In last week’s post Adult diapers, use of force, and training I referenced an interview I did for The Excellence in Training Academy with Dave Collins PhD where we discussed Professional Judgement and Decision Making (PJDM) in Coaching. During that interview I asked Dave about the term “Evidence / Research Informed”, which I had heard from some of his colleagues and have begun using myself. He explained that he believes there are three elements regarding evidence and research:
- Evidence / Research Based – You have gone there, and done that, and tested it in that context.
- Evidence / Research Grounded – Research done on stuff with humans and it probably will work.
- Evidence / Research Informed – These sorts of ideas generally work.
My experience is that of these three terms Research Grounded and Research Informed would be the most appropriate as it relates to police training. There is a vast body of research looking at human performance, human factors, psychology, sociology, anatomy, physiology, teaching, coaching, learning and many other fields that are relevant to the policing profession. Thanks to the work of Force Science, and other researchers around the world, we have seen a growing body of research over the last two decades related to the complex world of policing. Much of this research looks at police performance in tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving situations. That research is critical as it identifies potential gaps and areas of improvement for training. There is still however, very little research done specific to police training.
The challenge for us as trainers then is to look at the research that is out there and use it to ground and inform our training. This will take some work on your part. It will likely be helpful to get a group of committed trainers together, either in person or virtually, and discuss the applications and implications (What?, So What?, Now What?) of various research papers. You can certainly do it by yourself, but more inputs and perspectives will likely result in more ideas and options for how to implement some aspect of that research into your training.
Understand going into this that not all research papers have actionable takeaways for training. Again, this is where multiple perspectives may be helpful as one person may see a hidden gem in a paper or see a limitation in a paper that others will miss. Understand that everyone will read the paper through his or her own lens and will be influenced by his or her own biases and experiences. It is important to go beyond the headline or title of the paper and look for actionable items from the research. Titles can be deceiving. As challenging as it is sometimes, read the paper in its entirety and if need be, read it more than once. Take notes and highlight and underline what you determine to be key pieces of information or actionable items. As you read the paper reflect on how this compares and / or contrasts with other research as well as with your previous experiences and existing beliefs. If you are looking for deeper insights or have questions, then reach out to the lead author on the papers and see if he or she would be open to a conversation. If you do that make sure you go into that conversation well prepared with well thought out questions.
In addition to looking at the research you also need to be looking at what experienced, effective, progressive trainers are doing. As was pointed out in a previous post the practitioners are often years ahead of the research papers. In some cases, the research simply validates what good trainers have been doing for a number of years. The additional value that trainers bring is that they have been doing this in a real world setting for years. They understand the many challenges trainers face and have been running experiments in real training for years. They have learned from their successes, failures, and mistakes, gotten feedback from the learners, seen the impact on performance on the street and have continually tweaked and improved the design and delivery of their training.
Keep the question, “Where might the smallest change make the biggest difference?” in the back of your mind and always be looking for small actionable takeaways. Once you identify those actionable takeaways then take action to run the experiment and test the hypothesis.
Keep striving. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep running experiments and use research and experience to ground and inform your training.
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership and mindset.