New Report: Teaching Phronesis to Aspiring Police Officers

20th September 2022Publications

As part of the ‘Virtues in Policing’ research project, and the wider focus on Virtues in the Professions, the Jubilee Centre has published Teaching Phronesis to Aspiring Police Officers. This research report is the second report published under the project, following on from Character Virtues in Policing that was published in 2021.

Teaching Phronesis to Aspiring Police Officers conducted a pilot study of a phronesis-focussed teaching intervention with police science students at five universities in England and Wales. The intervention took the form of four 45-minute classes, measured via pre-and post-intervention surveys using a validated measure of phronesis. The report explores what worked and did not work in a phronesis classroom intervention with police science student participants; what can be inferred from the administration of a phronesis measure (pre- and post-) about the students completing and not completing it; and what lessons can be learned from interviews with lecturers about the strengths and weaknesses of the intervention. The project found that:

  • there was great variability in students studying policing in the U.K. This made felicitously pitching a single intervention at all of them difficult.
  • some of this inter-university-course difference was caused by varying personality profiles of students, rather than different levels of phronesis.
  • those students most motivated to pursue the phronesis intervention (as judged by their willingness to complete an in-depth post-survey) scored significantly higher on measures of (i) the virtue aspect of the Contingencies of Self-Worth measure, and (ii) Moral Self-Relevance. Hence, sustained participation in the intervention was already predicted by some of the components that the intervention was meant to improve.
  • the ‘motivated students’ also scored higher in perspective taking, empathic concern, prosociality, conscientiousness, extraversion and, most of all, agreeableness.

The report is available online here, with a limited number of hard copies are available and can be requested by emailing jubileecentre@contacts.bham.ac.uk

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