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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards the design of effective short continuing professional education programs Semeniuk, Patricia Louise


The goal of continuing professional education is to improve the professional's practice in the work setting. In continuing education programs for nurses the ultimate goal is to improve the health status of clients. Few continuing professional education programs are ever evaluated beyond the level of soliciting participant feedback regarding general satisfaction with a program. While several factors account for this phenomenon, one of the greatest barriers is the lack of a unifying conceptual framework that could be applied to evaluate the impact of a program on participants' behaviour in the work setting. This research project is an attempt to identify factors which contribute to a program's effectiveness in changing work behaviour in the practice setting. Two questions are addressed: what behavioural changes are achievable in short continuing professional education programs and how can the experiences of effective programs be translated into principles for the planning of programs intended to impact on the nurses' practice in the work setting? Based on a review of the evaluation frameworks published in the adult education literature and synthesizing concepts from change theory and adoption theory variables which are believed to influence program impact on work behaviour are identified. An application of these variables to an analysis of research reports of effective continuing professional education programs results in the specification of more specific sub-variables which contribute to program impact on work behaviour. This analysis of effective programs reveals that the types of objectives achievable in short programs is limited primarily to the realm of specific psychomotor skills, regimes or procedures. The sub-variables identified in the effective programs are applied to a restrospective process analysis of a specific province-wide program developed by the Registered Nurses' Association of British Columbia. Based on the results of the analysis of these programs seven principles are proposed as guidelines for the development of programs intended to impact on the work behaviour of participants. A research study is proposed to test out these program planning principles which are designed to assist nurses to link the knowledge gained in a program to action in the practice setting. Implications for further research are given.

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