«JOHN-PAUL HATALA MINIMIZING DETERRENTS TO RE-TRAINING OR RE-EDUCATING LAID-OFF AND UNEMPLOYED ADULTS: AN INTERVENTION STUDY. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ...»
In the present study, the DPS-G was used for the first time to measure change in an adult's perception of what deters them from participation. The results confirm that perceptions about deterrents to participation can be altered by planned interventions. The re-entry workshop proved to be an effective way to diminish virtually each of the six deterrents measured. Table one presents mean scores of factor sets over the three intervals. The largest deterrent factors to decrease over time were cost (mean difference 1.19) and time constraints (mean difference 1.11). As observed in other studies (Blais et al., 1989; Darkenwald & Scanlan, 1984; Darkenwald & Valentine, 1985), cost and time constraints rated higher than any other. The information provided during the reentry workshop covered financial assistance and introduced training programs which provide funding. Many of the participants were unaware of educational assistance and the cost of financing an education.
Participants were unable to access information regarding programs due to their lack of resources and their inability to approach program officials with wellinformed career related questions regarding re-entry decisions.
A number of limitations of this study can serve as examples for future research possibilities. A larger sample population could be used to determine the effects of a re-entry workshop intervention across a broader range of participants. As well, a more comprehensive follow-up needs to be conducted to determine the stability of the ameliorated deterrents and observations of group differences at pretest may be considered to determine sociodemographic distinctions among participants.
The DPS-G was administered at three intervals to determine whether or not perceived deterrents were stable over time. Initial application of the DPS-G prior to the treatment intervention, was quite consistent to factors found in prior research (Darkenwald & Valentine, 1985).
Of the six factors identified in this study, all corresponded statistically with the 1985 findings.
Noticeable decreases in mean scores for each deterrent factor set became evident during the baseline and posttest intervals. The present study has substantial theoretical value, in that it reinforces the deterrent factor construct identified in prior research. A careful examination of the intervention yields practical insight into the nature and interplay of deterrent forces and how institutions and adults can overcome them. Although the durability and generalizability of the intervention have been tested on a small sample, it goes a long way towards the identification and amelioration of deterrents to participation in education for specific adult populations.
When dealing with deterrents to participation, institutions must take into consideration that dispositional deterrents are not generalizable and must be examined individually in order to implement appropriate changes that facilitate increased enrollment.
However, institutional and situational deterrents, such as cost and time constraints can be viewed as universal (Darkenwald & Valentine, 1990) and for obvious reasons are important considerations for organizing educational activity schedules. The need to develop methods for predicting the tractability of deterrent types and to test resulting hypotheses is important to understanding the differential impact of interventions on specific deterrents Initial evidence of the six factors regarding stability of deterrent reduction over the three intervals was quite substantial. All six factors were reduced in mean score from baseline to posttest. However it is necessary to perform longitudinal studies that track participants and their perceptions over longer periods of time. This will add to the understanding of identifying deterrents and developing interventions for ameliorating them. Lifelong learning has become increasingly important in a time of steady technological change. In order to compete in a fast changing labour market, individuals must constantly add and upgrade their skills.
The importance of developing and researching interventions which ameliorate deterrents to participation has become necessary to maintain a high level of working skills in what has become a competitive job market.
The present study is limited by its relatively short time frame. It is necessary to perform longer term follow-up with participants of the re-entry workshops which would help to determine the stability of ameliorated deterrents, especially for those with deterring forces of higher degree. This would help to determine whether or not the participant has re-entered a training or educational program as a result of the intervention. We need to focus on long term impact much more systematically and directly which is a problem with most intervention/training studies. The criteria for success are more or less intermediate while the real issue is one not of reducing deterrents but of enhancing participation. How can we better understand the impact of intervention on participation rates? This is a relatively expensive problem to answer but from a theoretical point of view, we need to have better evidence that in fact deterrent reduction does lead to increased participation.
The information provided at the re-entry workshops consisted of training or educational programs geared to re-entering the work force. The information must match the participant’ s present situation or the intervention is futile. If the participants were employed at the time of the intervention, information regarding training and educational opportunities would have been delivered differently. Once this distinction is made, the individual can take relevant information and use it to make well-informed decisions regarding re-entry. The need to know whether interventions for more generic populations can be effective may represent an important direction for intervention research.
Also, participants viewed time constraints as being heavily associated with looking for a job, taking care of children, or courses scheduled at an inconvenient time which did not permit them to enroll in a program. A discussion about time management principles was introduced, as well as information on programs in the area which provided daycare, convenient schedules and job search strategies. As a result, participants' perceptions of those factors deterring them from returning to a training or educational program had altered once the appropriate information was provided.
The sample used in this study may not even have included people with extremely high deterrent forces and serves as a further limitation. For instance, individuals who were invited to attend the re-entry workshop but did not may experience deterrent forces that keep them from seeking information. These individuals may be so immobilized that even if they attend re-entry workshops they would not be able to benefit without prior counselling. Further research is necessary to determine ways for reaching adults who are experiencing dispositional and situational deterrents at a much higher level.
A final limitation was the use of a self-directed format in a group setting. In this situation, the format may not have had the same effect as it would have had with individuals who would find individualized instruction more useful. Use of group format with individualized instruction and minimal group interaction is somewhat artificial. This may be reflected in the findings and is difficult to gauge as this was not part of the study. Individual re-entry counselling might be more suitable for adult’s who have been out of a group setting for a longer period of time (being in groups may represent deterring forces). Comparisons of group and individualized re-entry workshops could be performed to analyze the impact of both methods.
Implications For Research Since this is the first study using a DPS-G and an intervention treatment, much more work is needed to establish the stability of the intervention over a longer period of time. The only way this can be done is by replication of the present research with different populations.
Implications For Practice The ability for an organization to aid adults in overcoming their deterrents is a powerful tool. If administrators and program planners are to deal with adult deterrents to education and programming issues, it is not enough to identify deterrents but to develop practical applications to overcome them. Re-entry workshops provide participants with valuable information (e.g., financial aid, support services, exposure to adults with similar circumstances) necessary to confront and overcome their deterrents and to re-enter an educational setting. Re-entry workshops are location and population specific and information provided must be suited to the needs of the participants. When implementing a re-entry workshop it is important that these considerations are at the forefront, otherwise the information will not match the needs of the participants and may cause more harm than good. Information regarding local training and educational opportunities must be upto-date and in line with viable career possibilities.
Deterrents identified in the re-entry workshop should be validated and discussed among participants for appropriate ways of overcoming them. Appropriate resources must be provided, as well as a list of referrals to training and educational programs.
As was suggested by Darkenwald and Valentine (1985), deterrent scales should be developed with distinctive sup-populations in mind. The same principle holds true for the development and implementation of a re-entry workshop. The identification and implementation of the present intervention can be adapted for various populations. The format for the unemployed and laid-off intervention dealt with combing potential training programs with viable careers whereas the format for employed individuals could include programs that help maintain ones career. Utilizing prior deterrent framework represents a solid basis for program development and participant interaction for re-entry workshops. A majority of deterrents identified in the re-entry workshop were based on an individual's perception of education, thus it would be beneficial to develop the re-entry workshops on the principles of adult education that would maximize opportunities for participant interaction and discussion. As well any opportunity for making the sessions inherently meaningful
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Appendix 1 Telephone Interview Schedule Name:______________________________ Phone :__________________
1. Your decision to attend the Re-entry Workshop was based on?
2. After attending the Re-entry Workshop, did you return to a training or educational program?
3. If yes, was your decision to return or not, influenced by your participation in the re-entry workshop?
4. Are you currently in a training or educational program?