Date of Conferral
Continued improvement of the training and preparation of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents is critical to the organization's ability to protect the national security of the United States. Too little attention has been paid to the factors that improve new agent trainees' (NATs) ability to learn and succeed in their training programs. Based on the theories of reflective thinking and emotional intelligence, this nonexperimental, correlational study explored predictors of NATs' (N = 183) performance in problem-based exercises as part of the 20-week training program. Self-report instruments measured levels of critical reflection (CR), emotional intelligence (EQ), and perceived ability (PA). An established performance measure collected instructor-observed performance (OP) scores. Regression analysis tested the relationships of CR and EQ with OP but yielded no statistical significance. Due to concerns about the measure of OP, a second analysis revealed significance with PA scores for EQ (b = .193, p = <.001) only. Preparing effective special agents to respond to the challenges of a volatile global environment is a priority of the FBI and contributes to positive social change, as its mission is to ensure the safety and security of the United States. The main conclusion from the study was that a better measure of performance is needed to study the impact of CR and EQ on trainees. When measured more effectively, characteristics of trainees may be relevant to improving performance.