Efficacy of distance learning for professional development of police officers
Brian Wayne Donavant, The University of Southern Mississippi, United States
The University of Southern Mississippi . Awarded
This study assessed the efficacy of distance learning (DL) for police professional development by examining differences in mean pre- and post-test scores of police training conducted via DL compared to traditional instruction (TI); the potential for successful participation in police professional development training via DL; and whether the potential performance of police officers in DL is related to various demographic factors. Data analyses revealed no statistically significant difference in the effectiveness of the two delivery methods, but did indicate a statistically significant relationship between potential online learning success and police officers' level of formal education. Anecdotal evidence revealed that there also may be a relationship between previous participation in DL and potential online learning success.
This study also included a qualitative analysis to address considerations of DL delivery methods that were identified through an examination of the current literature. The results indicated that the majority of respondents cited general convenience and scheduling flexibility as positive aspects and the lack of personal interaction or face-to-face contact with the facilitator or other learners as negative. Most respondents chose TI as their preferred method and cited the lack of interaction with the facilitator or other learners in DL environments as their primary consideration. Interestingly, although most police officers in the study said they preferred TI, the majority felt that DL is an appropriate delivery method for police professional development. Many of the participants in this study felt that the use of DL for delivery of police professional development training provides increased training opportunities; however, they believed that DL is appropriate only within specific topic areas.
DL was not found to be any more effective than the TI methods it complements, but was found to have appropriate applications within the field of police professional development. The researcher concluded that DL is of value to police administrators and trainers when it is used to complement other forms of police training or to provide training to those officers who would benefit most from its use or to whom more traditional delivery methods and training opportunities are limited.
Donavant, B.W. Efficacy of distance learning for professional development of police officers. Ph.D. thesis, The University of Southern Mississippi.
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