DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF PRE-SERVICE TRAINING METHODS FOR ANIMAL SHELTER VOLUNTEERS
Howard, Veronica J.
University of Kansas
Applied Behavioral Science
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The current studies aim to develop a cost-effective pre-service training package for animal shelter volunteers. Study 1 compared the cost and effectiveness of three training package variations on student volunteer integrity of a dog walking and enrichment protocol (DWEP) using a between groups design. One group (n = 5) received traditional shelter training, consisting of an information session with verbal and written instructions and hands-on training with in-vivo modeling. Another group (n = 8) received video-based training, including an instructional video, written instructions, and study guide. The third group (n = 11) received a blend of these two training methods (hybrid training), beginning with the brief verbal and written instructions and finishing with video-based instruction. Participants who received traditional training performed only half of all DWEP steps correctly (M = 49.9% integrity). Participants who received the hybrid training performed the task with a mean of 69.2% integrity, and participants who received the video training performed the task with the highest average integrity (M = 72.3%). Video-based training was more effective than traditional training at teaching participants to implement the dog walking protocol correctly. Study 2 aimed to address the methodological limitations and systematically replicate the findings of Study 1 with shelter volunteers. During the shelter's typical training, volunteers implemented just over half of all DWEP steps correctly (M = 55.2%). DWEP integrity improved when participants completed a video-based self-training package (M = 75.3%), but did not reach the pre-established mastery criterion of 85% fidelity with zero safety errors. Integrity (M = 90.6%) improved during coaching, which consisted of modeling and positive and corrective feedback. Criterion performance was demonstrated by two of three participants. Though creation of the video-based training package used in the study required substantial initial investment (approximately 13.25 hours longer than preparation for the live training), traditional training required between 30 and 50 minutes with a shelter staff member with wide variability and safety of content observed. When used in place of training-as-usual, the video training package would yield returns for the organization in as few as 13 volunteer training sessions (approximately one month in the animal shelter).
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