Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
In response to a 1993 oversight board recommendation, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created a technical training and qualification program to address concerns about a shrinking workforce at defense nuclear facilities. The DOE Technical Qualification Program (TQP) applies to federal employees tasked with oversight, direction, and assistance to contractors at defense nuclear facilities. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the TQP by ascertaining program effectiveness, program applicability, program impact on behavior and performance, and program impact on safety, from the participant perspective. Guided by Kirkpatrick's 4-level training evaluation model as the conceptual framework, this study used a goal-free evaluation approach. This program evaluation used a qualitative case study research design centered on a purposeful sample of 8 TQP participant interviews. Data were analyzed through coding and thematic analysis. Overall, TQP participants felt that the program was ineffective in preparing them for their jobs and that the applicability of the qualification requirements was low. Participants reported that the program did not improve job performance but had a positive impact on safety. Several recommendations were made to improve the program's effectiveness, including a comprehensive program evaluation and updates to training. Implications for social change include positive impacts on facility safety that may result in safer operations at DOE facilities that lead to fewer injuries to workers and the general public, and a reduced probability of release of hazardous materials to the environment. The results of this study may help site training officials improve program effectiveness and worker performance.