Not another survey! Using questionnaires effectively in needs assessment

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Questionnaires remain a staple in the continuing education provider's approach to needs assessment. This paper reviews the known advantages in their use, as well as the disadvantages. It also reviews and directs the reader to recent reports of questionnaire use, highlighting a variety of uses, across a variety of professional groups, and use alone and in concert with other needs assessment methods. The paper then turns to an exploration of the considerations that providers must examine when designing effective questionnaires. These include an understanding of how learning and change occur in practice and of the context of the learner. The practical considerations surrounding questionnaire use and development are also addressed. The paper attempts to help providers set a framework within which questionnaires are developed that will provide meaningful information that can be translated into effective educational programs, and that will contribute to lifelong learning in practice.

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