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Joshua Bass


AbstractAfterschool workers often lack the training and formal education that would help them perform their jobs effectively. There is little research on professional development available to such paraprofessional workers. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore afterschool workers’ perceptions of needed training. The central question focused on the perceptions of paraprofessional workers in afterschool programs regarding how professional development supported their work. Subquestions included what paraprofessional workers in afterschool programs identified as their primary learning needs and what approaches to professional development supported their work. The conceptual framework centered on Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy and Knowles’s model of andragogy. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with eight paraprofessionals from different afterschool programs and coded to discern emergent themes. Findings included participants’ need for professional development to deal with children with special needs, including virtual trainings, conferences workshops, webinars and archived modules, and ongoing team meetings. Without adequate support, they relied on their parenting experiences or the lessons they learned from their parents. Recommendations include the creation of professional development that incorporates workers’ prior experiences and skills, draws on those strengths, and further develops them. Understanding workers’ professional development needs could bring about positive social change by directing and informing administrators increased and targeted support of these paraprofessional workers, resulting in a possible increase in students’ positive developmental outcomes.

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