Using a Professional Skills Framework to Support the Assessment of Dispositions in IT Education

Bowers, David and Sabin, Mihaela (2022). Using a Professional Skills Framework to Support the Assessment of Dispositions in IT Education. In: The 23rd Annual Conference on Information Technology Education, ACM pp. 103–109.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3537674.3554747

Abstract

The IT2017 ACM/IEEE Curriculum Guidelines for Baccalaureate Degree Programs introduced a significantly new way of framing computing education curricula. Instead of focusing on how to structure the Information Technology body of knowledge, the IT2017 report centered its curricular recommendations on the competencies that IT programs are expected to develop in their graduates. A major contribution of the report is a model of IT competency that identifies three interrelated components: content knowledge, skills, and dispositions, where dispositions represent personal qualities desirable in the workplace.

Building on the IT2017 contributions, the ACM/IEEE Computing Curricula 2020 (CC2020) report enriches the disposition concept by identifying eleven dispositions, such as being adaptable or self-directed, that all computing programs should include in the career preparation of their graduates. While the importance of dispositions is widely appreciated by both academic programs and employers, how to develop and assess dispositions in a degree program remains a challenge. A recent mapping of the eleven CC2020 dispositions to the responsibility characteristics of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) opened a promising route for addressing this challenge. Inspired by this mapping, this paper’s aim is to help educators assess students’ achievement of CC2020 dispositions through the SFIA responsibility characteristics. Our proposed assessment method and tool are based on evidence of performance of tasks in real-world work settings, demonstrating SFIA responsibility characteristics, which are mapped to CC2020 dispositions. Furthermore, this paper validates the selection of SFIA to operationalize the CC2020 dispositions, by demonstrating that other IT skills frameworks would pose significant challenges for our assessment approach.

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