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University researchers helping island police officers with decision-making

 

27 February 2016

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Researchers at Wrexham Glyndŵr University are studying the decision-making process of police officers on the Isle of Man.

Professor in Nurse Education, Debbie Roberts - together with Pam Richards from Sports Sciences and Computing’s Nathan Roberts - is working with the island’s constabulary to support and develop their decision making skills.

The initiative seeks to explore and accelerate the growth of quick-thinking among new recruits by using reflection on professional practice through immersive learning. 

Immersive learning describes an approach where students are enabled to learn through active participation in a situation they will likely encounter in the real world, using the Welsh university’s cutting-facilities, including oculus rift: a single learning 3D experience.

“The first phase of this study with the Isle of Man Constabulary is now underway; we will be looking at various existing theories that attempt to explain the development of decision-making and subsequent expertise in a range of professions and disciplines,” said Professor Roberts.

“The challenge for the emergency services, including the police is that decisions need to be made in a naturalistic real world environment where there is little time for discussion or weighing-up options. 

“Police officers need to make decisions under time constraints, environmental pressures and where decisions in most cases require the co-ordination of information with other specialist personnel.  

“In order to develop such decision making expertise, new police recruits experience a range of real world situations and work through these together with expert experienced officers in a collaborative, reflective. During this reflective process the best response to the situation is identified.”

Professor Roberts says the project uses an innovative model of reflection developed by Pam for use in a sports context, which she is applying to a range of other disciplines.

Nathan will later use the information gained to develop a unique immersive environment which simulates the real world. This can then be used with recruits during their training programme.

“Evidence from elite sport suggests that inclusion of such structured reflection can enhance the performance of working groups,” said Professor Roberts.

“This study involves the research team working with senior officers and trainers within the constabulary to articulate what constitutes the best or most effective response to the given situation.

“This will then be progressively developed in the training of decision making skill in new recruits as they engage with a reflective immersive learning scenario.

“It’s an exciting project for us and for the constabulary and should have a positive impact on the way they work in the future.”

Inspector Mark Britton is working closely with the university and believes the results of the report could have a knock-on effect for other police forces.

He said: “The Isle of Man Constabulary is happy to be working with Wrexham Glyndŵr University on their research project.

“We have been in partnership to examine the ways in which police officers can accelerate their learning.

“The project has already seen some research done with operational officers and some of our student probationary officers. The focus is to analyse the ways in which police officer learning can be enhanced.”

He added: “We are continuing this work and I have been particularly impressed at the energy and enthusiasm that the staff we have engaged with have brought with them.”

Visit www.glyndwr.ac.uk for more on Wrexham Glyndŵr University and the upcoming open day on Saturday March 5 from 10am-2pm.

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