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      Beyond Dichotomies : Competence Viewed as a Continuum

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          Abstract

          In this paper, the state of research on the assessment of competencies in higher education is reviewed. Fundamental conceptual and methodological issues are clarified by showing that current controversies are built on misleading dichotomies. By systematically sketching conceptual controversies, competing competence definitions are unpacked (analytic/trait vs. holistic/real-world performance) and commonplaces are identified. Disagreements are also highlighted. Similarly, competing statistical approaches to assessing competencies, namely item-response theory (latent trait) versus generalizability theory (sampling error variance), are unpacked. The resulting framework moves beyond dichotomies and shows how the different approaches complement each other. Competence is viewed along a continuum from traits that underlie perception, interpretation, and decision-making skills, which in turn give rise to observed behavior in real-world situations. Statistical approaches are also viewed along a continuum from linear to nonlinear models that serve different purposes. Item response theory (IRT) models may be used for scaling item responses and modeling structural relations, and generalizability theory (GT) models pinpoint sources of measurement error variance, thereby enabling the design of reliable measurements. The proposed framework suggests multiple new research studies and may serve as a “grand” structural model.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                zfp
                Zeitschrift für Psychologie
                Hogrefe Publishing
                2190-8370
                2151-2604
                January 2015
                : 223
                : 1
                : 3-13
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] Centre for Educational Measurement (CEMO), University of Oslo, Norway
                [ 2 ] Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
                [ 3 ] SK Partners LLC, Menlo Park, CA, USA
                [ 4 ] Graduate School of Education, Stanford University, CA, USA
                Author notes
                Sigrid Blömeke, University of Oslo, Faculty of Education, Centre for Educational Measurement (CEMO), Niels Henrik Abels hus, Moltke Moes vei 35, 0318 Oslo, Norway +47 464 18755 sigribl@ 123456cemo.uio.no
                Article
                zfp_223_1_3
                10.1027/2151-2604/a000194
                3c31e7db-be7b-48d0-932e-8ecbbaf3407e
                Copyright @ 2015
                History
                Categories
                Review Article

                Psychology,General behavioral science
                competencies,ability,competence assessment,modeling,cognition
                Psychology, General behavioral science
                competencies, ability, competence assessment, modeling, cognition

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