POLICING IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: Comparing Firsthand Knowledge with Experience from the West,
© 1996 College of Police and Security Studies, Slovenia


HOW TO MODERNIZE POLICE TRAINING IN SLOVENIA: RESULTS OF RESERCH

Melita Djuric, Gorazd Meško

INTRODUCTION

Following are the results of a study conducted in 1994 and 1995 with which we tried to assess the present system of training within the Ministry of the Interior and find the elements which can improve the organization and efficiency of training system.

1 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

The systematic accumulation of knowledge which includes theory as well as practice is essential for progress in any profession. There is a notable lack of theory in adult education literature. Namely, adult education is a specifically pragmatic field. It is "heavily populated by part-time, in-and-out educators" (Cross 1981, p.110) who simply pass on what they have learned through experience to the next generation. Such an approach results in a static, if not down-right stagnant, profession. To promote efficient adult education, theory and practice must be constantly interactive.

When establishing or modernizing a system of training in a working organization, it is quite normal that a tip from a successful entrepreneur of adult aducation programmes (who owns a training consultation firm, for example) may be perceived as far more useful than a bit of theory from a university professor. A professor's theory may be very comprehensive since the nature of the field is multidisciplinary. It comes from psychology, pedagogy, sociology, geronthology and many other fields. Theories of learning, motivation and teaching help a lot but we cannot be sure whether they are any different for adults or children. Still, they are there for us to consider as well as the theory from other fields.

A theoretical framework called a chain-of-response (COR) model (Cross 1981, p.124) assumes that participation in a learning activity is not a single act but the result of a chain of responses, each based on an evaluation of the position of the individual in his/her environment. In the beginning, participation in a learning activity depends on an individual (self-evaluation, attitude about education - past experience), later it becomes dependent on external circumstances (goals of learning, life transitions, special opportunities and barriers, accurate information).

To illustrate how the COR model might work, let us trace Janez through the model. His job requires that he participates in a training course (opportunity or barrier). Considering the motivation theories (Rothstein 1990, pp.137-150), he can be motivated or not to learn. With people who are not motivated we can stop talking of learning at this point already. But Janez is motivated, his past experience is positive as he liked school and was successful. After some years at job he would like to renew and improve his knowledge (self-evaluation, positive attitude about learning). But his job does not acknowledge the participation in training courses as promotion or reward (barrier). Janez starts considering whether it is worth being absent from home for a week of training. As he has not been administratively chosen and they asked him first whether he was interested in learning or not, it is too late to change his mind. Besides, his girlfriend left him (life transition) and perhaps it would be wise to be occupied with something else. He decides to read the programme about training (accurate information), but no material is to be distributed to the participants (barrier). The training manager has informed Janez that the goal of the course is to refresh and improve the existent knowledge (no accurate information) and this goal has been the same for years (inadequate expectations). This is not what Janez has expected but there is no other opportunity at this point and he has to participate in the course (barrier).

All circumstances in this situation represent the points when motivation can be reinforced or decreased in a chain. However, teaching methods represent another factor that can influence learning tremendously.

When adults decide on an educational activity they begin it because of a problem or responsibility they feel toward the solution of a problem (Cross 1981, p.188). There was a study in 1979 (Cross 1981, p.192) which showed that adults decide on the style of learning which allows them to control over a learning situation (contents, pace, learning style) and have negative attitudes toward classes as traditional way of learning. In a working organization, a planner is called a person who makes the majority of decisions about what to learn and how to teach. Planners also bring decisions about goals, activities, time, pace, duration of training.

Since the need for individualization of the subject matter stems from problem-centred orientation to learning, the participants want to learn enough to solve their rather unique problem and they do want a solution. The more sharply the potential learner has managed to define the problem, the more information is redundant or irrelevant. Most of the motivation for participating in a learning situation lies in a clarification of the problem and in an awareness of the need for learning (Cross 1981, p.195).

Methods of teaching and learning depend on the subject matter. Documenting changes and trends in teaching/learning methods, there were no significant changes from 1972 to 1978 (Cross 1981, p.212). But there is an increase in multimethod activities. Experiential learning has introduced active forms of participation in a learning situation (role play, simulation, workshop) which are not only very efficient but also important for developing human relationships in general (Boydell 1976). Experiential learning forces a participant to solve his/her problem by recalling own perceptions about this problem. He/she is personally involved in the problem and having been perceived once as a past experience, now the problem activates a participant to look for solutions independently and to recall the appropriate knowledge without (Kolb 1984, p.4). There is a need for active methods of learning/teaching in adult education. Adults prefer active versus passive methods believing the participative forms of learning lead to the solution of the problem - the goal of learning (Krajnc 1979, p.97). These are as a rule, group forms (group discussions, case studies, problem solving, peer teaching, etc.) (Marentič-Požarnik 1992; Mijoč 1995).

Speaking of teaching methods, we know a traditional teacher-dominated model and the other extreme, the student-dominated model. Traditional teaching is significant for one-way communication but quality teaching demands modifications in the role of a teacher. A teacher should become an efficient manager in the classroom.

Brandes and Ginnis (1990, p.165) write about three extreme power structures in a classroom situation. The authoritarian style is a teacher-dominated (win-lose) position in which the teacher must win one way or another. Student - centred situation belongs to the participatory style based on sharing responsibility and a sense of partnership between a teacher and students. The permissive style is significant for a student - dominated situation (lose-win) where the teacher is unable to win for one reason or another. Thus the style of managing the classroom affects the relationship between the teacher and students.

A sharing of responsibility for decisions is possible in the situation where there is no struggle for power and the idea of dominance is itself removed. This takes the pressure off and the energy can be chanelled into more creative pursuits. Sharing responsibility is possible only when participants choose and plan the curriculum, or at least participate in the choosing of subject matter and defining learning objectives (Brandes and Ginnis 1990, p.12).

Location and scheduling of learning are modifications of education, an external circumstance, which can, considering the chain-of-response model, easily become a barrier for learning. Inconvenient location and scheduling/duration may inhibit participation in a learning situation.

2 DEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM

The study is aimed to find:

We are interested in elements which affect quality in the implementation of training programmes.

3 SELECTION OF TRAINING PROGRAMMES

Among numerous training programmes prepared by different departments within the Ministry, we chose those which could, in our opinion, reflect the present situation best. To make the choice representative we included programmes with different contents and prepared by appropriate departments i.e. the criminal detective programme prepared by the Criminal Investigation Department. The programmes performed regularly, attended by a great number of participants and carried out by different implementors were chosen for the survey. We selected nine programmes: for traffic policemen, policemen - mentors, performing police powers, criminal detectives, mobile detective groups, criminal information technology, registrars, modern secretary and public relation.

4 RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS

4.1 Criteria for comparison

The written documents about programmes were compared according to the guidelines defined by ZAVOD ZA ŠOLSTVO in 1980. They include: introductory remarks, general data, curriculum (contents and number of hours), objectives, obligations of participants, literature and conditions for implementation.

4.2 Structured interview

The outline of the interview comprised the following items: lecturers' experience, the attitude towards teaching and relevance to their everyday work, contents, most effective teaching methods and aids, feedback on the quality of performance, individualization of the subject matter, considering the participants' experience or not, taking in consideration analysis of programmes, preparation of the material for the participants, finances, and cooperation with an organizer. These questions were answered by planners, organizers and implementors/teachers of programmes.

4.3 Questionnaire

There were 65 items belonging to the following sections: personal data of the participant (except the name as the questionnaire was anonymous), organization of the course, contents, implementors/teachers, teaching and learning methods, evaluation performed by organizers, assessment of participants. The respondents assessed the items according to the Likert's five- step scale (Baker 1988, Mužič 1986).

5 SAMPLE

5.1 Planners, organizers, implementors

Usually there are different departments within the Ministry appearing as planners and organizers. They authorize a person to be responsible for training at this department. This person organizes and invites the employees from the Ministry to perform some lessons and exams for the participants of the courses. These employees may be regular teachers from the Secondary Police School or the College of Police and Security Studies.

This is the case in the courses for traffic policemen, policemen - mentors, implementing police powers, crime detectives, mobile crime groups, crime information technology, and registrars. Implementors for the courses for modern secretaries and public relations were private professional organizations.

5.2 Participants

The questionnaires were sent to all who participated in the above courses in the years 1993, 1994. 498 questionnaires were posted and the respondents sent back 207 questionnaires (41,5%). Although there is nothing wrong with the percentage, we are aware of the possibility that the sample is one-sided since the questionnaires were returned by the participants who were ready to cooperate in this study. The number of participants on individual courses was different as well as the number of the returned questionnaires. It has been between 21% - 63% and we considered this data in the quality analysis and interpretation of results.

6 DESCRIPTION OF THE PROCEDURE

6.1 Collecting data

We analysed written documentation of each course. Interviews were conducted with the planners, organisers and teachers/implementors. The questionnaire was constructed and posted to the participants.

6.2 Data processing

The course documentation was analysed according to the set criteria. Interviews were written down and sent to the authors for authorizing before conducting the quality analysis. The questionnaires were statistically processed. The methods of descriptive statistics and one-way analysis of variance were applied.

7 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Due to too big a number of the study results we present only those which we find important for establishing an efficient training system. We would also like to show strong and weak points of the present system of training within the Ministry of the Interior.

It should be stressed here that the orientation of the questionnaire was positive and that participants noted only the most interesting subject matter, the best implementors and the most efficient methods of teaching/learning.

Programmes

The analysis of documentation has showed that the written form is not standardised for all the programmes. Some follow the guidelines set by ZAVOD ZA ŠOLSTVO (look 4.1), others have the form of a schedule or workbook.

Two programmes do not consider the background knowledge of the participants. This makes the teaching job more difficult and also lowers the participants' motivation.

Methods of teaching appear as a special chapter in some programmes. It makes us conclude that it may be possible to influence the designers of programmes by paying attention to teaching methods in the written document first and consequently also in the programme implementation phase. Quite a number of programmes include topics based on experiential learning. Since the participants are already familiar with some subject matter from their secondary police education and have work experience, it would be very convenient to apply methods of teaching which include immediate experience (simulation, discussion, role-play, etc.).

Verification procedure differs from one programme to another. The authorising bodies, which verify the programmes are school councils (Secondary Police School, College of Police and Security Studies), collegiates of the superiors of different departments, the minister's office. It makes us conclude that the criteria for verification procedure are different and thus should be uniformed.

Duration

Courses, as the most frequent form of training, differ in duration (3 days to 3 months). Duration and scheduling are elements that influence the motivation of participants. It is easier for professional and especially non-professional teachers to concentrate on motivation for 3 days than for 3 months! It should be considered whether more shorter courses would be more efficient and effective than one longer course. A short and effective course may find a special place in a participant's memory especially if it is implemented according to didactic and managerial principles.

Organization

The respondents have assessed the co-ordination, time and location of the courses quite well. Mostly it is the organizer who decides about the time and place of training and co- ordinates work between participants and implementors. Two courses are especially outstanding; in one the participants receive the time schedule in advance and bring work material (literature) along to the course; in another the participants discuss the suggested time-table and add additional suggestions before the course actually begins. The planner and organizer define the target group to participate at the course. It is usually chosen among those who have not been at the course yet.

The preparation of work material belongs to the organization. This kind of material can be traced in three out of nine courses and the participants receive it on the first course day. Some of those involved are diligent and attempt to send preparatory material before the beginning of the course. However, the people are informed about their participation too late and it would make no sense to expect from them to read the material through before the course.

We suggest the organizer informs the future candidates about their participation well in advance. We also think the organizer should arrange for implementors to prepare the work material which can be in various forms (files, transperancies, etc.) and sent to the future participants before the course. Timely information and precise instruction for what to read in the material should lead to efficient start of coursework. Discussion about expectations of the participants should be also placed in the beginning of coursework and adjusted with the goals of the course.

For the target group, it would be reasonable to consider who and how to define for course participation. Since participation is not stimulated in any way but still necessary for quality work performance, the "course market system" would introduce many new interests for the candidates (motivation, interest) and organizers (good and effective instead of formal courses). The goals of individual courses may be an element of written documentation but we miss a uniformed objective in the organization of training in general. It is obvious now that different departments within the Ministry introduce as many new programmes as they would like.

Content

The respondents assess the following content elements as most valuable: useful for work, new knowledge, relevance. Topics dealing with current work problems and fulfilment of expectations are assessed as less valuable.

The content is usually defined by an organizer or it is arranged with an implementor to prepare it. The organizer establishes the needs first which is done in different ways (own work practice, observing work, discussions with policemen). No systematic needs analysis can be traced within different departments which organize training. External implementors (professional training firms) encourage the participants to suggest additional topics after they survey the workbook content together.

Background knowledge is assessed as less valuable for three course programmes. It can be questionable for the courses which are based on theory mainly, because the organizer has done no needs analysis. This may be the reason the participants assessed gaining of practical skills as less valuable. With practical skills we mean practical application of knowledge (presentation, problem solving, etc.)

Theory and training experience suggest what this study has proved once again - the organizers must conduct needs analysis first and prepare the content of the programme accordingly. They should pay attention to the everyday problems that candidates have at work.

The organizer and implementor should take care of individualization of the content. It can be easily done by adjusting the goals of the course and expectations of participants in the beginning and during the course.

Taking into consideration that the participants already have certain background knowledge, organizers and implementors could avoid duplicating and boring repetition of some topics.

Methods

Lecture is the most frequently applied teaching method in the courses performed by internal implementors (employees of the Ministry of the Interior). Workshop is regularly applied by external implementors. In individual courses lecture is combined with group work, discussion and role-play (external), demonstration/presentation, conversation and exercises.

Instead we suggest that the organizers include teaching methods into a written document about the programme. This could be the basis for implementors - especially internal ones - to apply active methods as often as possible (role-play, simulation, problem solving, case study, etc.). The organizer and implementor must be always aware that candidates join training course after they have gained some practical experience. It could be recalled by appropriate teaching methods and put to profitable use in the course.

Implementors

We are using the terms "external" and "internal" implementors. The first group is represented by private professional training organizations which offer some programmes for general use (modern secretary), or are asked by the Ministry to prepare them considering special needs of the employees (public relation).

Internals form the second group. They come from different departments of the Ministry of the Interior (police schools, too) and teach the subjects which are or were connected with their work. We can speak about the transfer of the experience to the course participants. Internal implementors believe they have gained enough knowledge on teaching by teaching in many courses. The majority accept teaching as an obligation which must be fulfilled. When an individual does not want to teach, some organizers try to find another person. Financial reward does not represent any stimulation for internal implementors as it is very low and is paid only to those whose primary activity is not teaching. Teaching is performed usually during their regular work time but their primary job and activities remain and must be done afterwards. This is the reason they do not like teaching on longer courses.

The respondents assessed best those implementors who had motivated the participants to learn and had applied active teaching methods. The following elements were assessed worse: abilities to motivate, encouraging discussion and expression of personal opinions.

Implementors' attitudes towards the participants has been mostly advisory and respectful (internals) or direct and respectful (externals). Authoritarian attitude has not been noticed. It may be concluded that the organizer should consider the teaching experience when selecting the implementors, especially their abilities to motivate and to apply active teaching methods. Perhaps the implementors who like to teach would also like to be trained for teaching. In this case the appropriate financial reward should not represent a problem.

Evaluation

The evaluation method applied by organizers to get the feedback from the participants is not standardised. It is mostly in the form of answers to the questionnaire or discussion between the participants and organizers at the end of the course.

In one workshop the external implementor carries out the evaluation on three levels. The questionnaires are sent to the participants at the end of the course, after 6 months and after one year. In the second workshop the external implementor takes care of formative evaluation and considers the opinions and suggestions during the course.

The results of the questionnaires, carried out by the organizers for internal courses provide the data for a report on the implementation of the programme. However, there are no changes noticed in the two programmes after the analysis has been conducted every year. The organizer of two programmes does not invite the implementors who have been assessed lower than 3,5 on the scale 1 to 5.

The majority of the courses finish with the examination. However, the effect of the course (considering the participants' expectations) is bigger in two workshops which do not include any examination and are performed by external implementors.

The methods of evaluation should be carefully studied by the organizer and applied professionally. When organizers conduct any kind of analysis, the results should be considered in the phase of planning the next course. It is also necessary to study the effect of examinations and their performance. Special attention should be paid to the validity of examinations - do they measure what they are supposed to?

Comparison between internal and external courses/workshops

The respondents have assessed the organization of the course performed by external implementors better. However, there is no difference between external and internal implementors concerning the location and scheduling; both are assessed positively. But they assessed the external implementors much higher for their arrangement of the content within the time scheme.

Assessment of the content is higher for external workshops, but there is almost no difference between external and internal courses for useful subject matter. Internal courses are assessed higher for acquiring the proper knowledge, and externals for acquiring the proper skills. The courses by internal organizers and teachers are assessed high for their actuality.

External implementors are assessed better than internal ones, who are assessed lower for the following elements: motivating participants, efficient communication, considering the opinions of participants, encouraging discussion and expression of personal opinions, and systematic work.

Better results for external implementors (professionals) were expected and can be easily understood. But the Ministry of the Interior is a big organization with about 8.000 employees, and as such has its own potential - people who would undoubtedly be able to prepare good programmes and perform them effectively. The results of external implementors could be used as guide worthy of following.

8 RECOMMENDATIONS

To prepare, organize and implement the future forms of training more effectively, we offer the following recommendations as results of our study.

For planners:

They should cooperate with the central department for training, organize the standardised verification of the programmes and assure agreement between organizers and implementors.

For organizers:

They should discuss about the goals and content of the programmes with the planners and implementors They should invite "teachers" instead of define them. Organizers should be familiar with active teaching methods and methods of evaluation. They should take care of the work material and distribute it to the participants in advance. They should also check the effectiveness of examinations.

The written form of the programmes should be extended by two new chapters: background knowledge and methods of teaching. Together with planners they arrange the standardised verification of programmes and should study the appropriate duration of the courses.

Organizers should inform the participants of the time table before they start training, and adjust their expectations to the course objectives. They should consider pedagogic (not teaching) experience when selecting the "teachers" and examine the possibility of training them in teaching methods.

They should tailor the programmes for a specific population with specific education and background knowledge. The candidates may have specific interests or no interest at all. Yet, when collecting feedback from them it is important to consider their suggestions in the next course (timely information about participation, appropriate time table, co-ordination and implementors' agrement with the course programme).

For implementors:

They should be responsible individuals showing enthusiasm in the preparation and performance phases. As "teachers" they should prepare work material for their "students" adding some guidelines ho to use it. They should be able to apply active methods of teaching and modern teaching technology. They should follow trends how to motivate students, how to communicate effectively, how to encourage participants to participate in learning and express their opinions.

9 CONCLUSION

The authors of the study presented the results at the round table in November 1995. The invitation for active participation was sent to all who deal with training and those who share interest and enthusiasm towards this field. The discussion confirmed the results of the study and showed at certain weaknesses which were not included in the survey: too many courses, poor information system, duplicating of topics, no standardised goal of the training system in general, continuing performance of the courses without any modernisation or supplementation.

To modernize the system of training within the Ministry it would be most important to define the appropriate objectives for training in general, and consequently for individual programmes prepared by various departments. The example of such objective became clear at the Round Table. The need has been acknowledged to train in specific fields for occupying the specific working positions. In this case planning of individual programmes would be recommended. They would be easier to co-ordinate and the candidates would be motivated in participation.

The existing training system can represent basis for a new system following the principles of "a learning organization" (Jelenc 1995). But as long as the need for change of the present system of training is not recognized by the top management, no changes for better can be expected in such a hierarchical organization as the police.


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