PGI Friday: Certification Marketing
Bonus PGI: Electronic Expense Reports

PGI Friday: Using Online Communities for Research

It's time for our second installment of PGI Friday - time for more potentially great ideas!  First, I'll start out with a not-so-great one:  don't let your little easter bunnies (in my case, 3 and 6 year olds) put chocolate eggs in your purse.  I learned today that it makes for an embarrasing moment when you reach for your wallet at the store and present a handful of melted goop (it's almost 90 degrees here today).  It didn't do much for my keys and cell phone either.

Now for a potentially GREAT idea on how to  solicit feedback from stakeholders during a practice audit (or any other research project, for that matter).  A survey usually works well to gather feedback on knowledge and skills from the target group; they'll respond because they have a strong interest in the program.  However, it's sometimes challenging to get feedback from stakeholders such as supervisors or employers of your certificants. 

First, I should explain why you would want to get their feedback at all.  At minimum, a practice audit (or job analysis) gathers feedback from the target population of a certification program to determine the knowledge and skills needed in practice (and therefore the knowledge and skills to be assessed).  These individuals can tell you what they actually do in practice.  It's also beneficial to gather feedback from a supervisor or employer perspective because they can tell you what knowledge and skills are currently needed, but lacking and/or those that will be needed in the future for successful practice.  This future-oriented perspective can help the credentialing agency plan for the future practice needs. 

Now, back to the PGI on how to solicit that feedback.  The Commission on Dietetic Registration recently used online communities for this purpose.  A facilitator posted discussion items and the employers participated in a "discussion" by posting their thoughts.  Participants could respond to another comment or post an original thought just as they could in a live discussion.  I was skeptical at first .  Based on my experience in online communities, I was concerned about limited engagement.  But CDR addressed this issue by paying participants and requiring certain participation elements (minimum amount of posts within certain timeframes).  CDR was very pleased with the participation and ultimate valuable feedback gained.  Previously, CDR has used focus groups - which can be expensive due to the travel costs and also present a challenge in getting stakeholders to give a full day plus for travel and participation.  Kudos to CDR and Dick Rogers, Jr. of Readex for deploying this unique strategy.


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