Quality Professional Development and Continuing Education Resolution

Whereas it is an ethical obligation for psychologists to undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence (American Psychological Association Ethics Code Standard 2.03, APA, 2010);

Whereas the American Psychological Association defines continuing education as "an ongoing process consisting of formal learning activities that 1) are relevant to psychological practice, education, and science; 2) enable psychologists to keep pace with emerging issues and technologies; and 3) allow psychologists to maintain, develop, and increase competencies in order to improve services to the public and enhance contributions to the profession" (APA, 2000);

Whereas continuing professional development represents a variety of professional interactions, activities, roles, and responsibilities that allow for opportunities for psychologists to engage in learning, to become aware of changes in the field of psychological science, and enhance interdisciplinary understanding; formal continuing education is an integral part of continuing professional development (Institute of Medicine, 2010; Neimeyer, Taylor, Wear, & Linder-Crow, 2012);

Whereas the goals of both continuing professional development and continuing education programming share a focus on enhanced learning and consumer protection (APA, 2000);

Whereas data from the 2012 Education Leadership Conference indicated that psychologists in attendance were overwhelmingly in favor of the development of an American Psychological Association statement regarding Principles of Quality Professional Development (APA, 2012);

Whereas the American Psychological Association has endorsed the Guidelines for Assessment and Accountability in Higher Education of the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability that describe practices for the gathering, reporting on and using evidence to improve student learning (APA, 2011a; New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability,2012);

Whereas competency-based education and training, as well as the assessment and documentation of maintenance of competence, are expected across interdisciplinary, educational, and healthcare contexts (Belar, 2012; Institute of Medicine, 2010; New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, 2012);

Whereas the American Psychological Association has adopted a resolution to advocate for psychology as a STEM discipline (APA, 2010, 2011b), continuing professional development and continuing education need to be consistent with a scientific, evidenced-based approach to facilitating continued learning and integration of new learning into psychologists' performance in their professional workplace;

Whereas the American Psychological Association has defined evidence-based practice in psychology (EBPP) as the "integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences" (APA, 2005);

Whereas commitments to accountability and to improvement are cornerstones of an evidence-based approach (Institutes of Medicine, 2010; New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, 2012; Wise et al., 2010);

Whereas independent evaluation and verification of continuing professional development and continuing education are vital to enhancing consumer confidence and to demonstrating the link between ongoing professional development and professional competence (Langendyk, 2006; Neimeyer et al., 2012; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Wise et al., 2010);

Whereas there exists a well-developed literature in psychological science and education that can inform programs of professional learning and the design of learning environments (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000);

Therefore

Be it resolved that the Council of Representatives adopts as American Psychological Association policy the following principles of quality professional development and continuing education, and instructs the Board of Educational Affairs to integrate these principles into all policy regarding the continued professional development and continuing education of psychologists:

  • Quality continuing professional development activities and continuing education programs should be dedicated to an evidence-based approach with content substantiated by the empirical literature. Quality continuing professional development and continuing education activities should be founded on evidenced-based education methods (Institute of Medicine, 2010; Neimeyer, Taylor, & Cox, 2012; Stuart, Tondora, & Hoge, 2004; Wise et al., 2010).
  • Quality continuing professional development and continuing education should serve the purpose of enhancing and improving psychologists' skills especially in term of service to the public, contributions to the profession, and the development of interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration and practice (APA, 2000; Wise et al., 2010; Institute of Medicine, 2010).
  • Quality continuing professional development and continuing education should reflect current research on diversity related topics and be committed to a multiculturally competent approach, respecting issues of diversity and addressing the needs of underrepresented populations (APA, 2003; APA, 2004; APA, 2011c; APA 2011d).
  • Quality continuing professional development and continuing education includes evaluation of a learning experience in relation to the learner and the instructor, and the assessment of its outcomes, including verification of the completion of the activity (Langendyk, 2006; Neimeyer et al., 2012; Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Wise et al., 2010).
  • Quality formal continuing education is a central component of continuing professional development for psychologists, and is an important mechanism for documenting the continued professional development expected in the evolving health care system (Belar, 2012; Neimeyer, Taylor, & Wear, 2009, 2010; Wise et al., 2010).
  • Quality continuing education programming should build upon a completed doctoral program in psychology, and include introductory to advanced course sequencing to meet the needs of psychologists across the lifespan of their careers (Metcalfe & Kornell, 2005; Van Merrienboer, Jeroen, Pass & Kester, 2006; Wise et al., 2010).
  • Quality continuing education programing incorporates presenters with expertise in the program content (Ainsworth & Loizou, 2003; Stuart et al., 2004), and should include the direct input of psychologists into all phases of the decision making and program planning process.
  • Quality continuing education programming includes multiple teaching methods to enhance retention and the translation of new learning into practice or other professional activities (Bransford, et al., 2000; Graesser, Olde, & Klettke, 2002).
  • Quality continuing professional development and continuing education should be accessible to all psychologists, including those with disabilities.
  • Quality continuing education includes a focus on the active engagement of the learner (Ainsworth & Loizou, 2003; Bransford et al. 2000; Graesser et al., 2002; Knapp & Sturm, 2002).
  • Quality continuing education makes a clear connection between program content and the application of this content within the learner's professional environment (Craig, Sullins, Witherspoon, & Gholsohn, 2006; Hakel & Halpern, 2005; Institute of Medicine, 2010).
Approved by the APA Council of Representatives, August 2013

References

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