Action competence

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Action competence is defined as: “an individual’s capacity of critically selecting and conducting possible actions that may solve societal problems through democratic mechanisms" (Odabaşı1, Kurt1, et al., 2011, p. 1). In education, when democratic principles are used individuals can decide how, when, what, where and with whom they learn, and they are able to contribute equally to decisions about their learning. Therefore, they have shared responsibility and freedom in their choice of activity to achieve their goals for learning.


Theories and thinking about democratic education originated with John Dewey. When action competence is applied to education, a problem-oriented approach to learning is taken, and through action learning, real society-changing solutions are found for the issues that emerge. Therefore, activities for the 'sake of them' are not undertaken, rather authentic learning opportunities are engaged in.

Skills of critical analysis, inquiry, reflection and having a vision for a future where societal issues are resolved through collective action are key. According to Jeffrey (2011), "the ability to be constructive in the change process at a societal level determines an individual’s action competence" (p. 9). Therefore, in this course collaboration on solving issues around assessment for action competence will require a degree of interaction with others. Also, the ability to engage in a social learning situation with others is an important component of action competence. As are the cultural influences that shape the learning experience.

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Activities - Investigate Action Competence(AC)

  • Work with a colleague.
  • Access and evaluate a selection of information sources related to the content for this topic.
  • The Resources page is a good place to start. For example: videos from the Assessment playlist on Youtube.
  • Which points do you agree with or not in the videos and other sources and why?
  • Record your views about assessment.
  • Discuss with a colleague the relevance of action competence in their vocational area, and how it might be assessed.
  • Try a new method for recording your views, reflections and discussions. For example, use Google docs, a wiki, video, audio, blog, etc. for your reflections.
  • Contribute at least one resource to the wiki Resource page - with a brief description about the item.

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Content - Action Competence(AC) and Assessment
  • Definitions and principles of AC.
  • The implications of democratic and progressive approaches to education.
  • Types of assessment – formative, summative, APL, RPL, negotiated, authentic etc.
  • Assessment policies in an organisation, and standards in the sector, e.g., NZQF.
  • The role of assessment for learning.
  • Assessing for action competence.

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Interactions - Discuss Action Competence(AC)
  • In the discussion group (and/or Twitter), share your views with the learning community about:
  • assessment; AC in your vocational area; and the way in which AC might be assessed.
  • Report on your discussions with a colleague by sharing a link to the method chosen for recording.