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An assessment of competency-based learning elements in study materials developed by the National Open University of Nigeria
Published on: April 11, 2022

Research team

  1. Dr Onyeka Iwuchukwu
  2. Dr Dorothy Ofoha


Funded by: Commonwealth of Learning

Project objectives

The success and sustainability of many ODL initiatives have often been ascribed to the quality of their learning materials. In the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), the majority of the students work and learn. Consequently, their concern is to acquire skills and competencies from their students that they can subsequently apply in their places of work and businesses. The broad aim of the study was to evaluate the extent to which competency-based learning elements are embedded in the design and development of course materials used by NOUN students and to assess whether or not the students possess the requisite skills and competencies as prescribed in their course programmes. The specific objectives were to:

  • examine the existing NOUN course materials to assess the level of competency-based learning elements embedded therein,
  • determine how well students had attained mastery of the competencies prescribed in their course programme,
  • find out the proportion of students who had difficulties acquiring competencies prescribed in their course programmes,
  • determine the possible influence of some variables (age, gender, employment status, frequency of tutorials attendance, and programme of study) on the competency level of NOUN students.

283 students, 43 copies of course materials, and 43 subject specialists formed the sample for the study. Data collection, instruments included a competency-based learning checklist, competency-based practical skills test, students’ performance assessment measure, and course material analysis format.

Summary of the Outcomes

A significant proportion of sampled course materials had an adequate number of learning objectives that were stated in measurable behavioural terms (knowledge level) while a majority of the course materials were found deficient in performance-based objectives (practical skills). The overall components of the course modules were highly rated with exception of two components (statement of performance objectives and evaluation devices) which received poor ratings. NOUN students generally achieved low mastery of competencies in the performance of their tasks. However, students demonstrated the highest competencies in accuracy and logical reasoning followed by clarity, application and sequence of ideas in that order. The least attained competency was in self-learning followed by coverage and problem-solving ability. Eighty-four (29.7%) of sampled students appeared to have difficulties in acquiring competencies prescribed in their course programmes as opposed to 199 (70.3%) who appeared to have mastered the competencies. Students’ gender and attendance at tutorial classes and geopolitical zones had significant relative contributions to their competency level, while age, employment status, marital status and School had no relative contributions to students’ competency level. Female students achieved higher competency scores than male students. In light of these findings, some recommendations were made towards improving the quality of NOUN course materials to reflect competency-based learning which would in turn translate to practical learning efficiency on the part of students.