Thursday, October 5, 2023
No menu items!
HomeEducationBreaking the Mold: Competency-Based Education vs Traditional Teaching

Breaking the Mold: Competency-Based Education vs Traditional Teaching

Breaking the Mold: Competency-Based Education vs Traditional Teaching

As education advances, so do the various methods of teaching. Today, educators have several options to choose from when it comes to shaping the minds of the future. Two prominent styles of teaching are Competency-Based Education (CBE) and Traditional Teaching. These two learning styles differ in approach, but both carry their unique advantages and disadvantages.

What is Competency-Based Education?

Competency-Based Education (CBE) is a learning model that focuses on the mastery of knowledge and skills. CBE measures student performance based on demonstrated competencies rather than hours spent in a classroom or lecture hall. According to the Council of Chief State School Officers, CBE is an approach that “emphasizes outcomes and the demonstration of proficiency in those outcomes by learners” (CCSSO, 2011).

How Does CBE Work?

In CBE, students must master a specific set of competencies to progress in their education. Mastery of these competencies is assessed via performance tasks, portfolios, or assessments. These assessments are designed to evaluate students’ level of mastery and allow them to advance individually as they master each competency.

What Are the Advantages of CBE?

One significant advantage of CBE is its personalized approach to education. Students can take an active role in their learning process, allowing them to progress at their pace and focus on what they need to learn, rather than what a teacher feels they should. As educational technology advances, CBE is increasingly using adaptive learning, which can provide a customized learning experience for each student based on their proficiency level.

Another benefit of CBE is that it allows for flexibility in learning. Students can work at their own pace, which can be especially helpful for working individuals who need to balance education with other responsibilities.

What Are the Disadvantages of CBE?

One criticism of CBE is that it is too individualized, which can lead to a lack of socialization. Learning in groups is essential, especially for young students who need to develop collaborative skills. Additionally, some students may find it difficult to work independently, and without proper guidance, they may struggle to learn effectively.

What is Traditional Teaching?

Traditional teaching is the more typical approach in which students attend lectures, discuss with peers, and complete assignments and tests. The teacher is the primary source of knowledge, and the focus is often on acquiring information.

How Does Traditional Teaching Work?

In traditional teaching, a teacher lectures on a particular subject, assigns readings and homework, and then tests students’ knowledge with exams. Students typically progress through a predetermined curriculum in a set timeframe.

What Are the Advantages of Traditional Teaching?

One significant advantage of traditional teaching is the social aspects that come with learning in a classroom. Students have the opportunity to interact and learn from their peers, which is beneficial for developing teamwork and communication skills. Moreover, traditional teaching may be considered more structured and comprehensive in terms of content.

What Are the Disadvantages of Traditional Teaching?

One notable disadvantage of traditional teaching is its one-size-fits-all approach. This approach does not account for individual pace or style of learning, and some students may find the pace too slow or too fast. Moreover, traditional teaching is often passive, with students merely listening and memorizing without actively engaging with the material.


While both traditional teaching and competency-based education have their advantages and disadvantages, educators must choose a teaching style that aligns with their students’ individual needs and goals. Traditional teaching may be more beneficial for those who thrive in structured environments, while competency-based education may cater to students who prefer a more personalized approach. Ultimately, a hybrid approach that takes the best of both styles could be the most effective.


Is CBE for everyone?

CBE is a learning approach that can benefit all students, but it is particularly helpful for those who struggle in a traditional classroom setting or have different learning abilities.

How does CBE assess student progress?

CBE assesses student progress through performance tasks, portfolios, or assessments that measure competency mastery.

Can students work at their own pace in traditional teaching?

Students typically progress through a predetermined curriculum in traditional teaching, but some teachers may allow flexibility in the pace of learning.

How does traditional teaching measure student progress?

In traditional teaching, student progress is measured through testing, quizzes, and assignments.

What benefits do traditional teaching methods bring to students?

Traditional teaching provides students with structured content and opportunities for socialization and teamwork.

What are some criticisms of traditional teaching?

Traditional teaching is often passive, not individualized, and may not account for different learning styles.

How can a hybrid of CBE and traditional teaching benefit students?

A hybrid approach can provide a personalized, structured, and comprehensive learning experience that accounts for individual learning needs.


Council of Chief State School Officers. (2011). “Innovative Assessment Pilot: Competency-Based Pathways.”

EdSurge. (2021). “What is Competency-Based Education?”

The Edvocate. (2019). “Traditional vs. Competency-Based Education: What You Need to Know.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments