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The purpose of the page is to compile useful competency ideas that come from other groups working on this problem.  Most of these ideas emerged from IEEE Competency Study Group emails. In addition, the following documents from other standards developers are available:
 1. IEEE New Competency Study Group Overview

 MedBiquitous Competency Working Group definition of "Competency" =  "The MedBiquitous Competency Working Group definition of competency includes any educational objective or educational outcome that results from knowledge, skills, or beliefs."

From Paul D. Storfer, Personnel Decisions International: 

COMPETENCY - The knowledge, skills, behaviors, attitudes, and work-related characteristics that distinguish one individual from another.  Competency definitions precisely and unambiguously delineate specific, identifiable and measurable attributes that a person may possess, and that are necessary for, or material to, the performance of one or more duties or responsibilities as required by a work unit in the aggregate, or by a specific position in a given job, (i.e. within a specific business context).  Structurally, a competency record contains the following attributes:

-         Competency Name - A label for a competency

-         Competency Description - the reusable definition of a competency

-         Competency ID - a unique identifier for a competency that is automatically system generated

-         Competency Suffix - a version number for the competency, allowing for multiple competency descriptions/behaviors/questions with the same competency name. 
Knowledge---is content rendered useful through application. 
A Skill is a specified mental or physical capability which provides the means of performing a task or procedure.  (Capability is performance within a defined range of complexity, context, purpose.) 
A Behavior is an attitude or value that reflects how a person approaches, or reacts in/to, a situation.  ("Value" is what is considered to be of worth/importance, and is applied to an activity in a specific context.  "Attitude" is a mental disposition (frame of mind), a habitual way of regarding something, or approach, that carries over to whatever someone does.)

From HR XML:
Competency.  A specific, identifiable, definable, and measurable knowledge, skill, ability and/or other deployment-related characteristic (e.g. attitude, behavior, physical ability) which a human resource may possess and which is necessary for, or material to, the performance of an activity within a specific business context.

Additional elaboration is required to understand some portions of this definition:

  • Competencies are measurable.  The competencies schema is intended to capture information about measurable characteristics. Some competencies are measurable, but nevertheless are difficult to quantify. In some cases, the measure may be simply whether the characteristic exists or does not exist. Some competencies can be objectively measured, whereas others may only be subjectively recognized.
    Example: In the context of HR-XML's competency schema, education would be considered a competency when it can be quantified or when it is used a measure for a given business purpose. An educational degree may be evidence of a competency. Descriptive information about an educational degree - e.g., the location of the school or institution granting the degree - is not a competency.
  • Competencies are related to performing an activity.  Competencies can be thought of as a level of ability or characteristic useful or necessary to performing an activity.
  • Competencies are attributes of a human resource. However, the model developed by the Competency Workgroup is generalized enough so that it might be applied to other entities, such as organizations.
  • Competencies may include deployment-related characteristics such as "willing to relocate," "non-smoker," etc., but generally would not include purely demographic characteristics, such sex, race, or religion.
  • Competencies can be recursive. A competency may include other competencies. One competency might be decomposed into several component competencies, each of which might be separately measurable.

Learning outcomes: Statements of what a learner can be expected to know, understand and/or do.

In the LUISA project ( we are
using (borrowing) the following definition:

"The notion of competency is linked to the concept of human
performance, which according to the model of Rummel (Rothwell &
Kazanas, 1992) encompasses several elements: (1) the work situation
is the origin of the requirement for action that puts the competency
into play, (2) the individual's required attributes (knowledge,
skills, atti¬tudes) in order to be able to act in the work situation,
(3) the response which is the action itself, and (4) the consequences
or outcomes, which are the results of the action, and which determine
if the standard performance has been met. Finally, individuals
usually receive some kind of feedback depending on the success or
failure of their action."

This is a quote from this (old and a little bit outdated) paper:

 From Andreas Schmidt:  In our work with customers, we have used the following pragmatic definition:
Competencies are
- bundles of knowledge, skills, and/or abilities
- relevant to work performance
- and sufficiently measurable

Within the European IST project iCamp, we are working with the following definition (which is very powerful and embraces many approaches):

    "A human potentiality for action in challenging situations
    or its underlying dispositions. Factual knowledge,
    procedural skills, internalized orientations, values,
    attitudes and volitional aspects constitute
    dispositions." (iCamp Consortium)

The OECD DeSeCo (DEfinition and SElection of COmpetencies) project, which came up with:

    "A competence is defined as the ability to successfully
    meet complex demands in a particular context through the
    mobilization of psychosocial prerequisites (including both
    cognitive and noncognitive aspects)"
    (Rychen & Salganik, 2003b, p. 43)

Opinion from Claude Ostyn: 

"Attempting to create or agree on yet another definition
of "competence" or "competency" is an utter waste of time. Countless
hours, days, months and years have been wasted already on this sterile
exercise that is not likely to to more successful than efforts to
agree on a common definition of "the perfect meal" or "art". "

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