Teaching complex skills

Learning of competencies can be considered as complex learning (Van Merriënboer and Kirschner, 2013).

  1. 'A competency (or ability) is a combination of complex cognitive and higher order skills, highly integrated knowledge structures, interpersonal and social skills, and attitudes and values.
    Acquired competencies by the students can be applied in a variety of situations (i.e. transfer) and over an unlimited span (i.e. life-long learning)".
  2. "Complex learning involves:
    * integrating knowledge, skills and attitudes;
    * coordination of the different constituent skills of a competency;
    * transferring of what is learned to daily life and work settings."
  3. "The driving force in complex learning is the use of authentic learning tasks. Such tasks are instrumental in helping learners to integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes, stimulate the coordination of skills constituent to solving problems or carrying out tasks and facilitate the transfer of what is learned to new and often unique tasks and problem situations."
  4. "Offer a model about how to solve certain problems, case studies or issues".
  5. "Possible educational methods in which student learn to apply competencies are problem based education, project education, case-method, evidence based method, innovation projects etc."


  • J.J.G.van Merriënboer and P.A. Kirschner (2013) Ten steps to complex learning. Second Edition. Routledge.