Impact of homogeneous and heterogeneous student groupings based on firearms skill level on performance in firearms training
Anderson, Eric G.
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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The aim of this study was to examine the firearms knowledge and skill gaps that exist in law enforcement academy students. The intent was to gain insight into the most effective teaching methods and training group assignments based on student ability and previous experience. A cohort of 20 law enforcement academy students were administered a pre-training survey that determined previous experience with a firearm, particularly a handgun. Student skill level was then measured using a pre-training live fire assessment. Based on the results of these two instruments, students were rated as having minimum, moderate or extensive skill and experience. Students were then assigned to either a homogeneous group consisting of all medium performing students and a heterogeneous group consisting of lower and higher performing students. The students attended the standard law enforcement academy firearms training course. Upon completion, students were surveyed again and administered a post-training firearms assessment. The results indicated that students assigned to the homogeneous group showed the greatest gains in skill and experienced a more cohesive learning environment. These findings are important, in that instructors and administrators can benefit from the knowledge that informed and intentional student group assignments can result in a more effective learning experience.