«JOHN-PAUL HATALA MINIMIZING DETERRENTS TO RE-TRAINING OR RE-EDUCATING LAID-OFF AND UNEMPLOYED ADULTS: AN INTERVENTION STUDY. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ...»
decrease for each interval. This suggests, in general, that perceptions about the importance of deterrents to participation in education diminished as a consequence of the intervention method. This pattern was noted for each of the six subscales.
Table 2 shows intercorrelations among the deterrent subscale scores and reliability coefficients for each subscale by occasion. As expected, intercorrelations within subscales across occasions were high. In general, the majority of the remaining coefficients are greater than 0.3 in absolute value and statistically significant which is substantial for a sample of this size. These moderately high correlation’s support the conjecture that the subscales related to an underlying deterrent construct and justify the use of multivariate analysis of variance. One exception, however, was the cost subscale which was found to be negatively related to perceived course relevance, time constraints and low personal priorities. This may be due to the fact that once the participants became aware of programs which provided funding and financial assistance, the perception of cost being a deterrent became less relevant. Although this is mere speculation, the author is unaware of any prior studies that compare the relationship between deterrent factors.
Overall scale reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) for the six factors in the Darkenwald and Valentine study (1985) were.87 (lack of confidence),.83 (lack of course relevance),.72 (time constraints),.64 (low personal problems),.75 (cost), and.40 (personal problems) respectively. Table 2 reveals that the reliability (alpha) for the six subscales in the present study are
As shown in Table 3 an unexpected multivariate main effect for group was obtained. The early treatment group scored higher for both of the course relevance F(1, 25)=4.11, p.05 and cost F(1, 25)=4.32, p.05 subscales, but no differences were observed for the lack of confidence, time constraints, low personal priority and personal problem factor sets. The means for early versus delayed treatment groups for course relevance and cost were M=2.73 vs. 2.44 and M=3.21 vs. 2.81, respectively.
Given the random allocation of participants to groups and identical treatment there was no reason to expect any group differences Table 3 also reveals a statistically significant multivariate main effect for occasion. Univariate tests revealed that differences for occasion were observed for each of the six subscales: lack of confidence, F(2, 50)=44.94, p.001, course relevance, F(2, 50)=21.41, p.001, time constraints, F(2, 50)=50.32, p.001, low personal priority, F(2, 50)=24.06, p.001, cost F(2, 50)=22.13, p.001, and personal problems, F(2, 50)=22.13, p.001. Inspection of means in Table 1 reveals a general tendency for the perceived importance of deterrents to decrease from baseline to posttest intervals which provides support for the hypothesis that the intervention affected perceived deterrents as predicted.
Table 3 also shows a statistically significant multivariate interaction effect for group by occasion.
The univariate tests of this interaction divulged significant orthonormalized contrast effects comparing baseline to interim scores for each of lack of confidence, F(1, 25)= 12.18, p.01, course relevance, F(1, 25)=5.84, p.05, time constraints, F(1, 25)=15.50, p.001, low personal priority, F(1, 25)=4.40, p.05 and cost F(1, 25)=4.03, p.05 subscales. Close inspection of the means in Table 1 reveals that in every case initial baseline perceptions of the early group were found to diminish at the interim level whereas no change was observed for the delayed group. Although not statistically significant, this pattern was also observed for the personal problem subscale. This findings provide overwhelming support for the hypothesis that the re-entry treatment was effective in diminishing perceived deterrents to participation. A statistically significant contrast between combined baseline and interim and posttest intervals was also observed for the time constraint subscale, F(1, 25)=6.94, p.01. Inspection of the means in Table 1 also reveals that in every case the importance of deterrents diminished from interim to posttest interval, although for some reason this drop was greater for the early group on the time constraints dimension.
Stability Taken as a whole these findings suggest, first, that the treatment was successful for the delayed group, and second, that the previously diminished perceived deterrents from the early group not only did not disappear but they diminished further. This observation provides strong support for the hypothesis that treatment effects are stable over time, at least in the short run.
Informal Observation Data A major observation of the present study was additional deterrents identified during the intervention treatment that were not accounted for on the DPS-G. The DPS-G developed in the Darkenwald and Valentine (1985) study was established to identify forces that deterred adults from participating in adult education courses and consisted of a heterogeneous population. The population consisted of both employed and unemployed individuals (61% were employed full-time, 16% part-time, and 23% were unemployed) with diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.
Although many of the deterrents identified in the 1985 study were consistent with participants in the present study, sociodemographic characteristics differ in that the present study involved a homogeneous sample population (unemployed and laid-off adults only). Taking this into consideration, there are important and identifiable variables in the present study that go beyond the prior deterrent construct. When dealing with the unemployed/laid-off population, many variables must be considered. These considerations were observed by Borgen and Amundson, (1984) as they described the stages of unemployment. The first stage is transitional in that an individual must accept their job loss or remain immobilized. Once an individual accepts job loss and realizes they need to acquire a new one, re-employment begins. If an individual is unsuccessful at this stage, a downward spiral becomes evident as the individual tries to cope with rejection and the stress associated with job search. When the individual has exhausted their ability to find employment, they start to feel worthless, isolated and drifting, at this time they may seek out guidance. Support, training or educational opportunities are introduced and the individual starts to feel hopeful, understood and encouraged and works towards reemployment. If retraining or reeducation becomes the main focus for job re-entry, it is at this point in time that the individual must deal with any deterrents associated with returning to an educational program.
The deterrent construct identified in the 1985 study encompassed deterrents that affected participation, and due to the heterogeneous sample population did not specifically account for additional variables associated with being unemployed or laid-off. Two distinct differences for the present study became apparent for both the early and delayed groups. First, those individuals identified as being out of work for a shorter period of time, it was found that these adults were at the stage of evaluating their present situation and basing their future actions on previous experiences (employer contacts, prior job search practices, updated resume, etc.). The morale of these individuals appeared to be positive and upbeat. Their immediate need was to develop a plan of action for their job search. Retraining or reeducation had represented an option but was not as important as finding immediate employment.
Individuals who had been unemployed for a longer period of time appeared to be less positive and were searching out different means for re-entering the workforce. Retraining and reeducation become an even more important option due to their deterioration of working skills as a result of being unemployed for a long period of time.
Second, Amundson and Borgen (1987) associated stress with being unemployed and suggested it goes far beyond the job search process. An unemployed individual starts to experience financial pressures, additional problems with family members, and the loss of selfconfidence and esteem (Amundson & Borgen, 1987).
Although these variables are similiar to the 1985 deterrent construct, they further add to an unemployed and laid-off adult deterrent profile. Due to the strong emotions associated with losing a job, decisions relating to educational re-entry may not be considered. Once the emotion associated with losing a job has been dealt with, updating skills become important and the individual is better prepared to overcome their reluctance to participate in an educational activity and start to match training programs to viable careers.
Prior negative educational experiences were a major reason for not returning to a program which became evident during group discussion. Both the early and delayed groups discussed deterrents that were related to personal obstacles and barriers associated with prior educational experiences. These deterrent forces were experienced while the adult was enrolled in a program, something that could be associated with ‘because I was not confident of my learning ability’, ‘because I felt unprepared for the course’, ‘because I didn’t think I could attend regularly’ and ‘because I don’t enjoy studying’ items of the DPS-G (1985). Specific prior negative educational experiences identified during the re-entry workshop were as follows: loss of motivation;
no prerequisite (did not take any upgrading courses and was unprepared); poor time management skills; became bored easily during class due to lack of interest; course did not meet specific expectations; daycare problems incurred during course; course was too advanced and could not keep up; to much homework; to many tests/essays;
competition among students for marks; to much group work;
and transportation problems. These observational data suggest that it may be important to expand the deterrent profile, at least for this population. Intervention research may want to be measured as further additions to the deterrent construct.
Interview Follow-up A random sample of ten participants (five from each group) were selected for follow-up telephone calls two months after the final re-entry workshop. All participants contacted had returned to a training or educational activity ranging from computer courses to career related workshops. A reoccurring theme throughout the interviews was how the re-entry workshop provided information regarding available training and educational opportunities. The participants realized that the longer they were out of work the more important it was to maintain and update their skills in order to find employment. Most participants saw the re-entry workshop as “an opportunity to meet other adults with similiar circumstances” and “an opportunity to get things out in the open”. One participant expressed training or educational opportunities as the same as purchasing a computer, “Before you spend money on a computer, you better make sure that it will do everything you want it to do. When looking for employment it is important to match education to a viable career otherwise your just wasting your time”.
With regards to diminishing perceived deterrents to educational re-entry, one participant stated “the workshop helped me to build my confidence regarding returning to school and now I don’t have to be ashamed about going back”. Another individual stated “I now realize the importance of updating my skills so I can remain competitive with the younger people coming out of school”. Although some of the interviewed individuals had made the decision to re-enter a training or education program prior to attending the workshop, the re-entry workshop helped them to prepare themselves mentally for re-entry and to choose a program that would best suit their needs (private institutions versus university or college courses).
The cost of entering a program remained the greatest deterrent to participating. Although the reentry workshop provided alternative means for financing an education, individuals were still concerned with finding the money to pay for tuition. One individual returned to a program because it was sponsored by unemployment insurance, otherwise he was not in a financial position to pay for a course. Also, the importance of family support was not considered prior to the re-entry workshop. Individuals were better informed to discuss their reasons for entering a program with their families. Open communication with family members allowed both sides to understand the commitment that is need to return to school and their participation in a program represented a greater chance of re-entering the workforce.
Intervention Effects The primary focus of the present research was to determine whether an intervention treatment on a sample population of unemployed and laid-off adults would be successful in diminishing perceived deterrents to participation in adult education. Prior to this study, deterrent research centered mainly on identifying what deters adults from participating in educational programs and developing a theoretical basis for nonparticipation.
Although this research (Darkenwald & Valentine, 1985;
Martindale & Drake, 1989; Scanlan & Darkenwald, 1984) has added significantly to our knowledge base, very little systematic inquiry has been carried out to determine the tractability of perceived deterrents to planned interventions.
Utilization of the DPS-G in the present study enables comparisons with Darkenwald and Valentine (1985).
Such comparison reveals that the six-factor deterrent framework is appropriate to the unemployed/laid-off population. Overall scale reliabilities (alphas) for the six factors compared well with those previously reported.