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What is “CPE”?

The concept of what is now termed “Continuing Professional Education” (or CPE) has slowly evolved throughout the past 70 years from original concepts of “staff management,” “staff development,” “professional development,” and “continuing education.” CPE is not even a modern concept as it was one time provided through apprenticeships and guild systems of the middle ages (Queeney, 2000). However, it was not until the 1960’s that there existed a concrete system of continuing education, with the first evidence being a conceptual scheme for the lifelong education of physicians (Cervero, 2000; Dryer, 1962). From the first conceptual scheme developed to support physicians, there quickly emerged continuing education for relicensure and recertification during the 1970’s (Cervero & Azzaretto, 1990). Over the next two decades, numerous professions have adapted the philosophy of continuing professional education for their employees (Cevero, 1988).

Houle (1983) offered the following definition of continuing professional education that is simplistic yet highly appropriate for an organizational system as complex and diverse as Cooperative Extension: At a minimum, continuing professional education appears to be a complex of instructional systems, many of them heavily didactic, in which people who know something teach it to those who do not know. The central aim of such teaching, which is offered by many providers, is to keep professionals up to date in their practice. (p. 254)

Three aspects of Houle’s concept of CPE are fundamental to this contemporary model for North Carolina 4-H Youth Development professionals:

  1. CPE is a complex system of inter-related people, opportunities, and settings; it is not the sole responsibility of any one person or office;
  2. CPE is focused on learning and teaching by individual and group learners and facilitators; at any time, a learner may become the facilitator and a facilitator may become the learner; and
  3. CPE is focused upon maintaining professional competence in ever-changing external and internal technical, organizational, and societal environments.

North Carolina 4-H’s CPE model emphasizes existing and planned professional development components and aspects of North Carolina 4-H Youth Development addressed by a contemporary model of shared expertise.

    Selected References:

  • Cervero, R.M. (2000). Trends and issues in continuing professional education. In V.W. Mott and B.J. Daley (Eds), Charting a course for continuing professional education: Reframing professional practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Cervero, R.M. (1988). Effective continuing education for professionals. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Cervero, R.M. & Azzaretto, J.F. (1990). Visions for the future of continuing professional education. Athens, GA: University of Georgia.
  • Dryer, B.V. (1962). Lifetime learning for physicians: Principles, practices, and proposals. Journal of Education, 37 (89).
  • Evers, Frederick T., Rush, James C, & Berdrow, Iris. (1998). The Bases of Competence: Skills for Lifelong Learning and Employability. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Houle, C.O. (1983). Continuing learning in the profession. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Queeney, D.S (2000). Continuing professional education. In A.L. Wilson and E.R. Hayes (eds.), Handbook of adult and continuing education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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