The present paper has the purpose of describing the needs assessment process carried out in the Dar al Hanan School of Jeddah to collect information regarding teachers’ first aid knowledge and willingness to obtain first aid certificates. The school was established in 1955 as the first educational center for females in Saudi Arabia (Dar Al Hanan, 2012). Per its mission, the school strives to foster students’ sound development and success in life by proving an inclusive and safe educational environment and performing high-quality educational practices. The school envisions itself as a place that celebrates diversity, empowers students, and encourages the pursuit of excellence in every individual.
The school’s mission and vision indicate that leaders regard safety as an essential contributor to educational excellence and, therefore, strive to promote it. As part of the ongoing improvement efforts, Dar Al Hanan aims to encourage its teachers to receive first aid certificates and change its overall approach to first aid certification among employees. In the past, Dar Al Hanan provided basic first aid education to personnel yet the number of teachers with first aid certificates in the school remains insignificant at the present moment, whereas the level of their first aid knowledge is questionable.
Considering this, the need assessment instrument was developed to evaluate teachers’ first-aid competence, attitudes to first aid, perceived barriers to better school safety and first aid performance, and their willingness to involve in first aid training. A total number of 20 individuals were recruited for evaluation, and the findings were consequently used to develop an action plan for change management.
Well-developed first aid skills are necessary to maintain the health and safety of students in the school. Promptly performed first aid can potentially save lives and prevent serious complications. Based on this, it is valid to say that the primary stakeholder group that would be supportive of the change project includes parents as they want to be confident that the school is equipped to prevent any harm to their children. Secondly, it is expected that teachers will be supportive of the initiative as well because first aid training as part of their professional development and can help boost self-efficacy and confidence in them.
Structure of Assessment and Data Collection
The needs assessment instrument (Appendix A) is developed to evaluate the current level of teachers’ competence in first aid and identify some factors that might explain why only a small number of educators in the school have first aid certificates at the present moment. Based on the review of previous research findings, these factors include personal attitudes to first aid, previous experiences of emergencies, support from school administration, level of teacher empowerment, and so forth (Neto et al., 2018; Ganfure, Ameya, Tamirat, Lencha, & Bikila (2018).
In addition, it is considered that active safety cultures and school-wide health-promotion practices play a crucial role in motivating staff members to comply with standards and engage in risk management (Coventry City Council, 2017). Thus, the instrument also aimed to assess teachers’ perceptions of school safety culture and overall organizational structures.
It is suggested that to motivate teachers to obtain certification better, some improvements may be required in several aspects of the school’s safety culture. The developed questionnaire had a purpose to collect data on both of these variables: motivation and culture. To keep the instrument objective and unbiased, leading questions and complex terms were avoided. All in all, clear and concise questions were formulated, whereas the Likert scale allowed capturing teachers’ perceptions more precisely.
Before data collection, approval from the school’s administrator was obtained (Appendix B). Afterward, 20 candidates were personally approached and recruited by using convenience sampling. The major inclusion criteria as per the selected sampling technique were the accessibility of respondents, their availability at a given time, and the willingness to participate in the assessment (Etikan, Musa, & Alkassim, 2016).
Overall, the choice of respondents was accidental to a substantial degree, yet since all of them were recruited from the teacher population at the Dar al Hanan school, they naturally had enough expertise to answer the questions in the survey and fell under the eligibility criteria (age 18 and more). The selected individuals were informed about the objectives of evaluation, provided with the confidentiality and anonymity guarantee, and asked to provide honest and impartial answers. The teachers were given three days to complete the survey and were expected to drop the filled forms in a box placed in the teacher’s room. In this way, a 100% return rate was attained, and it became possible to proceed to the analysis of data.
Data Analysis and Summary of Results
Teachers’ First Aid Competencies and Perceived Self-Efficacy
The results demonstrate that the majority of teachers evaluate their knowledge of first aid in case of mild situations (such as bleeding, fainting, vomiting, stomach ache, burns, and so forth) positively. The given item received the highest number of high scores among all others in the domain of teachers’ perceptions. At the same time, it is clear that a large portion of respondents doubts their competence to provide initial treatment in severe emergency cases, including cardiac arrest, convulsions, and other acute adverse conditions. Noteworthily, 5 of the 20 respondents may become anxious and 6 feel unconfident in the face of an emergency, which reduces their first aid efficacy. At the same time, all of the respondents know how to seek professional assistance promptly, and a vast majority think that they can assess environmental hazards well.
Knowledge of first aid is of significant importance for school safety because children, who are at an increased risk of injuries due to their behavioral and developmental characteristics, spend a lot of time in educational settings. According to Karadag and Yildirim (2017), “every year, involuntary injuries cause the death of at least 875,000 children under the age of 18 worldwide” (p. 813). At the same time, an ability to provide initial treatment for injuries and other acute problems can prevent serious health complications and death (Karadag & Yildirim, 2017). The fact that not all respondents have adequate knowledge of first aid and have low perceived first aid efficacy indicates that the school needs to undertake improvement efforts in this area urgently.
Perceived Significance of First Aid Training / Teachers’ Attitudes
Perception is defined as a “multipart course by which people choose, systematize, and understand sensory inspiration into a significant and logical image of the world” (Rebeka & Indradevi, 2015, p. 72). At the same time, attitude can be regarded as a product of perception and an emotional response to a situation, an object, or a phenomenon. As stated by Rebeka and Indradevi (2015), perceptions and attitudes effect one’s behaviors and motivation to engage in certain activities.
As it is clear from the evaluation results, although all teachers perceive first aid as important for school safety and acknowledge its role in preserving lives, many of them do not correlate first aid practice with their professional role and responsibilities. Moreover, the majority of respondents do not believe that first aid competency in teachers contributes to a better quality of education and is in line with the school’s mission. However, the findings of a literature review by Kutsyuruba, Klinger, and Hussain (2015) indicate that since school safety contributes to students’ wellbeing, it is also linked to their better academic achievement.
Heller, Alberto, and Meagher (1996) also state that the quality of education in students with health problems suffers and they tend to show poorer academic performance due to pain, fatigue, absenteeism, lack of motivation, and so forth. Considering this, there is a need to promote a more positive view of first aid among teachers in the Dar al Hanan School and promote the vision of this practice as a core element in both school safety and education quality.
Perceived Barriers to and Facilitators of First Aid Performance and Prevention of Student Morbidity in the School Environment
Organizational culture plays a vital role in driving staff members towards goal achievement. It “dictates strategy implementation and integration” by affecting employee commitments and “provides a system of common values” that help shape team members’ attitudes and beliefs (Onyango, 2014, p. 204). In addition, organizational structures, including such components as reporting relationships and procedures and other behavioral controls, define whether employees would be able to behave under the values embedded in the culture and perform consistently with strategic goals and commitments (Gupta, 2015).
As the results demonstrate, the majority of respondents believe that the school has a well-developed culture that incorporates safety as one of the core values. Nevertheless, current organizational structures may be poorly aligned with the school’s vision of safety as the largest part of educators does not feel supported and believes that they do not have sufficient opportunities to engage in professional development due to excessive workloads. Moreover, the teachers consider that the school does not have a systematic and efficient approach to safety monitoring. Thus, to motivate teachers to obtain first aid certificates and participate in training, it is essential to revise the school’s safety procedures and general work-related structures and combine them with safety promotion activities more efficiently.
Teachers’ Willingness to Participate in the First Aid Training
The level of employees’ willingness to participate in first aid training helps to measure the degree of their resistance to the desired change. As stated by Miller, Johnson, and Grau (1994), resistance is attributed to personal inertia, which in its turn is associated with existing values and motivations. Assessment results show that the teachers are predominantly not motivated to engage in first aid training independently, whereas 4 respondents are not willing to undergo training even during their work hours. Moreover, most of the teachers do not express a desire to study first aid thoroughly and for the long term. It means that there is a need to address teachers’ motivations and attitudes regarding first aid to reduce their resistance to change.
Analysis of Open-Ended Questions
Only two of the respondents had to deal with serious acute health problems in students (seizure and asthmatic attack). As the teachers noted, they did not provide any initial treatment but contacted the emergency services immediately and sought professional assistance from school nurses. The majority of teachers dealt merely with mild emergencies (such as fainting and bleeding) at least once and consider that they responded to them well. However, most of the time, educators simply refer to school nurses and do not provide aid themselves.
Only two of the respondents received professional first aid training, whereas others use research articles, books, and mass media as the primary source of information about first aid. While the teachers usually read academic and professional materials, the quality of the used informational sources is evaluated as moderate. It means that in order to increase teachers’ confidence, they must be educated on reliable, evidence-based first-aid practices more. Half of the respondents consider that teachers play an essential role in maintaining school safety, yet they are discouraged to undergo training mainly due to financial and time constraints. Thus, the school should provide sufficient support for teachers’ engagement in first aid training.
Implication for Action
The action plan should address the following areas
- teachers’ attitudes to first aid,
- removal of environmental barriers to teachers’ participation in first aid training,
- alignment of safety culture with school safety monitoring and reporting practices.
The promotion of positive attitudes to first aid training and certification is a number one priority because it is directly linked with resistance to the school’s safety improvement initiatives. It is pivotal to ensure that all educators in Dar Al Hanan understand that first aid is important and regard it as an intrinsic element of teachers’ professional role.
One of the best practices that may help to attain this goal is the implementation of the transformational leadership approach and communication techniques associated with it. As such, this leadership practice will not require any additional financial investments, yet a leader may need to refer to informational resources to develop the necessary skills and competencies for effective communication. According to Chou (2015), one of the main functions of transformational leaders is “inspirational motivation that involves articulation of a clear, appealing, and inspiring vision to followers” (p. 111).
Moreover, they stimulate creativity in their team by involving every member in discussion and encouraging them to challenge the status quo (Chou, 2015). Thus, first of all, the leader must promote a higher level of intrinsic value associated with first aid certification and training among the teachers by connecting their identity and self-concepts with the school’s mission and vision. Secondly, the leader needs to establish a mutual dialogue and discussion of the first aid training initiative.
The process tool that may be useful during teacher motivation and shift in attitudes is team building. The purpose of this tool is “to build team spirit, team synergy and to consolidate teams” to increase its work effectiveness and drive collective goal achievement (Saraswat & Khandelwal, 2015, p. 90). To increase team cohesion and commitment to the shared improvement goal, one needs to promote change vision and values, clearly state the tasks, allocate responsibilities to each member, implement efficient communication mechanisms, and involve team members in decision making (Whitehead, 2001). Team building will help to enforce school safety culture and foster compliance with values and standards. In this way, the school will obtain a chance to affect the desired change more efficiently.
Secondly, it is essential to remove existing barriers to the professional development of teachers in Dar Al Hanan. The evaluation results showed that time and financial constraints, as well as workloads, are major obstacles to educators’ involvement in first aid training and obtainment of certificates. The received data are consistent with findings by Badri, Alnuaimi, Mohaidat, Yang, & Al Rashedi (2016) who identified that teachers fail to engage in professional development either because it is too time-consuming, expensive/unaffordable and conflicting with work schedule or because of the lack of incentives. Whereas the latter factor can be addressed through the previously discussed culture and team-building practices, the former two require the development of an appropriate support system for teachers.
According to Badri et al. (2016), “the forms of support can consist of paid working time and substitutions” (p. 3). Thus, the given action will likely require financial investments in order to reduce teachers’ cost burdens. In addition, it is essential to allocate sufficient time and make sure that teachers’ work-life balance does not suffer due to the required improvement initiative. Therefore, it is pivotal to choose an appropriate training intensity mode and take into account the preferences of each teacher.
Considering this, such a process tool as brainstorming can be of great help at the initial stage of barrier removal. Team brainstorming “involves each participant generating new ideas in front of other people, which is aimed to promote a new combination of divergent ideas” (Zhao & Hou, 2010, p. 181). The main purpose of this tool is to stimulate creativity and it can be effectively applied to solving any organizational problems. By inviting teachers to contribute to strategy development, it would be possible not only to come up with the best possible solution that would suit the majority of parties but also instill a sense of empowerment among team members. It may be argued that this can help to increase their willingness to undergo training.
Lastly, the school should align its safety culture and values with appropriate safety monitoring and reporting practices, policies, and so forth. This action falls under the third step in Lewin’s change management model – refreezing, – which involves “stabilizing the change at a new quasi-stationary equilibrium” (Kumar, Kumar, Deshmukh, & Adhish, 2015, p. 87). In other words, the development of policies and safety monitoring tools and protocols that, besides multiple behavioral standards would incorporate a requirement for regular renewal of teachers’ knowledge in first aid, will help internalize and institutionalize attained attitudinal and behavioral changes. In this way, it will be possible to attain more sustainable positive outcomes in school safety promotion.
Reflection and Summary
It is possible to conclude that the performed needs assessment process was successful. It helped to get a deeper insight into the problem of first aid certification in the selected school and evaluate which factors may interfere with the efforts to improve its safety culture. It is evident that needs assessment plays a crucial role in change management and is fundamental to building effective action plans.
The needs assessment is included in many change management models, including the ones proposed by Lewin and Kotter. Both theorists emphasized the need to create a compelling need for change by identifying internal weaknesses, as well as new opportunities for improvement and threats to quality (Kumar et al., 2015). Moreover, they stated that the overall need and the understanding of organizational strengths and weaknesses should drive the change process and selection of necessary tools and processes (Kumar et al., 2015). Consistently with these statements, the action plan was proposed for Dar Al Hanan that may help the school to fulfill its vision and mission more efficiently by increasing teachers’ motivation to develop their first aid competencies.
As it was mentioned previously in the paper, since many areas requiring improvement in the selected school are associated with culture development and team building, one must consider individual teachers’ interests, communicate the vision for change, inspire teachers and motivate them to be creative and collaborative. Therefore, in order to implement the suggested change and three actions included in the proposed plan, a leader must undertake a transformational leadership approach.
The transformational style allows performing such leaders’ change management roles and functions like communication and development of positive attitudes to change well. It can foster better outcomes because it implies the provision of support, respect, and accountability of all parties involved in the process. It is people-oriented and welcomes constructive discussion and a collective search for solutions. In this way, this approach to leadership is more efficient in building trust with the team and reducing teachers’ resistance to changes.
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