Prior to enrolling in a continuing education program, determine your educational and professional goals and needs. Review promotional materials and brochures, which should contain the following elements:
- Clearly defined rationale for the program
- Clearly identified target audience
- Clearly identified instructional level*
- Stated learning outcomes
- Reasonable objectives, based on the length of the program
- Clearly delineated program description or outline
- Content is described based on best available evidence in practice
- Specified limit to the maximum number of participants for a demonstration course
- Clearly identified faculty qualifications
- Clearly identified instructional methods that are appropriate to the content
- Clearly identified source and number of CEUs
- Reasonable fee compared with other programs
- Continuing education provider's address and telephone number
- Clearly identified statement about the provider's fees and cancellation policy
- Course title that adequately represents the program content
- Attendee endorsements of the program
During a continuing education program, consider the following components of a high-quality continuing education program:
- Were comprehensive and up-to-date
- Contained bibliographic references and original peer reviewed research appropriate to the program content.
- Established rapport with the audience
- Reviewed the program objectives
- Were knowledgeable and provided up-to-date content, including citing scientific sources and discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific evidence relevant to the topic.
- Used appropriate teaching methods for the stated learning outcomes
- Were open to questions and discussion
- Showed enthusiasm and generated curiosity for the content
- Were genuinely interested in the needs and concerns of the audience
- Used teaching strategies that engaged participants in active learning
- Used a variety of instructional methods
- Instructed at a pace that allowed the participants to process the content
- Maintained a teaching pace that was appropriate for the majority of the audience
- Occasionally summarized the content, reemphasizing key points
- Provided feedback to participants and appropriately responded to questions from the audience
Course Assessment Tools
- Were available for use by participants to evaluate the program
- Assessed the achievement of the learning outcomes
- Was conducive to learning and met the physical needs of the participants
- Allowed for participant interaction
- Provided accommodations to individuals with special needs
- Basic (1) - This level assumes that participants have little information within the areas to be covered so that the focus of the activity is a general orientation and increased awareness.
- Intermediate (2) - This level assumes that the participants have a general familiarity with the topic, so it focuses on increased understanding and application.
- Advanced (3) - This level assumes thorough familiarity with the topic and focuses on advanced techniques, recent advances, and future directions.
- Various (0) - This category indicates that a single level cannot be determined. It is intended for programs in which the instructional level may vary.
SS: An important component of any continuing education offering should be its emphasis on evidence-based practice. Methods of evaluating the inclusion of evidence throughout the course and its advertising will assist members in choosing courses wisely.