Long Term Impact Evaluation of Continuing Education Programs

John Henschke, Lindenwood University


The information explosion in our technologically oriented society has brought with it a shortened time span of cultural and factual knowledge change in each succeeding decade. Thus, professionals constantly need continuing education programs which provide up-dated information and skill development in their respective fields to keep from becoming obsolete. However, a question remains for those who seek to serve those needs: How will the long term impact of these continuing education programs be measured, determined and evaluated? One continuing education program has sought to answer that major question. In 1975 some rural health care professionals originated a request to an educational institution for providing low cost quality continuing education for their needs in their rural area. By 1988, the continuing success of that program included: a local program planning committee, thirty-six one-day workshops, each on a different topic, with an average attendance of sixty-eight from four states. A one-page "Impact Survey Report Form" was adapted and developed to include Kirkpatrick's evaluation paradigm of reaction; learning, behavior and results. Five hundred twenty different participants were sent forms with two hundred twenty-seven responding. Questions included: what they gained, applied, the value to them and others, skill practice adequacy, cost/benefit ratio, benefits resulting, people served weekly, and space to describe something they used and the results.