DACUM: Incorporating Industry-Requirements into Training Curriculum

Written by LUMINIS. Posted in Education Training Blog

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What is DACUM (day-kum)?

DACUM (Developing A Curriculum) is a quick yet highly valid job analysis technique. The DACUM process is used to determine the competencies that should be addressed in a training curriculum for a specific occupation. DACUMs are used to develop job profiles for all types of occupations, including top-level managers and specialized jobs. This cost-effective and efficient technique has been validated through research and compares very positively with other job analysis methods.


DACUM is based on three premises:

  1. Expert workers can better describe their job than anyone else,
  2. Any job can be effectively described in terms of the competencies or tasks that successful workers in that occupation perform,
  3. The specific knowledge, skills, attitudes and tools required by workers in order to correctly perform their tasks can also be described.

Fundamentally, the DACUM process is brainstorming in a well-organized, step-by-step manner. The process requires a panel of 5 to 9 expert workers in the occupation being analyzed, a qualified DACUM facilitator, and a recorder. Modified small-group brainstorming techniques are used to obtain the collective expertise and consensus of the committee.  Although some jobs can be analyzed in one working day, it is better to schedule at one and a half to two days, especially for more complex jobs. The panel members must be articulate workers who are considered outstanding in their occupation, with highly-developed technical knowledge and skill. A facilitator specifically trained in the DACUM process is essential for valid and usable outcomes. The facilitator must be able to elicit specific task statements, deal with conflict and debate when the panel is reaching consensus, and continually forge ahead in order to complete the process.

Step-1:  Occupational Analysis

During the DACUM work session the facilitator systematically guides the panel members through brainstorming and consensus-reaching discussions to describe their job in terms of main duties and specific tasks.   Let’s have a closer look at what we mean by Duties and Tasks.

Duty: A general area of competence that successful workers in the occupation must demonstrate or perform on an on-going basis. A duty includes two or more distinct tasks.

Task: A work activity that has a definite beginning and ending, is observable, consist of two or more definite steps and leads to a product, service, or decision.

Since the specific tasks are the competencies necessary to do the job, it is critical that they be described accurately and precisely. The panel members also agree on the relevant attitudes, knowledge, and skills as well as the primary tools of their job. The recorder writes the duties and tasks on large index cards that are taped or pinned to a wall facing the panel. This storyboarding process is essential to successful DACUM profiles because the cards are replaced, reworded, and rearranged until the panel members agree that it is an accurate profile of their job.

The result of the first part of the DACUM process is a chart or profile that shows the duties and tasks performed in the occupation.

DACUM Research Chart

The profile also lists necessary worker traits and attitudes, general skills and knowledge, and the tools and equipment the worker uses. Research indicates that DACUM profiles not only cost less than conducting job inventories by mail, they also produce more valid results.

Step-2: Validation of Initial Occupational Profile

The DACUM process is not complicated, but the development of a quality training program entails additional steps. Once a DACUM profile is developed and reproduced on paper, it should be validated by having other expert workers and supervisors review it for completeness and accuracy. The validation process can include a variety of criteria, but some of the most useful are criticality of the task, frequency that the task is performed, and need for training for this task. The specific tasks that should be included in a training curriculum are one of the outcomes of the validation.

To provide useful information for curriculum development or any other uses of DACUM profiles, the validations should be targeted to the intended use of the DACUM profiles. For example, if a profile is to be the foundation for a School Assistant Administrator training curriculum, the reviewers should be selected from the School system or systems that will actually use the completed program.

Then the revised/updated profile is sent to various bodies or focus groups to give them a starting point.

Step-3:  Task Analysis

The next step after validation is task analysis. Through task analysis, ideally conducted jointly by expert workers and curriculum developers, each task is further analyzed and broken down into sequential operational steps. These steps describe exactly how to accomplish the task and should include the specific knowledge, skills, tools, and equipment needed to perform the task. The completed task analyses become the foundation or outline for developing the training curriculum.

The panel members are asked to review the completed profile and to identify what they believe to be the tasks in which a new worker entering that position would have the greatest need for training. They are also asked to identify the tasks in which veteran workers/employees like themselves would have the greatest need for training.

DACUM Task Analysis Chart

Step-4: Prioritization of Job-Responsibilities

The our expert panel of worker, employees record their duties and tasks and also prioritize the job responsibilities by identifying areas of criticality, frequency and training needs.  Let’s understand the terms involved here.

The expert panel then identifies the duties (on-going work responsibilities) of the given profile in consideration. A prioritized listing of the duties from most to least critical are reported on the job profile.

DACUM Ranking of Critical Duties

Step-5: Prioritization of Tasks

The expert panel of workers identifies all occupational tasks in context of Prioritized Duties. These tasks are sorted into four prioritized categories: critical, frequent, new and veteran worker training needs.

Similar exercises are performed for identifying the training needs for veteran & new workers.

DACUM Ranking of Critical Tasks

 DACUM Ranking of Frequently Performed Tasks

What Are Other Uses of DACUM Profiles?

In addition to curriculum development, DACUM profiles can be used in several other ways. They are used (1) to develop accurate job descriptions, (2) to evaluate if existing programs provide training for the competencies needed for today’s jobs, (3) as a pretest to determine the training needs of staff, (4) to develop competency-based post tests for training, (5) to develop auxiliary components to the training program such as computer-based training and video tapes, and of course (6) as the foundation for developing a complete training program for a specific job in the correctional system. Additionally, DACUM profiles are used (7) for developing performance evaluations, (8) for making career decisions with information about specific occupations, and (9) for new supervisors/managers’ understanding of what their employees do or should do on the job.

In short, an occupational skill profile which can be used for instructional program planning, curriculum development, training materials development, organizational restructuring, employee recruitment, training needs assessment, meeting ISO 9000 standards, career counseling, job descriptions, competency test development, and other purposes.


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