Board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are required to accrue continuing education units (CEUs) every 2 years, and to regularly engage in professional development. Identifying sources of CEUs and professional development activities, what factors BCBAs consider when choosing them, and their preferences and opinions could help inform the provision of CEU and professional development activities. However, little is known about those collective sources nor the preferences of behavior analysts in obtaining them. We surveyed individuals certified as BCBAs or board certified assistant behavior analysts through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board mass e-mail service to identify trends in CEU accruement and professional development and factors driving individuals to certain sources over others. Respondents indicated they value and believe peer-reviewed articles, in-person conferences, and well-known speakers over less verifiable sources such as social media platforms (e.g., Facebook groups or podcasts). Implications for improving the accessibility of high-quality sources of CEUs and professional development are discussed.
Board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) are largely (and logically) known for taking an interest in the science of behavior and furthering their knowledge on various behavior-analytic topics, especially as those topics pertain to their line of work. For example, BCBAs have displayed an interest in receiving training beyond their coursework on advanced topics such as therapeutic relationships and soft skills (Andzik & Kranak, 2021; LeBlanc et al., 2019), supervision (Sellers et al., 2019), and conducting research in applied practice (Valentino & Juanico, 2020). BCBAs must stay current on topics related to the interventions and daily activities that they are engaging in with clients (Behavior Analyst Certification Board [BACB], 2014, 2021; Slocum et al., 2014). This practice is referred to and thought of broadly as professional development (LeBlanc et al., 2020). One part of professional development is earning continuing education units (CEUs). BCBAs are required to earn a minimum of 32 CEUs every 2 yearsFootnote 1 (BACB, 2021) to maintain their certification through the BACB. At least four CEUs must be related to ethics, and any BCBA providing supervision must earn at least three CEUs in supervision (BACB, 2021). BCBAs might also have additional CEU requirements dependent upon state licensure requirements (G. Green, personal communication, May 5, 2022). For example, Arizona requires BCBAs to accrue 40 CEUs per certification cycle.
There are no regulations regarding how much professional development BCBAs need to engage in, though the BACB states in the BCBA Handbook that, “BCBAs [must] engage in activities that will expand their behavior-analytic skills beyond the requirements for initial certification and help them stay up to date on developments in the profession,” (BACB, 2021, pp. 37, 40). Indeed, engaging in high-quality continuing education is important to BCBAs (BACB, 2021). Further, regularly engaging in ongoing professional development activities (e.g., consuming research articles) would seem to be comparably important and sometimes seems to be the preferred method to gain immediately relevant ideas necessary for making informed decisions on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis (e.g., supervisory, clinical decisions).
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for BCBAs
In 2018, the BACB moved away from seven categories of CEUs (referred to as “types,” e.g., Type 1, Type 7) and collapsed those seven categories into three categories: Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship (BACB, 2018). The overwhelming majority of BCBAs obtain CEUs within the Learning category (J. Carr, personal communication, April 27, 2022Footnote 2), primarily in the form of attending events offered by authorized continuing education (ACE) providers (e.g., conferences, webinars; BACB, 2021, n.d.-a). As of October 2022, there were 1,749 BACB-approved ACE providers (BACB, n.d.-b), which range from large organizations such as the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) to individual behavior-analytic practitioners. There are two types of ACE providers: individual providers and organization providers, with the latter, also encompassing an ACE coordinator. To be an individual provider or ACE coordinator, individuals must meet all following criteria: (1) be actively certified in good standing as a BCBA; (2) have at least 36 or 18 months of full-time behavior-analytic experience after earning a master’s or doctoral degree, respectively; and (3) be willing and able to fulfill all responsibilities described in the ACE Provider Handbook (BACB, n.d.-a). In addition, qualified ACE instructors can deliver CEUs for organization providers. Qualified ACE instructors must meet one of the following criteria: (1) hold active BCBA certification; (2) have a doctoral degree and substantial, formal behavior-analytic training; or (3) be a current doctoral student with a master’s degree enrolled in a behavior-analytic program.
There are several types of ACE provider CEU offerings, ranging from large international conferences to individual workshops. There has been a recent increase in virtual/online (e.g., virtual conferences) and remote/on-demand CEU offerings in addition to standard in-person events. For example, several podcasts offer CEUs for BCBAs. To earn CEUs via podcasts, a listener (i.e., a BCBA) typically submits a series of keywords to an online platform and pays the CEU fee. Contrast this method of earning CEUs with attending conferences, where BCBAs also pay a fee (e.g., flat rate per CEU) and scan or sign in and out of presentations. The variety of ways in which BCBAs can earn CEUs is encouraging and may facilitate the year-round accruement of CEUs. The experience and quality of ACE providers may be idiosyncratic and vary greatly. For example, conferences and events provided by ABAI may have speakers with more experience compared to a recently certified, independent practitioner and ACE provider offering a webinar or podcast (LeBlanc & Luiselli, 2016). Established ACE providers (e.g., ABAI) may be viewed more favorably relative to newer ACE providers (Wiesenberg, 2000). However, the extent to which BCBAs obtain CEUs from various sources remains unknown.
Professional Development for BCBAs
In addition to CEU requirements, BCBAs are also mandated and ethically obligated to base assessments and interventions on “professionally derived knowledge” based on science, behavior analysis, and empirical evidence (BACB, 2014, p. 4; Slocum et al., 2014). Here, empirical evidence refers to peer-reviewed literature; conference, convention, and workshop presentations from ACE providers; completing additional coursework; or obtaining additional professional credentials (i.e., collectively engaging in professional development). Recall that professional development broadly refers to the practice of staying current on research and continuing to improve one’s behavior-analytic repertoire (LeBlanc et al., 2020).
There has been a growing preponderance of behavior-analytic practitioners (including BCBAs) actively discussing professional issues and disseminating content on various social media and networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram; see O’Leary et al., 2017), which are not regulated like ACE-approved events. One could also conceptualize discussing professional issues on these platforms as a form of seeking or providing mentorship rather than professional development (e.g., Luc et al., 2018). Mentorship consists of an ongoing, valuable relationship that has a lasting impact on both the person providing guidance (i.e., the mentor) and the person seeking/receiving guidance (i.e., the mentee; LeBlanc, 2015; LeBlanc et al., 2020). Social media can be a way to connect with individuals and find a mentor (e.g., Corsini et al., 2021), but should be used with substantial caution when seeking immediate advice or advancement of knowledge (i.e., professional development; Allen et al., 2022). Regardless of the term used to describe interacting with and seeking advice from unverified individuals through social media, pursuing recommendations (e.g., clinical advice) through this medium can be problematic. Although engaging in these activities based on social media or networking sites is seemingly more accessible than attending a conference or other in-person professional development, they are also less rigorous and trustworthy (Nelimarkka et al., 2021).
The increased professional presence of BCBAs and behavior-analytic practitioners within these non-peer-reviewed platforms (i.e., social media) is both promising and concerning. The increased presence is promising in terms of broader dissemination of the science of behavior (Kelly et al., 2019). Further, some researchers have argued that BCBAs may be better served by using the information provided freely, such as through social media or podcasts (e.g., YouTube; Howard, 2019). However, when individuals seek out clinical advice and professional development from non-peer-reviewed content, this could be ethically untenable, because these individuals providing advice are not always ACE providers and may not be operating under the guidance or regulation of the BACB (Luo et al., 2020). And even then, recall that the quality of ACE providers is likely to vary. This leaves the individual seeking CEUs or professional development with no viable way to verify who is providing what advice within various non-peer-reviewed content (McClain, 2017). Said another way, there is no equivalent to the peer-review process of journals or the verified status of ACE providers engaging in ACE-approved events (Luo et al., 2020), because the process vets the information before it can be widely consumed and used. However, it is currently unknown to what extent BCBAs are relying on non-peer-reviewed content for professional development, as well as what their perceptions are of those platforms.
Although the BACB requires individuals to obtain CEUs and engage in professional development, an additional point of importance is the extent to which engaging with high-quality sources of CEUs and professional development helps bridge the research-to-practice gap (see Valentino, 2022, for a comprehensive discussion). Research-to-practice gaps within applied behavior analysis (or any applied field) are particularly troublesome, because not using interventions based on the best available evidence can also be ethically untenable (Boyd et al., 2022). There has been an increased focus on closing the research-to-practice gap in behavior analysis in general and applied behavior analysis in particular (Normand et al., 2021; Slocum et al., 2014). Indeed, a common focus concerning bridging and closing the gap is the need to engage with high-quality sources of information in one’s professional practice (e.g., Valentino & Juanico, 2020). This common focus on bridging the gap further emphasizes the importance of determining from where individuals are accruing CEUs and with what sources they interact when engaging in professional development.
The recent increase in behavior-analytic survey research provides a sample of modern professional practices and issues within behavior analysis (e.g., gift giving/receiving, supervisory and instructional practices; Frieder et al., 2018; Sellers et al., 2019; Witts et al., 2020). Through this research, we aimed to add to the body of knowledge regarding what behavior BCBAs engage in when not only seeking CEUs but also professional development activities that aid and inform their clinical practice. We sought to answer three questions: (1) Where and how are BCBAs obtaining their CEUs? (2) What are their preferences? and (2) How and from whom are individuals pursuing professional development?
The first and second authors developed a survey to quantify the methods through which doctoral-level BCBAs (BCBA-Ds), BCBAs, and BCaBAs (hereafter collectively “respondent”) gain information to better inform their practices through verified and regulated CEUs or other professional development opportunities including those that are non-peer-reviewed (e.g., webinars, social media). The survey included five demographic questions (e.g., certification level, years of experience), six questions regarding how participants engage in continuing education activities across the specified sources, eight questions related to their conference preference and behaviors the respondent engages in and why (e.g., how many CEUs each respondent earns, why they would or would not attend a conference), and nine questions about how each respondent believes various forms of non-ACE approved professional development and resources affect the field of behavior analysis (e.g., what influences their decision to engage in various forms of professional development). Categories of CEUs were aligned to those that qualify for the BACB recertification as well as two additional categories that included non-peer-reviewed options and engaged with a webinar or podcast. The CEU topics were aligned to those available on the BACB website to include assessment and treatment; skill acquisition; ethics; supervision; diversity, equity, and inclusion; as well as functional analysis and practical functional assessment. In addition, there was one open-ended question regarding where respondents most often get information and how they use it.
Data Collection, Preparation, and Analysis
After obtaining university Institutional Review Board approval, the survey was hosted on Qualtrics, and a link to the survey was included in a recruitment email. The recruitment email was sent directly by the BACB to all certificants. In addition, recruitment emails were sent to each BACB ABAI verified course sequence coordinator. To incentivize participation, a $10 Amazon gift card was randomly offered to 10 certificants who completed the survey.
For a survey response to be included in this study, it had to meet the following inclusion criteria: the respondent (1) consented to participate and allow their answers to be reported; (2) acknowledged that they held a BCBA, BCBA-D, or BCaBA credential; and (3) completed the entire survey. All questions were forced choice (excluding the open-ended question), so missing data did not need to be addressed.
We calculated descriptive statistics and common nonparametric statistics (e.g., Spearman rank order correlation) using Microsoft Excel (2016). The open-ended question was analyzed using qualitative analysis which most represented a phenomenological approach (Creswell, 2013). We used the basic qualitative approach to evaluate participant responses so we could easily report the experiences of those interviewed. The first and second authors independently read and noted patterns amongst the response into two common patterns (i.e., what makes a person trust or not trust a source; and, accessibility issues, and concerns or supports for social media). Then, the authors reviewed each response and assigned the response type to each response, and came to a 100% agreement regarding which responses fit into which noted pattern.
A total of 231 eligible individuals completed the survey (169 BCBAs [73.2%], 55 BCBA-Ds [23.8%], and 7 BCaBAs [3%]). The average respondent age was 40 years old (range: 24–70 years; SD = 11.1 years); most respondents (85%) identified as women. Respondents had been practicing for an average of 12 years (range: 1–49 years; SD = 8.6 years) and were most likely to work in home-based (24%), center-based (18%), school-based (18%), and higher education (17%) settings (Table 1). In the next section, we describe the results that correspond with questions focused on sources of CEU accruement, including conferences. Then, we describe the results that correspond with questions related to professional development broadly.
The largest percentage of CEUs that respondents obtained came via webinars (23%), virtual conferencesFootnote 3 (19%), virtual workshops (14%), and in-person conferences (13%; Table 2). Respondents were asked how many CEUs they earned within the past 24 months about various domains of applied behavior analysis. CEUs involving assessment and treatment of problem behavior, skill acquisition, ethics, and supervision were among the most popular content areas (Fig. 1). Respondents reported the primary motivation for seeking CEUs related to their client’s needs, followed by their identified lack of knowledge related to the content (Fig. 2). Most respondents reported they spent $101–$150 on CEU expenses. Respondents indicated that most expenses were out-of-pocket, with employers typically reimbursing less than $51 for CEUs (Fig. 3).
The majority (80%) of respondents attended either a virtual or in-person conference within the past 24 months. It is interesting that despite these considerable out-of-pocket costs, CEU affordability and registration costs were generally the least important variables that respondents consider when determining whether to attend a specific conference, (Table 3) irrespective of primary employment setting. Rather, the appeal of available presentation topics (28%), the physical location of the conference (27%), and the speaker lineup (21%) were among the most important determinants. Most respondents indicated that they preferred in-person conferences (56%). Several respondents reported they prefer in-person and virtual conferences equally (30%), whereas only a few indicated they preferred solely virtual conferences more than in-person conferences (14%). Respondents indicated that their preference for in-person conferences primarily related to relevant opportunities to network, and reconnect with friends and colleagues, and the general overall experience afforded by the in-person conference milieu (Table 4). Most respondents reported that their CEUs were obtained across webinars, virtual conferences, and virtual workshops (23%, 19%, and 14%, respectively).
Concerning professional development, the vast majority (88%) of respondents indicated that they trusted peer-reviewed journal articles the most, with coursework (44%) and webinars (37%) being the second and third most-trusted sources, respectively. YouTube videos (44%) and social media posts (40%) were among the second-least and least trusted sources, respectively (Table 5). Consistent with these findings, respondents overwhelmingly reported positive perceptions of peer-reviewed articles, as well as webinars and podcasts, on the field of behavior analysis (Fig. 4, top panel).
Likewise, they typically reported negative and neutral perceptions of the impact of non-peer-reviewed sources (e.g., social media pages, YouTube videos) on the field. Note that, when examining preferences for journal articles and non-peer-reviewed content, preference (or lack thereof) did not vary by respondent age for journal articles (r = .07; p = .32) and social media posts (r = -.07; p = .25). Likewise, there was no relation between years of experience and preference for journal articles (r = -.04; p = .50) and social media posts (r = -.01; p = .83). Respondents considered peer-reviewed articles and textbooks to be the most reputable and important sources of behavior-analytic information (Tables 5 and 6). In contrast, respondents were much more skeptical of non-peer-reviewed sources of information (Tables 5 and 6).
Respondents reported the reputation and accessibility (e.g., whether there is an institutional subscription) of peer-reviewed sources to be the most important when determining whether to read a particular journal (and not necessarily whether they or their peers have recently published there; Figure 4, bottom panel). Concerning non-peer-reviewed sources of information, respondents were more likely to listen to a behavior-analytic podcast because they found the podcast topic interesting or were familiar with the podcast speaker (Table 7). They also weighted factors such as familiar speaker, topic, general interest, availability of CEUs, and accessibility quite high for the decision to view behavior-analytic social media groups, in addition to the general interest in the group (Table 7).
Qualitative Analysis related to Professional Development
Sixteen percent (n = 39) of respondents answered the final, open-ended question related to where they most often obtain information related to professional development and how they use it. Two common patterns emerged when analyzing these responses: (1) individuals’ opinions about the role of non-peer-reviewed content by way of knowledge dissemination and (2) the trust that individuals have when consuming peer-reviewed sources.
Fourteen respondents (39%) indicated that they would trust non-peer-reviewed content (e.g., social media, webinars) only after they have verified the information themselves. Several individuals stated that they do appreciate the availability of non-peer-reviewed content but will often use the platform as inspiration to then seek peer-reviewed work related to the topic. Thirteen respondents (33%) commented that they do not engage with behavior-analytic non-peer-reviewed content. The comments related to engaging with non-peer-reviewed sources were more passionate and often held disdain toward individuals who are disseminating in non-peer-reviewed outlets (e.g., social media). Several have opted out of non-peer-reviewed content and others warn their colleagues and students about the dangers of not seeking peer-reviewed sources before making clinical decisions. Ten respondents stated they view peer-reviewed research as the gold standard, and 12 respondents shared that, in their opinion, research-based information (i.e., journal articles and conference presentations) needs to be much more accessible (e.g., available, affordable).
BCBAs generally value advancing their knowledge through professional development. Engaging in various professional development activities, like accruing CEUs, presumably improves their clinical and work-related repertoire, and there are genuine perks of furthering one’s knowledge on behavior-analytic topics. BCBAs are required to accrue at least 32 CEUs every 2 years and are mandated to regularly engage in professional development to inform and improve their skillset related to their area of practice (BACB, 2021). Given the requirement of CEUs and added necessity of professional development, it is helpful to know from where BCBAs are obtaining CEUs and professional development, as well as factors and perceptions related to those sources.
To our knowledge, we conducted the first study analyzing and investigating the accruement of CEUs and professional development. We assessed factors influencing where certificants obtain CEUs and professional development and their perceptions of various sources. Two hundred thirty-one individuals responded to our survey related to the accruement of CEUs and professional development. Based on the data contained herein, BCBAs appear to be engaging with high-quality sources of both CEUs and professional development rather than less reliable, non-peer-reviewed, more contemporary sources (e.g., YouTube videos, and social media groups). Respondents indicated that peer-reviewed articles, in-person conferences, and ACE-approved webinars are the most trusted and prominent sources of CEUs and professional development with which they engage. This result is encouraging given ethical mandates to base one’s practice on quality, reputable, evidence-based information (BACB, 2014; Slocum et al., 2014), as well as the marked increase in non-peer-reviewed sources.
Our results indicated that respondents chose CEUs because of general interest in the topic rather than their current clinical needs. BCBAs working in clinical settings need to provide evidence-based practices tailored to the unique and specific needs of their clients. Therefore, in addition to choosing generally interesting CEU events, practitioners might consider attending a CEU or professional development event related to their current clients’ needs. Selecting and attending such events based on clients’ needs would likely enable BCBAs to get a “fresh perspective” and prevent them from becoming overly focused on a narrow set of practices (Brodhead et al., 2018).
An overall driving factor that influences why a BCBA interacts with a given source of professional development is the accessibility (e.g., available, affordable) of the source. Respondents overwhelmingly commented on the need for more accessible methods of trusted information (e.g., peer-reviewed articles). Fortunately, Briggs and Mitteer (2021) provided some updated strategies for accessing peer-reviewed articles. One example strategy they described was to access journal articles through the BACB. All individuals certified through the BACB have access to several journals (e.g., Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis) through their BACB portal. Likewise, members of ABAI can access ABAI-published journals such as Behavior Analysis in Practice or Education and Treatment of Children.
The web platform ResearchGate also makes it easy to read, view, and download peer-reviewed articles without needing access to a university-based library system or journal-specific subscription. However, not all full-text articles are uploaded to ResearchGate. In those cases, the individual may email the corresponding authors and request a copy of the article. Corresponding authors are often willing to share either their private full text of the article or their final in-press version. One important means by which individuals can contact verified professional development sources is through both the BACB and ABAI. BCBAs can access free resources on the BCBA and ABAI websites, through email blasts, and regular newsletters. For example, ABAI provides a weekly email update where readers can find upcoming ABAI-approved and sponsored webinars or presentations. These email updates are one way in which trusted bodies (e.g., ABAI) curate verified sources of professional development for BCBAs (i.e., those provided by ACE-approved providers). In addition, many state-level organizations and ABAI affiliates (e.g., Maryland Association for Behavior Analysis; Colorado Association for Behavior Analysis) provide verified sources of professional development.
On the topic of accessibility, respondents reported that unregulated, non-peer-reviewed sources (e.g., social media pages, podcasts) were accessible and valuable through the ease with which one can interact and consume information (Kelly et al., 2019). Non-peer-reviewed sources are likely most amenable for networking and seeking nonclinical recommendations (e.g., book recommendations, graduate program or employment opportunities; Donelan, 2016). There is also likely a difference in the trustworthiness of the source based on the group or individual hosting it (e.g., an ABAI-approved special interest group) or the actual platform (e.g., Facebook or Instagram compared to LinkedIn).
Nevertheless, non-peer-reviewed sources should be consumed with caution, especially when seeking clinical advice. There is no process by which the information is vetted akin to the peer-review process of articles or conference presentations (O’Leary et al., 2017). That is, it is essential to remember that the number of followers on a given social media page or listeners a podcast has does not represent the expertise, believability, or quality of the information on the platform (e.g., one’s proficiency with TikTok is not indicative of their clinical expertise). For example, a podcast host might discuss a given topic and ignore relevant data that does not support their argument or point of view, or be sharing mainly their opinion (e.g., Reiman, 2022; see Gay et al., 2007, and Werner et al., 2020 for discussions). Perhaps more concerning, opinions espoused on non-peer-reviewed platforms (e.g., Facebook groups) may have deleterious effects on clinical practice. For example, individuals in groups might tell those seeking advice to abandon gold-standard assessment and treatment methods for more contemporary options despite a lack of supporting data (Kranak, 2022).
It is encouraging that respondents indicated that they rarely consulted with non-peer-reviewed content for clinical advice or professional development. Respondents indicated they would be more inclined to trust/listen to non-peer-reviewed content if they were familiar with the speaker. For example, the Behavior Analysis in Practice: BAPCast (Peterson, 2021) consists of the host discussing articles recently published in Behavior Analysis in Practice with (typically) the lead author of the article. These podcasts discuss recently published articles, and given this, seem to be more useful as a source of professional development for BCBAs.
Limitations and Future Directions
These data should be interpreted considering a few limitations. First, our sample size represents a small number of total certificants. According to our BACB mass email engagement metrics, we achieved 13,377 unique opens (24%) of all recipients, whereas 42,027 email recipients did not open the recruitment email. Of those that opened the email, 390 individuals clicked the survey link. Considering the time at which the survey was distributed (i.e., during the COVID-19 pandemic) and the fact many researchers opted for conducting survey research during this time, it is likely that individuals were experiencing or did experience survey fatigue. Survey fatigue during COVID-19 has been empirically documented in other fields (see de Koning et al., 2021); the same may hold true in behavior analysis. Nevertheless, our sample size is highly commensurate with other recently published behavior-analytic surveys distributed in the same manner (e.g., Brand et al., 2020; Colombo et al., 2021; Frieder et al., 2018). At a minimum, our data serve as a preliminary bellwether for trends related to CEUs and professional development, though future researchers ought to consider ways to increase the sample size to include a more encompassing number of certificants (e.g., conducting surveys at conferences, higher monetary incentives).
Second, our survey was distributed to all certificants through the BACB’s mass email service and emails sent to ABAI VCS coordinators. We did not distribute the survey through any social media sites (e.g., Facebook). It is possible that our sample did not include individuals who may hold a more favorable view or opinion of non-peer-reviewed content as a means of professional development or advice relative to individuals included in the current sample. Thus, our results should be seen as potentially encouraging in that those individuals do not regularly seek out or consume professional development or other resources from non-peer-reviewed content. Thus, future researchers should consider sourcing respondents and recruiting from social media and other non-peer-reviewed content outlets to ascertain what they value. Future researchers might also consider surveying individuals who are highly active on social media and how (if at all) it informs their relevant area of practice. That is, it would be interesting to determine exactly what role social media is currently playing in behavior-analytic research and practice (i.e., those who are very active on social media may rely on it more so than they rely on peer-reviewed research).
Third, data collected through surveys rely on self-report from respondents. As such, it is possible there is respondent bias in our sample, though this is an inherent limitation of most (if not all) survey research (e.g., Rosenman et al., 2011). That is, respondents might answer based on what they think researchers want to hear rather than what they believe. Researchers might consider more direct ways to measure behavior correlates of covert behavior related to CEUs and professional development. To us, this appears to be a complicated issue, as individuals might attend some CEU events but not pay attention during the event. In other words, future researchers should ask respondents about their behavior during CEU or professional development events to gain further insights into their consumption of information. Addressing this issue might require systems-wide or longitudinal analyses of trends across cohorts of certificants or CEU or professional development events. Nevertheless, this remains an area worthy of future investigation and self-report data play an important role in this line of inquiry (see Critchfield et al., 1998).
Researchers might consider directly evaluating demographics (e.g., race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status) of certificants or consumers of CEUs and professional development sources to determine if certain demographics impact how, why, or from where individuals obtain CEUs and professional development. It would also be interesting to identify if there is an optimal price point for a certain CEU event. For example, are individuals willing to pay more to hear a well-regarded, prolific speaker (e.g., Linda LeBlanc or Pat Friman; Heinicke et al., 2022; Kranak et al. 2022) compared to a lesser-known individual? Are individuals more likely to pay for CEUs at conferences if they are offered at a flat rate, comprehensive bundle or if one could pay per CEU? And do certificants stop accruing CEUs once they have reached the 32-hr requirement or do they obtain them regularly throughout their certification cycle? Finally, it would also be of interest to know if individuals prefer active or passive learning opportunities (e.g., listening to a podcast versus attending a workshop). This line of research could permit ways to empirically design and offer CEUs and professional development and have positive outcomes on the field at large.
In sum, BCBAs are consuming high-quality, trustworthy sources of CEUs and professional development. This is especially encouraging considering both the recent preponderance of behavior-analytic non-peer-reviewed content platforms and the adoption of the new BACB Ethics Code. Consumption of quality sources will lead to not only BCBAs equipped with advanced skills because of their continued professional development, better BCBAs but presumably better outcomes for the clients whom they serve and supervisees whom they are training.
Additional data beyond that presented herein are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Note that board certified assistant behavior analysts (BCaBAs) are required to earn 20 CEUs every 2 years (BACB, 2021). Thus, the content discussed in the current paper is also applicable to BCaBAs. However, we refer only to BCBAs in text given the overwhelming majority of certificants at the BCBA level.
These data are currently not available for public dissemination through the BACB. However, if they are made available, we would encourage future researchers in this area to use those data in any future analyses on this subject.
Note the distinction between webinars and virtual conferences. Here, webinars refer to a standalone event offered by (typically) one presenter for a short duration (e.g., 50 min). Whereas virtual conferences consisted of an event offered by multiple providers consisting of multiple presentations, often occurring across at least one day or multiple days (Think Business Events, n.d.).
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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author declares there are no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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• BCBAs value well-known, trusted speakers.
• Peer-reviewed articles can be accessed through the BACB Gateway and Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Portal.
• Some platforms such as social media are accessible (e.g., available, affordable), but are not peer-reviewed and may contain unverified information.
• Based on our sample, BCBAs are engaging with high-quality, trusted sources of professional development (e.g., peer-reviewed articles) despite the increase in non-peer-reviewed content (e.g., social media pages) aimed toward BCBAs.
We thank Dr. Amber Valentino and the anonymous reviewers for their feedback on previous versions of this manuscript.
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Kranak, M.P., Andzik, N.R. & Falligant, J.M. Evaluating Sources of Continuing Education and Professional Development Used by Behavior Analysts. Behav Analysis Practice (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40617-022-00769-7
- professional development
- continuing education