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Police Recruit Training: Facilitating Learning Between the Academy and Field Training

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 78 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2009 Pages: 26-31
Steven Hundersmarck Ph.D.
Date Published
August 2009
6 pages
This article examines whether recruits and field training officers discussed academy learning and what teaching techniques field training officers used to teach recruits.
Analysis of the recorded training conversations revealed that probationary officers rarely talked about their academy instruction during field training; further, field training officers did not query probationary officers about their academy learning. On the rare occasions that new officers discussed past learning, they talked about their pre-academy police experiences, such as their experiences as Explorers or security officers, rather than their academy learning. Law enforcement must overcome the inconsistent nature of learning between academy classes and field training, and move beyond an emphasis on separate learning models for training recruits. Agencies must bridge the learning at all levels of training by actively mediating it across the different contexts. Adopting a learner-centered constructivist approach in both the academy and field training will ensure that recruits engage in learning with which they can identify. Law enforcement organizations should concentrate more on how learning extends or generalizes across activities, as well as how to facilitate it. Data were gathered from a study conducted in Michigan in a regional police academy and during field training in a mid-sized department that employed over 200 sworn officers. 23 endnotes