Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Second Advisor

Ryan K. Baggett

Third Advisor

James R. Bliss

Abstract

Technology-based training solutions are increasingly being utilized by organizations to achieve training objectives at lower costs as compared to traditional instructor-led training (ILT). This is especially true for the Nation’s first responder agencies that continue to face difficulties related to expanding training requirements that are pitted against limitations in agency financial and human resources. Despite the proliferation in the use of technology-based training solutions, such as web-based training (WBT), there is little research within the first responder community as to whether WBT is as effective as ILT in enabling trainees to transfer essential knowledge, skills, abilities (KSAs) from a training course to daily job settings.

This study addressed this research gap through secondary data analysis of ILT and WBT courses developed by the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC), a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training provider, and subsequently delivered to first responders in rural communities across the United States. The secondary data analyzed within this study was originally obtained through the RDPC Level 3 Course Evaluation Program, which evaluates the training effectives of delivered courses. Although the RDPC program captures training transfer-related data for its courses, a comparative analysis of training delivery method has not been completed. Therefore, this analysis enabled the determination as to whether training transfer within the first responder community is affected by the training delivery method as well as other trainee characteristics (e.g., responder discipline and geographical region). Overall, the research findings suggest that training transfer is unaffected by training delivery method (ILT and WBT within this study) within the first responder community.

The study results are important for first responder agencies in light of budget limitations, which tend to be exaggerated in small and rural areas. For example, the results illustrate that first responder agencies can utilize cost-effective WBT and experience no drop-off in training transfer. This finding provides justification to training providers, such as the RDPC, to invest in WBT course development and expanded delivery mechanisms to help provide training in more effective and efficient ways, which is important in small, rural, and remote communities. Lastly, this research provides valuable insight for both the first responder and academic communities by presenting information to help ensure the right trainee takes the right training at the right time for the right investment.

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