In this criteria review, Educational Design Process 6 is discussed, which addresses engagement within the educational activity.

ANCC Accreditation Criteria Review: Educational Design Process 6 (EDP6)

Whether you are an accredited provider such as i3 Health or you are an educational partner working with an accredited provider, it’s still important to understand the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) criteria that underlie nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) activities. This is part of a periodic series of posts looking at what each criterion means in general and what it might mean for you.

The third set of ANCC accreditation criteria focus on the educational design process (EDP) of the activities within an NCPD program. Educational design includes the planning, design, assessment, and evaluation of each activity. There are seven (7) criteria within this section. The sixth criterion addresses what happens within an educational activity to keep learners engaged.

Criterion EDP6 states:

How strategies to promote learning and actively engage learners are incorporated into educational activities.

Educators frequently speak about pedagogy. While this may sometimes be used as a catch-all for how we teach, it is specifically about how we teach children. Healthcare professionals, however, are not children. At least, we hope they aren’t. Instead, we need to implement adult-learning principles or andragogy. These principles include education’s relevance to the learners, which is where practice gaps come in. Another is that education should be participatory in one way or another. This is frequently called “active learning.”

So-called “traditional” NCPD consists of an expert standing at the front of a room, showing slides and talking at an audience of learners. This may be a way to disseminate knowledge, but it has been shown time and again to be less than effective in the long-term for the simple reason that there is nothing to actively engage those in attendance in the learning process.

Active learning can come in many forms. It could be a hands-on skills lab. Or it could be small group discussions of cases. The exact method of active learning depends on what is being taught and the format of the larger educational activity. In a large conference, an audience response system (ARS) may be used to conduct polls throughout a lecture.

While making sure that learners are actively engaged takes a bit of additional planning, and while learners may whine about having to participate in the learning process, including engagement strategies will improve the impact of your educational intervention. It makes it easier for learners to see how what they are learning applies to their practice. And it also helps with later recall of what they have learned. And hopefully you will see that in your evaluation results. But that, of course, is a matter for the next criterion.

Other Posts in This Series

Educational Design Process 1 (EDP1)

Educational Design Process 2 (EDP2)

Educational Design Process 3 (EDP3)

Educational Design Process 4 (EDP4)

Educational Design Process 5 (EDP5)


ACCME (2022). Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Education. Available at: 

ANCC (2021). Writing to the ANCC NCPD Accreditation Criteria Self-Learning Guide. Available at:

ANCC (2021). ANCC NCPD Accredited Provider Applicant Journey Guide. Available at:

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