Statement of Principle
Continuing education must accomplish two purposes simultaneously.
First, it must allow the participant to grow intellectually and/or to refine specific job-related skills appropriate to fulfilling the needs identified through the Applied Knowledge Assessment (AKA), a multi-rater assessment, job performance evaluations, self-assessments, and other feedback and to adapt his/her behavior accordingly.
Second, it must be defined broadly enough to recognize that people learn differently and need access to different avenues of learning. Thus, it must allow not only for different modes of learning but also for different providers (including ICMA, state associations, universities, and others) and different delivery techniques (ranging from traditional seminars to Web-based instruction to videoconferencing). The simultaneous need to move beyond the sharing of “war stories” and to be flexible is at the heart of the dilemma of the “what counts” question. Too much flexibility leads to too little quality. Too much rigidity leads to a lack of access and leaves members unable to meet the challenges identified for them.
Each member should document annually how he or she has improved competency in the practices required of a local government manager. This annual improvement may result from a variety of professional development/learning experiences, including but not limited to professional reading; participation in formal university courses; and active participation in workshops, seminars, or conferences focusing on the practice(s) where improvement is desired. These professional development experiences should involve a minimum of 40 substantive hours each year. Because a plan of professional development is required each year, participants should not try to address all of the identified needs in any one year.
Questions that the participant in the Voluntary Credentialing Program should ask himself/herself in planning his/her annual professional development activities
I. Will the educational experience be relevant to the practice area(s) I need to develop?
The answer to this question should reflect a direct relationship between the practice to be improved and the activity.
• Which practice area was identified for improvement?
• How will the educational experience address the practice area identified?
II. Will the educational experience challenge and engage me by exposing me to new knowledge or new ways of applying existing knowledge?
The participant must be asked to do more than listen to a presentation and walk away with a handout. Here are the questions a participant should be able to answer about the educational experience after he/she has completed it:
• What was the nature of the experience (ICMA workshop, state association simulation exercise, Web-based course, university course, independent study)?
• What were the requirements of the experience? (What reading was required? What material was distributed? What follow-up was there?)
• How many hours did the experience take, including “homework” assignments?
• How were the participants involved in the experience (vigorous exchange, simulations, group exercises)?
• Was there an opportunity to evaluate the specific educational experience by providing direct feedback to the instructor/presenter?
III. Will it strengthen my professional capacity?
The experience must be one that addresses an identified need and that helps the manager to become an even stronger professional.
• Specifically, how did you/do you plan to relate the knowledge or skills gained through the experience to the particular practice area you want to improve?
• How will you follow up the educational experience to enhance your professional competence?