Training Implications of the Educational Project

The Virginio Gómez Professional Institute has developed a new methodology for the curriculum design or redesign of the careers offered under an educational approach for competencies, which has been validated through projects carried out under the auspices of the Program Quality Improvement in Higher Education (Mecesup). As a direct consequence of this, innovative teaching techniques and strategies emerge that are oriented towards the need to develop essential knowledge that enables students to demonstrate competent performance in the work field and implement a curriculum with an educational focus for competencies which permits narrowing the gap existing between formation plans and the realities of the workplace, where the future professional will perform.

The Concept of Competence
There exist a great variety of definitions of the concept of competence, but all have common elements and differentiators. Commonly, they all agree that competence is contextual or situational, i.e. it requires situations in specific contexts that the student must meet with success ..., with "success" according to the standards and indicators that define the social/contextual group that will evaluate the performance of the person and give him/her an assessment. The differentiators are related to the concept we have of the term, and are two large clusters that can be performed: competence as an attribute or the skills as attribution. The postures  that consider competencies as an attribute, accept that an individual can say "I have the skill", whereas in the postures that conceive competence as "attribution", a statement of the above nature is not accepted, rather it is another who must attribute the concept of "competent" to the individual in question, provided that his/her performance is considered successful.
 
Considering its contextual character and that competence always refers to a performance assessed within a specific context, in this Educational Project, competence will be understood as an "attribution" (Figure # 4), since to establish them they will be declared and determined and a consensus reached on those activities that are valued by a social group in a defined context. Furthermore, this choice is justified, based on the principles underlying the learning process and the development of competence, highlighting those of operative schemes, faced with a given situation.

Therefore, in this Educational Project the concept of "competence" is defined as:  "know how to act in a situation" which translates into performance valued within a specific area of professional achievement; it requires the integration and mobilization of conceptual, procedural and attitudinal knowledge.

The availability of a range of schemes will depend on how many and how complex are the situations the learner may have faced. Ideally you might think, then, that the attribution of "competent" is achieved by the "performance" of a person, an action which in turn will depend on the amount of situations that previously he/she may have tackled; the more situations an individual faces, the more complex their plans of operation and a higher conceptualization will have been reached.
Figure N ° 5 presents the link between the concepts competence, situation and essential knowledge.

It should be highlighted that the determination of the "performance competencies" must be agreed among different actors: expert Professionals, employers and trainer academics. Appealing to the principle of “semantic conscience” for a significant critical learning, to intend and generate discussion among the actors mentioned is required, until achieving consensus on the actions that are considered relevant and valued, a condition that integrates methodological curriculum work design redesign.

Educational Approach for Competencies and Levels of Curriculum Precision
All curriculum development processes begin with an intention, responding to the questions: "why teach/learn" and "what to teach/learn." The responses are obtained through the process of the Elaboration of the Graduation Competency Profile.Once the purposes of the curriculum are defined and validated there follows the stage of Curriculum Structuring, which involves clarifying and "putting down on paper" a series of decisions related to the "when to learn", i.e., it should clarify points related to: the organization of the essential skills and knowledge in training periods, the definition of pre-requisites, the development time of such knowledge and the work time that students will require, skills certification bodies, etc., decisions to articulate the Curricular Program with the idea of achieving the profile defined. 
 
After validating the Program with the purpose of answering the question "how to learn", there follows the Installation of the Curriculum stage, which consists of integrating teaching strategies and the preparation (wherever  possible integrated) of the scheduling of classes, that is, at this stage teaching strategies should be established that will allow the development of skills, the scheduling of learning activities, etc.
 
Parallel to these stages there is the Monitoring process that will deliver accurate and timely feedback to make adjustments for assuring the quality of curriculum innovation.

Each of the aforementioned levels of curricular precision requires a series of protocols that ensure the quality of the products obtained; these are:

  • First Level (Purposes of the Curriculum).
  • Rationale of the design / redesign curriculum.
  • Analysis of the state of the art of the profession or career.
  • Elaboration and validation, internal and external, of the competence profile of graduation.
  • Second Level (Curriculum Structuring):
  • Definition of curricular organization criteria.
  • Establishment of the constituent elements of the training itineraries.
  • Development and internal validation of the map or curricular program or study programs.
  • Third Level (Curriculum Installation):
  • Integrated Elaboration Classroom Work Planning.
  • Joint construction of a Competency Assessment Plan.
  • Evaluation of the impact of curriculum implementation on performance and student learning.

The implementation of an educational approach by skills that takes account of the central ideas of the Educational Project and assumes the commitment to develop a distinguishing hallmark in its graduates, demands the establishment of training areas that contribute to the development of those qualities necessary for competent performance in one or more roles within a profession. The training areas that are established are:
 
Cross-Training Area: With core and elective components, it enhances the development of a hallmark in students and can offer an educational complement to their interests or development trends in their profession.

Specific Training Area: With core and elective components, it enables the learning and systemic integration of conceptual knowledge, its own procedural and attitudinal skills specific to the profession and elective as well as the deepening of educational activities that facilitate linkage with the Universidad de Concepción, with which there exists an agreement.
 
As mentioned previously, then, the curriculum should totally integrate elements into a coherent whole in the different training areas, which involves providing meaningful learning experiences, highly contextualized and close to reality. In addition, a re-designation of the evaluation processes is demanded, to be multidisciplinary and incorporate the learning process, develop multidimensionality that characterizes a skill and is consistent with the methodological innovations which are implemented for its development. For this reason, the evaluation must reconsidered so as to enable the regulation and self-regulation of learning. In this way, students and teachers can have timely information from various sources, which will enable them to make decisions to improve the products of the knowledge they develop and help to develop.