Monday, June 29, 2015

CPLP Work Product - Samples & Examples - Instructional Design

One of the most frequent comments I get from CPLP candidates is the lack of (and their desire for) specific examples of CPLP Work Product work samples or "evidence."

This is true for candidates submitting in any Area of Expertise (AOE), but seems especially true for those who have elected to submit CPLP Work Product under Instructional Design.

Candidates' #1 Question --

Why doesn't ATD CI provide candidates with a copy of a successful Instructional Design Work Product submission with specific examples of what's required?

Answer: They used to. But candidates copied it and failed CPLP Work Product. 

Why? Because candidates just copied it outright, instead of using it as a model to determine what was MOST important -- WHY the submission was successful -- and then APPLYING those elements to THEIR work.

Therein lies the rub -- CPLP does not test one's ability to copy other people's materials; it assesses your ability to understand a professional standard -- ALL of the elements that go into that standard -- and your ability to then APPLY that professional standard to YOUR work.

So - what work samples ("evidence") are required?

In the absence of specific examples, how are candidates supposed to uncover what the ATD CI expectations are?

The answer is this: There is no one set of documents (work samples) that guarantees success on an Instructional Design CPLP Work Product submission. 

Reason being - it's not what the documents ("evidence") look like -- it's what's contained in them that matters. It's what they are meant to DEMONSTRATE that counts the most.

What follows are some common Questions & Answers (Q&A) to help you figure out what you have - and what you need - to get on track with Instructional Design as a CPLP Work Product:

Q1: What work samples ("evidence") are required?

A1: Go back and review CPLP Certification Handbook, Part 2, Appendix F

See all the Knowledge Areas (AOE1-K1. Business Strategy, Drivers, or Needs; AOE1-K2. Needs Assessment Approaches, etc) under Instructional Design?

You were tested on them during the CPLP Knowledge Exam.

NOW you are REQUIRED to show evidence of them in YOUR work as part of YOUR Work Product submission.

Which ones?

Most of them.

Most of them?


That's how the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) assesses you against a professional standard -- the ATD Competency Model *is* the professional standard you are being assessed against.

Appendix F contains a detailed outline of the Key Actions and competencies contained in the professional standard - the ATD Competency Model. 

What you read here - in Appendix F - under Instructional Design - represents THE standard.

A subset of these competencies (the ones that MUST be obviously demonstrated in your submission) is outlined in the CPLP Work Product Instructional Design Scoring Rubric (CPLP Certification Handbook, Part 3, Appendix Q).

Therefore, to submit under the Instructional Design AOE, you MUST demonstrate your ability to apply THIS standard to YOUR work.

To do that, you MUST generate documentation that obviously demonstrates each Key Action and competency -- and provide hardcopy proof of it as part of your work samples ("evidence") in your CPLP Work Product submission.

You can't just say you did it; you must SHOW you did it.

Q2: But ATD CI lists some evidence as "required" and other evidence as "additional." How do I know which is which?

A2: Don't get stuck in the semantics - it's all required. You MUST (read that as: you are REQUIRED to) demonstrate evidence of ALL Key Actions and competency statements.

Some documentation is central to doing that (Training Analysis Document, Design Document, Curriculum, etc), but documentation demonstrating EACH Key Action and competency statement is MANDATORY.

Fortunately, the Score Card for Instructional Design is featured in Appendix M - Scoring Process. 

Study it. 

Look at the detail behind in it Appendices P and Q.

You'll see what I mean.

Q3: Okay - I need documentation for EACH Key Action and EVERY competency statement. How rigorous does my process and how formal does my documentation need to be?

A3: Rigorous. Formal. You are submitting for assessment against a professional standard; therefore, your process should be rigorous and your documentation should be formal

Q4:  Does that mean I have to OBVIOUSLY DEMONSTRATE *ALL* of the steps in Instructional Design?

A4: Yes.

*ALL* of the steps -- from Needs Assessment to Evaluation.

AND you have to speak to (in your essay responses) the linkages between business need, performance need, the need for training, and how you designed and developed the resulting training to align to those needs.

Like this:

Needs Assessment, Program Objectives & Evaluation image from IDAssessment wikispaces
"OBVIOUSLY DEMONSTRATE" - What evidence is required?

It's not any one document - these competencies are demonstrated across MULTIPLE documents you produce as part of an Instructional Design project (see pg 4, CPLP Certification Handbook, Part 3, Appendix I).

Start by thinking of the "BIG CHUNKS" -- like --

What documentation do you have to prove you conducted a Needs Assessment?

How did you know what the Business Need was? How did you validate the Business Need with the Project Sponsor?


What documentation do you have to prove all the different analyses (audience analysis, job/task analysis, technology analysis, performance analysis, etc) you conducted?

What documentation do you have to support the design you created based on the results of the overall needs assessment and the analyses?

What Evaluation Plan - and measurement instruments -- did you design and develop as a result of the Needs Assessment and analyses?

This is NOT at all meant to be an all inclusive or fully comprehensive list of all the documentation that's required; it's meant to be illustrative only of how you should think through how YOU will DEMONSTRATE from YOUR work each Key Action and competency statement outlined in Appendices I, P and Q.

Tip! It's in your Needs Assessment and analyses that you determine the need (or not) for supporting technology to enable either the formal instruction or the post training performance support. (See Instructional Design Key Actions KA6 and KA7 in Appendices P and Q.)

Q5: But, Trish, I did not do all of this in the project I want to use for submission - what do I do?

A5: Start over. If you don't have documentation that meets ALL of the requirements, then you have selected the wrong project for CPLP Work Product submission.

Disappointing to hear - I know - but maybe easier to hear now, before you agonize over putting a flawed submission together and spend 2 months anxious over results just to be notified that your submission failed.

Q6: What other documentation do I need?

A6: I'm glad you asked! 

According to the professional standard based on the ATD Competency Model, to be a ROCK STAR Instructional Designer worthy of CPLP, you not only need to obviously demonstrate professional competencies, you also need to demonstrate foundational competencies.

Remember the Foundational Competencies at the base of the ATD Competency Model?

These include:
  • Project Management (Business Skills)
  • Communications (Interpersonal Skills)
  • Dealing with Different Stakeholders - SMEs, Sponsor, Learners, etc (Interpersonal Skills)
  • Use of Instructional & Informational Technology (Technology Literacy)
  • Diversity (Global Mindset)

You **MUST** OBVIOUSLY DEMONSTRATE competencies in these areas too.

See Appendices I, P, and Q for details.

Q7: How do these elements need to be represented in my submission?

A7: Again, there is no one, acceptable template. The requirements allow for variation on the exact documentation that is used.

The KEY is to understand what ATD CI is looking for - and why - and to draw from your work accordingly.

As a CPLP candidate who selected Instructional Design as your CPLP Work Product Area of Expertise, you have raised your hand and VOLUNTEERED to be assessed against the ATD CI professional standard.

It is, therefore, assumed that you know and can produce all of this formal documentation as part of a rigorous Instructional Design process.

That *is* the assessment!

If you don't know what these things are or have no experience producing them, then you have selected the wrong project; the wrong AOE; or are not ready for CPLP.

Q8: What if I can't follow a rigorous process and/or produce the formal documentation, because ...

"My organization does not give me enough ... 

   ... time

             ... resources

                                 ... management support"

"My workload is ...

  ... too intense 

                      ... too time consuming

                                                      ... too much 

                                                                         ... for me to complete a formal process."

"I am not required to ... 

            ... follow a formal process and complete a formal needs assessment ...

                     ... or perform analyses to design learning in my organization... 

                             ... or create formal documentation ..."

A8: Understood. 

Maybe you think all of the fine Instructional Design CPLPs before you had it easy; that it was all bunnies and sunshine for them at the organizations they serve - enlightened organizations with savvy managers who got out of their way and bent over backwards to get the then CPLP candidates whatever they needed to be successful in this process.

After more than a decade of coaching hundreds of candidates through the CPLP Work Product process, I can tell you with ABSOLUTE certainty and authority that THAT was not the case.

You're in an organization where you feel like you're fighting for your life every day to prove your credibility and worth to prevent them from pulling more resources and maybe even cut off your funding?

You're struggling to find the time to tackle all of the projects you currently have, and avoid squeezing in more to an already stressed out schedule?

You're not alone. 

Matter of fact, you're in EXCELLENT company. :-)

Many of us -- training and learning professionals -- are constrained in the processes we follow and limited in the documentation we produce on a regular or daily basis.

That's okay because CPLP is not about how you do your "day job," or even what you do on a regular basis.

That's GREAT because you're only being assessed on just this one project; not your entire body of work. (WHEW!)

So -- 

Either figure out how to carve out the time to follow a rigorous Instructional Design process (from Needs Assessment all the way through to Evaluation, with formal project management and communications protocols along the way) and produce the formal documentation you need at your place of employment, or;

Volunteer your time and energy to a community organization's training project -

(After all, there is nothing in the ATD CI requirements that says your Work Product submission MUST be based on a project you did "at work."), or;

Select another AOE, or:

Abandon your dreams of becoming CPLP certified and consider pursuing another path.

Nothing about this process is easy - it's difficult and arduous - oftentimes forcing us outside our comfort zone. 

It's all consuming and tedious - taking time away from other things we'd probably rather be doing.

It seems mystifying and vague because we've rarely (if ever) been challenged to reflect on, provide evidence of, and articulate our work - what we did, why we did it, etc.

That's why at the end of it, with your shiny new pin, your framed certificate hanging on the wall, and those sweet, sweet 4 letters -- CPLP -- after your name -- you'll know you've EARNED it.

And the rest of us will know you've earned it too.

Achievement is calling -- 

Put on your BIG GIRL pants and MAN UP.

There is no shame in opting out because it's not the right timing or circumstances; but if you're in for getting it done, then get it done.

No excuses. 

I'm looking forward to welcoming you into the CPLP community. :-)

To your success!

~ trish  

P.S. I've created an Instructional Design Audit Checklist to help CPLP Work Product candidates more easily navigate the CPLP Certification Handbook and accelerate their understanding of the ATD CI requirements.

Get your copy of my Instructional Design Checklist -- Click Here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Using Pinterest to Increase Your #CPLP Knowledge Exam Competence & Confidence

Leverage the latest advances in neuroscience ("brain research") to your success on the CPLP Knowledge Exam...

Most CPLP candidates need to improve their thinking to increase the effectiveness of their study prep - and ULTIMATELY! - their CPLP Knowledge Exam performance!

Reading 700+ pages of dense subject matter in a PDF file can be mind numbing - I know! - and used alone is not the most effective way to review or revisit material when preparing for a rigorous exam.

I'm sure you're familiar with one of the common symptoms -- 

Have you found yourself re-reading and re-reading and re-reading the same paragraph over and over again in the ATD Learning System - and it still doesn't "stick"?

Been there, done that. :(

The good news is  - you have options - easy ways to give your brain a break and your exam performance a boost!

According to neuroscientist John Medina, we can improve our thinking (and study practice!) through visuals, memory, repetition, exploration, and sensory integration.

Apply these principles to your CPLP Knowledge Exam success by reviewing ATD Competency Model content and CPLP study prep subject matter in vivid visual living colour on my Pinterest board dedicated solely to CPLP study preparation!

CPLP Study Prep on Pinterest
Pinterest board dedicated solely to all things CPLP
What other advice does neuroscientist John Medina give for high performance thinking - necessary for improving your CPLP Knowledge Exam results?

See the list below. :-)

12 Principles for High Performance Thinking:

  1.     Survival: The human brain evolved too.
  2.     Memory: Repeat to remember.
  3.     Exercise: Exercise to boost brain power.
  4.     Sensory Integration: Stimulate more of the senses.
  5.     Sleep: Sleep well, think well.
  6.     Vision: Vision trumps all other senses.
  7.     Stress: Stressed brains don't learn the same way.
  8.     Music: Study or listen to boost cognition.
  9.     Wiring: Every brain is wired differently.
  10.     Gender: Male and female brains are different.
  11.     Attention: We don't pay attention to boring things.
  12.     Exploration: We are powerful and natural explorers.
- List from "Brain Rules," by John Medina, PhD

As you invest your time, money & effort in preparing for the CPLP Knowledge Exam, make sure you leverage ALL the CPLP related resources you have access to, to support your CPLP exam competence & confidence!

Visit my ---- CPLP related pins on Pinterest now!

To your success!

~ trish

P.S. Need more positive brain buzz?

'Repeat to remember' using our CPLP practice tests and flash cards | Stimulate more of your senses with our online games and word puzzles | Explore attention getting activities designed for how your brain is wired --

Click here to take one of our online CPLP practice tests right now!


~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP

Founder, Owl's Ledge LLC - the CPLP Certification Experts!
Creator, CPLP Mastery Series online courses, in-country workshops, and self-directed resources at
Author, "Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for - and PASS! - the CPLP Knowledge Exam" available on Amazon . com

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

You're Studying Wrong | How to Fix It [CPLP Knowledge Exam]

Ever feel like you're reading the same paragraph over and over again in the ATD Learning System and none of it seems to "stick"?

Or you read a whole chapter, then quiz yourself with a CPLP practice test or flash cards, and you can't seem to recall one key concept?

You're not alone.

Many of us around the world learned how to study and take notes in a very passive way - we take notes by listening to what's being said (or what we're reading) and jot down notes on what we want to remember.

The latest research shows that taking that kind of passive, unstructured approach does not support retention or recall.

That's bad when you need both retention and recall for success on an exam...!

As friend, colleague, and scientific learning researcher extraordinaire Dr. Will Thallheimer notes:

"Realize that your learners [you!] will forget. Do everything in your power to help them [yourself!] forget as little as possible. Also, do everything in your power to help them [you!] remember in the contexts in which it is most important for them [you!] to remember [ie. you need to remember and APPLY while taking an exam]."

So - what do you do?

"Write your notes in a way where you can test your retention and understanding. Many people write notes that do a great job summarizing their materials but their notes are not designed to promote learning, retention or diagnosis of their weaknesses." - Hooman Katirai, MIT graduate (who earned a double Masters from MIT in 2006)

Active note taking helps you make meaning from what you're studying, by helping your brain organize and pay attention to the information that matters -- and jettisoning the rest.

Not sure how to take active notes?

Try the following active note-taking method from Cornell University...

Cornell Notetaking Method
Get Active! Go here to learn this method now! --- Cornell Notetaking Method

The more you can integrate what you're studying into your existing frameworks and infuse it with emotion and meaning, the better your retention.

Start with structure (like the one presented in this notetaking method) to help your brain organize concepts and identify what's important; then paraphrase what you're studying in your own words to help you establish your own meaning.

The trick is to use multiple active study methods to make the material stick

To your success!

~ trish

P.S. Leverage more study tips like this so -- 

YOU can MASTER the CPLP Knowledge Exam --

... by getting your  

FREE Kindle copy of my book

"Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for - and PASS! - the CPLP Knowledge Exam."




~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
2005 CPLP Pilot Pioneer
Founder, Owl's Ledge
Creator, CPLP Mastery Series and

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SUCCESS! Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for - and PASS! - the #CPLP Knowledge Exam Ranked #1 (and #2!)

The Kindle version of my book... 

"Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for - and PASS! - the #CPLP Knowledge Exam

... hit #1 in the "Training" ...

... and #2 in the "Education" categories today! Rankings | "Mastering the CPLP" hits #1 and #2!

A BIG SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to the CPLP delegates around the world who made it happen!


To your success!

~ trish

P.S. You've put in the study time, now put in the PRACTICE that builds your CPLP Knowledge Exam COMPETENCE and COMPETENCE!

CLICK HERE to take a practice exam right now!


~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
2005 CPLP Pilot Pioneer
Founder, Owl's Ledge
Creator, CPLP Mastery Series and

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are You Making This Mistake in Your CPLP Work Product? | ASK Trish: CPLP Work Product Candidate Q&A


Q: "I am preparing my CPLP Work Product and I am concerned that my project work didn't involve...

[fill in one or more competency statements from the selected AOE]. 

Is that a problem?"


A: Yes!

I call it the "I Didn't" trap.

The "I Didn't" trap is any time candidates find themselves using essay responses to explain to the Raters why they did not perform some Key Action(s) - and why their submission does not include work samples to support performance of that Key Action(s).

What does it mean?

It means --


CPLP Work Product is an assessment against a professional standard.

The professional standard is defined by the competencies outlined in the ATD Competency Model.

Key Actions represent collections - groupings - of related competencies.

The Key Actions specified for an Area of Expertise (AOE) in the ATD Competency Model are the same Key Actions that MUST be OBVIOUSLY DEMONSTRATED in candidates' Work Product submissions.


It does not matter that your organization doesn't...

or that the project you want to submit did not include...

Those are excuses - and they're not valid.

It's an assessment. 

As part of this assessment, you are responsible for adhering to - in the project work you submit for Work Product - the professional standard. 


Let me illustrate with a story...

The candidates I coach and the delegates enrolled in my CPLP Work Product online course have all heard me tell the story of my eldest nephew and his desire to obtain a drivers license.

My nephew lives in the country. 

In his day-to-day life, my nephew does not normally have to parallel park. 

After all, parallel parking is something most of us do only in urban areas when we're trying to squeeze our cars into an available parking space in an environment where available parking is in short supply.

That is not my nephew's typical experience out in the country.

So my nephew was a bit upset at having to practice, then to perform parallel parking in front of the Examiner as part of his examination for his drivers license.

My advice to my nephew was this:

"Do you want to get your drivers license?"


"Then you have to successfully complete the assessment. Parallel parking is part of the assessment. Therefore, you must parallel park."

The same goes for you, my learning pro peers who wish to become a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP).

In order to achieve the CPLP, you must successfully complete the assessment.

Earning the CPLP is a privilege; not a right.

You are not entitled to it.

You do not get to have it just because you want it - or because you met some basic eligibility requirements.

You must earn it, as those of us currently CPLP certified have, by adhering to the professional standard, and obviously demonstrating application of the ATD competencies in your work and your words. 

Just like my nephew, you can prepare for the assessment - and practice - well ahead of time, if you -- the CPLP Certification Handbook and...

...understand ALL of the Key Actions inherent to your selected Area of Expertise...

....BEFORE you start your project work... you can ensure you have...

...applied the ATD CI competencies and...

...produced the necessary work samples... the caliber and level of quality...

...DEMANDED by the CPLP certification process.

To your CPLP success in 2015!

~ trish

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
2005 CPLP Pilot Program Pioneer
Founder, Owl's Ledge LLC
Creator, CPLP Mastery Series online courses and in-country workshops, and self-directed study prep resources at
Author, "Mastering the CPLP: How to Successfully Prepare for - and PASS! - the CPLP Knowledge Exam" available on