Watermark Learning’s Director of Business Analysis, Vicki James, PMP, CBAP is currently teaching her first PMI-PBA prep course after sitting for the exam herself earlier this year during the PMI-PBA pilot period.
I sat down with her this week to get the insider details on how the class is going and the benefits and challenges she is facing in preparing students for this brand new certification exam.
Santi: Vicki, can you tell us a little about your experience teaching your first PMI-PBA Certification Prep class?
Vicki: This was my first time developing curriculum for Watermark Learning, so I was a bit apprehensive at first, but class has been great! We have a small, but very engaged class. This is great as it allows the students to learn not only from me, but from each other as well!
Between the curriculum and the discussion, all indications point to the course meeting the needs of the students preparing for the PMI-PBA exam. Students are averaging in the high 70%’s on the post chapter practice exams. This is a great start, and they’ll be well on their way to take the exam when the course is complete!
Santi: That’s great! What would you say has worked well in this class? Is there a particular strategy that seems to be working the best to prepare students for the exam?
Vicki: The class is designed to have an exercise or discussion on every task of the PMI-PBA Examination Content Outline. This has been very useful in getting grounded in the practical application of the task described.
The course and the exercises take the students through a project of implementing a CRM system to improve customer relations. This provides continuity in exploring how the tasks of the PMI-PBA fit in a real life project.
Santi: What are some of the challenges you have encountered in delivering the PMI-PBA Prep Course, and how did you resolve them?
Vicki: Delivering virtually is always a challenge. Instructors can get a much better sense of student comprehension when we can look the students in the eyes. However, this hasn’t been a huge factor in the initial PMI-PBA class. It helps that that our technology allows students to ask questions at any point in time. Plus we have an “open mic” policy.
I also frequently take extra time to pause and make sure students have the opportunity to ask questions. As long students recognize their questions are highly encouraged and needed for the class to be effective, all is good.
Santi: How do you think the virtual (live online) format of the class has impacted student learning?
Vicki: There are actually a number of advantages to the virtual format. One thing is that the sessions are recorded and students can download the recordings after attending the live online session. They can refer back to these recordings as an additional study resource as they finalize their preparation for the exam. Also with the recordings, they can miss a portion of class and still get the same lecture that they had missed.
Santi: What advice would you give to aspiring PMI-PBAs?
Vicki: The first thing to do is familiarize yourself with the PMI-PBA resources on PMI’s website. Understanding why they are offering this credential and the importance of the business analysis on projects/programs will go a long way to understanding the foundation of the exam. The Examination Content Outline is a great resource to understand what will be tested.
The PMI-PBA articles and resources Watermark Learning has published will further help you in understanding the purpose and context of the certification. Look for our crosswalk of domains and tasks to PMBOK chapters to see how the content aligns. Finally, preparing with the Watermark Learning PMI-PBA Preparation Course and PMI-PBA Online Study Exam will give you that final push to successfully sit for the exam and get your PMI-PBA certification.