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Finding evidence: an update

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It’s been two months since we launched the Finding Evidence online course. Since then, we’ve had almost 100 people sign up, including managers and practitioners from across the social services sector. While the course was primarily designed to share the ESSS approach to finding evidence, we were also piloting new ways to deliver learning and development.

Who joined us?

We had participants from the private, public, and third sector, as well as university staff and students. The majority of participants were either managers (32%) or practitioners (25%), and over a third joined the course with the goal of improving their search skills. Other reasons for enrolling in the course included to improve knowledge of evidence-informed practice, to connect with peers, and to better support others in their use of evidence.

What did they learn?

Learning outcomes were varied for the course participants. Based on their reflective statements, students were able to develop techniques for addressing information overload, gain awareness of how to structure a search, and increase their knowledge of useful sources. Many were also able to identify new search techniques they hadn’t used before, such as using subject headings, filters, and citation mining. The course also provided opportunity for learners to connect with their peers, and there was initially some rich and spontaneous discussion in the forums.

What can we improve?

It is apparent from the high number of initial registrations that there is a large appetite for courses on evidence in the social services sector. However, we found it difficult to maintain momentum after the first two weeks. Some of the feedback from participants suggested that future iterations may benefit from increased visual and interactive elements, as well as the introduction of a graded assessment. The response time of facilitators was also an important factor; participants preferred quick replies to forum posts in order to to keep them engaged.

Overall, the Finding Evidence course has provided the ESSS team with a useful insight into how people approach using evidence in their work. The course is still open, and you can enrol online here. Stay tuned for further developments!

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