Learning outcomes and competences

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Kennedy, Declan
Hyland, Áine
Ryan, Norma
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EUA, European University Association
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There is wide variation in the literature regarding the interpretation of the meaning of the term competence. This interpretation ranges from a description of competence in terms of performance and skills acquired by training to a broad overarching view that encompasses knowledge, understanding, skills, abilities and attitudes. Due to the lack of clarity of the concept of competence, assessment of competences can be very difficult. Some authors warn against associating competence exclusively with skills, others distinguish between the terms competence and competency whilst others treat these terms as being synonymous. The essential problem appears to be that these terms are liberally used as general terms to refer to various aspects of job performance without any attempt being made to give precise definitions of the terms. While various efforts have been made to arrive at a single definition of the term competence, no agreement has been reached and there is still wide variation of meaning between various cultures and between different professions. This is in contrast to the clear definition of the concept of learning outcomes found in the literature. It is recommended that if the term competence is being used, the definition of competence being used in the particular context should be stated and also that competences should be written using the vocabulary of learning outcomes.
Learning outcomes , Educational objectives , Third level education , Pedagogy , Competences , Degree structure , Competence , The Bologna process , Bologna objectives
Kennedy, D., Hyland, A. and Ryan, N. (2009) 'Learning Outcomes and Competences', Bologna Handbook, Introducing Bologna Objectives and Tools, B2.3-3, pp. 1-18.
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© 2009 Bologna Handbook