Continuing professional development (CPD)

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PROFESSIONAL organizations such as the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers and similar professional associations require continuing professional education (CPE) immersion of their professionals. This consists of updates in the trends, new initiatives, approaches, etc. related to their profession. In the public schools, teachers attend in-service activities. In colleges and universities, both public and private, faculty members are sent to continuing professional education activities such as seminars, conferences or for degree programs as part of their department’s faculty development program. Upon return of these faculty members, they may be asked to “ëcho” what they learned. This “sharing” is a sound practice; in certain situations such learning is truly helpful – particularly when these are applicable to the assignment of faculty members and utilization of which are feasible environment-wise. However, some learning from these activities could be short-lived for several reasons. The new learning brought into the departments may need equipment that cannot be improvised and there is lack of funding for such equipment; or this new learning may be threatening to significant others.

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Across borders, particularly in Europe, the term CPD is used more often than CPE. CPE more properly refers to training which is linear and formal. Training objectives are usually focused on learning a particular skill or set of skills to improve professional competence. CPD refers both to training and knowledge, skills and attitude development significantly relevant to capability and competency in one’s profession. PRC uses both terms: CPE and CPD. In this issue, we will talk about some features of an institution-based CPD.

An institution-based CPD program considers the stages of faculty career in the institution. Although some of the studies refer more to basic education teachers, nevertheless these offer interesting and helpful insights for university officials such as academic vice-presidents, college and department heads and human resource management directors in supporting career development of faculty members.

One such study suggests a developmental vertical model that focus on three stages of a career: “novice or no-experience” stage which refers to the initial two or three years of practice, the “middle or newly experienced” stage which refers to the fourth to the eighth year of practice and finally the “experienced experience” stage referring from the ninth to the years onward until retirement. A refinement of this model divides the “experienced experience stage” into “exit stage” and “renewal stage”. The exit stage refers to the several years before retirement when the faculty member who by this time may have a following for his/her expertise would like to avail of his/her services on an “on-call”/consultancy basis before retirement from the regular full time job. To illustrate a renewal in a career, my mentor at Surrey U, UK was a physics instructor who in later years concentrated on staff development research, wrote about teaching and learning and supervision by thesis and dissertation mentors. Another, a vice-dean of business in Frankfurt U, went also into staff development, focusing on body language/kinesics also termed as visual communication. After retiring from their regular jobs, they went on consultancies— a renewal stage.

Along with the developmental vertical model on career stages of faculty is a holistic horizontal model aimed to meet three dimensions of needs of faculty members at every stage of their career. These dimensions are the organizational, the professional and the personal dimensions. The first dimension – organizational — refers to needs of faculty members as corporate members, that is, as part of the corpus of the University. The second, the professional dimension, focus on the professional needs related to particular positions and corresponding roles, duties and responsibilities. The third, the personal dimension, refers to the spiritual and the mundane needs of faculty members as persons/human beings. This holistic model ensures a balance of activities delivered through dialogue, discussion and coaching.

Dialogue is the capacity of members whether working individually or in teams, to suspend assumptions and enter into genuine thinking together. Discussion refers to the heaving of ideas back and forth in a winner-take-all competition. In other words, it is genuine caring (Senge, P. et. al. <1994> The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization, p. 151). Coaching is helping others to improve, develop, and learn new skills in achieving a specific personal or professional goal (Oxford Dictionary).

Blending the two models, let’s see how these work. Anchored on the developmental vertical model, the goal of CPD activities is to nurture belongingness and commitment to the institution. Hence, all constituents new to the institution whether novice in teaching or had already been teaching elsewhere would draw from organizational dimension needs. One such need is to be acquainted with the history, philosophy, mission, vision and organizational structure of the institution and policies that define institutional identity and expectations arising from their being part of the institution’s “corpus”. These are necessary to their induction into the institution to affiliate with its culture and foster belongingness. Development of social skills, conflict resolution and management are also critical needs drawn from the organizational dimension.

The second, professional dimension also applies to the “novice or no experience” stage. Since academics have tri-functions – instruction, research and community service/civic engagement and in state institutions, an added fourth function – production, CPD could be so designed to address needs relevant to these functions. Instruction – covers both the “what,” (that is, curriculum design and content,) and the “how” (such as new trends in teaching and learning approaches, methods and assessment). More on this next issue.

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, Ph.D., is one of the Philippines most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan.

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