KSA Skills Attitudes

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KSA Checklist

In a classroom setting, "KSA" refers to Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes, the three learning domains in Bloom's Taxonomy. In the workforce, "KSA" refers to the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities needed to perform job functions, where "knowledge" is an organized body of relevant information, a "skill" is a measurable proficiency in the manipulation of data or things, and an "ability" is the capacity to perform a task in a manner important for the job (inferred but not measured, such as organization, teamwork, etc.)


  • To connect competencies with mission statements and goals (can be used in conjunction with an ACORN test).
  • In the classroom:
  • To identify varying levels of competence among students in order to organize well-balanced teams for projects.
  • To identify and/ or monitor a student's strengths and weaknesses with respect to learning activities; as part of a pre-/post-assessment, to measure the development of students' competence.
  • To establish and test prerequisite competencies for a course.
  • In the workforce:
  • To determine a job candidate's employability.
  • To evaluate an employees' levels of competence in their specific duties.
  • (For job applicants) To outline one's qualifications for a position, describing competency levels along with the ways and contexts in which they were used.

How to Write a KSA Checklist

  • Identify the major objectives of a course or job.
  • Determine the necessary prerequisites or competencies a person must possess to begin the course or adequately perform the job. Be sure to include all three domains:
  • Knowledge (Bloom's cognitive domain) is an organized body of relevant informaiton. E.g., How much does the student/ employee know about important background information?
  • Skills (Bloom's psychomotor domain) are measurable proficiencies in the manipulation of data or things. E.g., What is the student's/ employee's typing speed?
  • Attitudes (Bloom's affective domain) and Abilities are the motivations or capacities necessary to perform a task in an important manner. E.g., Is the student/ employee organized? Independent? Creative? (Attitudes and abilities are usually less quantitatively measurable than skills.)
  • Evaluate the results.

Important Notes

  • "Attitude" and "ability" both refer to an individual's approach to a task. While distinguished here, they are often interchangeable in the context of KSA checklists. For example, an individual may possess both great knowledge about computer languages and great programming skills, but that person's approach to a programming project is a matter of affective maturity, where a person's abilities develop out of the sophistication of that person's attitudes towards work.


  • KSA's may be misleading when not supplemented with one or more concrete examples or measurements of each competency. (This is particularly difficult for the attitudes/ abilities domain).


The three domains of a KSA checklist are useful in identifying and evaluating multiple, important facets of learning and competence. As part of a pre-/post-assessment or throughout a course, KSA checklists can serve as checkpoints in the systematic progression of learning.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The importance of KSA's (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) in the federal application process. Retrieved January 16, 2008, from http://www.cdc.gov/hrmo/ksahowto.htm.

Clark, D. (1999). Learning domains or Bloom's taxonomy. Retrieved January 16th, 2008, from http://www.nwlink.com/~Donclark/hrd/bloom.html.

National Archives & Records Administration. All about KSAOs: Knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics. Retrieved January 16th, 2008, from http://www.archives.gov/careers/jobs/ksas.pdf.

Post Office Jobs Information Center. (2005). Knowledge, skills and abilities statements (KSAs). Retrieved January 16th, 2008, from http://postofficejobs.info/ksas.htm