FAQs: Professional Development Pathways Program

Will this program be tied to Pay for Performance?
Not directly. Professional development and merit-based compensation are separate programs that focus on different things. In cases where development activities, or lack thereof, significantly affect an employee’s performance, the resulting performance rating may have an impact on merit-based increases. However, compensation in a pay for performance environment is not directly impacted by the completion of badges or certificates.

Will I get credit for recent training experiences that were offered through the University?
Recent participants in learning experiences that lead to badges in our new Professional Development Pathways program will get credit for their participation as long as participation was tracked, the training occurred during 2017, and the training itself qualifies for a badge. For instance, participation was tracked for the Financial Systems Enhancements training sessions that will now be part of the University Finance Certificate, so those participants will receive the appropriate badges for completing those course when our Learning Management System is fully operational. 

Will professional licenses and certificates awarded outside the university be tracked and credited in this new system?
No. At least initially, our focus is on creating internal programs that are designed to meet specific needs of the University and a broad section of our employees. Professional certifications and licenses are very important, and in some cases required, for certain positions. However, the Professional Development Pathways program is an internal program that is not part of that structure.

Should completion of a certificate be included as a performance goal on my performance evaluation?
Performance goals should represent 3-5 of the most important things you will do during the year to successfully execute the responsibilities of your position. In situations where completion of a certificate is intended to significantly increase your knowledge and/or skills in a way that has a significant impact on the performance of the primary duties of your job, it might be appropriate to include this as one of your goals. If so, the impact of having the certificate (i.e. what you will do with the enhanced knowledge and/or skills) should also be stated in your performance goal. If completion of a certificate is mostly for development purposes and not significantly related to your primary job duties, it may be better to include goals that are more directly related to successful completion of your job.

Can I participate in a certificate program if my current job is not directly related to the certificate?
In some situations, courses or certificate programs may be limited to employees working in specific roles or positions. However, generally speaking, employees may participate in courses or certificates within the Professional Development Pathways program as long as they satisfy pre-requisite requirements where applicable, are able to complete assigned pre-work and homework assignments, and the course or certificate program is aligned with job requirements or professional development goals.

If I am already an “expert” on the subject contained in a course or certificate program, can I get credit for that?
Some general knowledge or skills courses may offer a “test-out” option to allow employees with a high level of skill to get credit for a course without completing the full course. This is more difficult in classroom experiences or courses that are related to university-specific processes, systems, or compliance requirements. Because certificates are made up of several learning experiences, it is unlikely that someone could test-out of all courses associated with a certificate. Even when an employee has the knowledge/skill required to test out of a course, participation is still encouraged since the course might serve as a good “refresher” and since participants often benefit from each other’s perspectives.

If I take a course that is listed as a requirement for multiple certificates, will my participation in that course count towards the requirements for the other certificates, or do I need to re-take the course multiple times?
Successful completion of a course can count towards requirements for multiple certificates. Keep in mind, though, that course content may change over time which could result in a need to retake the course in order to remain current.

Do certificates or courses expire? If so, what happens then?
All courses and certificate programs will be reviewed annually to ensure that Professional Development Pathways content is up-to-date and relevant. In situations where a course requires significant updates, participants may be required to re-take the revised course within a specified period of time. If the revised course is not completed in the specified time frame, the employee will no longer have credit for that course, which could result in deactivation of the certificate until the missing courses are taken.

Is there a cost associated with this program?
Generally, there is no cost to participate in a certificate program unless the university must pay for materials or services from an outside vendor or internal planning unit or college. In these situations, the cost of the materials and/or services will be specified upfront and passed along to the planning unit at the time of registration.

What is Professional Development Pathways?
Professional Development Pathways is a comprehensive professional development program that provides tools, guidance, and learning opportunities for employees and supervisors to invest in talent development and career growth. The program focuses on the following:
  • identifying competencies (knowledge, skills, and behaviors) required for success in current and future positions

  • using training and certificate programs to develop competencies and add excitement to the development journey

  • providing tools and guidelines to encourage “on-the-job” learning opportunities and development discussions

  • leveraging technology to encourage recognition, provide access to training materials and resources, and to help employees keep track of their learning experiences


Why was Professional Development Pathways created?
To fully support the University’s vision of being “the nation’s best transformative learning community where students realize their potential, faculty advance knowledge, staff achieve excellence, and alumni become global leaders”, each employee should have access to tools, resources, and guidance to support them in their professional development efforts. Professional Development Pathways provides structured learning experiences that are mutually beneficial for a large number of employees, departments, and the university. It also defines critical behaviors, creating a picture of what it looks like for employees to be successful in different types of positions at the university. This opens the door for self-reflection and constructive conversations to help employees be more productive in current positions and prepare for future positions. 

Who can participate?
All full-time and part-time regular employees of Ohio University are welcome and encouraged to participate in the Professional Development Pathways program. Although student employees and temporary employees are welcome to use our competency model and development planning tools to assist in their career development, they do not have access to our Learning Management System and are not able to participate in Professional Development Pathways courses and certificates.

What are badges?
“Badges” refer to special icons or virtual representations of educational achievements. Badges are earned by completing eligible learning experiences in the Professional Development Pathways program. Upon completing an e-learning course, or within one week following a classroom session, a badge will be issued within our Learning Management System to document the completion of the learning experience. A collection of Badges in one area of study can lead to a Certificate.

What are certificates?
“Certificates” are designed to provide employees with a robust, well-rounded understanding of a particular topic or area of work that is relevant to many university employees in a variety of planning units, functions and departments. Certificates are earned by completing a specified collection of learning experiences within the Professional Development Pathways program. Each learning experience is represented by a badge, and a certificate is earned when an employee has collected all required badges as outlined in the certificate requirements.

Can I take just one or two courses in a certificate, or do I need to complete the entire certificate program?
Completion of courses and certificates are voluntary. As long as pre-requisites and other participation requirements are met, employees can participate in one or more courses in a certificate program without completing the remaining courses.

Does my supervisor need to approve my participation?
Although a written sign-off by the supervisor is not required to register for classes, participants should discuss participation in the program with their supervisors ahead of time to and get their support. Participation in the program generally requires time away from work which must be approved by the supervisor. Also, depending on the nature of an employee’s job and the learning experiences, there could be great opportunities to apply new skills and learning to the employee’s current job. This is very beneficial for the employee and the department, so ongoing discussion about progress in the program is encouraged.

Can I take courses outside of work, on my own time?
Professional Development Pathways courses are designed to provide direct benefits for employees, their departments and the university. Since participants are regular employees of the university and are expected to transfer knowledge and skills from the courses to current or future jobs at the University, all courses are considered to be “University sponsored” training, and participation should be worked into an employee’s work schedule. This requires employees to coordinate participation with their supervisors. Although supervisors are encouraged to offer reasonable flexibility to accommodate reasonable participation in university sponsored training activities, employee performance or department operations should not be negatively impacted as a result of an employee’s participation in these activities.

Are these new certificates going to become requirements for certain jobs?
The Professional Development Pathways program is focused on providing professional development opportunities for regular full-time and part-time employees. The establishment of job requirements is handled outside of this program. However, since Professional Development Pathways certificates are designed to provide employees with a robust, well-rounded understanding of a particular topic or area of work, it is possible for certificates to be identified as “preferred requirements” for certain positions where the knowledge and skills obtained through the certificate program are frequently used in that position. In these situations, the certificate would represent a significant accomplishment, but it would only be one consideration among many others in the selection process.

Will I get college credit for participating in a certificate program?
Courses and certificate programs within Professional Development Pathways are designed to provide practical, hands-on skills employees can use right away in current or future positions. Although these learning experiences are designed to provide significant professional development opportunities, they are not intended to replace college courses and have not been evaluated for college credit.

I'm signed up for training as part of another program; will it be included in Professional Development Pathways?
There are many types of training and sources for professional development available to university employees; however, we do not have one centralized system to track and coordinate all this activity. If a learning experience or training activity is not identified as part of the Professional Development Pathways program, it will not be tracked in the Learning Management System or count towards certificate requirements. 

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