The document here below is designed to elaborate upon, interpret and operationally define the AALEP Standards and Criteria for providing Continuing Education (CE) to GR professionals.

Keeping in mind that CE programmes may be offered to professionals across a range of disciplines and sectors, the goal of a CE programme must specifically address the learning needs of GR professionals. Education and Training Providers (ETPs) (thereafter 'Providers') must have a goals statement that reflects the type and nature of their CE offerings and target audience e.g. Consultant GR professional, In-house Company GR professional, Business and Professional Organization GR professional, Non-Government Organization (Non-Profit) GR professional, or Government Agency GR professional.

GR professionals must have input in all phases of the decision-making and programme-planning process for the activities offered to GR professionals for CE credit. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, including involvement by GR professionals, communities, GR associations, advisory boards etc. in order to provide feedback regarding programme planning and areas where a conflict of interest might occur (e.g., resolution of participant complaints). Involvement must be on an active and on-going basis. It is the Provider’s responsibility to maintain a continuing awareness of the policies and procedures of AALEP Provider Approval System (APAS). This includes, but is not limited to, having a copy of the most recent submissions to APAS (application, status report, etc.), being aware of report and fee submission deadlines, and keeping APAS aware of any changes in contact information so that we may inform Providers of these deadlines in a timely manner.

Providers must have a clearly designated administrator of the programme, although it is not required that this individual be a GR professional . Examples of possible areas of concern as it relates to confidentiality include materials kept in offices, information and materials imparted during programmes, etc. Providers are required to have written procedures for dealing with participant complaints. While these procedures need not be elaborate, they must clearly indicate the steps that will be taken to resolve complaints, and these procedures must be available in written format for anyone who requests them. In order to make available high-quality CE programmes to as many GR professionals as possible, Providers are encouraged to jointly collaborate with other organizations as appropriate. “Joint collaboration” should be understood as the mutual planning of an activity by two or more organizations. Regardless of the level of involvement of the Provider, however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the Approved Provider to ensure that all the Standards of APAS are met. Any degree of joint collaboration does not, in any way, absolve the Provider of its responsibilities as an Approved Provider.   

Every programme offered for CE credit must have predetermined learning objectives. Rather than a description of topics to be covered, learning objectives should clearly define what the participant will know or be able to do as a result of having attended the programme, and these objectives must be stated in measurable terms. As a guideline, there should be three to four objectives for a four hour programme; five to six objectives for a seven to eight hour programme, etc. CE activities can be delivered via numerous methods which include, but are not limited to: workshops, seminars, conferences, conventions, lectures, books, videotapes, audiotapes, CD-ROMs, and web-based activities. All CE activities, regardless of the delivery method, must adhere to the Standards of  APAS. Although it is not required that instructors be GR professionals, they must have expertise and be competent in the areas in which they teach. Expertise might be demonstrated by some combination of the following: relevant educational experience such as holding an advanced degree in political science, review of records of previous teaching experiences, years of experience, publications in areas relevant to the content being taught, evaluation forms from previously offered programmes, personal knowledge of the instructor’s teaching ability, and references.

Acceptable programmes must adhere to the definition of Continuing Education in that they improve service to the clients or employers and the general public and enhance contributions to the profession. Determination of eligibility is not made on the basis of topic alone.

Because GR professionals work in a variety of professional settings, Providers are encouraged to offer a wide range of topics that can meet the diverse CE needs of GR professionals. AALEP encourages innovative programmes, assuming that the Standard pertaining to content is met.

Content related to the professional practice of GR, business of practice, education, administration, conducting research, or career management programmes should be carefully considered to determine whether or not the content of the programmes can be deemed appropriate CE content for GR professionals.

The responsibility is on the applicant to adequately establish the bridge between programme content and the elements of the criteria. The more distant a topic appears from core disciplinary knowledge, the greater the responsibility of the Provider to demonstrate the connection to improvement of services to the clients or employers and contributions to the profession. Appropriate content should be conveyed in programme titles, learning objectives, and promotional materials.

Providers ensure that instructors provide a sufficient basis for the interpretation of programme information by informing participants of limitations of the content being taught, including contradictory evidence and its source. Potential conflict of interest, commercial support, or commercial interest applies to Provider organizations, the presenter, and the content of the presentation. Providers  should advise participants of the potential biases inherent in accepting inducements that might affect the selection of texts, the use of particular tests, and/or sponsorship of CE courses.

Providers are required to provide information that demonstrates their adherence to AALEP Standard pertaining to curriculum content. In the normal course of programme preparation, instructors should be able to provide information that demonstrates compliance with the standard. Providers could address this in some combination of the programme learning objectives, participants’ evaluation of content, citations to research references, or a clause in a contract with instructors.

At a minimum, satisfaction evaluations should include assessment of the instructor’s level of knowledge and expertise, and teaching ability. Activities longer than one hour may be broken into quarter hour increments. Effective satisfaction evaluations should provide feedback that is useful both to the Provider and the instructor(s) for the purpose of planning and improving future programmes. All programmes, regardless of delivery method, require an assessment of participant learning. This assessment can be achieved in a variety of ways, and the method used should vary depending on the particular delivery method. Some ways of assessing learning include a question on the evaluation form regarding how much the participant has learned, post-tests, informal discussions between instructor(s) and participants, question and answer sessions at the end of a programme, etc. Providers must be prepared to document the method being used. CE programmes that are not conducted in person require a different process for evaluating the effectiveness of the programme. For these types of programmes (e.g., books, audiotapes, videotapes, CD-ROMS, online [non-real time].), Providers are required to assess achieved learning. This test must be of sufficient depth to adequately determine the level of learning that was achieved. There must also be a specified criterion for successful completion of the programme (e.g., passing grade). For programmes that use essays to determine achieved learning, a grading grid must be provided. For programmes where credit is offered on a session-by-session basis (e.g., conferences, convention,), each session must be evaluated separately.

CE programmes must be at least one hour in length. Activities longer than one hour may be broken into quarter hour increments. Credit is awarded only for actual instructional time. For programmes where instructional time is difficult to calculate (e.g., books, CD-ROMS, online), Providers  must have a method for determining the number of credits to offer and a rationale for this method. Providers are strongly encouraged to utilize field-testing when determining credits for these types of programmes. For programmes that require a test of achieved learning, the specified passing criterion must be met before credit may be awarded. Variable credit for partial attendance may not be awarded. For programmes that involve a variety of sessions (e.g., conferences, conventions), credit should be awarded on a session-by-session basis. Each individual session for which credit is awarded must meet the Standards of APAS, e.g., each session must have its own stated learning objectives, each session must be evaluated separately. Providers must have a system for determining which sessions were attended (e.g., sign-in sheet, credit log). Full attendance is required for all CE activities, and Providers  must have a method for ensuring full attendance (sign-in/sign-out sheets, room monitors.). APAS is aware that individuals will, on occasion, arrive late or leave early from a CE programme. Providers  should, within reason, evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis when considering full attendance and the awarding of credit.

Although specific information must be available to potential participants prior to enrolment e.g. educational objectives, target audience, instruction level of activity (introductory, intermediate or advanced), schedule, costs, instructor credentials (relevant professional degree and discipline, current professional position, expertise in programme content), number of credits offered for each activity,  APAS  understands that it is sometimes not feasible to include all items in promotional materials. In cases where some information is not included in promotional pieces, the means of obtaining this information must be provided (e.g., phone number, web site, etc.). Multi-session, multi-disciplinary programmes will oftentimes contain some content that is not relevant to GR or is otherwise inappropriate as CE for GR professionals. In these cases, promotional and programme materials must clearly indicate which sessions are available to GR professionals for credit and which are not. AALEP Approval of Providers is at the organizational level, not at the level of individual or programmatic educational offerings. In the absence of any AALEP review process of programmes, Providers  must not imply that AALEP has determined that their educational offerings meet specific AALEP education and training standards or guidelines. Providers must not use the term “AALEP-approved” (or any variation thereof) when referring to individual course or programmatic offerings or CE credit for GR professionals . CE credit for GR professionals is granted on a one credit per one contact hour basis. 

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