Creating and applying criteria to evaluate online continuing medical education

Joseph Robert Sapp, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation seeks to establish a set of valid and reliable criteria for evaluating online Continuing Medical Education. To accomplish this task, the following four research questions were addressed: (1) What set of criteria is used to evaluate traditional CME? (2) How can those criteria be converted to evaluate online CME? (3) Will the application of those criteria be valid and reliable in its evaluation of online CME? (4) How can the knowledge gained from the evaluation be used to improve the existing online CME? Drawing upon existing literature on CME, current discussions of accreditation, and the literature on fields of study associated with online education, a list of criteria was developed that could be used to evaluate online CME. This list included 24 items, 19 drawn from criteria currently being used to evaluate traditional CME and 5 associated with new media and technologies. A research methodology was then created in order to assess the validity and reliability of each of the criteria based on their application by ten professional online CME experts to ten online CME programs. Validity was measured by various correlations between the criterion and criteria subgroups and pretest and posttest global identifiers. Reliability was measured by the consistency of application of the criteria to evaluate the same series of sites by different reviewers. The study noted a positive linear relationship between the scores of global identifiers and the individual criteria, indicating general validity varying within the criteria. The analysis of the data also determined that the posttest was a much more valid global identifier than the pretest. In terms of reliability, only the section of criteria examining instructional objectives was unreliable. This study represents the first critical application criteria to evaluate online CME. In addition to providing a needed context for subsequent research in the field, it offers designers and administrators of online CME concrete standards for building their programs.

Subject Area

Educational software|Health education|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Sapp, Joseph Robert, "Creating and applying criteria to evaluate online continuing medical education" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3014304.