Producing Competent Practitioners Using Project Based Learning



By Paul D. Giammalvo

Jakarta, Indonesia



This paper is a case study based on 20+ years of developing and delivering graduate level, blended learning courses using project based learning as the means to develop individual competency in applied project management and capacity development/enhancement in those organizations. The majority of experience has been with English as Second Language (ESL) mid-career path practitioners from South and Eastern Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. This paper explores:

  1. Why exam based credentials alone do not and cannot validate competency
  2. How to develop a graduate level, project based, blended learning program of learning designed to build competency and
  3. How to evaluate the effectiveness/efficacy of this kind of a course using the Kirkpatrick 4 Level Assessment Method.

The paper concludes with 4 recommendations:

  1. Professional level credentials require both an Exam AND a peer reviewed Practicum based on evidence.
  2. It takes 15,000 hours of progressively more challenging experience to produce a top level professional anything;
  3. To improve competency, make “Cram for the Exam” courses an ethical violation;
  4. Adopt Kirkpatrick’s 4 Level assessment as the basis to evaluate and certify REP’s AEP’s and ATO’s as well as University programs.


As evidenced by the taming of fire and inventing the wheel, followed by the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, sufficient facts exist which supports the premise that the processes of project management have been with human sapiens for thousands if not tens of thousands years. However, “formalized” project management, as evidenced by the awarding of university degrees (construction project management) and the formation of professional organizations such as the US based Project Management Institute (PMI) or the International Project Management Association (IPMA) or the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) have only been around for approximately 50 years.

Yet in that time, there has been no credible published research supporting any claims that projects are being delivered any more “successfully” today than they were 50 or even 5,000 years ago. Worse yet, with projects becoming ever more complex as well as expensive, both public sector and private sector project sponsors have a moral if not legal (fiduciary) obligation to be more honest in terms of basing the business case on real cost estimates as well as reasonable durations.


To read entire paper (click here)


Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 2nd annual University of Maryland Project Management Symposium in College Park, Maryland, USA in June 2015. It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.


About the Author

pmwj36-Jul2015-Giammalvo-PHOTODr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS, GPM-m

Jakarta, Indonesia



Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo
, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS, GPM-m, is Senior Technical Advisor (Project Management) to PT Mitratata Citragraha. (PTMC), Jakarta, Indonesia. www.build-project-management-competency.com. He is noted for the development and presentation of graduate level, blended learning curricula designed for mid-career path, English as Second Language (ESL) professionals to develop competency in the local practitioner and build capacity for the local organizations For 20+ years, he has been developing and delivering Project Management training and consulting throughout South and Eastern Asia, the Middle East, West Africa and Europe.

He is also active in the Global Project Management Community, by playing a leadership role in the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International, (AACEI) http://www.aacei.org/; He also is active in two IPMA member organizations: The Green Project Management Association (GPM) http://www.greenprojectmanagement.org/ where he the Chair of the Certification Board of Directors and American Society for the Advancement of Project Management http://www.asapm.org/ for which he was elected to serve on the BoD as Director of Marketing. He also sat on the Board of Directors of the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS), http://www.globalpmstandards.org/, Sydney, Australia and is active as a regional leader in the International Guild of Project Controls, http://www.planningplanet.com/guild developing a 5 level, 4 track competency based credentialing program for them.

He has spent 20 of the last 45 years working on large, highly technical international projects, including such prestigious projects as the Alyeska Pipeline and the Distant Early Warning Site (DEW Line) upgrades in Alaska; Negev Airbase Constructors, Ovda, Israel; Minas Field in Rumbai, Sumatra and Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold mine in West Papua. His current client list includes Fortune 500 major telecommunications, oil, gas and mining companies plus the UN Projects Office and many other multi-national companies, NGO organizations and Indonesian Government Agencies.

Dr. Giammalvo holds an undergraduate degree in Construction Management, his Master of Science in Project Management through the George Washington University and a PhD in Project and Program Management through the Institute Superieur De Gestion Industrielle (ISGI) and Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Lille (ESC-Lille). Paul can be contacted at [email protected].