Designing Competence-Based Vocational Curricula at the School-Work Boundary

Renate Wesselink*, Ilya Zitter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this chapter, competence-based education (CBE) will be studied from the perspective of the curriculum. We will give an overview of what CBE entails, and review current practice and research on the status quo of CBE in Dutch VET. For this, we shall use peer-reviewed research and more practical, so-called ‘grey publications’. After a brief historical sketch of its rise in the Netherlands, we will give a characterisation of CBE. The conclusion is that CBE curricula in the Netherlands share the following characteristics: (1) integration of knowledge, skills, and attitude in competencies; (2) orientation on acting and integration in the professional domain, both in learning and assessment processes; (3) focus on the individual (i.e. flexibility) supported by the teachers; and, (4) focus on the development of the individual’s career competencies. The main difficulties of CBE implementation are introduced, which are pedagogical, conceptual, and cultural in nature and may help to explain why implementing CBE to its full extent is a time-consuming process. Although all the difficulties described hinder smooth CBE implementation, the difficulty in connecting learning in schools with learning in the workplace must be considered the central problem in implementing CBE in VET curricula. The remainder of this chapter takes a closer look at insights concerning the school-work boundary; it is first explored at the institutional level of co-development between education and workplaces, second with the aid of learning mechanisms in learning environments and after that through the means of a two-dimensional model. The chapter concludes with a closer look inside a learning environment at the intersection of the school-work-boundary that is the result of co-development efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnhancing Teaching and Learning in the Dutch Vocational Education System
EditorsE. de Bruijn, S. Billet, J. Onstenk
Place of PublicationCham
ISBN (Electronic)9783319507347
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2017

Publication series

NameProfessional and Practice-based Learning
ISSN (Print)2210-5549
ISSN (Electronic)2210-5557


  • Business Partner
  • Guest Lecturer
  • Learning Environment
  • Water Factory
  • Workplace Learning

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