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Program Competencies versus

Learning Outcomes, a New

Course Development Paradigm
Milan Frankl, MBA, PhD.

Abstract: Traditionally, university programs and courses

are developed according to program and course learning
outcomes. In this paper, the author proposes a Competency
Structure for online undergraduate and graduate program
development. Similar to Learning Outcomes, Program
Competencies are developed through course content,
exercises, case studies, research projects, and simulations.
They may be evaluated through essays, quizzes, projects,
coursework, and examinations. However, unlike learning
outcomes, Program Competencies result in specific skills
students can apply in the workplace.

Keywords: learning outcomes, program competencies,

skill transfer, information technology

High-Level Competency Framework

According to the University of Torontos website, Good
learning outcomes are focused on what the learner will
know or be able to do by the end of a defined period of
Dr. Frankl, MBA, PhD, is a professor time and indicate how that knowledge or skill will be
at University Canada Wests School of demonstrated. (University of Toronto, 2013)
Business. He has more than 35 years of On the other hand, A core competence is the result of a
experience in executive management, specific set of skills or production techniques that d
system development, system metrics
and evaluation techniques, system
value to the business and its customers. (Prahalad&
feasibility studies, and system quality Hamel, 1990)
assurance. Dr. Frankls research interest For easier understanding of the competency structure
is promoting knowledge transfer in (CS) when developing a university degree program, we
higher education.
have chosen a topic that may illustrate better the process
The programs competency structure (PCS) in this paper
builds on the foundational IT knowledge and practical
experience of students aspiring to fill executive IT posi-
tions in business. The PCS develops advanced IT manage-
ment and leadership skills and knowledge with focus on
areas, such as IT service management and leadership, IT
management across multiple boundaries, IT innovation
management, and IT-driven business leadership.

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Program Competencies versus Learning Outcomes

To address program requirements, general A prerequisite list for contextual, func-

management and high-level IT management tional, and integrative competencies and
and leadership competencies are identified a level-based progression for each are de-
below with the associated operational-level scribed below. A cross-reference table of
competencies specifics that will be achieved the relationship between the integrative
as course-level competencies. competencies, and both the functional and
We name this program as IT-PCS. contextual competencies, is presented in a
separate table. Functional and contextual
General Degree Program Competencies competencies need to be acquired before
General degree program competency stages any of the integrative competencies are
include the following: attempted. A student progress assessment
Learner-focused competency elements or may take place before moving to next level
core competencies, competencies (See Tables 1 and 2).
Contextual competency elements, Each program-level competency hereaf-
Functional competency elements, and ter is identified with capital letter(s) and a
Integrative competency elements. number. For example, Core Competencies
These broad competency stages represent are identified with CC-NN, Contextual
the building blocks of progressive student Competencies with C-NN, Functional
skills and capabilities that consider the re- Competencies with F-NN, and Integrative
quired contextual, functional, and integrative Competencies with I-NN. We list IT-CPS
competency elements of the desired business program competencies in the following
skills achievement. section.

Table 1: Competency Table Summary

Integrative Competencies Functional Competencies Contextual Competencies
I-01. Create and build IT F-01. Develop business requirements and C-01. Determine
innovative capacity and conduct information systems analysis appropriate IT
capability in and across F-02. Appraise system adherence to IT organizational
organizations regulation and conduct IT systems audits structural responses to
I-02. Transform business F-03. Compare and justify the selection business needs
and organizations through of software development approaches C-02. Determine
IT F-04. Transform the manner in which appropriate
I-03. Create and build IT- data relate to management and business IT operations
enabled strategic alliances uses management processes
I-04. Direct IT in rapidly F-05. Integrate evidence-based decision- in alignment with
changing, complex, making into IT systems, knowledge business requirements
interconnected social and management, and business intelligence C-03. Appraise and
business environments F-06. Develop systematic approaches to determine financial
I-05. Develop IT risk and IT operations management and accounting issues
opportunity planning F-07. Align IT services with business related to IT
activities needs through considered design C-04. Determine
I-06. Ensure consistent concerning reliability, scalability, and IT human resource
and appropriate IT availability management
contribution through IT F-08. Appraise and assess IT procurement and development
governance practices and supply and the use of SLAs requirements
I-07. Determine the F-09. Strategically align IT road-mapping C-05. Develop IT
contribution of IT to F-10. Determine IT portfolio, program, business strategy and
business needs and project management criteria planning
I-08. Apply IT-based requirement C-06. Demonstrate
solutions to organizational F-11. Determine IT security and forensics IT leadership and
opportunities and management requirements change management
challenges capabilities

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Program Competencies versus Learning Outcomes

Table 2: Competency Dependencies Table (Condensed Titles)

Prerequisite to

Prerequisite to

Prerequisite to
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Competencies Competencies Competencies competencies
C-01. Organizational F-03. F-06. IT operations I-01. Create and build
structure Software management IT innovative capacity
C-02. Operations development F-07. Align business I-02. Transform
management F-04. Data needs with IT business through IT
C-03. Managerial management services design in I-03. Create and build
finance F-05. terms of reliability, IT strategic alliances
C-04. HR Evidenced- scalability, and I-04. Direct IT
management and based availability I-05. Engage in IT
development decision- F-08. IT procurement risk and opportunity
C-05. Business making and supply planning
strategy and F-09. Strategically I-06. Ensure IT
planning align IT governance practices
C-06. Business road-mapping I-07. Perform IT-
leadership F-10. IT portfolio, based research
F-01. Business program, I-08. Apply IT-
requirements and project based solutions
F-02. IT regulation management to organizational
and auditing F-11. IT security opportunities
and forensics

Program Competencies CC-01. Practical critical thinking competencies.

Conceptualize, analyze, and synthesize
Core Competencies (Learner-Focused) information acquired by observation.
Learner-focused core competencies (CCs) Evaluate the acquired informations
are to be acquired by the student in every validity logically.
course and are not necessarily IT-PCS specific. Interpret and communicate the acquired
Achieving these competencies is measured information.
in a manner consistent with the progressive Prerequisites: none
capability of student development in broad CC-02. Applied integrative thinking
stages of: competencies.
Practical critical thinking, Construct logically reasoned positions
Applied integrative thinking, based on evidence.
Responsibility and accountability, and Identify the legitimacy or significance
Academic and practice-based research of alternate points of view.
methods Integrate concepts from various disci-
Learner-focused competencies are pres- plines to develop a proposed solution.
ent throughout the program and covered Prerequisites: none
within each course. They include critical CC-03. Responsibility and accountability
thinking expressed verbally and in writ- competencies.
ing, integrative synthesis capability, re- Identify the nature and effect of personal
sponsibility assessment, understanding bias and perceptions on decision making.
accountability, and proficiency in practical Identify potential conflicts of interest
research methods. and suggest ways to mitigate them.

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