Tips from BESD: Evaluating outcomes demonstrates value of education

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, December 10, 2010

By Barbara A. Brunt, MA, MN, RN-BC, NE-BC

Nursing professional development is a specialized nursing practice that promotes the professional development of nurses by facilitating their participation in lifelong learning activities. Such activities are designed to enhance professional competence and role performance, with the ultimate outcomes of protecting the public and providing safe, quality care.

Outcome evaluation is very important in today's environment, as both consumers and regulatory agencies are demanding accountability and documentation of the results of educational endeavors.

In evaluating our work, staff development personnel frequently use Kirkpatrick's first two levels of evaluation, which are reaction (happiness index) and learning. Kirkpatrick's third and fourth levels, behavior change and results (program impact), are more difficult and time-consuming to implement, but they are worth the effort. Return on investment (ROI) is often considered the fifth level of evaluation. This article will focus on some strategies to use for the higher levels of evaluation, including outcomes.

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

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