Measuring effects of training for after-school program directors on the development of collaboration quality.
Duration: May 2014 to February 2017
The hypothesis that after-school programs can be complementary to both school and family is based on the assumption that there is a reciprocal exchange of information about students, instructional strategies, socio-emotional development, and behaviour between the different educational institutions. In Switzerland, there is an increasing demand for structured and guided supervision of students after regular school hours. However, it is not yet clear in how far these after-school programs may support schools and parents in providing an integrated education and care for all students.
In the canton of Berne, after-school programs are voluntary modules that are liable to contribution and self-administered by the after-school directors, yet integrated into the public school system. With 219 after-school programs in 158 communities (in 2012/2013), the canton of Berne has a well-developed and well-documented after-school system in comparison to other cantons.
The development of after-school programs holds new possibilities for the collaboration of multi-professional experts concerned with education, such as the staff from the school (school administration and teachers) and the after-school program (after-school program directors and staff). Therefore, the issue of strengthening this collaboration is of educational and politic relevance and lies at the core of this research.
Overall, the project aims at encouraging collaboration between different educational institutions by means of specific training for after-school directors. This study examines the changes in the collaboration practice, evaluation, and perception over the course of two years. We will treat the unattended question of how organisational development (quality and innovation) may be stimulated by professional training by focusing on:
…the effect of the transfer and implementation of the training contents on the staff's perception of the quality of the collaboration and practice,
…the influence of staff's self-rating of professional expertise, job satisfaction, self-efficacy, and readiness for innovations prior to the implementation
…and how these effects can be mediated by the direktor's rating of their role and professional self-concept.
„Collaboration is – be it to whatever extent, in whatever form and on whatever level – not per se of good quality“ (Idel et al. 2011, p. 13; own translation).
In the training curriculum, collaboration is defined as a targeted exchange between different people. In particular, this collaboration is understood as a circular process that is continuously transformed and adjusted to new situations. Therefore, it is assumed that different methods and forms of collaboration are present in practice.
The training syllabus for this study has been designed on results of current findings in research. Furthermore, it has been extended by a framework for the development of collaboration quality, which is already established in the US (Woodland & Koliba 2007; 2008). Understanding, assessing, and transforming the after-school director`s perception and concept of collaboration lies at the core of the programme (Woodland, Kang Lee & Randall 2013). In the process of developing high quality collaboration, different stages are repeatedly passed through under supervision of the after-school directors.
The training is held in collaboration with the University of Teacher Education in Berne (IWB PH Bern). Between the three evening workshops, the after-school directors have time to reflect on their learning process. Additionally, half of the treatment group receives individualized feedback by the researcher. This process should ease the knowledge transfer from the directors to their staff (cf. Bonsen 2010, van den Bosche & Segers 2013).
The outline of the SNF-project is based on empirical evidence of teacher collaboration. To some extent, these results point out positive effects of collaboration on school quality and student performance (cf. Dizinger, Fussangel & Böhm-Kasper 2011; Maag Merki et al. 2010, Woodland & Hutton 2012; West 2010).
This intervention study aims to systematically analyse the quality of the collaboration in after-school programs in the canton of Berne, the role of the after-school program director, as well as the effects due to the differences between the institutions (Structural Equation Modelling and Multilevel Analysis). With a quantitative survey at the beginning and at the end of the intervention, as well as follow-up one year after the training, the effects will be examined. Furthermore, mediating concepts like individual and collective ratings of the staff will be included in order to analyse correlations, causal processes, and effects. The effectiveness of the training will be evaluated on the basis of different predictors, which result from the participation or non-participation at the training programmes. These variables are collected from the after-school program directors, as well as from the staff.
The qualitative and quantitative instruments (mixed-methods-approach) are practically and empirically profound and have partially been validated in advance (cf. Jutzi, Schüpbach & Thomann 2013; Woodland & Kolbia 2008). But most of the scales had to be adapted to the after-school context and have been analysed in the pre-test.
In addition, the quantitative data will be supplemented by group discussions and interviews (in the form of treatment-checks), quality observations, and social network analysis of the collaboration processes. With these procedures, the transfer of knowledge and the experiences with the implementation can be analysed qualitatively and quantitatively.
In this longitudinal study, the data on the development of the collaboration between the staff from school and after-school programs can be gathered for the first time. The application and adaptation of validated scales and trainings from US and German research makes differentiated and valid measurements of the collaboration on the level of administration and staff possible. The results of this study will be based on empirical evidence, multiperspectivity, repeated measurements and an experimental double-delayed treatment control group design (cf. Huber, Ahlgrimm & Hader-Popp 2012). Therefore, this study will provide valuable information on the state of collaboration between schools and after-school care and allow data driven assessments to be made and training modified to maximize the interconnection between different learning environments for an integrated education.
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