Demonstrating the use of a professional skills framework to support the assessment of dispositions in IT education

Bowers, David S. and Sabin, Mihaela (2024). Demonstrating the use of a professional skills framework to support the assessment of dispositions in IT education. Education and Information Technologies, 29 pp. 7595–7632.



The skills and competencies of IT professionals are often described using employer-led skills frameworks. They express competencies as technical knowledge and skills combined with a range of personal qualities. Employers have indicated the importance of developing such qualities for new graduates. In response, recent ACM/IEEE curricular recommendations have shifted their emphases from bodies of knowledge to the development of competencies. The IT2017 ACM/IEEE Curriculum Guidelines for Baccalaureate Degree Programs proposed a model of IT competency comprising three interrelated components: content knowledge, skills, and dispositions, where dispositions represent personal qualities desirable in the workplace. The ACM/IEEE Computing Curricula 2020 (CC2020) report enriched the IT2017 disposition concept by identifying eleven dispositions that all computing programs should include for the career preparation of their graduates. However, developing and assessing dispositions in a degree program remain challenges, often involving internships, work placements and similar student opportunities. A recent mapping of the eleven CC2020 dispositions to the responsibility characteristics of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA), a widely used professional skills framework, suggested a promising approach to addressing this challenge. Inspired by this mapping, this paper aims to help educators assess students' achievement of CC2020 dispositions by mapping real-world experiences they have recorded in individual portfolios against the SFIA responsibility characteristics. First, the selection of SFIA to operationalize the CC2020 dispositions is validated by demonstrating that alternative frameworks pose significant challenges for any assessment approach that needs to be independent of particular technical skills. A tool is described that maps demonstration of SFIA responsibility characteristics to CC2020 dispositions, applying a simple, consistent assessment algorithm. Finally, the assessment process and outcomes are illustrated using a fictional student portfolio, constructed to reflect one author's experience of work placement students' achievements.

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