Smith, Joanna and Topping, Annie (2001) Unpacking the ‘value added’ impact of continuing professional education: a multi-method case study approach. Nurse Education Today, 21 (5). pp. 341-349. ISSN 0260-6917

The tangible benefits of continued professional education (CPE) continues to be widely debated within nursing. Whilst there is a plethora of literature relating to CPE, there is an absence of empirical evidence confirming the value of educational activities. Using a case study approach, this study sought to examine the relationship between undertaking a named course (Children’s Neuroscience Course) and the perceived benefits to practitioners. Nursing students who had successfully undertaken the course (n = 14) were invited to participate. Self-report evaluations (completed at induction, mid point and exit), academic performance, and data collected from a questionnaire were analyzed using non-parametric measures. In addition, semi-structured interviews (n = 9) were undertaken and analyzed using a thematic content approach. Second level analysis involved triangulating the various data sets using coding frames and three themes were identified: improved knowledge, improved care delivery and professional development, which were judged as benefits to the practitioners who had undertaken the course. Further, there was a significant relationship between undertaking the course and participant’s perception of their increased abilities in delivering care to the child with a neurological problem and their families. This paper will illustrate the benefits of a multi-method case study approach for evaluating the ‘value added’ impact of educational provision.

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