Category: Education, Training, and Supervision - Graduate / Undergraduate/ Postdoctoral
Decades of research evidence support the use of parent management training (PMT) to help reduce child externalizing behavior problems. According to a meta-analysis by Lundahl, Risser, and Lovejoy (2005), 83% of PMTs examined were theoretically driven by behavioral principles (BP; e.g., reinforcement, punishment) as opposed to non-behavioral strategies used in other PMTs (e.g., improving parental communication skills).
While PMTs differ in the modality with which information is provided to families (e.g., live coaching, videotapes), it is sensible to assume that clinicians providing these PMTs should have basic understanding of the theoretical principles driving PMT to effectively educate parents. However, it is unclear how these clinicians receive training regarding the use and application of BP, as training methodologies can vary greatly based on a clinician’s educational background and training experiences. When considering the varying methods used to train clinicians, web-based trainings have become more popular due to their ability to reach many participants while remaining time and cost efficient (Stewart, Chambless, & Baron, 2011).
A randomized control group, pretest-posttest design was used to examine the effects of a 1-hour, online BP training. We hypothesized that students in the treatment group would demonstrate increased knowledge of BP in comparison to the control group. Participants in this study were 102 undergraduate students (59.8% female) ranging in age from 17 to 36 (M = 19.71; SD = 2.85) enrolled in an Introduction to Psychology course at a southwestern university. The majority of participants identified as White (64.7%) and Hispanic (22.5%).
Participants completed a demographic form and two measures of BP knowledge at pre- and post-treatment: 1) A 10-item parallel forms version (Furtkamp, Giffort, & Schiers, 1982) of the Knowledge of Behavioral Principles as Applied to Children (KBPAC; O’Dell, Tarler-Benlolo, & Flynn, 1979), a 50-item multiple-choice measure of understanding of basic BP as applied to children; 2) the Behavioral Principles Inventory (BPI; Gibson & Borrego, in preparation), a 25-item fill-in-the-blank measure of BP knowledge.
Preliminary data analyses (i.e., analysis of covariance) suggest a statistically significant difference in post-treatment BPI scores [F(1, 98) = 6.980, p = 0.01] between the treatment and control groups when adjusting for pretreatment BPI scores, with participants in the treatment group scoring significantly higher than the control group. Conversely, there was no statistically significant difference in post-treatment KBPAC scores [F(1, 99) = 0.013, p = .908] between the treatment and control groups when adjusting for pretreatment KBPAC scores. Clinical and research implications will be discussed.