Competencies are more than just “learning”. They result from the ability to apply learning in the workplace.
Over time, psychologists and educators have put huge effort into trying to understand how people learn. One of the most long-standing, pervasive and easy-to-understand taxonomies of learning is derived from the work of Benjamin Bloom that began in the mid-1950s; Bloom’s initial work has been built-upon by many others. Bloom’s taxonomy asserts that learning takes place in three fundamental and distinct domains: the cognitive domain (involving the acquisition of knowledge and thinking skills), the psychomotor domain (involving the ability to move parts of our body in a controlled manner in order to carry out physical activities), and the affective domain (involving the development of beliefs and value systems that guide our thinking and actions).
In terms of workplace activity, the value of competencies is that they describe not learning itself but tasks that a person can perform as a result of applying learning. This makes them both directly relevant to workplace performance, and inherently measurable. Competencies are externally observable – they describe things that a worker can do (and which can be observed by others) rather than what the worker knows, understands, can demonstrate, or believes.
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