Competence (pedagogy)

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The concept of competence in pedagogy is a. back to Wolfgang Klafki's competence model of critical-constructive didactics . What is meant is the ability and skill to solve problems in the areas mentioned , as well as the willingness to do so. In the educational science concept of competence, factual-categorical, methodological and volitional elements are linked, including their application to very different subjects. The core of the meaning includes ability, willingness and responsibility. According to another opinion, the competence theory goes back to the definition of competence of the cognitive psychologist Franz Weinert .

Problem of the definition of the term

The concept of competence is ambiguous. Depending on the point of view and context of use, there are different definitions of what competencies are made up of. Franz Weinert , whose definition is “anchored in the Austrian education system”, defined competence as “the cognitive abilities and skills available to individuals or that can be learned through them in order to solve certain problems, as well as the associated motivational, volitional and social readiness and abilities, in order to be able to use the problem solutions successfully and responsibly in variable situations. "

Competence and qualification

Since around 1990 there has been increasing talk of competence instead of qualification . The concept of qualification became problematic because it wanted to bring the fit of situational requirements (such as an activity) on the one hand and the personal requirements for coping with them in (too) close a connection. Competencies are less closely related to the requirements of professions or activities, but rather general dispositions of people to cope with certain requirements in the world. These include the human ability to participate in social communication (see also the already established in the 1980s concept of communicative competence of Jürgen Habermas ). The concept of key qualifications is, v. a. in vocational training, largely used synonymously with competence.

Competencies and learning goals

The concept of competence has advantages over older pedagogical target specifications such as the learning targets , which are also visible in the verification of achievement:

  • Firstly, it is not a question of individual elements of knowledge or skills, but rather a coordinated application of various individual services based on a problem that is new to the learner.
  • Secondly, it is not based on abstract school material, but always on the learner's life-world references, on "proving oneself in life".
  • Thirdly, competence-based teaching pays more attention to the student and his or her learning requirements than subject-oriented teaching.

In 1956, the American educator Benjamin Bloom presented a taxonomy of learning objectives in which the following cognitive competence levels are named:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Understand
  3. Apply
  4. analysis
  5. synthesis
  6. Evaluation

In addition to naming the skills to be acquired, it is also necessary to clarify the degree to which a skill is to be acquired.

Competencies and their measurement

While competence is understood as the latent ability of a person to be able to carry out a certain task (e.g. speaking Spanish), performance is understood to mean the actual execution of this task (e.g. greeting someone in Spanish). It follows from this that a competence can never be diagnosed and assessed directly, but always indirectly via its performance.

For some time now, empirical educational research has been concerned with the measurement of competencies, for example in international performance studies such as PISA . For the psychometric measurement, the psychological concept of competence is used, which is not identical to the pedagogical one.

The concept of competence in educational science

The term was probably introduced into educational science by Heinrich Roth . The central goal of education is “maturity as competence for responsible agency”. He differentiates between personal competence, professional competence and social competence. This triad has become very influential and is still fundamental to the discussion of competencies in vocational training (see below). The discussion about key competencies also ties in here.

For most authors, the concept of competence comprises the following elements:

  • Disposition: Competencies are prerequisites for performance. They are not accessible to direct observation and are therefore always an attribution or a construct .
  • Learnability: Competencies can be learned and are thus differentiated from innate characteristics (such as talent ). The acquisition of skills can thus also be influenced through educational measures.
  • Situation-related: Competencies are acquired in situations with specific tasks and requirements and can be used again in similar situations. This so-called context can come from the lifeworld or it can also be a subject (in the sense of a scientific discipline or a subject); Competencies are therefore functionally related to situations. So they are context-specific (and not general) performance requirements, which distinguishes them from intelligence .
  • Knowledge and ability: Competencies combine both to create the ability to act. Ability, in turn, comprises different abilities (cognitive, self-regulatory, social-communicative) and skills .
  • Motivation : Both when acquiring and using skills, motivation, i.e. the willingness to act competently, plays an important role.
  • Pedagogical goal: Independent and responsible behavior ( i.e. maturity or autonomy ) are the goal of efforts to impart skills.

The concept of competence in educational science is distinguished from the concept of psychological competence as follows: The competence areas (or “contexts”, see above) are very broad, for example social competence comprises a number of sub-competencies. The term is not reduced to cognitive aspects, motivational and volitional aspects are mostly included. The term is mostly used normatively , i. In other words, it serves as a guiding principle and orientation, for example for planning good teaching.

The concept of competence in educational policy

The concept of competence is becoming increasingly important in educational theory and school policy. In Germany, this is largely a reaction to the PISA study from 2000/2001, which did not test the learners' knowledge (factual or methodological knowledge ), but rather competencies such as reading , mathematical and scientific competence. This amounts to a paradigm shift; from an "input orientation" to curricula, resources and measures to an "output orientation" to so-called educational standards.

In the debate about the control of the education system in Germany, the concept of educational standards has been discussed and structured since around 2000 , which requires a developed model of competencies. The “ Klieme Expertise” at the beginning of the process funded by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) has further differentiated the concept of competencies by starting from specific competencies in different “domains” (world exploration), so that fundamentally for individual school subjects or Learning areas have to create their own competence models. The KMK initially commissioned their development for only a few domains up to the tenth grade (German, mathematics, English, natural sciences, French). By around 2015, educational standards for the Abitur examination in the above-mentioned subjects will be developed from the uniform examination requirements in the Abitur.

The basis of the concept of competence in this context is the definition of Franz Weinert : “The cognitive abilities and skills available in individuals or that can be learned by them to solve certain problems, as well as the associated motivational, volitional and social readiness and abilities to solve problems in to be able to use variable situations successfully and responsibly ”. Competence models have not always been explicitly worked out. As a result, didactic specialists and / or teachers' associations developed their own “educational standards” for some other school subjects or domains in order to avoid the feared devaluation in the school canon of subjects , which are based to very different degrees on formulated concepts of “competencies”.

In the context of European education policy, competencies in the broader sense include “independence and responsibility”, “learning and self-learning competence”, “communicative and social competence” and “professional and professional competence”.

Task-oriented competence definition

The definition of a competence goes hand in hand with its diagnosability, as this is the only way to ensure that it exists to a certain degree. For this reason, Schott and Azizi Ghanbari suggest describing competencies in terms of tasks that can be solved if one has the competence. It is possible to split tasks into sub-tasks or to create an aggregated task from several sub-tasks. The existing level of competence can also be determined via the type of task (e.g. name, explain, assess, etc.). Finally, Schott and Azizi Ghanbari name the sustainability of a competence as a further condition, i. that is, it should survive longer periods of time as a characteristic of a person (Schott and Azizi Ghanbari, 2012).

Competence-oriented teaching objectives

If you follow the suggestion of Schott and Azizi Ghanbari to describe a competence by a set of tasks, the solving of which proves the existence of the competence, the achievement of a certain teaching objective can also be proven by solving corresponding tasks (performance, degree of competence) .

The question of which competence must exist and to what extent for a specific teaching objective cannot be answered universally. Instead, there are several different approaches.

Description of teaching objectives according to specifications

The teaching goal is given when the teacher has no influence on it, i.e. i.e. if it is defined, for example, in the form of a curriculum , a legal requirement or a recognized standard.

Description of teaching objectives by a group of experts

The lack of clarity as to which competencies must exist and to what extent for a specific teaching objective can lead to different results (see differences in the Abitur ). In this case, the teaching objective is determined by a freely formed group of recognized and proven experts in the respective subject area. However, it is possible that several expert groups have formed on a subject area, which may result in different and possibly even contradicting requirements.

Individual description of teaching objectives

Particularly at universities, one encounters individually set teaching objective definitions by the respective professor. Due to the freedom in research and teaching that applies there , the professor is entitled to do so , not least because of his expertise .

Competence-oriented learning success control

If a competence was described by a set of tasks, the learning success control is carried out by solving these or similar tasks. However, it has not yet been clarified which reference standard is used for the subsequent assessment.

The social reference norm puts the learner in a relative relationship to the rest of the group of learners. The advantage of this method is that it can be applied quickly and safely if the performance of a learner can be easily classified within a group. A disadvantage that can be cited is that the social reference norm has a long-term demotivating effect on learners who are both weak and able to learn, as they see themselves permanently over- or under-challenged and their assessment does not depend directly on their objective performance, but on the learning strength of the group is.

The individual reference norm only considers the relative change in performance of a learner. The learner is assessed independently of the rest of the group, but requires an inventory to be made beforehand in order to make the increase in performance visible. Due to the high level of testing involved, this reference standard is often not manageable in practice.

The objective reference norm describes the difference between the current learning status and the learning objective. It is independent of the learning group and the learner. In practice, however, it is not a trivial problem to identify factual criteria on the basis of which an assessment is possible.

The concept of competence in vocational training

In vocational and business education , competencies are sometimes defined as so-called “self-organization dispositions”. A person who has sufficient competence to do certain things properly is competent in this regard . Competence is acquired through education , further training measures , experience , self-reflection , informal learning , but also self-taught .

In the practice of vocational training in the 1990s, it became common practice to start from four core competencies from which all further competencies can be derived: social competencies , technical competencies , methodological competencies and personal competencies . Information literacy is sometimes viewed as the link between specialist and methodological skills.

In the scientific discussion, this system is seen time and again as problematic. So it is difficult to separate technical and methodological competencies in terms of content.

In educational science , the model of a matrix is ​​preferred, in which the content areas of professional competence, social competence and personal competence are differentiated on one axis , and knowledge , skills and attitudes on the other axis . All competence areas together are the basis for action competence .

Interaction between competence and social position

The acquisition of skills has a direct impact on social status. For example, Beatrice Hungerland writes:

The proven acquisition of socially required skills determines [...] the individual opportunity for social participation. If there is more, there will be status gain, material gain, social gain, while less will reduce the chances. […] People who have not acquired certain expected competencies [are] excluded from certain forms of social participation […]. What competencies these are is defined by society. 

Criticism of the educational concept of competence

At several international conferences of educationalists and representatives of the different subject didactics (Frankfurt 2005, Cologne 2010, Frankfurt 2017) the term “competence” was rejected as the new guiding metaphor of the educational sciences. It is neither theoretically nor empirically founded. The critics, who have joined forces in the Society for Education and Knowledge eV, see the orientation of the curricula on competencies as an attempt to economise education. That would release the contents of the individual subjects in favor of general skills to the economy, their lobby groups and international organizations (eg. As the OECD ) alone were interested pushed back. Competencies only arise from knowledge , skills and behavior , but are not preceded by educational technology, which means that educational processes are undermined and reversed, which ultimately leads to incompetence rather than competence.

See also


  • Burchardt, Matthias: Education or Self-Regulation? In: lehrer NRW 7/2013, pp. 13–16
  • Dilger, Bernadette: Competence as a standard of education (of standards). In: Wirtschaft und Pädagogik, Heft 36, 2004, pp. 11–35.
  • Dörner, Dietrich : Problem solving as information processing. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1975.
  • Gnahs, Dieter: Competencies - acquisition, recording, instruments. Bielefeld 2007, ISBN 978-3-7639-1944-4 .
  • Graupe, Silja, Krautz, Jochen: The power of measurement. How the OECD is implementing a new educational concept with PISA. In: Coincidentia. Journal of European Intellectual History. Supplement 4: The Other Look: Questioning Thinking on the Theoretical Framework of Empirical Educational Research. Edited by Schwaetzer, Harald / Hueck, Johanna / Vollet, Matthias. Kueser Akademie, Bernkastel Kues 2014, pp. 139–146
  • Hey, Gerhard: Competence-oriented learning in Latin lessons. Competence as a new educational category. In: Friedrich Maier , Klaus Westphalen (Ed.): Latin language teaching on new foundations. Volume I: Research results from theory and practice (Auxilia 59). Buchner, Bamberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-7661-7659-2 , pp. 97-127.
  • Hunziker, Daniel: Hocus pocus competence - competence-oriented teaching and learning is not magic. hep-Verlag, Bern 2015, ISBN 978-3-0355-0640-2 .
  • Klieme, Eckhard , Avenarius, Hermann , Blum, Werner, Döbrich, Peter, Gruber, Hans , Prenze, Manfred , Reis, Kristina , Riquarts, Kurt, Rost, Jürgen, Tenorth, Heinz-Elmar , Vollmer, Helmut J .: On the development national educational standards. An expertise. BMBF, Bonn 2003.
  • Klieme, Eckhard: What are competencies and how can they be measured? In: Pedagogy. No. 6, 2004, pp. 10-13.
  • Klieme, Eckhard, Hartig, Johannes: Competence concepts in the social sciences and in educational discourse. In: Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, special issue No. 8, 2007, pp. 11–29.
  • Krautz, Jochen: Education as a commodity. School and university under the dictates of economics. Kreuzlingen / Munich 2007
  • Krautz, Jochen: Education as Adaptation? The competence concept in the context of an economized education. In: Fromm Forum 13/2009, pp. 87-100
  • Krautz, Jochen: Educational Reform and Propaganda. Strategies for the implementation of an economist image of man in education and training. In: Frost, Ursula / Rieger-Ladich, Markus (ed.): Democracy suspends: Against the gentle liquidation of a political way of life. Quarterly journal for scientific pedagogy - special issue 2013 (a), pp. 86–128
  • Krautz, Jochen: Economism in Education: Human Images, Reform Strategies, Actors. In: Gymnasium in Lower Saxony 1/2013 (b), pp. 12–21
  • Körber, Andreas : Basic terms and concepts: educational standards, competencies and competence models. In: Andreas Körber, Waltraud Schreiber , Alexander Schöner (eds.): Competencies in historical thinking. A structural model as a contribution to competence orientation in history didactics. ars una, Neuried 2007, ISBN 978-3-89391-788-4 , pp. 54-86.
  • Ladenthin, Volker: Competence orientation as an indication of educational disorientation. In: Quarterly Journal for Scientific Education, 86, 2010, Issue 3, pp. 346–358.
  • Ladenthin, Volker: Competence orientation as an indication of educational disorientation. In: Profile, member newspaper of the German Association of Philologists, 9/2011, pp. 1–6
  • Ladenthin, Volker: Proposal for an educational concept of competence. General considerations on the occasion of the "Training plan for testing for the courses of study at the higher vocational school that lead to professional knowledge and the advanced technical college entrance qualification (draft 2013)". In: Obermann, Andreas / Meyer-Blank, Michael (Hrsg.): The religion of vocational school religion teaching: considerations on the communication of religious topics with young people today. Münster 2015, pp. 99–127
  • Langemeyer, Ines: Competence development between self-determination and external determination. Work-process-integrated learning in IT. A case study. Waxmann, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8309-1555-1 .
  • Liessmann, Konrad Paul: Witching Hour. The practice of ignorance. A polemic. Vienna 2014
  • Mugerauer, Roland: Competencies as Education? The more recent skills orientation in the German school system - a skeptical opinion. Tectum, Marburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-8288-2865-0 .
  • Müller-Ruckwitt, Anne: "Competence" - educational theory studies on a current term. Wuerzburg 2008
  • Reitinger, Johannes: Teaching - Internet - Competence. Empirical analysis of functional and didactic competencies of future educators on the basis of a concrete action competence model. Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8322-6175-7 .
  • Schott, Franz; Azizi Ghanbari, Shahram: educational standards, competence diagnostics and competence-oriented teaching for quality assurance in education Waxmann, Münster 2012, ISBN 978-3-8309-2635-1 .
  • Sloane, Peter FE , Dilger, Bernadette: The competence clash - dilemmas when transferring the “concept of national educational standards” to vocational training (PDF; 250 kB). In: bwp @., Issue 8, 2005.

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Erpenbeck, J. , von Rosenstiel, L. (2003): Handbook of Competence Measurement: Recognizing, understanding and evaluating competencies in operational, educational and psychological practice. Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag, Stuttgart.
  3. Heyse, V., Erpenbeck, J. (1997): The leap over the competence barrier: communication, self-organized learning and competence development by and in companies. Bertelsmann Verlag, Bielefeld.
  5. ^ Rudolf Messner, 2003
  6. ^ Schott and Azizi Ghanbari, 2012
  7. H. Roth (1971): Pedagogical Anthropology, Vol. 2. Hannover, p. 180.
  8. Archived copy ( memento of the original from August 20, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ Franz E. Weinert (Ed.): Performance measurements in schools . Weinheim and Basel: Beltz, 2001: 27f.
  10. How much time for the child? On the social production of generational order through parental investment of time , Beatrice Hungerland, inaugural dissertation for obtaining the academic degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Education, University of Wuppertal, June 2002, p. 283 (accessed on December 18, 2007)
  11. Competent in competence? : Society for Education and Knowledge. Retrieved on August 3, 2017 .
  12. Jochen Krautz, Education as Adaptation? The competence concept in the context of an economized education, p. 92.
  13. ^ Society for Education and Knowledge eV
  14. Competent in competence? : Society for Education and Knowledge. Retrieved on August 20, 2017 .