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Advance methods (Step Two) of the DACUM Occupational Analysis Process
Jerry R. Hawley,

This Step #2 method of advancing the DACUM process, is especially useful in setting precise employment standards (in addition to training curriculums) for high risk occupations, such as the public safety professions. Standards for high risk occupations must be fair and exact, since they are used in discriminating among applicants for employment and must adhere strictly to the federal codes related to fair employment. Physical agility, vision and hearing standards can be set with specificity following this advanced DACUM methodology, regardless of age or gender of the applicant or incumbent. "Grandfathering" of incumbents is widely accepted.

Once the job tasks have been identified and defined by the Expert Panel, they are analyzed to learn which of them are absolutely central to the adequate performance of the occupation.

Central job tasks are those which must be performed by all workers, acting alone. They are the job tasks for which there is a strong possibility that there would be immediate, significant risk or substantial physical harm from inadequate performance of the tasks, to the worker and to others. There would also be a strong probability of significant consequence if the tasks were not performed, to the worker and to others. "Significant consequence" refers to personal physical danger and/or financial liability.

In addition to identifying the major duties performed, the tasks included in each duty, the knowledge and skills and the personal traits needed to be successful in the work, these factors are analyzed for only the central job tasks (from 42 USC 12101, Americans with Disabilities Act):

How often and how much does the worker…

· walk
· sit
· stand
· climb
· kneel
· bend
· reach
· push
· pull
· crawl
· turn and sit
· turn and stand
· handle

· feel (sensitivity)
· feel (dexterity)
· smell
· hear whispering
· hear normal conversation
· hear direction of sound
· see colors
· see in subdued lighting
· see faces
· see small objects
· see threat from right/left simultaneously
· jog
· run

Ask also: (1) to what purpose or output is the task performed, (2) how, where and using which machines, tools and process to perform the tasks, (3) which core performance factors are required: (ADAPTABLE, ALERT, ASSERTIVE, CARING, CAUTIOUS, COURTEOUS, CONSISTENT, CREATIVE, CULTURALLY-AWARE, DEPENDABLE, ETHICAL, FIRM, FLEXIBLE, FOCUSED, OBSERVANT, PATIENT, POLITE, RESOURCEFUL, QUICK-THINKING, RESPECTFUL, RESPECTFUL-OF-DIVERSITY, UNBIASED). CHOOSING THE EXPERT PANEL:

The focus group or Expert Panel must be selected with direction from and oversight by the DACUM facilitator, to insure the panel members truly represent their peers, by age, gender, ethnicity/race, size of work subdivisions (cities or counties within a state), geographical work locations within a state and by other important groupings. It may be tempting for the hosts to select an Expert Panel of workers who believe as do they. An Expert Panel of a single philosophical or any other bent would unreliably sway the DACUM process.

When I facilitate a DACUM and Stage #2 DACUM, it typically takes four to five very fatiguing days. Breaks have to be called when the Expert Panel members' eyes start to glaze over. Fruit and fruit juices, rather than sugared pastries are always made available during breaks to keep the panel members alert. Since so much information is gathered and digested, I break the Expert Panel into groups of 3-5 and supervise their last two to three days of work. Each group must always reach consensus with all groups on their work product. I make a big deal of calling the panel members the "Expert Panel" and I explain why to them. They leave with pride in a job well done. And, they carry that message to their peers prior to the validation process.

Keep the two validation questionnaires as simple as possible. Avoid the employer's desire to ask a variety of questions, "Just in case we can use the data some day." Each questionnaires should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. It is convenient to use an optical scan form for questionnaire answers. Questionnaires should ask:

(A) The peers (1) how often each task s is performed and (2) to add tasks the Expert Panel did not include. This validates whether the task is performed, as well as how often. The frequency of performance is more valuable to personnel experts than it is to curriculum developers. More detailed questions should be asked about the central job tasks, such as for a police officer: "When you pursue a suspect on foot, how many yards do you run: 1-10, 11-20, 21-50, 51-80, 81-100, 101-150, 151-170, 171-200, more than 200 [specify ___]? Ask similar questions about how long is physical and weaponless restraining force used on a suspect until they are controlled, after the chase. Ask about the weight (average and most) of the suspect and how far they must move (carry or drag) that person on the average and at the most.

(B) The peers' supervisors, only for the importance they give to each task. Supervisors and managers only know what work the workers are supposed to be accomplishing, they are not normally experts on what is actually done or how often it is done. They are experts on the importance of the work. The validation process measures the degree of agreement the peers have with the Expert Panel's listing of tasks, the frequency with which the tasks are performed and the importance placed by the supervisors. Validity is based on 66% agreement with the Expert Panel and among the additional information received from the questionnaire respondents. Jrh 2000
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