Continuing Professional Development Glossary of Terms 


Continuing Professional Education is the set of learning activities approved by NASBA or a legally constituted state authority that enables CPAs to maintain and improve their professional competence.

Continuing Professional Development consists of the learning activities approved by NASBA, a legally constituted state authority, or other professional body; or unstructured learning activities as outlined by the AICPA that enable credential holders to maintain and improve their professional competence.

Blended Learning: A learning program incorporating multiple learning formats, e.g. a course that includes self-study pre-work, group live instruction and follow-up case study project.

Coaching: The process of engaging in regular, structured conversation with an individual or team aimed at improvement, often in a very practical sense.

CPE program instruction: Instruction of a formal program of learning that contributes directly to professional competence of a CPA licensee. Instructors may receive credit for their preparation, review and presentation time to the extent the activities maintain or improve their professional competence. Instructors who present a learning activity for the first time may receive credit for actual preparation time up to two times the number of CPE credits to which participants would be entitled, in addition to the time for presentation. For example, for learning activities in which participants could receive 8 CPE credits, instructors may receive up to 24 CPE credits (16 for preparation and 8 for presentation).

Discussion group participation: Live group discussion of a topic or topics between CPAs and other subject-matter experts that is designed to contribute directly to professional competence.

External training: Individual participation in learning designed to address industry-specific information and more broadly contribute directly to professional competence.

External training instruction: Instruction of learning designed to address industry-specific information and more broadly contribute directly to professional competence. Instructors may receive credit for their preparation, review and presentation time to the extent the activities maintain or improve their professional competence. Instructors who present a learning activity for the first time may receive credit for actual preparation time up to two times the number of credits to which participants would be entitled, in addition to the time for presentation. For example, for an eight-hour learning activity, instructors may receive up to 24 hours of credit (16 for preparation and 8 for presentation).

Group internet-based program: Individual participation in synchronous learning with real-time interaction of an instructor or subject matter expert and built-in processes for attendance and interactivity.

Group live program: Synchronous learning in a group environment with real-time interaction of an instructor or subject matter expert that provides the required elements of attendance monitoring and engagement.

Independent study: An educational process designed to permit a participant to learn a given subject under a learning contract with a CPE program sponsor.

Internal training: Individual participation in learning designed to address organization-specific information and more broadly contribute directly to professional competence.

Internal training instruction: Instruction of learning designed to address organization-specific information and more broadly contribute directly to professional competence. Instructors may receive credit for their preparation, review and presentation time to the extent the activities maintain or improve their professional competence. Instructors who present a learning activity for the first time may receive credit for actual preparation time up to two times the number of credits to which participants would be entitled, in addition to the time for presentation. For example, for an eight-hour learning activity, instructors may receive up to 24 hours of credit (16 for preparation and 8 for presentation).

Mentoring: An informal or formal relationship in which a more experienced individual (the mentor) acts as an adviser for a less experienced individual (the mentee). The mentor is responsible for providing support and feedback in order to address issues related to professional success.

Nano-learning program: Tutorial program designed to permit a participant to learn a given subject in a 10-minute time frame through the use of electronic media and without interaction with a real-time instructor. Nano learning is not a substitute for comprehensive programs addressing complex issues.

New professional qualifications: Vocational qualifications, often involving an element of practical training. Usually professional qualifications are linked with a specific industry and are designed to help an individual improve and develop relevant skills for a particular career path.

Peer-to-peer learning: One “student” leads another through a concept or concepts, in which the first student is consider an “expert” and the second is considered a “novice.” The peers do not need to be from the same organization or experience level.

Project-based work: Learning that occurs by working for an extended period of time on a specific question, problem or challenge facing an internal or external client.

Self-study program: An educational program completed individually without the assistance or interaction of a real-time instructor.

Structured learning:  A formal program of learning with an explicit, expected outcome.

Technical committee participation: Participation in a committee that identifies issues within the industry, develops technical and policy recommendations on those issues and suggests or develops related practice aids to assist members working in, or with, that industry.

Tutorial: A method of transferring knowledge that is more interactive and specific than a book, lecture or article. A tutorial seeks to teach by example and supply the information to complete a certain task.

Unstructured learning: A learning activity with an expected outcome related to the development of professional competency.

Work-based learning: Learning in the workplace though observation, modeling and application.


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