inclusion criteria are applied through filters available in the databases, while exclusion criteria are applied by both authors by reading article abstracts and finally disagreements are resolved and decided. For the content analysis in the final stage, first a sample of 4 articles are reviewed by both authors to reach a consensus on data/topic/concept extraction from articles, while the rest of articles are divided between the two authors and reviewed individually. As the results are categorized into topics, definitions, genres and methods, the study offers a valuable explorative map on the research on Competence-based Education. The conducted state-of-the-art review thus summarizes existing and the emerging policy, and practice trends as well as research priorities and issues for further research.
The initial search for the articles with three search terms across the five databases turned the following results: 847 articles related to ‘key competences’, 371 related to ‘competence-based education’, and 169 related to ‘competence-based curriculum’ – 1387 articles in total. Different databases turned different number of articles as expected, with 161 articles in Springer Link, 167 in ERIC, 282 in Scopus, 374 in Web of Science, and 403 in Taylor and Francis Online. The results indicate that there is an overlap of articles both across three search terms and databases due to cross-indexing. A preliminary analysis with articles identified in ERIC database so far has been completed, and after application of our inclusion criteria, 67 articles remained in the paper pool, and after applying exclusion criteria the number of articles was reduced to 25. Out of 25, in terms of geographical distribution, most of the articles were related to the European Union in general (6), UK (4) and Spain (4), while the rest of articles focused on Tanzania (2), Poland (2), Norway (2); Estonia, Russia, Slovakia, and South Korea 1 each; and one was a worldwide review. Topic wise, the majority of 25 articles pertained to curriculum implementation and key competence development (11), 6 articles focused on curriculum policy, 3 on teacher understanding of CBE, 2 on assessment of key competences, and 1 each on educational leadership, teaching and learning, and review of CBE research. In the next steps we will complete the analysis of articles identified in the other four databases and then turn to the content analysis of all articles that will be part of the final sample, in order to fully address our guiding research questions. For the ECER 2018, we will focus our analysis on the theme of curriculum implementation and key competence development.
Anderson-Levitt, K. (2017). Global Flows of Competence-based Approaches in Primary and Secondary Education. Cahiers de la recherche sur l’éducation et les savoirs, (16), 47-72. Buscà Donet, F., Ambròs Pallares, A., & Burset Burillo, S. (2017). Bibliometric characteristics of articles on key competences indexed in ERIC from 1990 to 2013. European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(2), 144-156. Davies, P. (2000). The relevance of systematic reviews to educational policy and practice. Oxford Review of Education, 26(3-4), 365-378. Delors, J. (1996). Learning: the treasure within. Paris: UNESCO. Deng, Z. & Luke, A. (2008). Subject Matter: Defining and Theorizing School Subjects. In Connelly, F. M., He, M. F., & Phillion, J. (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. Sage. 66–87. Education Research Review [ERR]. (n.d.). A guide for writing scholarly articles or reviews for the Educational Research Review. Retrieved from: https://www.elsevier.com/__data/promis_misc/edurevReviewPaperWriting.pdf European Commission [EC]. (2016). A New Skills Agenda for Europe. Retrieved from: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52016DC0381&from=EN. Hopmann, S. (2015) ‘Didaktik meets Curriculum’ revisited: historical encounters, systematic experience, empirical limits. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 2015:1, 27007, DOI: 10.3402/nstep.v1.27007 Liberati, A., Altman, D. G., Tetzlaff, J., Mulrow, C., Gøtzsche, P. C., Ioannidis, J. P. A., … Moher, D. (2009). The PRISMA Statement for Reporting Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Studies That Evaluate Health Care Interventions: Explanation and Elaboration. PLoS Medicine, 6(7), e1000100. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000100 Nordin, A., Sundberg, D. (2016). Travelling concepts in national curriculum policy-making : The example of competencies. European Educational Research Journal (online). 15. 314-328 Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). (2006). Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning (2006/962/EC). http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:394:0010:0018:en:PDF. Pinar, W. F. (2011). The character of curriculum studies: Bildung, currere, and the recurring question of the subject. Palgrave Macmillan. Schiro, M. S. (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns. Sage Publications. Tahirsylaj, A., Niebert, K. & Duschl, R. (2015). Curriculum and didaktik in 21st century: Still divergent or converging? European Journal of Curriculum Studies. 2(2), pp. 262-281.
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