by Kim Petram
This season brings changes to our sport as educational committees representing Alpine and Snowboard disciplines have been working on new or revised National Standards for Alpine, Snowboard and Children programs. The purpose of this article is to help shed light on how the language evolved to the level that you will see in the documents as well as some examples of how the standards have been formatted. The full standards for each discipline can be read at either the National website (thesnowpros.org) or the Northwest website (psia-nw.org).
In the last Northwest Snowsports Instructor magazine, Summer 2010, you may recall an article titled “Bloom’s Taxonomy, Levels of Understanding.” This will be a useful reference to assist in understanding how to decipher the language of the standards. Bloom’s Taxonomy is used to assist in determining learning, a specific taxonomy or classification system developed so that educational objectives could be organized according to their cognitive complexity. The National Standards use this taxonomy to establish levels of learning and understanding, i.e. competencies, from the most basic to advanced which subsequently help to organize and define each certification or specialist level.
Hence, for the Snowboard and Children’s National Standards, this descriptor will be noted: “The premise of the certification standards is based upon the concepts of ‘levels of understanding’ that define stages of learning in degrees of understanding. Just as certification is a measure of understanding, levels of certification represent stages of understanding. Candidates will be held to the knowledge and performance standards of the level at which they are testing as well as the criteria for all preceding levels.”
For the Children’s National Standard, this is noted: “Although not a certification, participants will be expected to meet levels of competency defined by Children’s Specialist 1 (CS1) and Children’s Specialist 2 (CS2) standards. Participants will be held to the knowledge and performance standards of their current discipline certification level. These standards provide a training focus and represent a minimum competency for specialists at each level of instruction.”
There has been work from National to further define concepts such as “certification” “accreditation” or “specialist” and what these terms really mean or represent. Under the Quality Assurance Initiative, they have looked at organizations such as National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) to assist in defining competency standards, and ways to accredit certifying professional associations. Therefore, for the Children’s National Standard, this is noted as well: “The Children’s Specialist 1 and 2 credentials follow the standards for a Curriculum Based Certificate program. A curriculum based certificate is issued after an individual completes a course or series of courses and passes an assessment instrument. The content of the assessment is limited to the course content, and therefore, may not be completely representative of professional practice (and therefore it is not as defensible to use this or the knowledge-based type of certificate for regulatory purposes as compared to a professional certification). 2005 NOCA Guide.”
All of this is in effort to assure that we all agree, or have a standard, to establish levels of competency and knowledge taught in our curriculum and that there is a unified standard in assessing these competencies. I think we will be seeing more dialogue in the future regarding assessment based credentialing.
There are commonalities between the newest standards. All start with a table of contents and include categories of movement analysis and technical knowledge, teaching standards, riding and skiing standards and professional knowledge. These standards provide a training focus and represent a minimum competency at each level of instruction.
For example, for the Snowboard National Standard in the section under Movement Analysis and Technical Knowledge Standard for Level I: “The successful Level I candidate will demonstrate the knowledge and comprehension of the Snowboard technical terms, concepts, and models listed below. The successful candidate will also demonstrate the ability to recognize movement patterns in riders that are learning and riding all green terrain, groomed blue terrain, and small freestyle features.” And Level III: “The successful Level III candidate will demonstrate the ability to synthesize and evaluate the Snowboard technical terms, concepts, and models listed below. The successful candidate will also demonstrate the ability to recognize movement patterns in riders who are learning and riding all available terrain and snow conditions, up to and including competitive freestyle riders…” and then goes on to list multiple terms, concepts and models a candidate would be responsible for such as Snowboard STS concepts, service concepts, biomechanics and stance issues.
An example for the Children’s National Standard, under Teaching Standards: “The successful CS 2 participant will need to choose appropriate exercises, games, and tasks and teach a safe, effective skill progression that demonstrates the application and analysis and the ability to synthesize and evaluate the following technical terms, concepts, and models…” and then goes on to list many concepts and theories including the Teaching Cycle, teaching with creativity, and topics related to the CAP Model.
For the Alpine National Standard, last updated in 2003, while the Bloom’s structure is not used concretely, the intent is in place. For example, with the Bloom’s verb identifiers in italics, under the section Teaching: “Specific Skill Requirements for Level I Instructors: Awareness, Understanding and Knowledge: recall the components of the learning environment; identify the components of good teaching; categorize teaching, skiing, and guest service principles of ATS relative to Beginner/Novice zone students. Application: demonstrate an ability to develop a relationship of trust between teacher and students; identify learning styles and preferences.” This is a small sample of what is in the Alpine National Standard, another area of interest to many would be to evaluate the specific skill requirements in the Skiing category.
Exploring the National Standards and reviewing all three of them, even if some are not a discipline you are involved with, will assist in understanding the common language and intent of instructional goals. As we approach the 2010-11 season, having a working knowledge of how all divisions are approaching their training will be a source of advancement in your own “levels of understanding.”
Home Area: Snoqualmie Summit West
Role/Position(s) on our Northwest team and Nationally:
PSIA-NW Technical Team Member
Children’s Specialist program coordinator
Senior Specialist program coordinator
Other positions held within PSIA both Regionally & Nationally:
National Children’s Specialist task force
National SEP task force
PSIA-NW Divisional Clinic Leader
PSIA-NW Examiner in Training
Children and Senior Specialist clinician
Job(s) within and outside the ski industry, both winter & summer:
Training Director and Supervisor at Fiorini Ski School, Snoqualmie Pass, WA
Mom of two great boys Nathaniel and Rohin
Favorite hobby when not snow skiing:
Yard work and gardening – Really!
If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
The power to let people be happy.