How Do You Know the Quality of the Education You Purchase?
Whether you are buying one course for yourself or buying a whole series for your entire organization, the quality of the education you buy is critically important. It is a question you should ask of anyone, including your own education department, when you are considering investing in education.
If educational quality is important to you, you’ve come to the right place.
Quality is Who We Are
As part of the largest academic institution in the U.S., at the CSU Institute for Palliative Care, we understand health care educational quality. The California State University1 system graduates 15% of new graduates entering the US health care workforce each year. The Institute’s DNA is borne from this healthcare education strength. It informs us every day as we build and deliver evidence-based online and in-person palliative care education to healthcare professionals working in health systems, hospices, skilled nursing facilities, health plans, case management, and physician practices. The Institute’s own educational experts include individuals with more than 30 years of experience educating adults in health care generally and palliative care specifically.
But quality is more than DNA, it has to be built in and evaluated, one course at a time, every time. And, that’s what we do.
We Ensure Quality Three Ways
1. We build it in.
Each and every one of our courses is built, right from the start for the adult learner, the professional who needs to gain new knowledge and learn skills that can be immediately applied. We recognize that professionals don’t have much time to spend on learning but need the knowledge and skills. Unlike webinars, whether pre-recorded or live, our courses are designed to maximize knowledge transfer, engage learners of every learning style, and provide content that is relevant and practical. This maximizes the application of what is learned.
We do this consciously at every step of the development and design process.
2. We continually assess for and implement opportunities to improve based on learner feedback.
Even after a course is launched we regularly review all feedback from our learners. Where self-paced courses are available in a series or individually, we ask for feedback after every module and at the end. For our longer, instructor-led courses, there is feedback expected at regular intervals. For all other shorter courses, the evaluation is at the end. And we take the feedback seriously, making improvements regularly based on what students tell us.
3. We assess for all levels of educational impact.
In the world of adult education, there are five levels of effectiveness evaluation that can be done on a course. Originally identified in 1959 by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick as four levels2, with a fifth level added by Dr. Jack Phillips3 in the early ‘80’s, these levels are the “gold standard” in staff training and development.
How We Assess:
Level 1, Reaction and Planned Action:
Each student completing one of our courses is required to complete a course evaluation to receive their CEs. Questions are designed to gain their feedback on the content and value of the course and how they intend to use what they learned.
Level 2, Learning:
We measure what students learned through their completion of the pre- and post-tests included in the courses. Shorter courses have one pre- and post-test; longer courses also have tests throughout to measure learning and retention. Students must master 80% or more to continue on to subsequent modules.
Level 3, Behavior Change/Application:
Any course that provides continuing education hours (CEs) evaluates Reaction/Planned Action and Learning as a requirement for the provision of CEs.
To do a full evaluation of Behavior Change/Application requires the participation of an independent, informed evaluator, e.g. the person’s supervisor or other individual familiar with the individual’s performance before and after taking the course. It also requires minimizing all other variables that might have made the individual change their behavior.
At the Institute, we not only do Behavior Change/Application and Learning evaluation continually, but we also have independent consultants undertake a formal Behavior Change/Application evaluation of our courses as well. This occurs when a large enough group has gone through a course. We value this independent feedback and we also make the results available to anyone upon request. We are the only palliative care educators that do this.
Level 4, Results, and Level 5, ROI
In addition to measuring course impact individually with students and collectively through consultants, we partner with organizations who purchase courses for large numbers of their staff to do not only a formal Behavior Change/Application evaluation but also an evaluation of Results and Return on Investment.
We believe that the highest standard is the only standard. This is especially true when it comes to demonstrating educational quality because we measure and meet the highest recognized standards in adult education, standards used not only by organizations internationally but also by universities and educational organizations to evaluate the quality of their programs.
If you have questions about our quality process or evaluations on our courses, please click here and we’ll be happy to respond.
 As part of the CSU, we are proud that the CSU meets the standards set by the Senior College Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). WASC is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This federally-recognized body provides assurance to students and all stakeholders that CSU meets clear quality standards for educational and financial performance, http://www.wascsenior.org/.
 Kirkpatrick, D. (1998). “Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels” (Second Edition). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
 Phillips, J. J. (1983). Handbook of training evaluation and measurement methods. Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.