A Formative, Utilization-Focused Evaluation of USA Swimming’s Nationwide Online Coach Education Program

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Michigan State University
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Large-scale online coach education programs have become a preferred method of compulsory training for sport governing bodies. In particular, USA Swimming launched a revised online version of its Foundations of Coaching program in 2013. To evaluate its effectiveness, a utilization-focused evaluation was employed to engage program decision-makers in the process of inquiry. After conducting program elicitation exercises with program decision-makers, semi-structured interviews with 21 participant coaches examined course effects on knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours related to coaching swimming. Coaches indicated learning and implementing changes to their coaching of swimming skills, but also indicated the adoption of developmentally-appropriate training practices, which was supported by a corresponding attitude change towards developmentally-appropriate training. Goal setting and incorporating fun into workouts were also endorsed. The evaluation uncovered positive perceptions of the course, and showed that using the course to initiate an ongoing conversation between USA Swimming and its membership could help extend learning opportunities and professional development. The course’s effect on some attitudes (but not others) showed how intentionality of course design and pedagogy were linked to attitude formation. Future evaluations show promise for improving the function of similar large-scale coach education programs.

Andrew P. Driska is with the Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Address author correspondence to Andrew P. Driska at driska@msu.edu.
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