Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Evaluation of a Training Program of the Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project in Mainland China

Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

Evaluation of a Training Program of the Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project in Mainland China

Article excerpt

Introduction

The growth of adolescent developmental problems has received much attention from the general public. With the reference to Hong Kong, Shek, Ma, and Sun (1) highlighted the emergence of different adolescent development problems, including substance abuse, suicide, and Internet addiction. In response to such adolescent developmental issues, prevention programs and positive youth development programs are two possible solutions. However, as there are criticisms for adolescent prevention programs which are complementary to positive youth development programs, comprehensive positive youth development programs to promote holistic development and psychosocial competencies among Chinese adolescents are called for. To help adolescents develop in a holistic manner, a positive youth development program entitled "P.A.T.H.S. to Adulthood: A Jockey Club Youth Enhancement Scheme" was initiated in 2005 with financial support from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The Tier 1 program is a curricular-based program developed for junior secondary school students (Secondary 1 to Secondary 3) in Hong Kong based on the 15 positive youth development constructs identified in the existing successful programs (2). On the other hand, the Tier 2 program was developed for participants who showed greater psychosocial needs (3).

With the overwhelming success of the Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong (4), an adapted version of the Tier 1 Program of the Project P.A.T.H.S. was piloted in four secondary schools in East China from 2011 to 2014 with the financial support of Tin Ka Ping Foundation. Both subjective and objective outcome evaluation findings revealed that the trial implementation was successful (5,6). Hence, the second phase of Tin Ka Ping P.A.T.H.S. Project was launched in 2014/15 academic year as a preparatory year. A total of 30 schools from different provinces in China participated in this project. As a preparatory year, the Research Team implemented four training programs for the potential implementers of the participating schools.

Systematic training for potential program implementers is indispensable in human service programs. First, a program will not be successful if the implementers cannot identify the benefits of the program. As mentioned by Fullan (7), effectiveness of education change depends on the shared meaning and collaborative effort of the implementers. Besides, potential program implementers can enhance the capacity and skills gained from the professional training. As mentioned by Clarke (8), in-service training is a key means for trainees to familiarize with the program philosophy and content, as well as to underpin their enthusiasm and support for the program. Moreover, program outcome was positively associated with teachers' perceived efficacy. Ketelhut and Schifter (9) showed that teachers' efficacy of teaching new programs could affect teaching quality and program outcome. Based on such findings, it can be reasoned that professional training can facilitate implementers' self-efficacy of teaching positive youth development programs. Furthermore, training for program implementers could help to avoid the likelihood of type III error (i.e., correctly summarizing that the program is unsuccessful for the wrong reason) (10-12). As such, training should be treated as a key component in positive youth development programs.

To examine the impact of training programs, it is argued that post-training evaluation is necessary for every training program. Scriven (13) defined evaluation as "the process of determining the merit, worth, and value of things and evaluations are the products of that process" (p. 1). Scientific evaluation can give sound evidence about whether the training program is effective or not. Besides, evaluation can measure whether the objectives of the training program, content, and methods are appropriate to achieve the expected outcomes (14). Also, it is important to evaluate trainees' attitudes of and feedback on the training program. …

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