From the staff development bookshelf: Compiling needs-assessment data

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 25, 2011

Assessing learners' needs can become an exercise in futility. Have you ever been faced with a mountain of data that is disorganized and makes little to no sense? Needs assessments, although critical, need to be built into existing systems so you don't waste time and effort setting up additional methods of data collection.

Your goal should be to make data collection as easy as possible. Most education evaluations include questions about additional learner needs such as, "What education topics would you like to see presented in the future?" This is too vague. When requesting information about learners' education needs on program evaluations, consider rephrasing the question(s) to gain the data you really need. For example, ask staff to identify:

  • Specific education topics that would improve their ability to do their job
  • Education programs they would enjoy attending
  • Specific education topics that would improve their ability to provide patient care

These questions will help you differentiate between programs designed to improve job performance and those that may simply be topics of interest without job relevance.

Source: Book excerpt adapted from A Practical Guide to Staff Development, Second Edition by Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN.

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