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Professionalism in Federal Probation - Illusion or Reality? The Role of Continuing Education

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 47 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1983) Pages: 3-9
R L Thomas
Date Published
Federal probation personnel are in the process of being professionalized, because a majority have achieved a degree of professionalism beyond that promoted by the parent organization; professionalism will occur when the organization itself promotes the professionalism achieved under the self-direction of personnel.
Houle, in his book 'Continuing Learning in the Professions,' presents a program for action in maintaining and improving professions and professionalization, whatever the work setting. According to Houle, policies that promote professionalization are (1) organizational promotion of learning for the individual officer; (2) organizational promotion of a collective identity based in continuing education; (3) the institution of education as a career-long process; (4) the planning and conducting of continuing education according to the educational modes of inquiry, instruction, and performance; (5) the expansion of continuing education into all aspects of professional life; (6) the collaboration of the profession with related professions for the planning and provision of continuing education; and (7) a systematic, flexible, and sophisticated approach to credentialization and recredentialization. By the foregoing standards, Federal probation personnel have not been subjected to a system of professionalization; however, the majority of personnel have achieved professionalism under their own self-direction. There appears to be the emergence of an occupational subculture in probation which transcends employing agencies and jurisdictions. This subculture, with shared language, problems, and ideologies, will eventually promote occupation solidarity that will provide a base for the development of technical knowledge. The formalizing of knowledge accompanied by the upgrading of job entrance requirements and the introduction of a formal professional education at both preservice and inservice levels of career development will bring probation into the status of professionalization. Thirteen references are listed.