Revisiting the Concept of Knowledge

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suicide prevention, adolescents, gatekeeper training, school, open-ended assessment

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Background: Although gatekeeper training is effective at increasing knowledge, some question the effectiveness of these programs due to high pretraining knowledge levels. However, knowledge scores may be artificially inflated when students guess answer options correctly but lack information needed to assist suicidal peers.

Aims: To use free-recall questions to evaluate suicide prevention knowledge and compare levels of knowledge using this methodology with established assessment methods in the literature.

Method: Free-recall knowledge questions were examined before and after participation in a student gatekeeper training program. Focus groups with students enriched interpretation of quantitative results.

Results: Unlike in studies using forced-choice assessment, students’ baseline knowledge was markedly low using free-recall questions and, despite making significant improvement from pretraining levels, posttraining knowledge barely approached passable levels. Focus group findings suggest that training sessions may need to be more engaging and interactive in order to improve knowledge transfer.

Conclusion: Free-recall questions may provide a less inflated measure of accessible knowledge learned from school-based suicide prevention curricula. Evaluators and programmatic partners should be cognizant of this methodological issue and consider using a mix of assessment methodologies to determine students’ actual levels of knowledge after participation in gatekeeper training.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Crisis, v. 36, issue 4, p. 274-280