A Methodological Proposal to Analyse the Process for Implementing Competency-Based Learning (CBL) in a Business School

A Methodological Proposal to Analyse the Process for Implementing Competency-Based Learning (CBL) in a Business School

Almudena Eizaguirre (University of Deusto, Spain), María García-Feijoo (University of Deusto, Spain), Pablo Beneitone (Universidad Nacional de Lanús, Argentina) and Maria Yarosh (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6537-7.ch002
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Societies today face complex economic, political, and social challenges, many of them connected to the prevailing economic paradigm. Management teams that consider not only economic benefit but also the development of the well-being of the different stakeholders and of society in general are needed. This is called humanistic management, a trend business schools (BSs) can contribute to through a certain way of educating their students. To do so, BSs need to implement a competency-based learning (CBL) model that develops specific competencies. One of the ways BSs have used to deploy CBL has been through participation in Tuning projects. This research starts from an integrated model with criteria and indicators for analyzing the implementation of CBL in higher education institutions and operationalizes its dimensions. It then presents a methodological proposal to analyse the processes BSs have followed to implement CBL at different levels and in different contexts, using case study methodology.
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Nowadays society, organisations and businesses are facing complex and diverse challenges (social and economic inequality, lack of trust in institutions, tensions between regions and countries, pollution and environmental problems, health crises...) that make it difficult to integrate social, economic and environmental development, and may compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs and aspirations.

In this context, higher education institutions (hereon HEIs) play an essential role because of their responsibility regarding the training of the professionals who will have to respond to these challenges (Piza, Aparicio, Rodríguez, Marín, Beltrán, & Bedolla, 2018; Sandri, Holdsworth, & Thomas, 2018). HEIs in general, and business schools (hereon BSs) in particular, have to train future leaders and managers in such a way that they become agents of change, with ability to generate more equitable, sustainable and supportive societies, with more effective, efficient, responsible and inclusive organizations.

According to the humanistic management movement, there are different ways to achieve this: from questioning economic beliefs and paradigms, or developing specific knowledge and competencies, to training through the example of the HEI, its employees and processes, or using active methodologies that allow students to be in contact with different realities (Eizaguirre, Alcaniz, & García-Feijoo, 2020).

In this chapter, we focus on the relevance of developing students’ competencies in business administration and management studies, and therefore, on the need to implement a competency-based learning approach (hereon CBL) to do so.

CBL approach has a long history in education and the concept of competency itself is one of the most discussed, both in education and social policy, during the last 30 years (Telling & Serapioni, 2019).

One of the ways universities have used to deploy CBL has been through participation in Tuning projects whose objective is precisely to develop CBL by following a series of steps known as Tuning methodology. On the anniversary of the Bologna Declaration, and after nearly two decades of development of Tuning projects, we feel it is interesting to study CBL implementation processes, as well as the role played by Tuning in the aforementioned implementation.

The objective of this work is therefore to present a methodological proposal to analyse the processes BS have followed to implement CBL at different levels, considering all those factors indicated as relevant in the specialised literature, and explore the role of Tuning in this process..

To do so, this research starts from an integrated model of criteria and indicators for analyzing the implementation of CBL in HEIs which was developed by Bezanilla, García Olalla, Paños Castro and Poblete Ruiz (2019). This model can be extremely useful for universities to identify strengths and fields to develop, since CBL is embodied in specific criteria and indicators. Furthermore, it is a holistic model that urges the revision of the legal and administrative context, the institutional context, the degree and course planning process, the development and evaluation of teaching as well as the revision and improvement of the process.

We have then included a new dimension related to the impact of Tuning projects in CBL implementation, adding some criteria and indicators to analyse the Tuning role at institutional, national, regional and global levels as a contribution to both the scientific community and to policy-makers and practitioners.

Moreover, in this work, we suggest the case study methodology (Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2018) for those researchers or professionals who want to analyse the process for CBL implementation in different contexts. Thus, this article is a bridge between theory and practice. To achieve this, we present a methodological proposal that includes a protocol for research and decision making.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Indicator: The particular way in which a criterion is measured, assessed or evaluated.

Case Study: Research methodology whose fundamental objective is to know and understand the particularity of a situation.

Competency: The sum of knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and individual characteristics that enable a person to perform actions successfully.

Triangulation: A technique used in research that helps to increase objectivity and credibility by using various sources, evaluators or methods for data collection and/or analysis.

Humanistic Management: School of thought that aims to incorporate a more humane approach to management and business decisions; it focuses on the development of the human being and considers human dignity and well-being as an end in itself, understanding economic activity as the mean to achieve it.

Competency-Based Learning: A teaching-learning approach that encourages the student's own activity and responsibility and the development of his or her autonomy, placing the assessment of the desired learning outcomes at the centre of the student's learning process.

Criterion: Condition that must be fulfilled by a certain activity, action or process to be considered of quality.

Tuning: Methodology whose objective is to design competency-based degrees that are compatible and comparable, relevant to society and focused on improving quality, through Tuning projects developed by universities and educational authorities in a given geographical region.

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