Structured CPD vs Self-Directed CPD

Structured CPD vs Self-Directed CPD

08 Feb 2016

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Many people ask about the various types of CPD, and specifically what distinguishes structured CPD from self-directed CPD? As a general guide, the majority of professional bodies require at least 50% of CPD to be completed in a structured format. It is therefore important to be aware of the distinctions between the two. This article provides a quick overview to the differences between structured CPD and self-directed CPD.

The type of Continuing Professional Development can vary depending on a range of different learning methods, but CPD can be broadly defined within three areas: Structured, Reflective and Self-Directed.

What is Structured CPD?

Structured CPD is also referred to as active learning. Structured CPD typically involves interactive and participation-based study. It is often proactive and can include attending CPD accredited training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, eLearning courses or events. CPD active learning can also apply to professionals taking career-orientated exams, however the study and revision would be considered self-directed learning.

To put the learning into context, Structured CPD can often contain case studies and examples within the training pack, as well as Q&A, breakout discussion groups and possible assessments to ensure that key learning has been embedded. When a delegate has completed an item of Structured CPD, they will in most instances be provided with a CPD certificate of attendance/completion, which can be used as part of the individual’s personal CPD record for submission at their professional body, where relevant.

Reflective CPD

Reflective CPD defines learning that often has a structured format, however, will typically have no participant-based interaction, and so this form of CPD is much more passive and one directional than structured CPD.

Examples of reflective CPD can include watching training videos and tutorials, attending a non-interactive lecture, as well as possibly attending relevant industry briefings, podcasts, case studies and industry updates. In some instances, informal meetings can be applicable to reflective CPD, but the learning outcomes and objectives of these meetings must be made clear for an individual to be able to use in their overall CPD plan.

Self-Directed CPD

Self-directed learning and CPD is also referred to as informal CPD. Self-directed learning is the term that covers all unaccompanied CPD activities. This includes discussions in forums, reading books, articles, and industry publications - either in print or online. It could also include industry-specific news feeds or research into relevant fields. The areas of self-directed learning often do not have specific time frames for the learning activity, are informal and the learning outcomes of each individual can vary significantly.

Of the self-directed learning completed, individuals must elaborate further on their personal CPD record as to what new knowledge has been obtained, what will be put into practice and how long in duration the self-directed learning has taken. Self-directed CPD must be relevant to individual career aspirations and any fundamental obligations set out by their professional body.

We hope this brief article on the difference between Structured CPD and Self-directed CPD was helpful. For more information about the different types of CPD, please visit our CPD Explained page.

Established in 1996, The CPD Certification Service is the world’s leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. If you are a training provider looking to provide training courses, seminars, workshops, eLearning or educational events that may be suitable for any Continuing Professional Development, please visit the Become a CPD Provider page or contact our team to discuss in more detail.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help manage, track and log your ongoing learning, as well as store your professional training records and attendance certificates in one simple place, go to the myCPD Portal page.

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For more information from CPD News Team, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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