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Writing Competencies

High quality competencies are the foundation to a robust, rigorous competency-based educational system. Although writing competencies is time consuming, mind numbing work, it does not have to be a mystery. 

Competencies can be written in two ways.  1) Start with standards for a course or a grade and clump them together in meaningful ways. 2) Start with a conversation about what you really want your graduates to walk like, talk like, think like, learn like as they walk your stage.  What means they are really, really ready for the next step in life and for a life of change and learning?  (State models will use the second path with the universal constructs as the graduate goals.)

Once that decision is made the writing can follow the same pathway. 

  1. Determine the enduring understandings aligned to the discipline or course you are working on.
  2. List the standards and whatever explanation correlates to the enduring understanding.
  3. Pull out the verbs, the nouns, and the adjectives and adverbs.
  4. Develop the competency using the verbs to determine what it is you really what them to do and the nouns to indicate possible products or presentations that demonstrate learning.  The student should be able to determine what is expected, how they might accomplish it, and why the competency is important.
  5. Write the scoring guide using the competency itself to create the areas to be reviewed--the left column--and the adjectives and adverbs to develop the learning progressions for each row. You should have at least 4 columns with the 3rd being proficient and the last one being advanced or beyond proficient. 
  • Example for Universal Construct for Critical Thinking:Create solutions to complex problems through student-directed investigations to improve internal and/or external conditions.

Examples and getting started with the Universal Constructs as graduate goals. (State models for these should be available by January of 2015.)

Blank Chart for Your Use to develop competencies in any area.  Download this and make copies to use as you work toward developing competencies.

Iowa Competency Validation Rubric--use this rubric for personal or peer review of competencies as you write them.

PowerPoint for leading this discussion-- under development

Please contact Sandra Dop for assistance.  [email protected]

Questions??? Or need help

Check the How To tab, post questions for your fellow learners or email

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