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The introduction of competency-based training (CBT) in the late 1980s was driven by a concern to improve the flexibility and adaptability of the Australian workforce in order to make it more globally competitive (Dawkins 1988). This initiative was linked to micro-economic reforms aimed at improving aspects of work practice in Australia's public and private sector enterprises (Dawkins & Holding 1987). It coincided with a move to reform vocational education provisions nationally. A key governmental goal for this reform that emerged at this time, and which persists, was for vocational education and training (VET) to assume a key role in developing a workforce capable of competing against imports, and of producing competitive goods and services that are exportable. CBT was selected by government as the means to secure these goals and it became linked with this reform movement. Significantly, behavioural approaches such as CBT have long been the preferred instructional model in Australia's vocational education systems. For instance, behavioural objectives, top-down models of curriculum development, and assessment against benchmarks have been used since the inception of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) in Australia (Stevenson 1989). However, with the training reform movement of the 1980's came a tightening of the formula for curriculum development and implementation. This was achieved through the development and endorsement of national standards, the use of regulated accreditation frameworks and assessment practice. In all, these reforms changed the ways that VET curriculum is developed and implemented, and students' performances assessed. For example, these reforms, while reflecting the already existing criterion-based approach, reduced the multiple levels of assessment that were typically used (eg. fail, pass, credit, distinction) to two levels of performance (competent/not competent).
A Decade of CBT: Teaching for Flexibility and adaptability
© 1999 National Centre for Vocational Education Research. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher : Use hypertext links to view the original publication.