What counts as continuing education: Does reading fail the test?


Self-study CPE
has been a hot topic for the Accountancy Board of Ohio’s Licensing Committee, questioning what forms of self-study should qualify for CPE credit. The ABO and The Ohio Society share an objective of improving the quality of self-study CPE offerings, but may differ on how to best achieve that objective.

Under debate is whether, for certain technical education, interaction with a subject matter expert is necessary to achieve desired learning outcomes. Licensing Committee members expressed that questions concerning the application and interpretation of technical standards would be difficult to answer from reading alone. The Committee is considering whether there should be a limit on the amount of CPE that can be obtained through self-study.

The form of delivery is also in question, including whether interactivity should be required. One option would be adopting NASBA’s Quality Assurance Service (QAS) standards. We surveyed our state CPA society counterparts and found only two states responding that QAS standards had been adopted by their state boards. Anecdotally, their comment on the experience was that “it killed self-study in our state,” as the standard for interactivity was difficult to meet for many providers. Specifically, QAS requires that the education tool:

•  Elicit responses that test for understanding of the material
•  Offer evaluative feedback to incorrect responses
•  Provide reinforcement feedback to correct responses

(i.e.: Reading a text and taking an exam would no longer qualify for credit under this standard. And that’s something OSCPA just doesn’t support.)

At the Sole Practitioner & Small Practice Lunch & Learn series in Dayton August 28, Ohio Society members shared several opinions on the role of self-study:

•  Members need the ability to obtain just-in-time information on specialty topics
•  Some find they absorb information more effectively from reading than from listening
•  Self-study is convenient in the reality of today’s busy schedules
•  Self-study is going to be the dominant source of education in the future

One member commented that he still needs to print self-study materials, because he’s found the time sitting at his kids’ swim and soccer practices perfect for focusing on technical material. He’s completed 24 hours of credit this year while being a soccer Dad.

What do you think about “what should qualify” for self-study, especially limitations on self-study or a requirement for interactivity? We’d love to hear more member opinions on the issue.

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