A Comparison of Geographical Information Science Competency Requirements
Because universities often provide training in geographical information science (GISc) as part of geography, surveying as well as environmental and computer science programmes, the content, outcomes, extent and quality of training can vary significantly. Very little research has been done on how the existing sets of competency requirements for GISc overlap or differ. No literature exists that identifies commonalities and inconsistencies (gaps) at detail level that could assist with developing a framework that incorporates both South African and international GISc curricula guidelines.
Three sets of competency guidelines, namely the U.S.-developed Geographic Information Science and Technology (GI S&T) Body of Knowledge (BoK) developed by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), the South African Unit Standards-Based Qualifications (USBQ) and the South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (PLATO) model, are compared qualitatively and quantitatively to identify commonalities and inconsistencies. The exercise identified duplication among the three models and highlighted themes that the South African GISc community deems to be important. The study further identifies topics in the GI S&T BoK that the GISc community in the U.S. considers to be essential knowledge for anyone wishing to practice in the GISc field. The BoK offers the most comprehensive and detailed set of GI competencies, but lacks generic competencies such as physics. Some competencies are unique to a specific set, for example physics and geographical science in the PLATO model, while training is unique to the USBQ. The authors conclude that a new competency set based on the findings of the research is needed to best serve the GISc industry and academia. Recommendations for further research are made.
Keywords: Curriculum design, data acquisition, geographical information science (GISc), knowledge and skills requirements, mathematics, photogrammetry, physics, professional body, unit standards-based qualification (USBQ), remote sensing, statistics.
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