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Leading the Charge in Research: An Interview with ICE R&D Leadership

In the past eight years since ICE’s Research and Development (R&D) Program was established, the group’s research agenda has grown immensely. ICE’s research reflects current initiatives in the field and a mission to better inform the individuals leading credentialing organizations.

To learn more about the committee’s activities, what’s on the horizon and examples of the benefits of such research, we spoke with the John Wickett (2018 R&D committee chair) and Patricia Muenzen (2019 R&D committee chair).  

What are some of the key pieces of research recently completed or in progress that the ICE Community should be aware of? Any trends you’re seeing come out of this research? 

John Wickett: In 2018, we saw the completion of new work on standard setting and issues related to small testing programs. We also saw the fourth iteration of the Business of Certification survey, launched on a new interactive survey tool that allows respondents to not just enter data but also see how they stack up against similar organizations.

Brand new work is well under way on competency modeling and new approaches to certification, and we are extending previous work on non-cognitive competence and small testing program issues to draw out major themes from the initial explorations.

We are seeing increased interest in approaches to certification beyond the traditional models, either as a replacement or as an enhancement. Fitting the needs of employers and more directly involving public stakeholders is getting more attention, though the mechanics for how that could work more effectively is work on the horizon for the R&D Committee.

When it comes to R&D, what else should the ICE community know?

JW: We continue to encourage members of the ICE community to participate in research either on the committee or as a provider of data when called upon. The R&D committee offers the invaluable opportunity to explore topics that are new, controversial, or in need of a new perspective. As we strive to provide useful research that helps drive quality and innovation across the ICE community, please take every opportunity to be a part of it.

Patricia, you have been part of the R&D committee since its inception. What changes and progress have you seen over the last seven years? How has the value of research increased in this time? 

Patricia Muenzen: Over the past eight years, I have seen increased interest in participating in the R&D committee. I am continually amazed and impressed by the ongoing commitment from volunteers to produce high-quality research.

The R&D committee selects our projects annually from a list of research questions surfaced by the ICE Board of Directors and membership, which makes our topics highly relevant. I believe that the value the credentialing community places on our research only grows, as continue to target our work to the community’s needs.

In your opinion, what is the value of research for the ICE Community? Do you have any examples of how you (or others) have benefitted from this type of research in your own work? 

PM: The influence of R&D publications is far-reaching. Recent publications – for example, on remote proctoring and small-volume programs – offer both educational content and recommendations. In-process studies on topics including non-cognitive (soft skills) assessments and competency modeling will do the same. The Business of Certification Benchmarks study, which is repeated on a regular basis, captures trends on a wide variety of topics of interest not only to CFOs, but to the larger ICE community. 

I can recall an example of how both my clients and I have benefitted from R&D committee research. The research paper on eligibility criteria was the first publication on the topic specific to credentialing, rather than employee selection. As a result of that publication, I believe that credentialing organizations are paying increased attention to both the rationale for and documentation of their criteria on a regular basis. I personally now build data collection on the topic into practice analysis surveys I conduct for my clients.

What do you look forward to most as the 2019 chair for the R&D committee?

PM: I am looking forward to continuing the excellent work of my predecessors as chair, Jim Henderson and John Wickett, and to working with the new vice-chair, Tony Zara. Tony, myself, and the 2019 committee members will continue to do our best to conduct research activities and develop research products of maximal use to the credentialing community.

This is a hard-working committee. Volunteers devote significant time and effort to the cause. If you are interested and willing to make an important contribution to ICE, consider filling out a volunteer application.

Learn More About the ICE R&D Agenda and Its Supporters

With the support and funding of ICE’s R&D donors, ICE has been able to fund several research priorities. In 2019 and 2020, R&D research funding will support both internal and external initiatives, such as studies on the value of recertification for employers or the evaluation of testing practices such as remote proctoring.

R&D supporters have various levels of benefit packages which include recognition on the ICE website, complimentary access to a research product of their choice and recognition on the ICE Website and during the ICE Exchange. The R&D fundraising committee encompasses employees in the credentialing field who are passionate about this research and the future of the credentialing community. In 2018, the committee raised over $60,000 with approximately 20 organizations and 12 individuals supporters.

For additional information, visit the ICE R&D Program homepage here.

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