Quick, tell me what you learned in the continuing education courses you took last year.
Hopefully, you had some great, useful coursework, and you can name a couple of things right off the bat. For a lot of therapists, though, that question elicits a smile and a drawn-out “uhhh.”
This raises the question —
Why don’t we learn more from CE?
Or, perhaps to put it more specifically: Why does most of what we learn in continuing education courses not stick?
As you’ll read below, current research about how we learn and the way we engage with material can have a direct impact on what we retain. At SimplePractice Learning, we respond to that research with focused, on-demand, and applicable coursework.
Additionally, there are things that you can do in any CE course, live or online, to make it more likely to have a lasting impact.
1. Choose courses carefully
We previously touched on how to choose your CE coursework. In short, don’t make the mistake many of us make — I know I’ve certainly done it in the past — of essentially re-learning the same content over and over.
Find courses that will be genuinely new, challenging, or even offensive to your current ways of thinking. Such courses produce experiences of attention, confusion, and mild stress, which enhance learning and memory.
We believe strongly in the benefits of being challenged by new perspectives and diverse voices. That’s why we offer courses like:
It’s also why, later this year, we’ll be proud to debut our first courses taught entirely in Spanish.
2. Take notes — by hand
You may want to forgo that handout. Research shows that when learners have a copy of the presentation, their learning retention plummets.
Taking notes forces you to process and engage with course material, rather than just passively observing it. For better or worse, typing your notes doesn’t have the same benefit as writing by hand.
3. Apply your new knowledge immediately
We specifically develop courses that empower you to use what you’ve learned right away to solve problems.
If you’ve just learned about, say, Emotional Support Animals, it’s in your interest to work on your ESA policy that day, or as soon as you can afterward. Repeated retrieval and application of your new knowledge is even better.
4. Teach someone else
Share what you learn with colleagues, supervisees, family, or anyone else who can benefit from it. Putting your new knowledge into your own words and sharing it with others reinforces your sense of mastery. Ideally, you can go beyond listing facts and into explanations of why what you have learned is true.
Get the most out of CE
Your time is valuable. The CE courses you take should provide you with real and lasting education. Our courses are built to be impactful and applicable. As with any CE course, how you approach it is up to you. The steps above can help you get the most of your time and money.