In our vision competence is needed for all effective performance. This holds for students and citizens as well as for professionals. Because of the dynamics in society, competence needs are continuously changing and transforming. Certain competence domains are getting obsolete, others emerge, such as sustainability, multidisciplinarity and entrepreneurship. This puts pressure on education and necessitates continuous professional development in workplaces to meet today’s and tomorrow’s personal and professional, and local and global challenges.
- To understand the nature of competence in terms of both performance proficiency and professional autonomy, expressing the two sides of the competence coin, which are the capability and authorization to perform;
- To do methodologically advanced research on the development of competence frameworks, the development of innovative competence development arrangements, the conditions under which competence development takes place, and the assessment of competence improvement in training, education and development contexts which are characterized by behaviouristic functionalism, integrated occupationalism and situated professionalism;
- To establish evidence-based guidelines by which task- and behaviour-oriented competence development can be improved in educational, business or public environments.
Educational sectors in which we conduct competence development studies are higher, secondary, teacher, and vocational-professional education. Our studies are being carried out in the Netherlands and Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Business-related sectors in which we are interested are corporate human resource development, entrepreneurship and workplace learning. Public environments we include in our work are urban agriculture, environmental education, and health and food education. We value life-long learning, the accreditation of prior learning, and the use of competence frameworks, and believe that the meaning of competence is integrative, holistic and context-specific.
Definition of competence
Competence is defined as ‘... the generic, integrated and internalized capability to deliver sustainable effective (worthy) performance (including problem solving, realizing innovation, and creating transformation) in a certain professional domain, job, role, organisational context, and task situation’ (Mulder, M., 2014, Conceptions of Professional Competence. In: S. Billett, C. Harteis, H. Gruber (Eds). International Handbook of Research in Professional and Practice-based Learning. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 107-137).
Competence consists of various competence domains or competencies. A competency is defined as ‘...a part of generic competence; it is a coherent cluster of knowledge, skills and attitudes which can be utilized in real performance contexts’ (op cit). When enacted, competence is expressed in performance.