How to Choose the Best Continuing Education

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One surefire way to move up the career ladder and increase your own worth (and salary) is to acquire new skills. Whether your continuing education is about exploring new technologies, staying up to date on research in your field, or just racking up hours for a review board, you can always get something from setting aside time for learning. You've got as many options as your workplace accepts, and then some — so how do you make sure you've picked the best course?

New research from Harvard University may be able to help. Science teachers put together a study on how undergraduates best retain and synthesize what they're learning in class. The results say something about the power of perception: While students believe they retain and gain more from traditional lecture-style classes, they demonstrated more command of the material after participating in active-learning strategies. That means rather than basking in the glow of a charismatic teacher, students form small teams that work on problems or discussions together.

The researchers also found that active learning can be an acquired taste; practitioners did encounter resistance, but once the system was running smoothly, classes wound up covering as much material as a straight lecture. You may still flinch at the prospect of group projects, but don't let those memories get in the way of good CE. Look for opportunities for hands-on or small-group learning. There's a lot to be said for learning by doing, especially if you're tackling something new and abstract.