Value of needs assessment surveys

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The purpose of this study was to determine if needs assessment surveys are useful in supporting course directors' decision-making processes and if the benefits are worth the costs involved. Course directors reported that the survey provided useful data for course planning. The results discriminated topic preferences by specialty, and if topics of interest to prospective audiences were actually scheduled. It is unclear whether the survey data merely confirm course directors' own perceptions or actually provide new insights and altered programming. Expenses for this needs assessment tool, averaging $1300 per course, were reasonable. Continuing education departments should encourage the development of mechanisms to share data among course directors, and thereby enhance the usefulness of this needs assessment process as an essential, continuous, and integrated component of course design.

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