CVA DACUM model presentation


The DACUM (Developing A CUrriculuM) method was created in Canada in the 1960s. Originally designed and implemented as a total system for organizing, delivering instruction and management of the learning process, DACUM has evolved into a competency development and management model. Its competency analysis component (DACUM analysis) has become a standard in a large variety of organizations (education, government, business and industry, NFP, etc.) on all continents.

DACUM and The Canadian Vocational Association (CVA)

The Canadian Vocational Association (CVA) was created in 1960 by federal charter as a non-profit organization to promote and foster education and training which leads to occupational competence.

The CVA DACUM Training Program was inaugurated in 1993. It was developed by Lawrence Coffin, co-founder of the Holland College (PEI) and, until his retirement in 2006, one of DACUM’s recognized leading expert in Canada and internationally.

Presently, the CVA DACUM Training Program has two modules:

  • DACUM I: DACUM Analysis Facilitator
  • DACUM II: The DACUM Competency-Based Program Development Model

The CVA also offers two (2) certification programs:

  • The DACUM Analysis Facilitator International Certification Program
  • The DACUM Trainer Certification Program

More than 1500 individuals have completed the DACUM I and / or DACUM II modules. The CVA DACUM Training Program has not only been extensively delivered in Canada but in several other countries such as Argentina, Bénin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chili, Cuba, Finland, Israël, Mali, Mexico, Qatar, Rwanda, Sénégal and South Africa.

The fundamental goal of the CVA DACUM Training and Certification is to promote and disseminate best pratices relative to the DACUM model as defined in the CVA DACUM Quality Assurance Standards.

The CVA DACUM Analysis Features

Occupational Competence
The CVA DACUM Model is based on the following definition of ‘occupational competence’: it is the demonstrated ability – including knowledge, skills and attitudes – to perform a task successfully according to an established standard (1).
(1) DACUM Facilitator Manual. Canadian Vocational Association.1993 p.3

Levels of Analysis
There are six (6) levels of analysis. The first three levels are usually described in a document entitled Chart of competencies; the next three levels constitute the detailed analysis of each individual competency statement.

LEVEL 1 The Object and Scope of the analysis

  • Possible objects: a family of occupations, a specific occupation, a function, a role, a position, …
  • Scope: the scope specifies what is included in or excluded from the analysis (ex.: specific occupations, specialities within a given occupation or within a given family of occupations, classification levels within an occupation, work environments, …)
LEVEL 2 The General Areas of Competencies (GACs)
There are two types of GACs:

  • Areas of Professional (or Technical) Competencies
  • and, at least, one Area of Personal Competencies.

The Areas of Professional (Technical) Competencies describe the major functions or responsibilities of a given family of occupations, occupation, function, role or position.

LEVEL 3 Each GAC is further defined into Tasks (Skills) * (competencies). The tasks (skills), as well as the GACs, the subtasks and the sub-subtasks, are identified in behavioral terms and thus begin with an action verb depicting the applied behavior
LEVEL 4 Each task / skill is further analysed into Subtasks (Subskills). Subtasks are the required key steps to accomplish a given task
LEVEL 5 Each subtask is broken down into a series of Sub-subtasks (Sub-subskills) or Important Actions
LEVEL 6 Level 6 specifies the Most Critical Personal Competencies one is required to display when performing a specific task and its related subtasks
(*) DACUM uses the terms .’task’ and ‘skill’ interchangeably


  • Levels 5 and 6 may be used as ‘ingredients’ to define performance indicators, thus providing criteria elements by which competence can be assessed
  • A 7th level can be added to identify required knowledge to perform a given task (skill)

Guiding Principles
All levels of analysis are the result of a structured consultation with expert practitioners of the occupation being analysed. DACUM’s reliance on expert practitioners is based on the following principles:

  • Expert practitioners can describe the required competencies for their work function more accurately than anyone else
  • An effective way to describe a work function is to define the tasks that an expert practitioner performs
  • In order to be performed correctly, all tasks demand certain knowledge, skills and attitudes

All six (6) levels of analysis are generated from two workshops:

  • Workshop 1: Chart of competencies (5 days)
  • Workshop 2: Detailed Competency Analysis (a minimum of 3 days; duration will vary according to the number of statements in the chart of competencies)

Validation of the DACUM analysis is generally recommended. The validation mode and format may vary depending on the intended / projected use(s) of the occupational / competency analysis and the number and profile of stakeholders.

Using A CVA DACUM Analysis For Training Purposes

Object and scope
(1st level of analysis)
… to determine … A Training Program’s
targeted group(s) / individuals
General Areas of
Competencies (GACs)

(2nd level)
… to determine … A Program’s Goal
and Objectives
Tasks / Skills (*)
(3rd level)
… to determine … A Program’s Learning
Units (Modules)
Subtasks / Subskills
(4th level)
… to determine … A Learning Unit’s
Terminal Objectives
Sub-Subtasks / Sub-Subskills 
(5th level)
Critical Personal

(6th level)
… to determine … Performance Indicators (PI)Each PI to include, whenever applicable, performance assessment criteria such as compliance with industry regulations and with industry standards, qualitative (how well) and quantitative (how much) 
Selection from the Chart of Competencies (matrix) of the most critical personal competencies one is required to display when performing the different subtasks or the task as a whole

(*) or a cluster of tasks / skills


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