The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) primary accreditation criteria stress the significance of utilizing current evidence when developing the content for educational activities, designed to facilitate learner achievement of the desired outcome (ANCC, 2015). The nurse planner (NP) and planning committee members must ensure that educational content reflects current standards of practice and best available evidence for the activity. According to Dickerson and Graebe (2018, p. 4), “utilization of the criteria and standards is recommended when planning any educational interventions as they provide a sequential process for content development,” including developing educational content utilizing the most current and applicable evidence. This article provides information for the NP and nursing professional development (NPD) practitioner on how to identify and incorporate the most current and best available evidence into educational activity development.
Understanding the Criterion
As described in the first three articles of this Administrative Angles series, the first step in the educational design process (EDP 1) is identification of the practice gap, that is the “distance between where things are now and where they could or should be” (Dickerson & Graebe, 2018, p. 4). The second step (EDP 2) is identification of the appropriate educational need (knowledge, skill, and practice) that validates the established practice gap (Moyer & Graebe, 2018). The third step (EDP 3) is to “identify and resolve all conflict of interests for all individuals in a position to control educational content” (ANCC, 2015, p. 39). The fourth step (EDP 4) requires that activities be designed to “demonstrate how content of the educational activity is developed based on the best available current evidence to foster achievement of desired outcomes” (ANCC, 2015, p. 39). This includes, but is not limited to, “evidenced based practice, literature [and] peer reviewed journals, clinical guidelines, best practices, and content expert opinion” (ANCC, 2015, p. 25). Educational content may be selected by the NP and NPD practitioner or other members of the planning committee, ensuring that content is free of bias and influence is a critical component of EDP 4. The NP, content expert(s), or a content reviewer evaluate content and references to ensure that content is current and relevant to the identified gap and that the desired learner outcome is fair and balanced.
The Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016) addresses content evidence under standards 4 and 5. Standard 4, planning, requires that the NPD practitioner “prepares content reflective of the expected outcomes and current evidence” (p. 34) and standard 5, implementation, stipulates that the NPD practitioner “uses current, evidence-based content, specific to the issue or trend to achieve the defined outcomes” (p. 36).
Content for the educational activity must be relevant and accurate, and reflect evidence-based practices, typically within the past 5 years. One exception is the use of seminal work that is typically cited repeatedly in research, articles, and books, based on its significance. An example of this is Dr. Patricia Benner's novice to expert model (Benner, 1984) that is frequently referenced as the foundation for competency development in nursing practice. When using seminal work, the NP or NPD practitioner must validate that this work is still relevant and accepted.
Many resources are available to the NP or NPD practitioner when developing the educational activity, such as the use of clinical experts, peer-reviewed journals, professional practice guidelines, and research (Schmidt & Brown, 2015). In addition, regulatory agency guidelines can be included, as applicable, when developing content. Examples and descriptions of educational resources for content development are listed in the Table.
Examples of Educational Resources For Content Development
The NP or NPD practitioner is responsible to ensure that content reflects the diversity of learners (e.g., cultural, generational), and utilizes adult learning concepts and instructional design principles. It may be helpful to engage representatives from the target audience to assist in development and review of the content for the educational activity. In addition, the NP or NPD practitioner must ensure that educational content is clear, concise, and contains the appropriate level of detail for the learners. Content should encourage critical thinking, clinical judgment, and be thought provoking for the target audience to achieve the desired learning outcomes (Harper & Maloney, 2016). It is ultimately the responsibility of the NP or NPD practitioner to confirm that content of an educational activity is developed based on best available evidence to foster achievement of desired outcomes for the activity.