Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Meeting Information


September 10, 2008



Attending: Rosalyn Scott, Tim Willett, co-chairs; Susan Albright, Mary Pat Aust, Vladmir Goodkovsky, Ted Hanss, Valerie Smothers, Isarin Sathitruangsak

Agenda Items

1. Review minutes of last meeting

The minutes were accepted.

2. Tufts work with current specification

Susan and Isarin struggled with implementing the dental competencies framework in the current specification. She had several recommendations.

There need to be subdefinitions or some form of hierarchy. They organize competencies by organizational departments, and that notion is missing from the spec. Tim - we recognize that hierarchies are a necessity that has not yet been addressed.

The Competency statement has 3 values - statement, outcome criteria, and assessment method. Susan recommended these be elements. Valerie explained that the current structure reflects an effort to work within the IEEE Reusable Competency Definition data model.

Susan added that there needs to be the ability to define criteria. In other words, what do 1,2,3,and 4 mean.  

There needs to be a way of indicating institution and who the competencies belong to.

She also needs a way of indicating grades on individual things, then the overall grade. Where would they put that?

Susan will write up her comments for the group. Then the group will consider how to modify the specification. Rosalyn recommended trying the same process with another framework as well.

3. Review discussion with Technical Steering Committee on semantic web technologies - see Semantic Web*,* OWL*and* Vue*  and minutes* 7-23*;* 8-27

Valerie explained that semantic Web technologies had come up in discussions with technical steering committee. When she presented the technical steering committee with the competency working group use cases, Joel Ferrell, chair of the technical steering committee and IBM's senior staff, commented that OWL would be a useful technology. OWL is designed to make knowledge useful on the Internet. By indicating the relationship between different pieces of knowledge within a particular knowledge domain, OWL provides an ontology that computers can use to make conferences and reason about particular tasks.  This is directly related to many of the use cases, the working group had expressed.  For example, you may want to know that if a clinician is competent in managing blood glucose levels and knows how to perform a foot exam, that they are competent in managing diabetes. Alternatively, you may want to look at the existing competencies that a clinician has and have a computer system recommends specific learning or other activities designed to help that clinician become competent in areas where he or she has gaps. Because there are existing tools that implement OWL, the competencies work built on OWL would be able to leverage these existing tools.
While owl allows developers to indicate many different types of relationships among concepts, it is very complex.  Therefore, the technical steering committee recommended having an approach that would hide the complexity from those that need to author competencies. For that reason, the technical steering committee looked at the VUE program from Tufts University. VUE provides a visual environment for connecting concepts. Anoop Kumar, one of the VUE architects, participated in the last technical steering committee call along with Susan Albright.  Anoop expressed an interest in working with the committee to accommodate our requirements: enabling VUE to serve as an owl competencies authoring system.
Susan added to that they are trying to build competencies for TUSK, and they are trying to figure out how competencies fit into other things. Anoop is planning to visit her in Boston to discuss how VUE could be adapted.
Rosalynn commented that she may be able to get a computer sciences graduate student interested in working on this in relation to a class project. Could we involve such a person in the project? The group agreed we could. Tim recommended looking at the code of OWL and seeing what features of OWL would be useful and applicable.
Roslyn added that there are building a simulation center with human patient simulators and others. She intends to use it to assess health professions students and professional staff competencies.  She could build things in the center in such a way that they are in line with tools that we are looking at.
Tim commented that we have yet to put work into defining the nature of relationships among competencies. OWL is all about relating concepts, VUE is an interface to do so. Perhaps we should look at existing frameworks to see what types of relationships we need to express. We certainly need hierarchies - what others? He recommended putting together an inventory.
Rosalyn commented that one relationship was matrices. For example,  patient satisfaction could be stretched across departments/competencies. Tim commented that you could have it structured as a subcompetency. Or you could have subcompetencies that are more specific, in other words, patient satisfaction in dental exams, patient satisfaction in filling cavities, etc. There are also prerequisites and "similar to." There may be a see also for things that are related Choosing a fluid is related to inserting an IV.
Susan commented that they could use vue to visually explain competencies, then send that out to group. They will work on that.
Tim will send an email after the call asking them to detail what kind of relationships exist.

4. Discussion of recent literature on context, levels of competence (*Prins,* Cate*,* Robson*,* Goodkofsky*)*

Tim reviewed the Prins article looking at complexity factors. Many educators thought context was an intuitive notion - if someone is competent in a supervised environment it does not mean they are competent in an unsupervised setting; if someone is competent in one environment/setting, they are not necessarily competent in another.  Lesley Southgate referred him to one of her colleagues. He explained that competency can exist independent of context. Context becomes important when the competency is applied to something.  Tim contacted the authors of the Prins paper who agreed with this notion.  If applied to a person (ie this person is competent in something, capturing data in an e-portfolios) then it is relevant to articulate the context. The context is also relevant when applying the concept to a learning activity. Tim asked if context should be captured within the competency definition itself or when the competency is applied? He feels the latter is the better approach. It would be nice to inform the user of how to capture context data when it is captured. We may not need to get into this yet since we are still working on comp definitions. Later, when we discuss linking to a person or curriculum, a discussion of context would be warranted. The group agreed.

Rosalyn added that a notion of context allows competencies to be flexible across student and professional environments. Tim agreed.
Tim asked Susan if any of dental competencies specify contextual information. Susan commented that it is often implied. There are procedures with simulated patient vs real patients. Tim commented that was not quite the same. Context is a situation in which you perform an activity, and how the complexity of the situation affects your ability to employ a competency. Susan commented that a facuty member observes the students then signs off.
Rosalyn added that for boards, context could be an issue, for example, rural vs non-rural. That could affect the competency of treating patients with asthma.
The group agreed that in the short term, we would put context on the back burner.

5. Next steps

6. Open discussion


  • The group will revisit the specification taking into account comments form Tufts.
  • Context will be addressed when the group focuses on applying competencies to people and activities.
  • Relationships among competencies is a key concept that should next be addressed by the spec.

Action Items

  • Susan will send her feedback on implementing the specification to the group.
  • Rosalyn will look into getting a computer sciences graduate student to participate in some of the technical work.
  • Tim will send an email to the group asking member to detail what kind of relationships exist among competencies in a framework.
  • Susan will model some competencies in VUE and distribute to the group.
  • Tim, Rosalyn and Valerie will revise the competency definition spec based on Susan's feedback.
  • No labels