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Tips from BESD: Using benchmarks to evaluate continuing education

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, August 13, 2010

by Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, RN-BC

Benchmarking is a systematic process of evaluating the work processes of organizations based on identified best practices and using evidence-based practice (EBP) to improve performance. Laufgraben et al. (2004) describe it as a process that turns numbers into information that can inform, change, or confirm current practice.

As you can see, benchmarking can be useful for staff development professionals, who can benchmark educational outcomes and determine effectiveness.

But any busy staff development professional can tell you that although it is easy to generate numbers, it can be difficult to figure out which data are important and helpful. Benchmarking provides context and perspective for identifying, sharing, and using knowledge and best practices as well as measuring outcomes against defined standards (benchmarks)-without which numbers are just numbers.

Editor's note: Subscribers to Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development can read the rest of this article in the August 2010 issue. Discover all the benefits of subscribing to Briefings on Evidence-Based Staff Development.

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