The competences issue in the entrepreneurial university
A conceptual framework for the analysis of competences within the entrepreneurial university
Competency – concept, problems, added values
The European Commission (2002) emphasizes the fact that education has now more than ever a crucial part to play in building independent and responsible individuals. In the 1990s, under the pressure of business and employers organisations, education started to develop an increased interest in competences. Consequently, the movement supporting reform of the academic curriculum renounced the seemingly useless practice of devoting itself to knowledge and focused more on developing sustainable competences that would be valid for a longer period of time.
Competence belongs to a family of concepts that rapidly enforces itself within a field necessitating a profound analysis. In the field of sciences of education, the notion causes lexical uncertainties and controversies. In the following section the focus will be on three work-definitions which will substantiate the intended framework of analysis.
In Potolea’s view ‘competence implies the selection, combination and adequate use of information and skills in order to answer successfully and efficiently to a given task’. In Toma’s view ‘competence represents an individual’s possibility to mobilize, whenever necessary, an integrated set of knowledge, capacities (cognitive, actional, relational, and ethical), and other resources in order to solve a specific type of problematic-situations’. This definition can be expressed by the following formula:
Competence = (capacities + knowledge + other resources) + situations
In the authors’ views, competence represents an integrated and dynamic set of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes, all combining in a strategy for solving problems, anticipating, estimating the probabilities of some events happening, for diagnosing a situation starting from a set of prior clues. Competence grants efficiency, precision, confidence – and allows solving difficult situation in the practice they were developed.
By analysing the literature dedicated to the competence issue, the following key aspects can be noted.
- The concept should be used exclusively in respect to a person.
- Competences are not knowledge, skills or attitudes themselves, but they mobilize and integrate such resources.
- This mobilization is pertinent only for a certain situation, each situation being specific, and distinct.
- The practice of competence is done through complex mental operations, underlined by schemes of thinking, (see Altet 1996) which allow the achievement of an action partly adapted to a certain situation.
- Professional competences are developed through professional training, within the daily practice in specific work-situations by a specialist.
Competence is a mental construct, a comprehensive and perfectible model, a complex aggregate that integrates more dimensions, namely:
- The affective dimension – which stimulates the individual to solve a task
- The cognitive dimension – which refers to knowledge and processes the individual has to mobilize or develop
- The transfer dimension – which appeals to the capacity both to recognizse knowledge and processes that can be used in a specific situation, and to implement them.