Domínguez Garrido, M. C., López-Gómez, E., & Cacheiro-González, M. L. (Coords.) (2021). Investigación e internacionalización en la formación basada en competencias [Research and internationalization in competency-based education]

Domínguez Garrido, M. C., López-Gómez, E., & Cacheiro-González, M. L. (Coords.) (2021).

Investigación e internacionalización en la for­mación basada en competencias [Research and internationalization in competency-based education].

Dykinson. 283 pp.

Nowadays competencies are an essen­tial mainstay in all education systems around the world, insofar as they involve a use of knowledge which goes beyond memory content and is also applied in problem-solving. According to the current pedagogical trends, these competencies must play a key role in the school setting and they must therefore be researched in detail on an international level in order to raise awareness of their scope and efficien­cy in a world which is constantly changing. The book Research and internationaliza­tion of competency-based education, coor­dinated by María Concepción Domínguez, Ernesto López-Gómez and María Luz Cacheiro-González, does a thorough anal­ysis from different perspectives and cover­ing various areas of learning in relation to the importance of competencies. Further­more, researchers from 7 different coun­tries have been involved in preparing this study, meaning that international data and views have also been provided.

The book is organised into three sec­tions, which make up 13 chapters in total; all are written in Spanish except for two, which are in English. The first section is composed of three chapters which aim to guide, contextualise and provide the reader with a definition of the competen­ cy concept and its meaning and use in a world which is constantly changing. The second section has 5 chapters and looks into competency research itself. It focuses on aspects such as planning, statistics in the digital-teaching field or social educa­tion and its relationship with play-based learning; it also ends with a practical and holistic example of STEM Education. Lastly, the third section is made up of five chapters which centre on competen­cy-based education at different stages of school (early childhood, secondary, place­ment, university, university lecturing and educational research).

Therefore, chapter one goes into more depth about the competency concept and the way in which it is implemented and functions in curriculums in the school environment. Furthermore, a brief but enriching analysis is carried out on the contexts and possible cultural frameworks in order to help readers understand com­petency-based education. Two main ap­proaches are focused on: human capital and human development.

Subsequently, chapter two makes a necessary and appropriate reflection on the relationship between three key as­pects: needs and requirements of a con­stantly-evolving society, school curriculum and characteristics of academic learning. In accordance with what is set out, al­though it is true that these elements may, and, in fact must, be combined, this is not always possible on a practical level regard­ing education. This may be due to several reasons, such as a curriculum which does not consider significant social changes, the difficulty of fitting everything into a rela­tively short space of time, lack of commu­nication among educational institutions, etc. Therefore, considering and analys­ing competency-based learning is of vital importance, and teachers play a key role in obtaining new generations of motivat­ed and independent individuals who are adapted to the future.

Very much in line with this last point, chapter three expands even more on the information about the very changeable and informational world that we live in. Thus, it defends a competency approach and multidisciplinary and systemic learn­ing in which aspects such as commitment, education or teaching are linked by liter­acy. Furthermore, this is illustrated by a student model on which research is car­ried out at a centre of the University of Oviedo. The aim of this is to achieve active and committed participation, from natu­ral and social environments to political and technological settings, through the use of the continuous and dual education of ecosystems.

The following section introduces this in chapter four, focusing on the importance of competency planning in education. It pays particular attention to two years: the last year of secondary/Bachillerato and the first year of university, given that these are fundamental in guiding young people and preparing them to develop academi­cally as they finish one year and start an­other, in which high levels of maturity and coherence are now significantly reached. All of the aforementioned is illustrated by an in-depth study, and the importance of competency-based education is once again stressed for both students and teachers.

Chapter five sets out a series of con­clusions and bibliometric statistics after analysing almost 300 international stud­ies on teacher digital competency, which is essential for today’s world. Productivity, collaboration, content and impact are the four indicators on which this competency is based. Although some countries have advanced a great deal and experienced sig­nificant exponential growth, it is still clear that there is not enough training on this digital competency for teachers, and the aforementioned are encouraged to keep making progress in the coming years.

Chapter six goes into even more detail about digital competency however, in this case, in relation to the training of social educators. Following a study carried out with around 800 participants, relevant data were observed in order to understand the current outlook of their training. On the one hand, the participants stood out as observers of content, where virtual tutori­als obtained a high score and, on the oth­er hand, they got rather low results when asked about their contributions or crea­tion of suitable digital materials for the professional field. Conclusions are there­fore reached which are similar to those in chapter 5, and the tools and resources are encouraged to be given in order that new generations of social educators may be trained with full digital competency, in accordance with modern times.

Chapter seven makes a clear distinc­tion between Gamification and Play-based Learning and defends the use of both in order to improve competency-based edu­cation, given that its implementation in the field of education is showing promis-ing results. These signify another way to improve competency education, like technological education, by means of the countless resources that may help to en­courage creativity and digital development in classrooms.

Furthermore, chapter eight very clearly sets out the need to promote STEM education, which boosts and em­powers sciences and new technologies. This chapter therefore includes an ex­ample called StartlearnING, which aims to develop these competencies in full. This proves to be a very promising meth­od, the holistic implementation of which brings about significant changes and im­provements in motivation, commitment, problem-solving processes and techno­logical-scientific knowledge among both students and teachers.

Chapter nine deals with the need to pedagogically analyse, from early child­hood, the cultural and diverse framework in which we find ourselves. It defends the correct definition of competencies and an up-to-date learning method from the be­ginning, which makes it possible to take in all of this diversity and offer the same opportunities to boys, girls and families.

Chapter ten is focused on the role of the Teacher Training Master’s Placement as regards learning and properly understand­ing the way in which a competency-based education works. Various research on this area is analysed throughout the chapter, and constant, free-flowing and appropri­ate communication is particularly empha­sized, in addition to the participation of various representatives of the Placement in order to achieve proper competen­cy-based training for new Secondary Ed­ucation teachers.

Towards the end of the book, competen­cy training of future teachers is explored, not only in relation to typical competen­cies of teacher development, but also those which must be applied with students. Fu­ture teachers must be taught a series of competencies which allow them to give their full potential when teaching, while being aware of their importance, which include methodological, communicative and digital competencies, without forgetting the capa­bility to assess, plan and deal with cultural diversity, etc. In short, this chapter offers an enriching analysis and an in-depth re­flection on these aspects and competencies themselves which must be looked at more closely in the training of future teachers.

Chapter twelve puts special emphasis on a narrative review carried out at an international level in order to analyse the role and training in teaching competencies among University lecturers, focused on an international level. The outcome of this is particular attention being drawn to the difference between formal and personal competencies. Formal competencies re­flect knowledge and the way in which it is passed on through a certain methodology, while the latter refer to the more ethical side, as well as a closer relationship be­tween teachers and students.

Lastly, the final chapter makes an anal­ysis of the competencies to be promoted in the area of research and outreach. These competencies are of vital importance, not only to guarantee reliable and quality science, but also to introduce them and encourage their daily use in various ed­ucational institutions so that, starting with research, the best competency-based training may be achieved at all levels of education.

In conclusion, this is a book that must be read by researchers in the field of ed­ucation and, in general, by anyone whose main everyday activities involve educa­tional work. Together with the content set out, the text provides an international and current perspective, with a well thought-out and coherent structure, which is acces­sible and permits swift reading. Undoubt­edly a sound contribution to the field of contemporary didactics.

Paula Álvarez Urda