Evolving a Professional Body of Knowledge

Posted by Admin on Jan 22, 2018 5:00:00 PM

Like all organic systems, industry professionals evolve within their context. So how exactly does a professional body of knowledge rise, stabilize, and adapt over time?

The evolution of professional bodies of knowledge may occur in many ways. From an association executive’s perspective, here’s how I have watched this process play out in the professions I have served over the years:


1)     Foundation – Academicians and researchers regularly update their intellectual discipline (using scientific methodology) thereby creating a foundation for a field of professions.

2)     Application -- Professionals in the field practice using these academic principles (often integrating other principles from related academic fields). These practitioners experiment and compete with each other, and new best practices emerge through the application of new technologies, products, processes and procedures.

3)     Development – Similarly to the peer-review process which occurs in the academic world in step one, practitioners share their success with their peers through conferences, publications, communities and other media.

4)     Codify -- At regular intervals during this process, certification and licensure bodies play an essential role: To codify or formalize a body of knowledge and qualify practitioners within a field or discipline. This “codification” of the knowledge and skills required for contemporary professionals is best done through an extensive and thorough job analysis.

A job analysis defines a profession, occupation, or job in terms of the activities (or tasks) performed and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform those activities accurately and effectively. The job analysis process utilizes subject matter expert group discussion, combined with a large-scale survey of professionals. The surveys are completed by the professionals in the field, who inform the importance, time spent performing a task, level of ability required for tasks, and relevance of certain knowledge required to perform the job. This input is formalized by test development specialists, who develop pychometrically-sound assessments for professionals in that field.

Last week, the Investments & Wealth Institute announced the results of its “Future of Investment Advice: Industry Dynamics & CIMA Job Analysis Study”. This study is the third of its kind in 12 years, and once again revises and formalizes the advanced knowledge and skills required for competent, ethical investment analysts, advisors and consultants.

Of course, the evolution won’t stop here: academics will continue to propose and defend theories, practitioners will continue to innovate and share best practices, and every so often certification bodies like us will take another snapshot of the professional body of knowledge on behalf of the profession.

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