Use It or Lose It? Predicting Learning Transfer of Relationship and Marriage Education Among Child Welfare Professionals

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Family Relations






Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

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Objective Following a training in relationship and marriage education (RME), examine whether applying information at 2 months is associated with application at 6 months and how participants' confidence, utility, and self-efficacy is associated with learning transfer and application at 2 months posttraining. Background Child welfare professionals are required to receive numerous trainings each year with the expectation of understanding, retaining, and transferring this learning into practice. Method With a sample of 324 child welfare professionals across 5 states who completed a 1-day training in RME, we used structural equation modeling with participant self-efficacy, utility, and confidence as predictors of application of RME concepts at 2 months posttraining. We also assessed how application of RME concepts at 2 months predicted self-efficacy, confidence, and application at 6 months. Results Only the combined effect of both higher self-efficacy and higher utility was related to applying concepts at 2 months. Those who apply the concepts at 2 months are more likely both to report higher confidence at 6 months and to apply the concepts at 6 months. Conclusions Evaluations of trainings should move beyond measurement of immediate learning outcomes to better understanding how to motivate immediate learning transfer. Implications If participants do not feel like they have actually learned new skills and, more importantly, do not implement the skills with individuals or clients soon after a training, they will be much less likely to use them in the future. A combination of learning concrete principles and skills with confidence they can implement the materials may result in future implementation.

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