Science for Education Today, 2019, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 67–79
UDC: 
372.879.6

Knowledge, skills, and competencies: an epistemological analysis

Mayer B. O. 1 (Novosibirsk, Russian Federation)
1 Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation
Abstract: 

Introduction. This study attempts at solving the problem of contradictions between the current long-standing practice of using an approach based on knowledge and skills in the educational process and the lack of a clear and precise continuity of the competence approach in relation to knowledge and skills. The main goal of the article is to analyze epistemological contradictions in the semantic “knowledge, skills, and competencies” series and identify the hierarchy of interdependence of these concepts and, as a result, remove the contradiction between the current long-standing practice of using an approach based on knowledge and skills in the educational process and the competence approach.
Materials and Methods. The research methodology consists in an epistemological analysis of the conceptual “knowledge-skills-competencies” series based on an array of domestic and foreign literature using the principle of literalism, the concept of implicit knowledge and the assumption about the presence of information patterns in the semantics of describing the analyzed concepts.
Results. If the pair “knowledge – information” is connected dialectically as form and content, it should be recognized that the content of knowledge is information, and the form of such information in the mentality of the subject is knowledge. At the same time, from the point of view of the dialectic of knowledge and information, it is most appropriate to subdivide the forms of education into: training with real-time feedback between the teacher and the student and training without such feedback. From the point of view of cybernetic epistemology, the study of skill is the process of constructing an algorithm of a supposed action in the psyche of a subject, whereas developing a skill is “writing” a program of a given algorithm with neurophysiological means not only in the psyche, but also in muscle patterns. Competence-based approach is necessarily associated with the formation of a system of algorithms that allow to adapt to the variability of activities, with the formation of a systemically interconnected skill set.
Conclusions. The main difference between skill and competency is in the “image of the required future”, i.e. objective function inherent in skill or competency. Indeed, in the case of skill, the objective function involves effective performance of a specific action. And in the case of competency, the objective function involves effective selection and practical application of those skills and abilities which are most adequate to the current reality of labor practices, social communication, and other procedures of social activity. Thus, if skill is an algorithm, competency is an algorithm of algorithms for effective actions in a variable environment.

Keywords: 

Knowledge; Information; Skills; Competencies; Competence-based approach; Implicit knowledge; Pattern

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For citation:
Mayer B. O. Knowledge, skills, and competencies: an epistemological analysis. Science for Education Today, 2019, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 67–79. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15293/2658-6762.1902.05
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Date of the publication 30.04.2019