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      CHRIE Panel Explores Role of Professional Certification in the Post-Secondary Curriculum

      Students take Certified Guest Service Professional Exam

      The Educational Institute participated in a panel discussion about the role of professional certification in the curriculum during the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE) summer conference in St. Louis, Missouri, in late July.

      Moderated by Robert O'Halloran, dean of the School of Hospitality Leadership, East Carolina University, and president of the EI certification commission, the presentation explored the concept of professional certification in the classroom in terms of its price-value relationship for students, academic programs, and the hospitality industry.

      Panelists were Chris Jack, EI's vice president, professional certification; Mike Nalley, senior manager of education and training, Best Western International; Stacey Veden, director, global university relations and recruiting operations, Marriott International; and Peter Starks, president, Red Global Group. 

      Several organizations offer hospitality students the chance to earn professional certification before graduation, including EI's Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®), the National Restaurant Association's ServSafe certifications, and the new STAR Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics (CHIA) presented by EI, I-CHRIE, and STR.

      O'Halloran said that some of the key questions raised during the session included:

      • Does certification help graduates in the job search process? Does it give them a hiring advantage?
      • What are the criteria for considering certification programs in the curriculum?
      • How does certification fit into the structure of an existing academic program?  

      "The general feeling was that it is a positive thing to have certification in the curriculum," said O'Halloran. "The industry people on the panel said that hiring someone with certification would reduce the amount of training they would have to do. On the education side, assessment is everything and certification offers a way to assess students' knowledge.  Professors like that."

      O'Halloran noted that the recruiter on the panel said that while professional certification is not going to get a student a job, it is a point of differentiation between that person and another candidate.  "The student has to be able to explain what the certification means and how it will help them," said O'Halloran. "What does that certification mean you can do?  An interviewer will want the job applicant to provide behavioral relevance, that is, to give an example of what the certification enables them to do."

      For professors, the question is:  how does this certification fit into the structure and content of my course?  How does this content line up with what I'm teaching?  "Instructors want something that can be integrated into what they already do in class, rather than having to add on extra material that doesn't easily fit," explained O'Halloran. 

      He also noted that schools that are really engaged in assessment like certification because certification is easily quantifiable.  Students take an exam and receive a score and a designation. It's very clear when they have achieved the goals of the program. 

      About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute
      Established in 1953 as a nonprofit educational foundation of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Educational Institute’s mission is to continue being the preferred provider to the lodging industry, hospitality schools, and related hospitality industries by developing and providing quality resources to train, educate, and certify hospitality professionals worldwide.