What is Certification?
Although both certificate programs and certification programs serve important roles in ensuring professional competency, certificate programs validate competency with training while certification programs validate competency with actual job duties performed on an ongoing basis.
A certificate program traditionally provides continuing education on specific aspects of profession. For example, a certificate program may be offered by a university to provide individuals with an opportunity to meet specific educational needs. Likewise, training providers often present a certificate of completion to recognize an individual's participation in and successful completion of a training course. By providing training and educational opportunities, certificate programs are a valuable mechanism to expand the expertise of those in the web analytics industry.
The DAA Web Analyst Certification Program goes a step further by evaluating the competency of individuals based on a set of predetermined requirements. In addition to requiring education or training, the DAA certification program also requires individuals to demonstrate competency by meeting specific criteria for experience and examination before being certified.
DAA's certification program is based on the following legal and professional standards for the field of certification:
- Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, NCME)
- Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (EEOC)
- Standards for Accreditation of National Certification Organizations (NCCA)
- ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification Systems of Persons (ANSI)
Courts have frequently used these standards to determine the appropriateness of validation procedures. A certification exam is considered legally defensible and valid if proper psychometric procedures are followed when establishing its content.
Psychometrics is branch of psychology and statistics that focuses on the measurement of a person's knowledge, skills, and abilities. Sound psychometric procedures must be following during each phase of exam development.
The three components of initial certification are examination, education and experience. A brief overview of the components of certification is provided below.
The DAA Web Analyst Certification Program™ is designed to identify not only analysts with broad domain knowledge, but also, and more importantly, analysts demonstrating a high level of analytical and problem solving ability across the entire web business spectrum. The Digital Analytics Association follows a precise process for creating and validating exams. The validation process is a continual cycle in which industry needs are periodically re-assessed and new questions are routinely developed and validated. A brief overview of our validation process follows:
The content of the DAA Web Analyst Certification Exam was based on a thorough study of the scope of practice and current state of the web analytics industry. DAA member practitioners who work in many different types of companies and agencies all over the world participated in this study. The Knowledge Required for Certification, which provides a detailed overview of the content covered on the certification exam, was developed by DAA following this extensive audit.
Item Development & Validation
The "Knowledge Required for Certification" was used to develop exam items. All new questions were developed and validated by subject matter experts before being approved for use on the DAA certification examination. Validation included verifying each item's accuracy and relevance. Over fifty individuals from around the world have participated in this process.
Pretesting allows testing of new, unproven questions without risk to the candidate. DAA conducted "Test the Test" sessions in order to resolve unforeseen problems before using items on a scored version of an exam. The feedback offered during these sessions and the statistical information provided by participant responses were used by the DAA Examination Committee as a basis for additional question review and revision.
The primary focus of the exam is applying analytical business logic and problem solving ability to web scenarios. The certification exam covers the following key areas:
- Web Analytics for Site Optimization
- Measuring Marketing Campaigns Online
- Creating and Managing the Analytical Business Culture
After exams are administered, both exam and item statistics are periodically reviewed to ensure items are performing adequately. Of particular importance during the statistical analyses are the difficulty index (the ratio of examinees that answer each question correctly) and the discrimination index (how well the question distinguishes between the more knowledgeable and less knowledgeable examinees).
Through this review, items that do not meet standards for performance are flagged for review by the DAA Examination Committee. The DAA certification exam question pool is also reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect current practices and industry needs.
Education and Experience Requirements
Eligibility requirements are the education and experience required in order to become certified. DAA's eligibility requirements were developed by reviewing the types of education and experience backgrounds that would provide an individual with the skill set required for this certification. In addition, the data from the four "Test the Test" sessions were reviewed. In these sessions, we asked people to volunteer to take a portion of the certification exam. Then, we looked at the backgrounds of people with high scores versus people with low scores to help establish the benchmarks.
People with higher than average scores had these characteristics:
- Years of Web Analytics Experience: 5.4
- Training / Courses in web analytics: 100% of population
- Education post High School: 4.8 Years
People with lower than average scores had these characteristics:
- Years of Web Analytics Experience: 2.3
- Training / Courses in web analytics: 63% of population
- Education post High School: 3.6 Years
This data shows that the appropriate mix of education and experience is an important predictor of exam performance. When individuals have a lot of one and little of the other, they tended to get a lower score. For example, both PhD's with low years experience and individuals with 10 years experience but lacking education/training tended to get lower scores. Likewise, people who indicated they "read blogs and books" as the only source of education did not tend to have high scores unless they had a lot of direct web analytics experience. So somewhere in the middle there is a "magic mix" of experience and education that result in higher scores.
The validity of a certification program is compromised if the credential does not attempt to ensure some continual level of current knowledge, skill or ability. The certification maintenance process requires certificants to obtain continuing education in order to maintain their knowledge and skills in their profession. This requirement plays an important role for the industry because it helps ensure employers that Certified Web Analysts™ demonstrate ongoing professional development.
When you've passed the certification exam, you will be listed on the DAA website, receive a certificate suitable for framing and be mentioned in the upcoming issue of the DAA newsletter.