Competency-Oriented Learning and Tutor Feedback on Students’ Reflection Skills

Before writing this reflective paper, I engaged in the class-assigned reading material, Smits, Sluijsmans & Jochems, (2009) on “The effects of a competencyoriented learning environment and tutor feedback on students’ reflection skills.” I then researched from the internet a work that supports the class reading. The paper by Smits, Sluijsmans & Jochems (2009) was fun reading, and I found several research papers from the internet that explore a similar idea, thus promoting my understating of the correlation between competency‐oriented learning and students reflection skills.


I have neverhad much interest in exploring in detail therelationship between competency-oriented learning and student’s reflection ability until I read the study paper by Smits, Sluijsmans & Jochems (2009) on the same. However, I have a rough idea of competency-oriented learning, which is to enhance the learners’ creativity—seeking, creating, and using acquired knowledge. From the reading, however, I have learned how competency-oriented education, when used alongside tutor feedback, can promote reflection, and I will be applying the same techniques learned henceforth in most of my reflective studies. For instance, meditation and mastery of mathematical concepts such as algebra will borrow from the reflection concepts learned from this reading.

Analysis of learning


What did you learn?

From the assigned reading article, I have learned that reflection is primarily linked to the actual performance. It entails thinking critically about activities during a performance to restructure problems, experiences, acumens, and present knowledge. In a learning setting, reflection can be defined or distinguished based on “reflection action,” implying conceptualizing a lesson before, after, and “in action,” which suggests the thinking occurring during a performance. Reflection can also be defined based on the spiral ALACT model where five phases are notable: “Action, Looking at or looking back, Awareness of essential aspects, Creation of alternative solutions or methods of action, and Trial” (Smits, Sluijsmans & Jochems, 2009, p 492) Competency-based learning facilitates the development of these reflective skills, according to the article.

What generalizations/conclusions

The conclusive idea is that competency-oriented education facilitates the learners’ ability to acquire competence, such as reflection skills. Connecting reflection to applicable lifelike performance roles in a professional setting boosts the students’ critical thinking skills, resulting in better reflection reports. Besides, adequate feedback on blended learning is essential in competency-oriented education to redirect their learning process. Because reflection on the presentation of complex tasks is challenging, students require support to develop skills in reflection.

Supporting Literature to Derive Understanding

Study shows that constant feedback on learners’ reflections is fundamental for further learning. Teachers play a vital role in providing uninterrupted feedback. However, skilled practitioners may not help much in reflective development as, in most cases, they will be thinking about what they have been practicing in their profession (Smits, Sluijsmans & Jochems, 2009, p 492). Appropriate feedback interchanged between the tutor and the learners are vital in facilitating the competency-based learning process. 

Ibarra-Sáiz, Rodríguez-Gómez, & Boud (2020), note that the meaning and purpose in the learning environments have changed significantly in recent years. The focus has shifted from the previous areas of interests such as level of detail, speech, clarity, relevance, or structure of information delivery. Today, attention is paid significantly to the meaning of feedback and the relationship between learners and tutors. Feedback is no longer a one-way process, but an interactive one where tutors and learners interact with each other, translating to improved outcomes (Ibarra-Sáiz, Rodríguez-Gómez, & Boud 2020, p 9). The notion facilitates the significance of promoting students’ participation as a source of learning and feedback. Ibarra-Sáiz, Rodríguez-Gómez, and Boud’s approach underscore the ALACT mode adopted to enhance learners’ reflective skills as it highlights the interchange of acting and learning, specifying the tutor feedback appropriately to improve the learning outcomes.

Competency-based learning primarily emphasizes what students are expected to do instead of focusing on what learners are anticipated to know or master. In principle, competency-oriented education is learner-centered and responsive to the changing needs of students and teachers. The need for a two-way feedback process between the learners, therefore, helps the teachers to understand the students’ behaviors and well as knowing how students perceive their actions. Learners are also more engaged in the learning material processes because they have ownership of their learning (Ibarra-Sáiz, Rodríguez-Gómez, & Boud 2020, p 13) two-way feedback communication, and they can think critically about activities during a performance.

 Competency-oriented education, in general, improves the learners’ critical thinking and reflective competencies. The proper feedback channel is vital in competency-oriented education to help the students redirect their learning process. The feedback should be a two-way traffic between the teachers and the learners to enhance learners’ ownership of the learning process, hence facilitating critical thinking. 

Application in context

Application in Context- General

The power of competency-based learning is that the ownership of the learning process is in my hand as a student, allowing me to achieve a big picture understanding of different concepts, particularly in mathematics, where I want to apply the same. Competency-oriented education, to some extent, relates to the constructivism theory of learning I learned earlier. In constructivism theory, the students are believed to construct their knowledge, and that the learner’s experience determines the reality before assuming the learning process.

Personal, Career, Professional Development/Goals

In CBE, the learners work at their speed until they demonstrate the mastery of the concept. Therefore, it will give enough time to master some mathematical ideas that, for all along, have been challenging. At the same time, CBE provides an opportunity for me not to waste time on the more straightforward concepts that one can master as quickly as possible. Assessment is personalized and is only conducted when the student has demonstrated competency. With CBE, the student does not need to sit in a classroom for concepts already mastered. Instead, they are allowed to move to the next level once capable of demonstrating enough mastery of the idea. With the flexibility it offers, CBE will help me to achieve my goal of advancing my education while at the same time working to provide for my family. My goal is to advance up to PHD level, but I need a flexible system to realize that goal. 


Contrary to other frameworks of learning such as constructivism, I can rate competency-based education as a modern system that recognizes the contemporary trends such as students learning while working at the same time and the fact that students learn at a different pace. As such, it allow the students to steer and control the learning process through hands-on assessments and projects. CBE is the best approach to the contemporary learning environment. The flexibility of CBE is to a level where the learner can enter a program at any stage with enough credit obtained from their earlier experience provided they demonstrate the mastery of the knowledge. The approach overrules the previously held understanding that students can only achieve the learning outcome by excelling in the course module. With CBE, the unit of learning is exceptionally fine-grained. The learning outcome or the competency or individual skill is one single unit.

Reconstruct self-concept

After learning about the CBEs, I would consider the approach to non-related approaches because of the flexibility it offers to learners. From my experience as a learner, I have noticed that learning outcomes vary on the complexity, and the mastery levels of every student also vary. With that said, I find it challenging to group all learners as a single unit and testing them simultaneously. CBE is different as it focuses on the learner as an individual, providing an opportunity for each student to develop competency at their own pace while collaborating with other students, and collecting evidence of learning. The aim is to make the student a successful lifelong learner, which makes me prefer CBE.


The aim is to change to a CBE learning model in the future once done with my current formal education and become an effective long-life learner. I want to keep acquiring knowledge and skills past my formal education. I not only want to learn about new subjects but rather to develop an open-minded and constructive approach to the dynamic nature of my career. With the reflective skills learned in the CBE model, I believe the goal is achievable.


Ibarra-Sáiz, M. S., Rodríguez-Gómez, G., & Boud, D. (2020). Developing student competence through peer assessment: the role of feedback, self-regulation, and evaluative judgment. Higher Education, 1-20.

Smits, M., Sluijsmans, D., & Jochems, W. (2009). The effects of a competency‐oriented learning environment and tutor feedback on students’ reflection skills. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education34(5), 491-498.