Evaluation of continuing professional development programme for community development practitioners in the North West Province of South Africa
The aim of this evaluation study was to determine the usefulness of the continuing professional development programme for community development practitioners in the Department of Social Development in the North West Province, South Africa. The study evaluated the programme with specific focus on the context, input, implementation processes and product against Stufflebeam’s CIPP evaluation model. The study applied a mixed methods approach which employed the sequential exploratory strategy for the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data was collected from a randomly selected sample of 103 community development practitioners through a questionnaire. Interviews were held with four assistant managers, one senior community development manager and one human resource manager selected through purposive sampling. A total of 26 community development practitioners were also selected purposively for focus group interviews. Content analysis was used to gather qualitative data from the available programme documents. The Statistical Package for Social Science was used as a tool to analyse quantitative data in response to the research questions. Descriptive and exploratory methods were used to interpret the data. Specifically, exploratory factor analysis was used to determine the factors that influenced the decision to run the programme and those that hinder it. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise the demographic characteristics of the respondents and the responses. The Pearson coefficient revealed a mixture of negative and positive insignificant relationships among the four identified constructs. The qualitative data was analysed descriptively. The process involved clustering the responses that brought out related aspects and coding the responses through application of in vivo coding allowing the categories to emerge from the responses. The study revealed that problems encountered in facilitation of community development influenced decisions to implement the CPD programme. However, while literature highlighted the significance of CPD in addressing the specific needs of the professionals, lack of tailor-made professional learning activities for the CDPs who do not have appropriate and relevant qualifications appears to be at the core of the factors hindering success. Poor planning, shortage of resources and heavy workloads denied CDPs the opportunity of taking part in and benefitting from the CPD programme. Despite the fact that the CDPs prioritised CPD, sacrificed family time and recommended strategies to address professional learning related problems, their collective voice seemed was not heard by the authorities. While such a top-down approach to CPD engendered negative attitudes in some practitioners, others expressed interest in the CPD. Based on the outcomes of this study, a framework was proposed for improving the input and output of the existing CPD programme. It is hoped that the framework if well-resourced and carefully implemented the North West Province, in particular, and South Africa in general should soon be benefiting from this. The framework emphasises that needs identification and analysis as well as resource allocation should be determined on the basis of research findings, while evaluation of the programme and its activities is also recommended. Decentralisation of CPD has been recommended to forge stakeholder involvement especially the practitioners. CPD of the supervisors has also been suggested to give them support requisite for the implementation of CPD. Popularisation of the CPD policy was also deemed necessary to ensure familiarity among practitioners and supervisors. Concerns about development of negative attitudes towards CPD emerged from this study. This calls for further research in this regard as well as how these relate to variables such as age, gender and position of employment.
- Education