Preparing the Professional Improvement Plan

Preparing the Professional Improvement Plan

Tips on Formulating Professional Improvement Goals

See also the PIP Checklist

See also a list of what should not be in a professional improvement plan.

Normally, PIP goals involve the completion of specified projects or the development of specific skills.  The Plan should detail what those projects and skills will be.  As an example, in CIS, rather than simply stating, "My goal is to stay current in my field," state, "My goal is to expand my ability with (a particular) programming language."  To identify goals, the following resources are available:

A.     College Resources

  • Read abstracts or colleagues' completed Professional Improvement Plans.
  •  Discuss your plan and seek ideas from your Designated Evaluator; consider the primary problems, needs, and issues currently being raised in your instructional area, program and/or by the College, and decide how you might use your professional improvement cycle to address some of these needs. 
  • Talk to colleagues and others within or outside your discipline, especially those who may have special interest or expertise in an area of interest; consider convening a small group specifically to talk PIP.  Note:  The best Plans come from those departments that review drafts of Plans before they are submitted.
  • Consider needs or goals relevant to your primary instructional or faculty assignment, as well as weaknesses or gaps in your preparation in other areas of teaching responsibility.
  • Faculty Resource Center in MET 212

B.      Additional resources

  • Use your vision statement as a guide to help determine goals that will lead move you toward fulfilling your vision for your professional improvement.
  • Search conference sessions and presenters and review field journals for ideas - they may help you conceptualize new directions or identify subfields of importance to pursue; seek information from leaders of professional organizations or programs of interest in your field to keep abreast of professional development opportunities.
  • Consider desirable rejuvenation or anti-burn out activities, cross-disciplinary opportunities, and pedagogical issues of broad cross-disciplinary value.
  • The Professional Improvement Resource Team is available to provide assistance to faculty members seeking advice on developing, drafting and/or revising PIP plans and Final Reports.

Writing the Professional Improvement Plan Proposal

Consideration of your department's goals and COCC's mission should be included in the individual goals and mentioned in the vision statement or abstract.  The use of concise statements, appropriate numbering, and "bullets" is strongly recommended. An organized PIP is easier to read and evaluate.

Note that your PIP is not a "predicted Annual Report of Activities" but if you accomplish parts of your PIP within an academic year, write it in the Annual Report of Activities with a reference to the current PIP.

Recall that the purpose of the PIP is " substantially improve faculty members' effectiveness in their college assignments and in their professions."

General Suggestions For Writing Your Plan

1.      Write For A Specific Audience.

The vision statement or abstract is ultimately destined to be published for an audience of all your faculty colleagues, and the text of the Professional Improvement Plan should be addressed to the faculty colleagues representing diverse disciplines on College Committees such as tenure and promotions.  The abstract and proposal serve a persuasive purpose-that is, to convince the reader that your plan is meritorious and workable.  But your abstract and proposal also serve a very important educational function in teaching your colleagues more about the goals and needs of your particular program or department, encouraging idea exchange, and improving communication and collegiality among us all.  Furthermore, writers perform better when they have a specific audience firmly in mind.

2.      Vision Statement or Abstract

A vision statement or abstract is a description of the desired overall outcome of your PIP that inspires, energizes and helps you create a mental "picture" of your objective. Remember that the purpose of the vision statement is to inspire, energize, motivate, and stimulate your creativity, not to serve as a measuring stick for success; that is the job of your PIP goals. Think of the vision statement as providing a focus to your goals - a way of tying them together to reach an overall objective for your professional life.

3.      Place Proposed Goals and Activities in a Meaningful Context.                    

You will further both the persuasive and educational functions of your proposed plan if you try to present professional development goals and activities in a meaningful context, such as your previous professional activities and accomplishments; your individual short-and long-term professional goals; current trends and developments in the field; curriculum development projects or partnership programs; departmental/program goals, needs, and future directions; institutional mission and future objectives.  Review the "Faculty Professional Improvement Program" Goals.

4.      Distinguish Different Types of Goals and Activities.                                      

In preparing the text of your proposed Plan, you might find it useful to organize your presentation according to distinct categories of professional development goals or activities.  The "Faculty Professional Improvement Plan" Goals may help you categorize your goals and activities. 

  • Activities requiring major commitments of time, money, and/or effort might include writing a textbook, participation in an important and expensive workshop, traveling to another educational institution to investigate an innovative program, applying for a Fulbright teaching exchange position, designing an industry-sponsored program, engaging in college-level coursework, or designing and executing a primary research project.  Undertaking these types of activities would be obvious impetus to apply for financial support from the PIP funding account or other appropriate institutional support in your proposed Plan. 

5.      Divide Major or Long-Term Activities Into Stages or Steps; Project Timelines And Required Resources.

You will want to present ambitious and/or long-term goals and activities as feasible, as well as meritorious.  Thus, you may wish to divide such activities into projected stages and offer in your proposal a record of planning to encompass the steps you will need to go through to get to the desired goal.  This planning record could include a projected timeline or schedule of deadlines for achieving the various stages of your goal.  If you cannot achieve all within the four-year cycle, project those that may carry beyond.  You may also wish to offer an inclusive projected budget and/or a list of other anticipated resources you will need to accomplish your goals.  (But note that requests for funding must be submitted separately, and after the Plan is approved).

6.      Design and Describe Appropriate Methods for Documenting Successful Completion of Activities which can be used for Evaluating the Impact of Activities on Reaching Goals. 

Some examples of such methods are: 

  • Student evaluations showing improvement in teaching;
  • Peer team report or peer review of implemented or concluded activity;
  • Evidence of resulting curriculum and/or program development;
  • Record of resulting publication or paper;
  • Letters of commendation from peers in the field;
  • Transcripts or letters of certification;
  • Performance or presentation of creative works;
  • Public presentations, on or off campus, for college or community audiences.     

7.      Request Letter of Support from the Designated Evaluator. 

After the plan has been discussed with the department and approved by the Designated Evaluator, submit the proposed Plan to the Designated Evaluator with a formal request for a letter of support. 

8.      Submit the Plan.

After the Faculty Professional Improvement Plan proposal has been written and the Designated Evaluator's letter of support has been attached, submit the proposed Plan electronically to the Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Instruction.  She will then forward it to the appropriate Dean.

9.      Notification of Action Taken By the Dean.

Upon review of the Plan, the Dean will notify the faculty member and their Designated Evaluator of its approval, request for clarification or additional information. If the dean and designated evaluator disagree on the approval of the PIP plan, the  Professional Improvement Resource Team will be requested to review the plan and determine whether it approves the plan or not.



Use this to review your Professional Improvement Plan.  Until you can check off each question, don't turn your PIP over to your Department Chair for review.  Words in bold are important concepts.

  1. I have reviewed the PIP guidelines on the COCC web.
  2. I have reviewed recommended PIP models at my rank (either electronically or in print).
  3. I have formatted my PIP appropriately.
  4. My PIP begins with a vision statement or abstract that previews each goal and provides and overview of my core idea about how I want to grow during the four year cycle.
  5. I have between three and five main goals.
  6. My goals are stated in single sentences that focus on one area of my understanding of my subject matter or my competence in my delivery of that subject matter.
  7. Beneath each goal statement I have provided the following:

a.     a brief explanation of how meeting my goal will improve my work in the classroom (through bettered knowledge or increased delivery skills) or develop my skills in another area of my primary assignment,

b.     a brief explanation about how my goal will help my program or department and support COCC's Board Vision and Goals.

c.     if this is my second or later plan, I have included an explanation of how it grows beyond previous plans.

d.     a list of specific activities through which the goal may be achieved

e.     an explanation of how I will know when I have or haven't succeeded in meeting my goal.

f.      if known, some explanation of costs that might arise from my planned activities.

  1. I have included timelines, either within each goal or at the end of the PIP, which show when I plan to perform the activities.
  2. I have made an effort to write my PIP in language that can be understood by people in other fields of expertise, explaining jargon and clarifying connections between activities and goals that might be obvious to anyone in my area but could be unclear to someone teaching in a different program.



These are things that should NOT be in my PIP.

1.   anything about community service or service to the college.

2.   development of computer skills I am assumed to have already (basic classroom technology like PowerPoint, Micrograde, Microsoft Office, etc.)

3.   activities that are expectations of my primary assignment (attendance at department meetings)

4.   attendance at a conference or workshop without a specific, targeted purpose for doing so.

5.   membership in a professional organization or subscription to a journal without a specific, targeted purpose for doing so.

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