Kyle James S. Solar
Last Saturday, April 25, a seminar sponsored by Rex Bookstore was conducted at the SSC-R BAR Review Center, St. Augustine Building. Entitled, “OBE or CBO: That is the Question”, the seminar was attended by over 253 educators from different schools and organizations, 75 of which came from SSC-R. Participants came from universities such as the Holy Angel University, LPU-Batangas, WCC-Caloocan, University of Makati, Letran-Calamba, PHINMA-Araullo University, University of the Assumption, SSC-R de Cavite, SSC-R Canlubang, SSC-R Manila, Colegio De San Juan, Angeles University Foundation, City University of Pasay, EARIST, Batangas State University, University of the East, UE- Caloocan Wesleyan University-Philippines, UA-Pampanga, Our Lady of Fatima University, Adamson University, Arellano University, Centro Escolar University, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, St. Joseph College, San Beda College, Patts, Lyceum of the Philippines University, and MLSU.
Shedding light to the question posed about the choice between OBE and CBO, Dr. William Spady, the main speaker, discussed the specific details about OBE and CBO and its relation to the education system. Spady has a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago and is considered as the father of OBE. Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) is a means for clearly focusing and organizing everything in an educational system around what is essential for all students to be able to assimilate more information successfully at the end of their learning experiences (Spady, 1994).
The focus of OBE is on the outcome, and an outcome is defined as an observable demonstration of learning. Spady states that it is not enough to know and understand the content which is what is done in a Calendar-Based Organization (CBO). The students should be able to produce tangible outcomes, do something that is observable. As he stated, “if it is not observable, it is not assessable.”
According to Spady, right now, evaluation of students’ progress depends on what they have learned in a specific time block. At the end of this time block (i.e. a semester), the students are labeled with permanent marks and because educators are mandated to do it, they do it in ink. He questions the idea by asking, “What if we use pencils instead?” Using a pencil will enable possible changes for a better grade when the students learned. This provides an expanded opportunity for the students. When berated by the idea that it is unfair, he simply answered that “if you think it’s unfair, it simply means that you don’t want all of them, the learners, to learn well.” After all, the Philosophy of OBE is “Success for All”, which means that the goal is for all the learners to be successful. To accomplish these, there is a need to set higher expectations following higher standards of learning, to set optimum conditions maximizing success, and, at the same time, to provide an expanded opportunity. At the end of the day, the goal is to produce students who walk out the door as a self-directed learner, a cooperative member, a critical thinker, an asset to the community, and a quality-sensitive performer.
Questions from the participants were raised after Dr. Spady’s speech, ranging from concerns on how to apply OBE without deterring from the existing rules implemented by CHED, to questions on how to appraise the learnings of the students without the presence of a numeric grading system. Spady answered by saying, “There is a difference between how you asses a student with labeling a student. Grades are labels.” People followed the issue up saying that we have performance measures because we have numbers, but Spady rebuts by stating that “outcomes are defined by words and not numbers.” He also suggested for educators to send petitions for certain academic institutions to serve as model sites of an experimental system and to be an exception with respect to CHED. As he said, “Don’t just comply. Don’t just pile up bricks; design a cathedral.”.
The discussion began to be about more of thinking as a whole, looking at a new perspective. Spady ended by asking, “What kind of OBE do you want to have in the Philippines?”
The semi nar seemed to pose that everything is a working progress. The ideas were mind-blowing but one cannot help but agree that it will take time and a lot of thinking before these ideas materialize and be truly grasped by the existing system. It might take some time for it to be incorporated to the system but application on key ideas of OBE can be easily implemented in the classroom level. These ideas may allow the current system to progress, though, and allow it to stay on track. This seminar, therefore, seemed to have succeeded in giving the assurance that with one step at a time, the educational community is moving forward and is improving its system.
Closing the event, the SSC-R Manila President Rev. Fr. Cristopher Maspara, OAR expressed gratitude to the speaker, Dr. William Spady, the organizers, and the sponsors of this event. As educators, Fr. Maspara urged everyone to continue promoting quality education and producing globally competitive graduates. Fr. Maspara ended with a quote from Saint Augustine:
“Let knowledge be used as a kind of scaffolding to help build the edifice of love and understanding, which shall endure forever even after knowledge itself shall be destroyed.”
Father Maspara then concluded the event with a prayer.
with citation from:
Spady, W. G. (1994). Outcome-Based Education: Critical Issues and Answers. United States of America: American Association of School Administrators.