Competence is a system of knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary for transforming a non-typical situation into a typical one (if..., then...). As a result of competence development, a student becomes competent in this or that question. Competence, however, is a multi-level concept. The students face new problems all the time, therefore a need for the development of new competences arises.

The proposed model of competence development comprises five stages:
Stage 0. Can I? Accepting a learning problem
Stage 1. What am I dealing with? Developing the passport of an element
Stage 2. How to make a choice? Formulating a hypothesis
Stage 3. Does my hypothesis work? Developing an algorithm
Stage 4. Do I still need the algorithm? Becoming competent and facing a new problem

 

Each stage offers a set of possible tasks for the learner and clearly describes learning outcomes to be reached before moving to the next stage. The process always starts with a real life situation that lets the learner decide how competent s/he already is. Based on this experience, the learner decides to what extent there is a need for further learning and what is to be achieved. Thus, Stage 0 results in a problem to be resolved and a learning objective aimed to help the learner achieve this.

During Stage 1, the learner collects information about the object of his/her investigation. This may be a lengthy process at the end of which the learner drafts a model of the research element by describing it through essential features. This model is referred to as a passport of an element.

The next step, Stage 2, is connected with generation of hypotheses based on various parameters in the passport developed at the previous stage. These hypotheses aim to help the learner resolve the initial problem faced at the initial stage.

When the hypotheses are in place, they are to be tested. Depending on the subject area, the approach to testing may be different and it may vary from theoretical proof to empirical testing against a data bank. In any case, a hypothesis is transformed to a rule or an algorithm at the end of Stage 3.

Finally, at Stage 4, the developed algorithm is being put to practice. Here the learner formalises the research strategy s/he has been following and reaches the mastery level when no specific algorithm is required any longer. At the same time, s/he faces a new problem that unfolds a new competence development cycle.

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