From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 26, 2010

Editor's note: Welcome to our new feature written by staff development expert Adrianne Avillion. Each week, Adrianne will write about an important issue in the area of staff development or answer reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

I switched one of my ongoing, regular programs on safety from classroom style to computer-based learning (CBL). Under the previous format, classroom attendance had been really bad and compliance was terrible. Staff and managers always complained it was too difficult to release staff from work to attend. Now attendees are saying education in a classroom is better and they miss the opportunity to interact with others. Even administration is interfering, telling me that we have to make people happy, but they also want compliance with the program. How do I convince administration that CBL is the best option?

A: First, you need to start by gathering evidence that CBL really is the best option, but how do you know that it is? Use the following recommendations to gather evidence, which you can present to administration, managers, and staff to help support your decision:

  • Compare attendance at classroom programs and participation in CBL. Is there a difference?
  • What are the education outcomes? Did you measure knowledge acquisition, application of knowledge in the work setting, effect on patient outcomes?
  • Compare the education outcomes. Are there differences in outcomes associated with the presentation method? This is the biggest, most influential piece of evidence. The goal of education is to enhance job performance and patient outcomes.
  • What is the cost of classroom presentation compared to CBL? Be sure to calculate the presenter's time and the cost of replacing staff who must leave the unit to attend classroom programs. Calculate the costs associated with CBL participation.
  • What are the reasons cited by learners as favoring classroom learning? How are these reasons associated with attendance, cost, and outcomes?
  • Finally, analyze your evidence. Does one method have more attendance, less cost, and better outcomes? Does one method have at least one advantage over the other?


Only after you analyze your evidence can you make a logical, objective decision about which method is best. Use your evidence to explain and justify your decision.

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