Helpdesk Report: DFID professional development

Abstract

Query

What’s the evidence on (a) how best to deliver effective professional development and training for technical experts, and (b) how the impact of conferences, seminars, short courses and e-learning can be maximised?

Overview

This helpdesk provides an overview of the literature that focuses on professional development and capacity building. It specifically seeks to explore the evidence on how best to deliver effective professional development and training for technical experts, and how the impact of conferences, seminars, short courses and e-learning can be maximized.

There is a range of literature focusing on particular aspects of professional development. The existing literature suggests that building capacity through training is critical. There is no consensus on the most effective way to achieve the desired results or how to maximize the impact of professional development. There is a paucity of literature available to compare the spectrum of models available.

A literature review based on four problem-based approaches to professional development was identified. It found that case problems are ill structured in action learning and problem-based learning, are moderately structured in a goal-based scenario, and are fairly well structured in the case study approach. The design differences suggest that the case study and goal-based scenario approaches are more likely to result in single-loop learning and to foster the ability to solve well-structured problems, whereas the problem-based learning and action learning approaches are more likely to lead to double-loop learning and to promote the ability to solve ill-structured problems.

Capacity is a complex concept, comprising of a blend of motivation, skill, positive learning, organisational conditions and culture, and infrastructure of support. If capacity development is successful, it can benefit individuals, groups, whole institutions, organisations, communities and systems. One approach to achieving improved sustainable capacity is to developing professional learning communities.

Citation

Bolton, L.; Nussey, C.; Das, M. Helpdesk Report: DFID professional development. Health and Education Advice and Resource Team (HEART), Oxford, UK (2014) 15 pp.

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