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How We Got Here Part 2:  Certificate vs Certification

By Margaret Tassin, CFC, CFSP


Did you see the recent articles about the new BFMA body of knowledge and certificate program?  If not, have a look at  Article 1 and Article 2.  To quickly recap, BFMA is soon to implement a new certificate program.  It is supported by a new body of knowledge for forms management that will be used as the basis for all BFMA education, including the new certificate programs, the CFSP, the annual conference, webinars and more.


What is a certificate program and how does it differ from a professional certification?

Certificate programs are very different from professional certifications.  Certificate programs define a very specific body of knowledge that you must learn.  Test questions are directed to that specific body of knowledge.  Can you remember the information?  Do you understand the information?   If you can correctly answer the test questions that are based specifically on the body of knowledge, you can earn a certificate.


Well, how is that different from the certification program, the Certified Form Systems Professional (CFSP) that BFMA has now?  Or how is that different from the Certified Forms Consultant (CFC) that was sponsored by Print Services and Distribution Association?  These programs were designed to evaluate a candidate’s global knowledge of the field. They had no specific body of knowledge to test on.  Yes, there was an outline and materials were suggested but nothing required.  Test questions could come from information that was anywhere. They could be based on experience that was never documented.  Test questions addressed remembering facts but also focused on analysis of information and drawing conclusions from it.  For example, if there is a situation, how can you apply your general knowledge to resolve that situation?  That type of learning is application, analysis, and evaluation and goes beyond the body of knowledge.


If you are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning ( ), you will recognize some of the terms mentioned above.  The taxonomy describes a continuum of learning that moves from concrete to abstract or simple to complex.  Thus for the certificate program, testing focuses on remembering and understanding, which are concrete and at the lower end of the taxonomy.  The certification program (CFSP) testing focuses on applying, analyzing and evaluating, which are abstract and at the higher end of the taxonomy.


Stay tuned for the next article when we discuss why you want to participate in the certificate program.


more Calendar

10/1/2021 » 10/31/2021
2021 BFMA Annual Conference (exact date TBD)

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