Performance-based learning: design and implementation

Performance-based learning improves study outcomes by helping learners understand the meaning and results of their instruction and apprenticeship. In addition,...

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Performance-based learning: design and implementation

Performance-based learning improves study outcomes by helping learners understand the meaning and results of their instruction and apprenticeship.

In addition, they can demonstrate for themselves the application of the acquired knowledge in assessments that motivate and stimulate them.

This type of performance-based educational system has the great advantage of being able to be combined with more traditional methods based on memory, thus improving the results of educational programs.

In this article, we will explain what performance-based learning is and how to design and implement it.

Performance-based learning: design and implementation

What is performance-based learning?

Performance-based learning is a study and assessment system that focuses on developing the student’s ability to apply the acquired knowledge and requires higher-order thinking skills.

In this pedagogical approach, the tasks proposed must be related to the student’s reality, so that they are authentic and meaningful, and allow the students to apply what they have learned, improving their results.

It is important to point out that performance-based learning focuses mainly on the way of teaching and assessing performance, not so much on the information.

It is based on the idea that the learner’s ability to demonstrate what has been learned in a practical way, based on facts, skills, and pre-established learning objectives, will be assessed.


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This makes it easy to apply to any type of curriculum or level of instruction because the focus is on performance assessment.

In fact, it can be combined with a more traditional methodology that assesses content and can be perfectly adapted to e-learning solutions.

On the other hand, this method of teaching and assessment requires constant evolution, based on specific data and real observations of the teacher, which make it possible to adapt the strategies to the circumstances and needs of the class.

A clear example is the fact of learning to drive, since it is a test based on performance evaluation.

Benefits of performance-based learning

Benefits of performance-based learning

Incorporating performance-based learning into your classroom will provide a number of strategic benefits to your students’ performance, such as those listed below:

  • Lessons and assessments are more engaging for learners who understand the importance of learning by contrasting its usefulness in an immersive way. 
  • Learners take ownership of their learning and become more engaged and committed to the study process over time.
  • Learning creates awareness by being embedded in the real world and encourages the development of soft skills that are useful in social and work contexts, such as critical thinking, problem solving and decision making.
  • Performance assessments help identify hidden talents and skills that may be overlooked by more traditional means, making them more inclusive tests. 

Performance-based learning design

As we have already mentioned, the digital version of the educational system we are dealing with, i.e. performance-based learning, offers new possibilities for educational strategies thanks to the interactivity it provides.

The design of performance-based learning requires keeping in mind a number of basic guidelines, which we present below:

  • Make sure that each activity focuses on developing specific skills. You can ask yourself the following question: What is important for students to learn?
  • Encourage students to analyze different perspectives from which to approach each activity. This will encourage them to think deeply and provide them with stimulating challenges. You can use edutainment to work on creativity and create personalized learning paths. 
  • Create a symbiosis between the learners’ expectations and those of the program. The more they are aligned, the better their performance and their accountability for results.
  • Implement fair and objective assessments through quality proctoring solutions that create safe and respectful sharing environments. 

Examples of performance-based learning

Take a look at these other performance-based learning examples below to help you design this strategy:

  • Suggest creating a product. This will allow your students to put into practice what they have learned, individually or in groups, depending on the skills you are trying to validate. It could be inventing something innovative, meeting an existing need with a specific service or even transforming something into something else, such as a comic book play. 
  • Organize an online presentation or exhibition competition of a student work, in which you explain to the rest of the class the details of the work, objectives, significance, etc. 
  • Develop practical plans for the thematic modules where students can use everything they have learned in the course. In this case, microlearning is an option you can explore, as well as introducing discovery learning, which improves knowledge retention.
Performance-based learning design

How can you implement performance-based learning?

As a complement to what we just covered in the design of performance-based learning, there are 4 basic pillars you should consider to successfully implement it in your training programs:

  1. Identify the learning objectives, but also the expected outcomes, and create a roadmap based on them. 
  2. Communicate clearly and unambiguously what the learner needs to do. Remember that e-learning must overcome the barriers that distance learning can present, so communication is as important as accessibility. 
  3. Provide opportunities for learners to self-assess their own performance, so that they can identify their strengths and areas for improvement, become involved in their own progress and seek out their own resources for development.
  4. Avoid cognitive overload for the learner by clearly explaining the evaluation criteria. For example, tell them what behaviors and skills will be analyzed and how you will score them. 

When it comes to remote assessments, it is both necessary and beneficial to create safe spaces that facilitate sharing, accessibility and objective analysis through performance reports.

At Smowltech, we offer our clients proctoring plans that meet the needs of performance-based learning design in a simple, innovative and effective way.You can check it out by requesting a free demo where we will show you the solutions you can implement in your remote assessments.


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