Academic journal article International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

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

Article excerpt

Introduction

There are growing numbers of Chinese adolescents engaging in risk behavior (1), including binge drinking, delinquency, smoking, unhealthy eating, unsafe sexual practices, and other reckless behaviors (2). Unfortunately, programs designed to prevent adolescent risk taking and to promote positive adolescent development are grossly inadequate in different Chinese societies, especially mainland China (3,4). As such, programs specifically targeting adolescent developmental problems and positive development are called for (5). Besides Hong Kong, some programs have been introduced in mainland China recently (6).

To ensure that adolescents can benefit from adolescent risk prevention and positive youth development programs, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs. From a human service point of view, program implementer is an important element affecting the effectiveness of a program (7). Various studies have shown that professional training can significantly enhance the competence of program implementers as well as program implementation quality. Shek and Sun (8) argued that providing professional, systematic, and progressive training to potential program implementers was one of the key factors that led to successful program implementation. Specifically, program implementers can acquire specific skills, attitudes, knowledge and values through training which are crucial for quality implementation of programs. In addition, program implementers can develop a sense of ownership of the program, which is an indispensable prerequisite for enhancing successful program implementation (7). While there is a considerable focus on measuring the effectiveness of prevention and positive youth development programs, less attention has been given to training of program implementers. In the present study, we focused on the perceived effectiveness of training programs from the perspective of the trainees.

The aim of this training program evaluation is to assess the quality of training using scientific thinking, methods, measurements, and analyses (7). It helps to understand whether the training objectives are properly achieved. More importantly, it helps to identify the factors affecting the quality of training, such as whether the training materials, instructors, and methods adopted in the training program can achieve the overall training goals. Robson et al. (9) pointed out that training evaluation is crucial because it can help identify what works and what does not work before program implementation. They concluded that there is no way of measuring the effectiveness of training for implementers if training program evaluation is not conducted. Salas and Cannon-Bowers (10) suggested that training programs should not be regarded as structured programs or curricula, but better be seen as complex and dynamic interactions among program content, instructors, participants and other factors. In the present study, participants were invited to evaluate different aspects of a training program. Besides, predictors of the perceived benefits and overall satisfaction with the training program were examined.

Regarding the effectiveness of training, Elias (11) argued that three factors in the training program implementation should be included. The first factor is the program content which includes formats of activities, design, objectives, and interactions among the participants. The second factor is the administrative arrangement which includes hospitality, location, program enrolment, and facilities. The final factor is the implementation process which includes teaching strategies and curriculum materials. Shek and Sun (12) proposed five factors that affected the quality of the implementation of their project. These factors included program, people, process, policy, and place (5 "P"s). "People" was identified as the major factor affecting the effectiveness of the project which included both participants and instructors. …

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