Professional Development in Higher Education: 3 Powerful Tools for Translating Learning into Action

Professional Development from Puzzle to Action: Image of Puzzle Pieces

Professional development in higher education is key to building the capacity of college and university leaders. But we work in such a fast-paced way that often the learning we get at events remains unimplemented and the information we bring back to our campuses from a conference or training gets lost in the day-to-day grind of our work, like so many jumbled puzzle pieces. 

Here are a few tools for springing more rapidly from puzzle pieces to completed action.

by the staff of Academic Impressions

We’ve all been there. We take the time to attend a conference or workshop, and we find ourselves get inspired with new ideas. But once we return to the office, we get reabsorbed quickly into the grind of day-to-day work, so that our ideas never get implemented and our learning has little actual impact on our day-to-day.

That’s why we have developed three quick and easy one-page tools that you can use while at any conference session or while watching any webcast to not only record your most crucial and actionable notes but also identify concrete next steps to take. You can see the tools below — and you can also click any of them to open up a printer-friendly PDF. Please share these worksheets with your colleagues, and use them to make the most of your professional development by reflecting on the experience, what you learned, and potential next steps.

1. Reflect (Triangle – Square – Circle)

This is a visual way to represent and reflect on the most important ideas you picked up from a conference or webcast. It’s a way to rapidly organize the notes you most need to keep:

  • Triangle: What are three important points that you learned?
  • Square: What is something that squared or agreed with your thinking?
  • Circle: What is something still “circling” in your head? That is, something that you deserves additional thought and consideration.

2. Action Plan

This is a quick way to brainstorm immediate next steps. Once you have them, keep this sheet nearby and make sure to implement!

3. Journal

Often we miss opportunities to take full advantage of learning experience when we’re only thinking about immediate action. Use the tool below to help you reflect on how the training you just participated in ties to your larger personal and professional journey:

Professional Development in Higher Education: "Journaling Tool" Worksheet

Find Your Next Powerful Learning Experience

What training will you take these tools to next? Come explore our upcoming in-person and online trainings, each of them extensively designed as an immersive learning experience.

Or talk with your colleagues about getting your department or institution an Academic Impressions membership – and get free access to hundreds of online trainings and tools, as well as a discount on upcoming conferences.

Photo Credit: The image at the top of the page is by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash.