From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 29, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Staff development tips for making the best use of reactive data

Nursing professional development (NPD) specialists may think that reactive data provides little or no evidence about program effectiveness. While it is true that reactive data primarily provides information about learner satisfaction with the way the education was presented and the learning environment itself, such data can be a stepping stone to more advanced levels of evaluation.

Here are some suggestions for getting the most information from reactive data:

  • Correlate reactive data with instructor effectiveness. For instance, a popular instructor who receives rave reviews on the reactive data form may not necessarily be the person who best facilitates learning. Look at evidence of learning and behavior and determine whether there is a correlation between learning and behavior and the instructor who taught that particular course.
  • Look at reactive data in terms of the impact of teaching methodology. Are learning and behavior influenced by whether the program was presented classroom style or distance learning?
  • Examine evidence from reactive data pertaining to the environment. Does data correlate with learning or behavior? Complaints about the environment being too hot or too cold may be dismissed as something "we can't control." However, if other levels of evaluation show a decrease in learning or application of knowledge, and that decrease can be linked to learner discomfort, this kind of data can be used to improve the learning environment.
  • Examine evidence from reactive data pertaining to results. Trace comments from reactive evaluation throughout the levels of evaluation. You may be surprised to learn that reactions impact learning, behavior, and even results.

Don't discount reactive data. Although it cannot be used in isolation, it can be analyzed for links to learning, behavior, and results. Use such data as a foundation for examining all levels of evaluation.

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