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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 30, 2012

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

Making the most of reactive data
Some Nursing Professional Development (NPD) specialists think that reactive data are something we collect to satisfy regulatory requirements and have little value when it comes to demonstrating the impact of education. Reactive data, however, can be a foundation for more sophisticated levels of evaluation.

Suppose, for example, you continually receive comments about classrooms that are uncomfortably cold or hot or that computers used for computer-based learning (CBL) are in short supply or antiquated and in poor condition. You can use these types of data to support your case for improving the classroom environment or purchasing more/better computers. Look at your learning and behavior data. Is learning decreased when learners need to access those outdated computers? Is behavior below acceptable standards when learners are uncomfortable during learning activities? If you can show a link between the environment and learning and behavior or even impact, you can make an objective case for improvements.

 It's not enough to tell the chief financial officer that you need more computers because the old ones are outdated or classrooms need to be renovated because learners are uncomfortable. You need to provide objective evidence that these types of reactive data are actually linked to learning, behavior, and maybe even impact. Remember that evidence-based practice (EBP) in NPD encompasses all types of data, as long as these data are properly analyzed. Reactive data are more than just "happiness" indexes. Look to the evidence and build a foundation for improving the learning environment.

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