October 18, 2019
Part 1 – Not CPE but CPD
FURTHER training of academics and other professionals is referred to as staff development (SD). “Staff” in European universities (likewise in Australia and New Zealand) refers both to the academics and the non-teaching employees. Unlike in the Philippines, only non-teaching employees not assigned to any managerial or administrative positions are referred to as staff.
Continuing education. For the renewal of licenses in the different professions, the term often used is continuing professional education (CPE), a popular term for “further education and training” — viewed as being more for adults than for young students. CPE (for education, not development) is the more popular terminology in North America, which we have used for a great many decades, having been a colony of the United States. With globalization and ideas from different continents reaching us, time, the great change-maker, does change perspectives. Today, the more common reference we use for staff development is continuing professional development (CPD).
Why CPD? Setting up the Universities and Colleges Staff Development Agency (UCoSDA) in 1988, based in Sheffield, was the United Kingdom’s all-out national effort to encourage initiatives on modes of SD, including teaching and learning research. Patricia Partington, then-UCoSDA Director — and a dear friend who made sure I had copies of the latest on SD when I visited UCoSDA — opined that CPD is preferred because “development” can better emphasize the “incremental improvement in knowledge, attitudes, skills and habits of staff” (Unesco, 1983.3; Unesco 1987:8 Partington, Patricia). “Continuing,” as Pat explained, refers to “an institutional process which seeks to modify attitudes, skills and behavior of staff towards improved competence and effectiveness in meeting client needs, their own needs and that of the institution.”
CPD now a Philippine law. As a then-Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) consultant for SD, I connected with UCoSDA and was the recipient of its Green Papers on teaching and learning. As also concurrent member of the then-Department of Education, Culture and Sports Teacher Education Council (1996 to 2005), I used the term CPD instead of CPE in my communication/discussion with the CHEd, Philippine Regulation Commission, Civil Service Comission and other educational-related bodies. A decade after using the term CPD, Republic Act 10912, otherwise known as the “Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016,” was signed into law on July 21, 2016, making CPD a mandatory requirement, effective March 15, 2017, for the renewal of licenses.
Lessons from training of staff developers. For the 1996 CHEd CPD project I handled, I requested the British Council for the support of two experts, John Fazey and Brenda Smith, to train selected academics to be staff developers. The goal of the CPD project was to set up regional CPD facilities for Philippine universities labeled as Regional Centers for Academic Practice. CHEd regional directors in Mindanao assisted me in choosing academics from Mindanao universities for this purpose. To date, I still connect with these two experts.
John Fazey, now a retired university academic who lives and works on a sheep farm in Tregarth, North Wales with his wife Della. John went to the University of Wales, Bangor and for his masters, to the Dalhousie University. He was former head of the Teaching and Learning Group, Oxford Learning Institute at University of Oxford; the former director, Research Institute for Enhancing Learning; and former head of the Center for Learning, Development and Training at the University of Wales, Bangor.
Brenda Smith studied at the Universities of Manchester and London. She was assistant director, Higher Education Academy and former head of the Learning and Teaching Support Network Generic Center. She was actively involved in assessment, the Scottish Quality Enhancement agenda, the Centers for Excellence in Teaching and Learning initiative, student engagement, and the analysis of the Welsh institutional learning and teaching strategies. She has acted as consultant in a dozen countries, including the Philippines. At present, she is a BMS HE consultant.
I share herewith Brenda Smith’s thoughts of her experience in training Filipino academics as staff developers for CPD of Mindanao universities, which she kindly sent via Messenger:
Recounting experience from a trainer: “The value of supporting staff in their professional development has increasingly been recognized. The value of this support for both staff and their students has been enormous. We have much to learn from each other and indeed from the feedback and actions of our students. A number of years ago, another colleague (John Fazey) from the UK and I were fortunate enough to work with academic staff from colleges based in the Philippines.” (The first phase of the training was at the then Bukidnon State College, which I headed, and the second phase was held in Cebu City. Then CHEd chairman was Dr. Ester Garcia, who is at present the president of the University of the East.) “The idea was to ‘Train the Trainers’ to enable these staff to work with others back in their own institutions to enhance their students’ learning experience. We all came from different subject and academic backgrounds. The situation was not one-sided, imparting knowledge and experience from the UK to the Philippines, but the richness lay in learning from each other, sharing ideas and respecting each other’s culture. Indeed, the understanding I gained from working with those remarkable staff has stayed with me over the years. This practice of international collaboration has enhanced my own teaching and working with both staff and students. Such intercultural exchanges should never be underestimated in the value that both sides gain from the experience. One can only hope that over the coming years such exchanges will lead to a better and more harmonious world.”
Indeed, let’s hope for sustained CPD in our universities.
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