The value and impact of continuing professional education in the new NHS : nurses' and managers' perspectives
The thesis explores the application of Continuing Professional Education learning in the work place, and evaluates the factors contributing to its application to clinical practice. The research specifically reviews and assesses relevant literature and theories of adult learning and evaluation. Using existing literature, empirical research work was undertaken in three case study sites. The methodological strategies of illuminative evaluation were utilised in the study, the innovation was examined in the context of "Learning milieu" (Snyder, 1971). Observations of documentary evidence, interviews with course participants and their respective managers and pre and post course questionnaires constituted the data collection. The combination of data assisted the researcher in "illuminating" issues, significant features and problems. The research study systematically and logically investigated, unfolded and clarified issues as they arose. The study utilised a qualitative approach supported by quantitative data in order to reveal individuals' learning processes within the organisations (case study sites) and comprised of three main phases of action, which in practice were more like inter-related loops. A review of existing literature, an introductory visit to the three research sites; questionnaires, distributions and semi-structured interviews with the stake holders; and the writing of the case studies to reveal impact and application to practice. A cycle of "planning, acting, observing and reflecting" was implemented throughout. In this research study the researcher constructed and adopted a multi-dimentional integrated approach, acknowledging not only the social environment in which adults find themselves, but also the cognitive dimensions. Therefore, the study was close to its social context and the "reality" as experienced by the course participants. The researcher strived to understand programmes and situations as a whole. This holistic approach assumed that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It further assumed that a description and understanding of a programme's social and political context is essential for overall understanding of that programme (Patton, 1990). A number of issues were identified from the research study and recommendations made. Their adoption will be particularly valuable to those currently involved in Continuing Professional Education, Nurse Managers, Practitioners, Purchasers and Commissioners of Health Care.