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

TAG | academic achievement

My name is Leslie K. Grier and I am an Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Studies at California State University, Fullerton.  I am interested in quality programming and evaluation practices in out-of-school time programs.  My interests also include moral and character development and their relationship to academic achievement.

Although the terms moral and character development are often used interchangeably, historically moral development has focused on how individuals think and reason about moral issues.  Character on the other hand is broader and incorporates behavioral tendencies.

In out-of-school time programs, there is a focus on positive youth development.  This involves providing youth with nurturing contexts such as support from caring adults.  It also involves opportunities to build core competencies such as character.  Programs attempt to develop character in a variety of ways.  Some use well established approaches, while others promote ideals informally by laying out expectations for conduct across various venues including social and academic, and promoting these expectations.  With evaluation practice in out-of-school time programs, one must be concerned about formative and summative evaluation.  Although promoting character and other social competencies is important, it is ultimately expected these will contribute to more concrete outcomes such as academic achievement.

Lessons Learned

For character development initiatives, two types of formative assessments are useful.  First an assessment of character that includes positive and negative attributes.  Both relate to academic achievement, albeit in different ways.  It is also important that character assessments include an element of what Davidson, Lickona, and Khmelkov (2008) referred to as “performance character.”  This involves translating moral ideals into positive and optimum actions.  My research suggests this may be important in children’s transfer of skills developed in out-of-school time programs to other contexts.  Therefore, formative character assessments should include behaviors reflective of moral initiative or impetus that go beyond simple compliance with rules and expectations.

Second, formative assessments should reflect the quality of relationships between children and program staff.  Children tend to adopt the values of those in which they have solid interpersonal relationships.  Second, positive relationships between children and program staff can help neutralize the destabilizing impact of children’s anti-social behavior on learning and achievement in programs (e.g., Baker, Grant and Morlock, 2008).  Pertinent assessments might include children’s perceptions of social support from, and children’s level of bonding or affection towards program staff.

Davidson, M., Lickona, T., & Khmelkov, V. (2008).  Smart & Good Schools:  A new paradigm for high school character education.  In L.P. Nucci & D. Narvaez (Series Eds.).  Handbook of Moral and Character Education.   Routledge:  New York.

Baker, J.A., Grant, S., & Morlock, L. (2008).  The teacher student relationship as a developmental context for children with internalizing or externalizing behavior problems. School Psychology Quarterly, 23, 3-15.

 

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

· · · · · · ·

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.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

· ·

Archives

To top