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Learning Strategies of Selected Urban Police Related to Community Policing

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Dated: 2002 Pages: 242-255
Michael L. Birzer; Robert E. Nolan
Date Published
14 pages
This case study examined the learning strategies of selected urban police in a midwestern U.S. police agency.
Participants were 80 police officers, 49 of which were assigned to patrol duties and 31 of which were assigned to community-oriented policing duties. Each officer completed the Assessing the Learning Strategies of Adults (ATLAS) instrument. ATLAS is designed to place respondents into one of three learning strategy usage areas: "navigators," who are focused learners who chart a course for learning and follow it; "problem solvers," who are learners who rely heavily on all the strategies in the area of critical thinking; and "engagers," who are passionate learners who love to learn, learn with feeling, and learn best when actively engaged. Of the 80 officers, 50 percent were classified as "problem solvers," 23.8 percent were "navigators," and 26.2 percent were "engagers." Chi square analyses were used to determine whether there were significant differences in learning strategies among participants based on job assignment, race, and gender; no significant differences were found. Three separate one-way analyses of variance were calculated on the learning strategy preference by educational level of the participant, by the age of participant, and by the years of experience; no significant differences were found. Discriminant analysis, on the other hand, found that although no one variable independently explained placement in a learning strategy, the combined variables of job assignment, age, and gender taken together were salient in the learning-strategy placement. The problem solver learning strategies are similar to those skills desired in community policing. This study advises that those police managers who are responsible for selecting and training police officers for community policing should use the ATLAS to determine who demonstrates the learning strategy of the problem solver. 3 tables and 45 references