Background: In April 2013, nationally standardized Partner Services training migrated to a blended learning format, replacing previous instructor-led courses (9-day ISTDI , 3-day HIV PCRS) for disease intervention specialists (DIS) with the Passport to Partner Services curriculum that includes web modules, webinars, and instructor-led (3-5 day) training. Given the paradigm shift in training delivery mode, numerous evaluation methodologies were incorporated.
Methods: Users completed 13-14 end-of-module, 1 end-of-Track (all online), and 1 in-classroom end-of-course evaluation(s), answered quiz questions, rated course features (scale: 1=Strongly Disagree to 5=Strongly Agree) and the relative strengths/usefulness of the web vs. instructor-led components, identified challenges experienced and suggested improvements. Retrospective pre-post self-ratings on 33 key skill/competency areas (22 assessed during the web component and 12 assessed at the instructor training) were also included (scale: 1=not at all confident to 5=very confident), with change scores analyzed using a paired samples t-test.
Results: Data from 19 Passport courses (N=224 participants from 31 states, April-September 2013) showed all end-of-track ratings for online training had mean scores > 4.0, with little cross-track variation [e.g., "recommend this training for employees in positions similar to mine" (4.1); "content/activities will improve the quality of my practice" (4.2), with an overall 4.2 effectiveness rating. Pre-post learning gains were seen on all key skill proficiencies and were particularly high for the instructor course, where all 11 areas showed significant improvement (p<.001). On the end-of-course evaluation, the mean rating for enhanced knowledge and skills from the instructor component was higher (3.8 on 4 pt. scale) than for the web-based component (2.8). Key qualitative feedback included technical challenges experienced by some participants.
Conclusions: An effective well trained Partner Services staff is critical for the public health assurance function. Preliminary data show positive outcomes for the newly designed training, and highlight areas of needed improvement and ongoing support.