The teacher participates in professional development related to teaching and learning

Professional development is, “any activity that is part of a contentious and strategic effort to improve professional skills and competencies” (Higher Education Recruitment Consortium). It’s no surprise, then, that there are a tremendous number of means to improve. Here, we will focus on the domains of professional development and ways to seek advancement. The framework below is underpinned by the following values: inclusivity, authenticity, collaboration, scholarship, and learner-centeredness. 

Domains of Professional Development

According to the T&L National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, there are five domains of professional development: 

  1. The Self: The professional and personal values that the individual brings to their teaching are pivotal in their development as a teacher.
  2. Professional Identity: Focus on critical reflection, recognizing that an individual’s professional identity can change at different stages of their career. 
  3. Professional Communication and Dialogue: Emphasizes the importance of excellent, clear, and coherent communication skills within the changing learning environment. 
  4. Professional Knowledge and Skills: Remaining current in terms of professional/disciplinary knowledge and can implement teaching, learning, and assessment approaches that promote active learning and are underpinned by a strong evidence base. 
  5. Personal and Professional Digital Capacity: Recognizes explicitly that we live and work in a digital world, and that teachers must develop digital skills that allow them to harness the potential of technology for learning impact.

Forms of Professional Development 

The T&L National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education also outlines forms of professional development that can lead to improvement in the above domains: 


  • Conversations with colleagues, peer networking, mentoring, peer observations, online blogs or discussion forums
  • Reading articles, following social media, self-study, watching video tutorials, keeping a teaching journal or portfolio, preparing an article for publication
  • Workshops (view upcoming and past ITL workshops), seminars, MOOCS, conferences, summer schools, structured collaborative projects
  • Led by an Institution, Network, or a Membership Body 


  •  Professional Certificate, Graduate Diploma, MA, Ph.D., Ed.D. in Teaching and Learning, eLearning, Leadership in Education, education policy 
  • Accredited and affiliated program of study

Taken together, professional development can range from an informal chat by the water cooler to professional certificates and degrees. The important thing is to engage in any activity that will help you improve in your five domain areas. Take initiative within your department to make professional development a routine part of your calendar, department activities, etc.  


Professional Development Plans

Personal professional development plans are highly useful. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln outlines five tasks to ensure thoughtful self-improvement: 

  1. State your professional activities and roles. Identify your current roles and responsibilities. Identify your teaching, research, and service activities, professional memberships, campus or department involvement, and advisory functions. Then assign each role and activity to one of four developmental categories: discipline, instructional, career, or organizational development. 
  2. Assess Skills and Knowledge. List your skills and knowledge. Identify the strengths you have acquired. What areas are sufficiently developed and what areas should benefit from additional learning? Write down your existing skills and knowledge as well as those areas that require attention. 
  3. Set Goals. Write your professional and personal goals. Ask yourself: Where do I want to go? What areas of my work do I want to develop? Write down the overall goals you want to accomplish in the short term (next year), mid-term (next 1-2 years), and long-term (3-5 years). Determine how your goals fit with your knowledge and skills. 
  4. Create an Action Plan. Determine how you’re going to get where you want to go. Write down the skills and knowledge you want to develop, then identify strategies or action steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goals. It’s helpful to create a timeline for starting and completing work on your stated goals. 
  5. Document Your Development. Track your development through your accomplishments. Use personal statements; feedback from faculty advisers, peers, and undergraduate students; your curriculum vitae; the outcomes from your coursework and/or research; and other samples of your work to measure your progress towards the goals you established. Revisit your goals occasionally to determine whether you need to develop additional skills or knowledge to achieve them. An academic portfolio is one method for collecting evidence of your achievements.