AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

CAT | Crime and Justice

My name is Laura Plybon. I am currently the Director of Assessment and Instructional Design for Drury University College of Graduate and Continuing Studies in Springfield, Missouri.  In addition to conducting academic assessments for the graduate programs at Drury, I also develop and implement assessment initiatives to improve instructional practices for those adult students who attend classes at our seven campus sites located across southwest Missouri. I also work closely with Tony Bowers, Director of Drury University’s Law Enforcement Academy, on academy assessment initiatives. It has been through this unique partnership that I have seen the value of using evidence-based academic assessment tools in predicting cadet persistence, academic achievement, and academy and career success.

There exists a small — but strong — body of theoretical and applied academic assessment police research.  I have found the theoretical perspectives to be refreshingly practical and applicable.  Hoekstra and Van Sluijs’ (2003) model (Figure 1) provides an excellent police assessment framework by considering the dual importance of personality and related psychological traits and cognitive ability and skills in influencing behavioral competencies of police cadets and officers.

Figure 1. Model from Hoekstra & Van Sluijs (2003)

One must have communication and critical thinking competencies to succeed in the field of law enforcement. Consider Holgersson, Gottschalk, and Dean’s (2008) model below. Cadets must have solid professional knowledge of the multiple components of the criminal justice system and critical thinking competencies to effectively perform in each domain.  Strong reading, writing, and communication skills are furthermore beneficial to the many other aspects of law enforcement, including police interviewing, report writing, and testifying in court.

Hot Tip: Evidence-based academic assessment tools have a place in professional programs, including law enforcement academies.  They are useful in retention initiatives and can provide guidance as to what student support interventions are most needed.

Hot Tip: Use academic assessments in coordination with personality assessments for police academy cadets to understand how psychological traits and academic skills of the cadets interact to influence academy behavior.

Hot Tip: Emphasize reading and writing skills across the curriculum as part of the valued-added educational assessment process of professional programs, especially law enforcement academies.

Rad Resources

Chappell, A.T. (2008). Police academy training: comparing across curricula. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 31(1), 36-56.

De Fruyt, F., Bockstaele, M., Taris, R., & Van Hiel, A. (2006). Police interview competencies: assessment and associated traits. European Journal of Personality, 20, 567-584.

Henson, B., Reuns, B.W., Klahm, C.F., Frank, J. (2010). Do good recruits make good cops? Problems predicting and measuring academy and street-level success. Police Quarterly, 13(1), 5-26.

Holgersson, S., Gottschalk, P., & Dean, G. (2008). Knowledge management in law enforcement: knowledge views for patrolling police officers. International Journal of Police Science and Management, 10(1), 76-88.

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