CeTUSS/IEEE Workshop on Professional Competencies (Uppsala, Sweden)

The workshop program and presentations are available from http://www.it.uu.se/research/group/upcerg_new/events/profesional_competences.

Christina Dörge, Universität Oldenburg

Discussed the inplications of the terminology used to describe competence and competencies. A discussion arose about the differnece between skills and technical ability/competence and the ability to think about how to use the skill and to reason in a way that is recognised by other professionals as being relevant and valuable. In discussing this there was a discussion also about the goals of education in terms of skilling versus personal development. The role of education was also discussed from an historical and cultural perspective, define terms in the context of the historical and cultural framework that we are trying to interpret. Christina defined several types of competency that are intersting to consider and together combine to generate an action enabling competency. Two interesting ideas are Methodological and Social competencies.

Now, how do we relate this to CS? What is the set of key competencies? Who are we considering when we have these discussions? Students, Lecturers, School Teachers, Students, IT professionals? This is really important in order to define relevant competency pallets.

So what is relevant. Is the separation vocational and academic a useful one? Perhaps cultures are too inward looking, wider participation perhaps needed.

The questions at the end were very thought provoking, so can we only assess demonstrated competencies, what is the level of the competency. There was also a stimulating discussion about the level at which we should try to describe competencies. The tradeoff between the highly technical and specific and more generic descriptions. Much of the resoning presented seemed general to all education systems and levels from primary school to university education, though the focus changes.

Stephen Seidman, Texas State University

How do Computing Education Programmes Demonstrate the Attainment of Professional Skills to Evaluators?

Stephen commenced his talk about the accreditation process by describing the system in the USA. There is little regulation of Universities in terms of how they deliver education. Engineering accreditation is managed by a professional body and is voluntary, but there are strong cultural reasons motivating Universities to participate. Defines the difference between Ojectives, which are something a graduate demonstrates after 3-5 years in the industry, an Outcome is something a graduate can do at the time of graduation.

Provided the (a) to (k) ABET list of outcomes. But how are the abilities really demonstrated? ABET is process oriented. Accreditation looks at how likely it is that the proposed educational processes provide graduates with the required outcomes.
Data is collected usually on a 2 to 3 year cycle, many computing programmes are accredited, but there are also many that are not.
Data sources include employer and graduate surveys, reports on internships, and job interviews, as well as input from industrial advisory board. This is a very work intensive process. There is also input from lecturing staff, and indicator questions in certain contexts that are answered by all students. Often part of examination in particular subjects. Then statistics are run on these key indicators. There is a committee that administers the improvement cycle providing feedback to programmes and courses about what changes might need to be made.

Rubrics, arriving at rubrics is a learning process for both teachers and accreditors. But, rubrics need to be revisited to remain aware of their effects. The association of rubrics with numbers is a problem perhaps, but the alternatives can be highly costly in terms of time.

Teamwork, rubric based on self evalutations. Seemed to be a reasonable approach.
The discussion addressed the role of process and is that a relevant approach.
One question is, what are the alternatives?

Roger McDermott, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

Integrating reflection on learning into the curriculum.
A nice slide on the areas of research that can inform self regulated learning and instructional design.

Identifies three areas of growth
  • doing things better - improving efficiency in operation
  • doing things differently - ability to enage in a problem from different perspectives.
  • doing different things - increased ability to deal with problem domains
Dreyfus model of skill acquisition seems a useful models for discussing learner development.
  1. Novice - e.g. cant see the program ofr the syntax
  2. Advanced beginer - relate to reification of concepts
  3. Competence - goal/plan, routines and prodedures for attaching tasks.
  4. Proficiency - holistic approach, deviation from norms
  5. Expertise - intuitive grasp based on deep tacit understanding and analytic approaches only used in a-typical situations.
The location of tacit knowledge, and the role of tacit knowledge was discussed in teh context of a situational and contextual understanding, and then intuition  (ability to reason and make quick decisions) and development of routine proceedures.
Student at early levels are schema driven, using at best near transfer problem solving in an attempt to apply prior problem solving patterns. There seems to be a potential interesting relationship between these ideas and conceptual change and assimilation vs accomodation.

Interesting reference to Nichol et al. SENLEF 2004;REAP 2008. Discussing what is feedback, and what do students think feedback is! 7 criteria of good feedback processes were provided for discussion.
Roger then wanted to be able to collect evidence that this was in fact occurring in the classroom, the chosen mechanism was a blog. In the blog where the student was asked to express their own learning narrative. Some interesting ideas about the students collecting their own evidence for their deveopment. This seems in some ways related to the DiaNa project in Biology at Uppsala.

Brian Konsky, Curtin Univeristy, Australia.

Team players, talked about team experiences, and learning not to limit learning to just the University environment, look even for connections to external experience. There was a considerable discussion about the role and value of video CV's and how they affect employability of graduates. The Curtin iPortfolio concept was presented in some detail, and is a very sophisticated approach to facilitating student's collecting evidence of their progression in development as a professional over their time at University.


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