Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why CPLP Candidates Fail the Work Product

The Work Product submission phase of the Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) certification process can be -- in a word -- grueling.

Many candidates perform work with the CPLP criteria in mind so they have appropriate evidence to submit for the Work Product phase.

Many will tell you that this work is some of the best they've done in their careers -- and that they received much deserved praise and high marks on performance reviews for it.

Then they fail the Work Product phase of the CPLP certification process.


  • As odd as it sounds, candidates often fail not because of a criticism of their work (their evidence and the work they did could be just fine) -- but because they failed to meet the criteria when answering questions *about* their work.

Think of it this way - you, as a CPLP candidate and the person who performed the work, know everything about why you did what you did (who you worked with, why you picked the approach you did, how you evaluated, etc). You have full memories of doing the actual work and have full appreciation of how hard the work was to do and how well the work was received.

The raters - the people evaluating your work product - only have as much of this information as you are able to effectively share when completing the forms that accompany your evidence.

They don't know who you are, anything about your organization, and only have limited insight into the work you've done. In order for them to appreciate what you did and how good it is -- you have to tell them.

Some candidates fail the work product NOT because their work isn't good -- but because they did not answer questions about their work to the raters' satisfaction.

  • Incorrect evidence submitted as work product.

Measurement & Evaluation candidates listen up -- this is an *automatic failure* - submitting an assessment about anything other than an actual learning event.

Yes -- we, as workplace learning & performance professionals conduct assessments all the time to figure out if training is the appropriate intervention.

Submitting an assessment on whether or not training is the appropriate intervention will cause you to fail the Work Product submission phase.

The rules state that your work product (evidence) MUST be an assessment/evaluation of an actual learning event.

When it comes to evidence, for each of the Areas of Expertise (AOEs), the rules are very specific as to the types of evidence you can submit for each and the nature of the project.

For example, if you're submitting for Designing Learning all of your materials must be in hardcopy -- no digital media will be accepted. That means if you used software to conduct your instructional design, or your final output was a Web-based course, etc. -- the evidence you provide MUST be submitted on paper. Not disk. Not online. Not in any electronic format.

This is another area where people fail -- not because their work isn't any good - but because they didn't follow the directions.

  • Solely using personal experience to answer a follow-on question, instead of answering the actual question.

There's a difference -- if you receive a follow-on question that reminds you of something that happened to you, then keep that experience in mind, but make sure you answer the actual question. DON'T answer the question by describing what happened to you in real life -- that's NOT the answer the raters are looking for.

Draw on your experiences, yes -- but don't answer the question by solely describing your experiences.

Think of the question as a new event -- similar to something that happened in the past -- but a new situation unto itself with its own specifics and variables.

  • Ego. Answering follow-on questions by listing your credentials and making the case for why you're qualified to answer the question.

That's not the point. The point is -- the follow-on question presents a given situation. Your answer should be -- specifically -- how you would respond in that situation.

Why you're qualified to do so is irrelevant.

>>>>> As I said at the beginning of this post, this can be a grueling phase. Definitely tougher than the CPLP Knowledge-based Exam -- and certainly far more personal.

It's extremely difficult to put something you've invested so much time and effort into a manilla envelope and mail it off for evaluation. It's like sending a piece of yourself into the unknown universe.

Just keep in mind -- the work you did, the resulting evidence you provide, only meets part of the expectation. The other parts include following directions to a 'T' and being able to clearly respond to the questions about your work on the attendant submission forms.

So make sure -- make absolutely sure -- that you use the same due diligence in these other parts as you did in creating your work product.

Tip! Have someone else -- someone unfamiliar with your work -- review your packet for you. They could help you identify gaps -- point out any areas where they're not clear on your response(s).

August 30th is fast approaching - best wishes to all of you!

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
Owl's Ledge LLC - The CPLP Experts