UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluation of a competency-based education framework for police recruit training in British Columbia Houlahan, Nora


Police training is traditionally delivered in a didactic, para-military style that contrasts with modern day public expectations of patrol level police officers. The predominant methods of instruction and assessment for police recruits remain lecture-based and memorization-driven. In British Columbia, all municipal, transit, and tribal police recruits are trained at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Police Academy. In 2016, the JIBC Police Academy implemented a recruit-training program that is centred on the development and assessment of the Police Sector Council (PSC) National Framework of Constable Competencies. The core aspects of this program include: integrated delivery of materials focused around common patrol-level calls, application and performance through case-based and scenario-based learning activities, development of individualized training plans with instructors mentoring recruits over the course of training, performance-based assessment exam scenarios, and assessment portfolios at the end of each component of training. This is the first police recruit training program in Canada to directly integrate the PSC competencies. This project used a quantitative approach to evaluate the first component (Block I) of the new training delivery model through surveying recruits and their Field Training Officers (FTOs) from one class trained in the old lecture-based delivery model and two classes trained in the new competency-based delivery model. The survey used the PSC constable competencies as the reference point and, for each of the nine core competencies, asked about the recruits’ ability and how well their Block I training prepared them for Block II. Recruits in the lecture-based delivery model rated their ability significantly higher than those from the competency-based delivery model in: adaptability, ethical accountability, organizational awareness, problem solving, risk management, stress tolerance, and teamwork. No significant difference in how FTOs rated recruits in the lecture-based and competency-based delivery models was identified. Analysis of the comments indicate the recruits in the lecture-based delivery model may have a less robust understanding of the role of a patrol level police officer due to their limited exposure to scenarios and the lack of formative feedback on their performance, and may over-estimate their own ability. The impacts of organizational cynicism and change management are included in the discussion.

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