Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Learning about learning from the evaluation of a national child protection training programme

Keywords: improving retention of learning, messages for planners and managers of training, employers' responsibilities for maximising learning from training, lessons learned about evaluation methods

Author: Ms Kate Skinner (IRISS)

This child protection training programme was developed in response to findings from an inquiry into the death of a child under social work supervision. The programme was a complex one, aiming to address the training needs of social workers in adult services (community care and criminal justice) on mental health, alcohol and drug misuse and their impact on child protection. The programme subsequently brought together staff from both adult and children's social work services to learn about working across disciplinary boundaries.

The evaluation of the programme was based on Kirkpatrick's (1994) four level framework. This multi-modal approach was designed to add to the comment sheets completed by programme participants by capturing the knowledge gained, their learning and understanding of important issues and the transfer into practice of that knowledge, learning and understanding.

The findings from the study gave a fascinating insight into participants' expectations of training, the complexities of knowledge transfer and knowledge exchange in short course programmes and the difficulties inherent in gathering information about learning outcomes through methods such as examination of service users' files and direct contact by researchers with service users.

The study surfaced a range of issues about the changed climate for research in the UK in an environment where there has been legislative change and the emergence of a regulatory framework both of which have impacted on the willingness of public sector bodies to commit to the research and evaluation agenda, while at the same time there is increased pressure for value for money and activities that assess service outcomes.

In this paper I will discuss the findings from the study and make suggestions about the retention of learning, the evaluation of training and how best to deal with a climate which may be developing resistance to participation in research.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 2.00-2.30

Venue: Ochil One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).