Competency-based education is an outcome performance approach to curriculum design. Competencies are measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills. The goal of the outcome approach is to demonstrate the integration and application of the competencies in practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Ten core competencies for social work practice identified in the Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy Standards for Professional Social Workers are:
- Identify as a professional social workers and conduct themselves accordingly.
- Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
- Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
- Engage diversity and difference in practice.
- Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
- Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
- Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
- Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
- Respond to contexts that shape practice.
- Engage, Assess, Intervene, and Evaluate.
UTC Social Work Program Teaching Method
"Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much by just sitting in class listening to teachers, memorizing pre-packaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves." (Chickering and Gamson, 1987, p. 3)
The UTC Social Work Program teaches using an Ability-Based Learning form of curriculum design, teaching strategies, and evaluation methods that differs from traditional didactic teaching methods.
- Learning is designed around student interests and is contextual in nature meaning there are a variety of experiences where students are exposed to “real life” learning (interviews, volunteer experience, guest speakers, field trips, etc.).
- Students learn in teams and use peripheral learning.
- Instructors structure learning around real problems, encouraging students to also learn in settings outside the classroom.
- Student assessment should allow students to understand their own learning styles and preferences. This way, students monitor and enhance their own learning process through the develop of self-assessment and reflection skills.
- Assessment should be implemented through a variety of mechanisms including self-assessment, instructor assessment, peer evaluation, etc.
- The use of the Social Work Ability Seminars and the Integrative Field Seminars support this model of curriculum design and student-centered learning.
- The integration of assignments into a core E-Portfolio process provides a mechanism for students to develop self-assessment skills, critical thinking skills, and analytical skills.
- This curriculum model supports the issues identified in the needs assessment which indicates employers want entry-level professionals who have “real world” experience and a higher sense of confidence and competency in skill development and implementation.