In this first entry or our series of posts on what to look for in an online training program for your school, we’ll discuss the value of finding a program that consists of multiple resources and courses (as opposed to a single, one-off course) to help you implement “ongoing” sexual violence prevention programming.
“Ongoing” education programming is both required by the Campus SaVE Act and good pedagogy. Indeed, schools shouldn’t think of the primary and ongoing programs as separate. Both are pieces of a larger strategy and should be coordinated in order to create consistent messaging and a structured learning experience for students, staff, and faculty.
Looking at the rulemaking committee’s Campus SaVE Act draft regulations provides some explanation about what regulators mean by the term “ongoing.” According to the draft, “[t]he term ongoing awareness and prevention campaigns refers to campaigns that”
- “are sustained over time,”
- “occur at different levels throughout the institution,”
- “utilize a range of strategies,”
- “will include developmentally appropriate content for the specific audience,”
- and, finally, “provide positive and concrete ways for individuals to get involved.”
In the rest of this post we’ll consider these components in greater detail.
Sustained efforts over time is perhaps what most of us think about when we hear the term “ongoing.” This basic requirement explains why a school’s prevention program should consist of more than one online course or workshop. Nor should it simply consist of a series of workshops. Instead, you want programming incorporating multiple resources that, as the regulations suggest, “utilize a range of strategies” in order to engage the entire campus community.
Audience Specific and Coordinated
But you don’t just want “more” programming; you want programming that addresses specific institutional audiences and is tailored to each audience’s skills and abilities. This means having a program in place that addresses different groups on campus like specialized training for faculty and staff as well as trainings tailored to the different experiences of undergraduate and graduate students. This also means programming that helps individual learners develop skills in a structured environment.
Learning takes place over time, and — as research suggests — spacing practice out (especially over wide intervals) benefits learners. The CDC echoes this finding in its report on evidence-based strategies: “Brief, one-session educational programs focused on increasing awareness or changing beliefs and attitudes are not effective at changing behavior in the long-term. These approaches may be useful as one component of a comprehensive strategy.” In other words, ongoing programming is also good pedagogy.
And it’s not just about repetition. Because many of the skills, habits, and attitudes that we want students to develop are complex, learners need structured practice that starts with foundational skills and then layers more complex skills on top. In this way, learners are not overwhelmed with information and activities, but instead build competencies slowly over time.
In short, when choosing or developing an education program, don’t just assume that more is better. First, make sure you have training that addresses everyone on campus. That means faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergrads (incoming and returning). Second, ongoing programming for any single group shouldn’t just repeat what came before — though that is certainly valuable — but should build on earlier trainings to help learners develop a more sophisticated skill set or richer knowledge base.
If you’re currently looking for a Campus SaVE Act training program, we encourage you to check to check out Think About It, winner of the 2014 Gold NASPA Excellence Award for Violence Education and Prevention.