Interpretive Development Program
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How to Use the Curriculum

The Interpretive Development Curriculum provides an opportunity to create a customized, outcome-based developmental program for all interpreters. The curriculum can be used by any person providing interpretive and/or informational services within a National Park or other site, and directly supports certain elements of protection positions under Ranger Careers.

Module cover page: includes an overview statement of context, detailing the relevance or potential value of that competency, and a competency description that defines the skills set as an intended performance outcome. It is important to read the module cover page to gain an understanding of the spirit and intent of each module.

Components: each module is supported by one or more curriculum components. The curriculum components outline the developmental learning elements that compose the skills set for each competency. From these outlines, 1) employees and their supervisors can determine learning needs and strategies, 2) instructors can develop sessions and lesson plans. Each component also contains a list of useful references and developmental activities. The components serve as a guide to employees in identifying aspects of the competency that are unfamiliar, and therefore a potential developmental need.

Assessment rubric: the measurement tool that defines the national standard for each competency area. The rubrics are used by certifiers (peer-reviewers) in measuring whether a specific product demonstrates the elements of success in that area, at a point in time. Employees should use the rubrics as guides for self-assessment. They can also be used to determine whether work is needed on specific skills or to complete other preparation before attempting to meet the certification standards. Several of the competencies presume that employees have other technical skills in hand PRIOR to attempting the competency certification in that area.

Submission guidelines: Each of the ten benchmark modules includes a "How to Submit -- Submission Guidelines" page, which describes how each competency project should be prepared and packaged for review by the certifiers. Employees should be fully informed on what is expected in each submission. The Key Submission Points provide important information for each competency.

All of the curriculum, components, submission guidelines, and resources are available on line and can be downloaded.

Step-by-Step Guide to a Professional Development Strategy

  1. Employee and supervisor study each benchmark competency module. Begin by discussing the rubric "stem statements" (bold print statements on assessment rubric page), which articulate the standards for certification.

  2. Employee and supervisor determine if employee is ready to attempt to prepare and submit for certification review, and/or whether developmental needs exist within that area.

  3. If no developmental needs exist, employee prepares a project (see "How to Submit" for each module) with supervisor's guidance. Submit project to training manager for distribution to the peer-review certifiers. (No training or other developmental effort is needed!)

  4. If developmental needs exist, employee and supervisor study the specific module and components. Employee and supervisor discuss content areas which cover the needs, identify options for obtaining those needs, including mentoring, peer coaching, OJT, details, local park/seasonal training, regional training, local college, correspondence course, vendor training (including NAI), or national training. The curriculum serves as a guide. It eliminates the need to wait for a national course, and the uncertainty of being selected for the class. Of particular value in self-development efforts are the "Suggested Developmental Activities" and "Resources" listed at the end of each component.

  5. If assistance or advice is needed, employee and/or supervisor consult with a regional curriculum coordinator and/or the training manager.

  6. Begin each project early in your developmental time line! The peer review process takes time, and you may have to repeat an effort to meet certification standards.  A suggestion is that you submit your project during the non-peak periods (highest volume occurs between September 1 and December 31).

  7. Certifiers review project, and using the "stem statement" language (bold print) from the rubric, determine whether it meets certification requirements, or approaches them. The project is returned by the training manager through the supervisor to employee. All original materials are returned. Supervisor may complete a 5-part 10-182 form to properly document accomplishment of each competency in OPF. Allow a minimum 10-12 weeks turnaround time for all reviews. Seasonal delays (September-February) in turnaround time are common.

  8. If a project is a particularly effective example in any project area, employee may be asked if the project may be used as a national example of success (called an "Anchor"). Anchors are not intended to be perfect products, simply clear examples of the elements that are defined as success in that area. A project will be used only if written permission is obtained. You might also be asked to allow your product to be used in a training environment as a positive example of a successful effort.

  9. If a project approaches, but does not meet the certification requirements, feedback from certifiers will be forwarded to employee through supervisor so that the product can be revised. An employee and supervisor may repeat this process as many times as they wish. Assistance and clarification on any question relating to a specific project's "needs" will be available from any certifier/curriculum coordinator,or the training manager.

Point in time assessment: It is important for the employee and supervisor to keep in mind that this is a "point in time" measurement. If a product achieves success, it means only that the one project has met the standards, and does not imply success in all efforts or overall performance on the job—that is up to the supervisor to determine. If your project approaches the certification standards, it means only that the one project has not demonstrated what is needed to meet the standards, and does not suggest overall interpretive shortcomings on the job—that is up to the supervisor to determine.

If you are a supervisor of seasonals, volunteers, or other non-permanent NPS interpreters, please make certain each have access to this material.

Instructors: A supervisor, mentor, or anyone who wishes to instruct any aspect of the curriculum is welcome! Instructional training and/or experience certainly helps, but if you wish to develop and present components for self-benefit or the benefit of your site, park, cluster or office, feel free! The components serve as your guide to covering each subject. The resources and reference lists can help you develop your material. The suggested developmental activities listed in most components are activities, exercises, or projects which you may use formally or informally to convey the concepts within the component. Any of the Interpretive Skills Lesson Plans listed can help you in your preparations, as long as you use the components and their objectives in developing your material. Some older skills lesson plans may contain out-of-date material.]

If you have resources, references, additional developmental assignment ideas, or other materials to add, PLEASE contribute to the cause! Contact the Interpretation Training Manager at Mather Training Center, 304-535-6215.

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Last website update: August 5, 2003
Editor: STMA Training Manager Interpretation

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