As you work to acquire the knowledge, skills, abilities and behaviors necessary to meet the professional standards in each competency, you may earn different kinds of credit for your efforts. Each type of credit has distinct advantages in advancing your professional standing. Click on the tabs below to explore the certificate opportunities open to you through the Interpretive Development Program. Some competencies may have other credit opportunities through outside agencies.
To learn, develop, and demonstrate knowledge, skills and abilities of a competency, ideally start by achieving a basic certificate in an online course, if it is available. These courses help develop and test your knowledge of how to complete job-related tasks.
Next, by acquiring an advanced certificate for the competency, you apply your knowledge and develop your skill set by completing site-based activities and receiving feedback from a coach.
Lastly, to demonstrate your ability to meet the competency standard, you may submit a completed product for peer-review. Check the Peer Review tab to learn if you qualify to participate.
Elements of a Competency
Basic certificates are available for six of the benchmark competencies. To earn this credit, log on to www.interptraining.org and select the on-line competency-based courses you wish to complete. These courses were developed in partnership with the Interpretive Development Program and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands. Basic certificates may be earned by reading course material and passing the objective assessment at the end of the course. Anyone (permanent employees, seasonals, volunteers, partners, interns, non-NPS interpreters) may take an IDP on-line course and receive a basic certificate. The on-line learning web site is hosted by the Eppley Institute and is available from any computer. Go to the "Training" tab above for more information about the IDP on-line courses. Go to the "Training" tab above for more information about the IDP on-line courses .
Advanced certificates are available for the following four benchmark competencies: Informal Visitor Contacts, Interpretive Talk, Conducted Activities, and Interpretive Writing. To earn this credit, first complete the basic certificate for the IDP on-line course you wish to study (available at www.interptraining.org). Once you earn the basic certificate, you may earn an advanced certificate by completing the course activities at the end of each course chapter.
The activities must be scored by a registered coach to receive credit. The coach provides guidance and positive, specific feedback based on the scoring criteria for each course activity. Coaches use the online system to track and record course progress and award advanced certificates to interpreters who have met course requirements. Anyone may earn an advanced certificate in the IDP on-line courses -- either through the NPS coaching network (NPS interpreters) or through a partnership network with NAI (non-NPS interpreters). For more information about the IDP on-line courses, go to the "Training" tab above.For more information about the IDP on-line courses, go to the "Training" tab above. For more information about the IDP on-line courses, go to the "Training" tab above.
- Find a remote coach
If you are an NPS employee, volunteer, or partner, you may obtain a coach by contacting your Regional Lead Coaching Team logistics coordinator (see list below). The logistics coordinator will contact the registered coaches in your region and ask if anyone is available to coach you.
If you are not an NPS employee, volunteer, or partner you may contact a National Association for Interpretation Registered Coach by using the directory at www.interpnet.com/certification/coaches.shtml
- Coaching Network
The Interpretive Development Program now provides a network of interpretive coaches who support the IDP on-line distance learning platform and provide coaching services for NPS interpreters. Each region has a team of lead coaches who train and support a network of local registered coaches within their regions.
Questions about IDP on-line courses and coaching network -- contact John Rudy.
- What does a local registered coach do?
A local registered coach helps develop the skills of interpreters by reviewing and scoring the activities of the online interpretation courses offered through the NPS partnership with the Eppley Institute. As park employees complete the activities, the coach provides guidance and positive, specific feedback based on the scoring criteria for each course activity. Coaches use the online system to track and record course progress and award advanced certificates to interpreters who have met course requirements.
- How do I find a registered coach to work with me on an advanced certificate?
Get a local coach
Ideally, your park has a registered coach available to work with you. To obtain an advanced certificate in the on-line courses, your coach must be trained and currently registered through the IDP coaching network. Ask our supervisor if your park has a coach to assist you. Alternatively, a qualified interpreter in your park may obtain the credentials needed to coach you (see How do I become a coach? below).
- Who can become a local registered coach?
Supervisors, park rangers, seasonal leads – any interpreter with coaching and auditing responsibilities – may become a registered coach.
- How do I become a local registered coach?
To become a Local Registered Coach you must attend a Local Registered Coach course (40-hour classroom course, with 16 hours of online prerequisites) in your region. For a schedule of courses and application information, contact your Regional Lead Coaching Team logistics coordinator (listed above).
Peer review certification is a point-in-time assessment for part or all of an interpretive benchmark competency skill set. It is a process by which NPS interpreters prepare examples of their work that are assessed by trained peer certifiers using rubrics or written professional standards. The interpretive products that successfully demonstrate these standards receive certification. The Peer Review Certification Program provides a vehicle for evaluation and accountability as well as a developmental opportunity.
Note: Promotion is not linked to certification nor does certification guarantee advancement. However, participation in peer review and/or the language in the peer review standards may be used as contributing elements in performance appraisals.
Getting started: Read the general guidelines below -- then read the submission guidelines for each competency for specific details. (Go to the Entry, Developmental and Full Performance tabs above).
The Peer Review Certification Process
Beginning January 1, 2011, the following changes became effective regarding who may submit to the IDP Peer Review Certification Program:
1) Permanent, term and SCEP employees may submit or resubmit at any time until certification is achieved in each competency.
2) NPS seasonals, volunteers, partners and other temporary employees may submit for peer review certification with the following prerequisites for the following benchmark competencies:
- Interpretive Talk, Informal Visitor Contacts, Interpretive Writing, and Conducted Activities-- the submission prerequisite is an advanced certificate from the IDP on-line course for that competency -- see the submission guidelines for each competency
- Demonstrations/Illustrated Programs and Curriculum-based Programs -- the submission prerequisite is an advanced certificate from the IDP on-line course in the Interpretive Talk (since no on-line course exists for either of these competencies) -- see the submission guidelines for each competency
- Resubmissions-- seasonals, volunteers, temporary employees may also resubmit for any competency that has been previously attempted but did not yet meet the peer review certification standards ("approaching certification")
The type of product you submit for peer review varies for each benchmark competency – some involve a video of a program you present, others involve completing some form of essay or questionnaire. See the submission guidelines for each competency for specific details. (Go to the Entry, Developmental and Full Performance tabs at the top of this page).
Note: There are periodic revisions of the program—including revisions of submission requirements and assessment rubrics. It is the responsibility of the interpreter to check and use the current version of the rubrics and submission requirements before preparing a product for peer review certification.
You may submit products in any order but it’s recommended that new interpreters begin with entry level competencies. Your supervisor should help you determine when it is appropriate to attempt higher-level competencies. Success with higher level competencies will be difficult without grounding in foundational competencies.
Because it is the basic format for delivering interpretation, you may find it helpful to begin your submissions with the Interpretive Talk rather than with Informal Visitor Contacts.
When you and your supervisor are satisfied that a product meets standards described by a competency’s rubric, you will prepare and register your submission as instructed in the submission guidelines for each competency.
You will register your submission in the IDP On-line Review System (ORS). Depending on the competency, you will either upload your product electronically or mail your product to Mather Training Center. After your product is registered and received, the Peer Review Program Manager at Mather will assign two peer certifiers and forward the product to them. They will each review the product at their own park/office. They will enter their analysis and determination for the product in the IDP On-line Review System (ORS). When the review is complete (approximately 8-12 weeks), you will receive an email with instructions for viewing or downloading the full review from the ORS. Additional information on the ORS can be found at http://idp.eppley.org/submit-line-peer-review-certification
Peer reviewers are trained and certified to use the rubric standards to fully assess each submission, and will use a “positive assessment” strategy to make a determination and provide written feedback. After a detailed discussion of the product over the phone, they will come to consensus about the determination. If they cannot reach consensus, a third peer reviewer is assigned to independently review the product and provide input leading to consensus.
If, for any reason, either reviewer feels they cannot impartially review a particular product, they will recuse themselves and another reviewer will be assigned.
The value of peer review is well known in both public and private sectors. The IDP Peer Review Certification Program fits into the larger goal of the NPS National Education Council that all interpretive efforts meet professional standards and that evaluation and accountability permeate our work culture. When you participate in peer review, you are demonstrating your commitment to personal growth, professional excellence, and ensuring the accomplishment of the NPS stewardship mission by contributing to the best possible visitor experiences. Additional benefits include:
- Demonstrating certification is a recognized level of accomplishment at a national and professional standard.
- Feedback from your peers can offer independent, unbiased insights that you may not otherwise receive.
- Interpreters who choose to participate in the Peer Review Certification Program and demonstrate certification standards often enjoy a competitive edge when applying for jobs and promotions.
- When you have successfully certified in all ten benchmark competencies, you will receive the Benchmark 10 Award in recognition of your significant achievement.
Some products that demonstrate certification may be recommended by certifiers as useful training examples of success in a given competency. If your product is recommended, and you have indicated permission during the submission registration process in the ORS, you may have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the learning and development of other interpreters.
- it means the product met the standards described in the rubric for that competency
- the final review in the ORS is the documentation of your certification – it will remain as a permanent record within your ORS account. If desired, you may print a copy and place it in your personnel folder
- it means that although it may be partially effective, it did not fully meet all elements of the certification rubric for that competency
- in such a case, you may use the feedback and recommendations to revise and resubmit the product
A Note to Supervisors
Supervisors are indispensable partners of their employees during the peer review certification process. Supervisors should work closely with their employees and assist them as they prepare products for submission – and/or ensure that IDP Local Registered Coaches are available within their park to assist in the following:
- Supervisors/coaches assure that programs are accurate and appropriate for their park. These decisions are made at the park level.
- Supervisors/coaches advise interpreters on mechanics such a public speaking or writing techniques; the peer review certification process evaluates only the interpretive elements of a submission through the use of the rubric (written standard) for that competency.
- Supervisors/coaches should use every opportunity to coach employees to the interpretive standards described in the rubrics, including employees who will not be submitting for peer review.
- Supervisors can use rubrics as assessment tools when evaluating their employees’ work, and as a basis for individual performance standards.
- Since certification is an assessment of a single point in time, an interpreter may not perform satisfactorily in a competency area even though at one time she or he met certification requirements. Supervisors are responsible for monitoring and evaluating routine performance.
- Performing at the professional standard is not something “extra” for your employees—it is an essential requirement for meeting the mission of the National Park Service.
Questions about IDP Peer Review Program-- contact Becky Lacome.