Tag Archives: PMI Credentials

The PMP® Examination is 30 years old

PMPThe PMP® credential is probably the oldest and most widely recognised project management credential in the world.

PMI® was not the first project management association, that honour goes to the European INTERNET (now IPMA), but it did lead the way in developing a project management examination and a supporting body of knowledge.

PMI was founded in October 1969 at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a non-profit organisation focused on the field of project management. By the time of the 1976 PMI Montreal Seminars/Symposium, the idea that ‘project management’ practices could be documented was being widely discussed along with the concept of project management as a profession.

These discussions continued through to 1981 when the PMI Board of Directors formally approved a project under the leadership of  Matthew Parry to:

  1. Define the distinguishing characteristics of a practicing profession (ethics)
  2. The content and structure of the profession’s body of knowledge (standards)
  3. Recognition of professional attainment (accreditation)

The project team became known as the Ethics Standards and Accreditation (ESA) Management Group.

The results of the ESA project were published as a Special Report in the Project Management Journal, August 1983. The Special Report included:

  1. A code of Ethics and a procedure for enforcement
  2. A standard knowledge baseline consisting of six major ‘functions’, Scope, Cost, Time, Quality, HR and Communication.  The term ‘functions’ was used, because most were named after the typical ‘functions’ (departments) of a large engineering company (now called knowledge areas).
  3. Recommendations for both the accreditation of courses provided by institutions (Universities) and individual certification.

This report subsequently served as the basis for PMI’s initial Accreditation and Certification programs. The  first PMPs credentials awarded in 1984 and Western Carolinas University, Masters in Project Management degree was the first course accredited by PMI.

The initial version of the PMP exam was 40 questions in each of the 6 knowledge areas with at least 70% correct in each to pass.  This version of the multi-choice exam presented 5 options and included a fair number of combination choices (e.g., “a and b”).

On the 25 March 1986, I joined PMI as member # 13,428 to tap into the knowledge PMI were developing through their Journals and standards to help with my work as a project management consultant. 28 years later I’m still an active PMI member.

In 1986/87 the PMI Board approved a second standards related project, to review and enhance the 1984 documents. In addition to expanding and enhancing the six original ‘functions’, the Risk and Contract/Procurement ‘functions’ were added along with a section on the ‘Project Management Framework’ which placed project management within the context of the wider environment and general management. This work was published as the ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)’ in 1987.

The updated PMP exam was now 40 questions each for the 8 ‘functions’ with at least 70% correct in each to pass. It was 320 multiple choice questions that took 3 hours and 20 minutes in the morning for the first 160 questions and another 3 hours and 20 minutes in the afternoon for the second group of 160. Also around this time, PMI eliminated the “a and b” options and changed the exam from 5 options to 4.

Between 1991 and 1996, a major review of the PMBOK was initiated under the leadership of Bill Duncan resulting in the publication of ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge’, the first edition of the PMBOK® Guide.  The important ‘Integration Knowledge area was added and the document extensively reorganised. The now familiar ‘processes were added to standardise the flow of information within a project (with inputs, tools and techniques and outputs described – most outputs becoming inputs to subsequent processes).

The PMP exam was changed again in the latter half of the 1990s.  It went from a written test to computer based test, from 320 questions to 200 questions and the passing score went from 70% in each knowledge area to 61% overall.  With the new format and ease of access to examination centres via the Thompson Prometric world-wide delivery system the PMP exam took off.

We passed our PMP examinations in 2001 and started developing our PMI courses, initially focussing on the new CAPM Credential, then the PMP credential – we are still developing and adapting our courses to stay aligned with changes in focus of the examination!

The 2000 and 2004 updates to the PMBOK® Guide set the pattern of regular 4 yearly updates. The 2004 (Third Edition) was the first time I contributed to the development process which has continued trough the 2008 and 2012 updates. The 2012 update included the new knowledge area of Stakeholder Management.

The regular updates required of an ANSI standard continue, with work on the 6th Edition currently in progress for publication in 2016, with Lynda Bourne leading work on the Stakeholder and Communication chapters.

Each update of the PMBOK® Guide flows through to updated PMP and CAPM examinations as do the less regular reviews of the PMP and the CAPM role delineation studies and examination specifications. So whilst the PMP examination is 30 years old, and the CAPM examination is 11 years old, both certifications remain a rigorous test of current project management knowledge.

The last set of significant changes to the exam delivery has been to change the passing assessment to remove the set pass/fail score and assess each test based on the use of psychometric analysis (see more)

Over the last 30 years, the PMBOK® Guide has largely shaped the world-wide view of what project management is; I know from my time working on the development of ISO 21500:2012 – Guidance on project management was heavily influenced by the PMI PMBOK. There are certainly other excellent BoKs produced in the UK, Japan and Germany to my certain knowledge; and the PRINCE2 certification is challenging the PMP credential for dominance; but everyone’s view of ‘project management’ is largely consistent and framed by the PMBOK® Guide.

So if you are a PMP holder or are planning on taking the PMP examination, I’m hoping this brief rundown on the history of the credential and its associated ‘body of knowledge’ provide some background on why the PMBOK® Guide and the examination are  the way they are. It’s been a long journey which continues.

For more on the history of Project Management see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-History.html

For more on the PMP and CAPM examinations see: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

New PMP and CAPM Courses

Mouse_ThinkingTo meet the demand for PMP and CAPM training in the lead up to Christmas, we are please to announce new PMP and CAPM Intensive courses have been scheduled for the 1st to the 5th December.

Booking and course details are available on-line:

PMP:    http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/pmp-courses-melbourne/

CAPM: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/capm-courses-melbourne/

This course is your last chance to complete a PMP or CAPM course this year!! Our 2015 program is also open for bookings at the same URL.

Melbourne’s best value in PMP and CPAM training just got better!

Our courses already include some of the best pre and post course support anywhere.  By popular demand and following a system upgrade, you licence to use our PM Final exam simulator, with over 1000 questions for either the PMP or CAPM examinations has been extended from 30 days to 90 days.

You chose when to start using the simulator and have 3 months access to practice simulated examinations to help your revision.  The 90 day licence is included at no additional cost for all:

CAPM Classroom courses
CAPM Mentored Email™ courses
PMP Classroom courses
PMP Mentored Email™ courses

Our classroom courses also include a free copy of the PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition, 100s of questions,  comprehensive training notes, a 100 question benchmark test and full catering (coffee on arrival, morning and afternoon teas and lunch).

Our next course starts on the 13th October and they run regularly throughout the year (the 2015 calendar is available).

The Psychology of Effective Learning

We are always looking at the best options for our course design to help people learn the masses of material needed for the PMP, CAPM and PMI-SP examinations in particular.  A report published on the 9th January by the Association for Psychological Science, written by Professors John Dunlosky, Katherine Rawson, Elizabeth Marsh, Mitchell J. Nathan and  Daniel Willingham, suggest most of what we do in our PMI courses aids effective learning (read the report).

Teaching and learning are interrelated – a successful examination outcome requires good materials, good teaching techniques and effective learning on the part of the exam candidate;  but people lean in a variety of ways and have different learning preferences. This post and the referenced reports highlight the most effective learning options.

Learning styles

The term learning styles refers to the concept that individuals differ in regard to what mode of instruction or study is most effective for them. Whilst there are many different models of ‘learning styles’, they all basically include variations on these three modes:

  • Visual learners have a preference for images, they ‘think in pictures’ and like visual aids that represent ideas such as graphs, charts, diagrams, symbols, etc.;
  • Auditory learners learn best through listening to lectures, discussions, tapes, etc.;
  • Kinesthetic or tactile learners prefer to learn via experience – moving, touching, and doing things to ‘build experience’.

These styles are overlaid with a person’s preference for learning is a social or solitary environment and how they absorb and process the information through reflection or other options to create a complex web of possibilities:

Learning styles

There is plenty of evidence that, if asked, people will express preferences about how they prefer information to be presented to them. There is also plentiful evidence arguing that people differ in the degree to which they have some fairly specific aptitudes for different kinds of thinking and for processing different types of information. Derived from this starting point, the most common hypothesis about the instructional relevance of learning styles is the meshing hypothesis, according to which instruction is best provided in a format that matches the preferences of the learner

However, there is very little evidence to suggest this ‘meshing hypothesis’ is valid. Whilst we try to include elements of all three styles in our courses, a person’s preferred ‘learning style’ is not a measure of effective instructional design: see: Learning Styles Concepts and Evidence http://psi.sagepub.com/content/9/3/105.short.

Learning techniques

Techniques are partly instructional design and partly student behaviour. However, unlike ‘learning styles’, there is a significant body of literature evaluating the effectiveness of learning techniques. From this large resource, the Dunlosky report examines ten of the most popular learning techniques to assess whether the technique’s benefits generalise across four dimensions:

  • learning conditions (e.g., studying alone vs. studying in a group),
  • student qualities (e.g., age or ability),
  • materials (e.g., scientific concepts, historical facts, mathematical problems), and
  • the criterion tasks on which learning is measured (e.g., essay tests that require transfer of learning, multiple-choice tests).

The report’s conclusions rate each technique from high to low utility on the basis of the evidence the author’s amassed:

Study options

The least effective techniques

Highlighting, underlining, rereading and summarizing were all rated by the authors as being of ‘low utility’:

  • Highlighting and underlining led the authors’ list of ineffective learning strategies. Although they are common practices, studies show they offer no benefit beyond simply reading the text. Some research even indicates that highlighting can get in the way of learning because it draws attention to individual facts, which may hamper the process of making connections and drawing inferences.
  • The practice of rereading is common (and to a degree essential) but it is much less effective than some of the better techniques you can use.
  • Summarising, or writing down the main points contained in a text, can be helpful for those who are skilled in the practice, but again, there are far better ways to spend your study time.

More effective techniques

Techniques in the middle ground are better, but not especially effective and were rated of “moderate” to “low” utility by Dunlosky et al because either there isn’t enough evidence to be able to recommend them or in other cases, the strategy has been shown to work in some situations but not in others. These include:

  • Mental imagery, or coming up with pictures that help you remember text. This practice is time-consuming and only works with text that lends itself to images (eg, for McGregor’s Theory X, Theory Y imagine a lazy person laying on the X axis of a chart);
  • Mnemonic, using words, phrases or images to link more complex ideas. A mnemonic aims to translate information into a form that the brain can retain better than its original form; for example:
    –  Learning the French word for key, la clef, by imagining a key on top of a cliff;
    –  Using the letters of a word to spell out the first letters of a process; SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-framed (applied to objectives or delegations).
    –  Using a phrase to remember a sequence. For example, to memorise the colours of the rainbow, use the phrase Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain – each of the initial letters matches the colours of the rainbow in order: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet.
  • Self-explanation and elaborative interrogation were shown to be reasonably effective in experimental studies. Elaborative interrogation involves students ask themselves why the information they are reading is true; and self-explanation is where students explain some procedure or process to themselves. But, the effectiveness of the techniques depends on how complete and accurate your explanations are;

The Best
Learning strategies with the most evidence to support them, rated as having “high utility” by the authors, include distributed practice, and practice tests.

  • Distributed practice and interleaved practice. This tactic involves spreading out your study sessions. Learning can occur quickly under massed-practice conditions and is an efficient way to teach, but hundreds of studies have shown that distributed practice leads to more durable learning. Certainly cramming information at the last minute may allow you to get through a test, but the material will quickly disappear from memory. It’s much more effective to dip into the material at intervals over time and mix up different types of problems and learning. This is core to our course design – topics are taught in blocks (unavoidable for intensive courses) but each test and revision element always covers a range of subjects covered to ‘this point’. Interleaved practice (in which bouts of study for one topic are interleaved among study for other topics), seems promising in some situations, but lacked the general utility of distributed practice and retrieval practice via testing.
  • Testing – but not for a grade. Research shows that the act of recalling information strengthens that knowledge and aids in future retrieval. Again, practice testing is central to our course design and there is robust evidence supporting its value!
  • Flash cards are a good option for implementing distributed learning and testing. We offer a free ‘daily flash’ via Twitter, see: https://twitter.com/PMPQuestions; and our PM final on-line simulator can be used in a similar way and possibly the best option – make your own. We are exploring the concept of ‘electronic flash cards’ – watch this space.

So in summary, the authors recommend you spread out your learning, ditch your highlighter and get busy with your tests and flash cards.  And you do need to practice!

We all know we have to practice a skill to get better at it, but the improvement we’re aware of making is only part of what’s going on. Well past the point when we think we’ve ‘got it’, continued practice allows our brain and our muscles to become more accurate and efficient in carrying out the task, using less energy to do so. As decathlete Daley Thompson said “An amateur practices until they get it right, a professional practices until they cannot get it wrong!”  And lastly, the easiest way of all to improve implicit learning is sleep. Research has shown that during sleep, the brain identifies meaningful patterns in our memories from the preceding day and makes them stronger and more permanent.

A final thoughts: studies from 1901 onwards have shown that learning is context specific. Practicing memorizing one type of material (eg, lists of words) may improve performance on memorizing similar lists (the phenomenon of learning to learn), but the benefits of such practice will not generalise to learning other materials. If you want to study for a multi-choice project management exam, your training and study needs to be focused on that challenge. For more thoughts and ideas on learning see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1028_The_Art_of_Learning.pdf

PMBOK Health Warning

Health Warning:  Do not attempt to read the PMBOK and drive!

Animal tests undertaken by Mosaic show that reading a single chapter of the PMBOK can induce a state ranging from drowsiness to deep sleep; with the effect on younger animals being significant.

PMBOK-Health-2

Similar effects have been observed from exposure to PMP training materials in the office……

PMBOK-Health-3

As a result of these and other ‘real world’ observations, we recommend any prolonged exposure to the PMBOK and any associated training materials be restricted to either the safety of your own home, or a carefully controlled classroom environment under the supervision of a qualified trainer.

Notes:

  1. No cats were injured during this study.
  2. We have designed our courses to minimise the effects identified in this study.
    1. For more on our classroom training see:  http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/
    2. For more on our Mentored email training see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/Training-Mentored.html
  3. Apart from Note 2, this post is simply a gratuitous excuse to publish some really cute cat pictures sourced from: http://pulptastic.com/29-photos-cats-sleeping-weirdest-places-positions/  we hope you enjoy the other 26 pictures.

PMP and CAPM Certifications now accepted as a route to PRINCE2 Practitioner

From 1st July 2014, AXELOS, the joint venture company that has taken over responsibility for the PRINCE2 credential, will recognise the PMP and CAPM qualifications as acceptable alternatives to the PRINCE2 Foundation qualification.

Previously, passing the PRINCE2 Foundation qualification was a mandatory requirement for sitting the Practitioner level exam (although most people did both exams on the same day). From July AXELOS will recognise qualifications awarded to Practitioner candidates by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Project Management Association (IPMA).

The Foundation qualification is a relatively straightforward 75 question multi-choice exam with a 50% pass mark so whilst welcome, this concession by AXELOS does not in any way suggest equivalence between the qualifications.
For more on the various project management certifications available see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P138_PM_Credentials_Aus.pdf

Our Mad March sale is over

IMG_9605Our Mad March sale is finally over but our world-beating prices remain for 2014 with our guarantee to beat any comparable price by $50.

Our fully catered, 4 and 5 day classroom courses for PMP and CAPM  are $1397, no more to pay (GST included).  See: http://www.mosaicproject.com.au/

Prices for our Mentored Email™ self-paced distance learning courses for PMI-SP, CAPM and PMP depend on your location and your selected options.

  • PMP Mentored Email courses – available world-wide from $680: see more
  • CAPM Mentored Email courses – available world-wide from $600: see more
  • PMI-SP Mentored Email courses – available world-wide from $520: see more