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Pedagogical considerations for enhancing peer support training in an online university environment

Tricia H. Witte (Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Mercy Ngosa Mumba (College of Nursing, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Jessica Jaiswal (Department of Health Science, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Teairra Evans (Department of Psychology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
George C.T. Mugoya (Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 2 June 2023

Issue publication date: 22 June 2023

63

Abstract

Purpose

Peer Support Specialists (PSS) play an integral role in substance use disorder treatment and aftercare services. PSS training programs vary in format and need to be evaluated for continued improvement. The purpose of this study was to gather feedback about course delivery and instruction from PSS trainees in a PSS training program in Alabama.

Design/methodology/approach

Focus groups were conducted with 15 PSS trainees after they completed two training courses delivered in an online university format. There were four men and 11 women. Four were black, 10 were white and one was Hispanic/Latinx. Participants ranged in age from 20 to 70.

Findings

Through content analysis of focus group content, four themes emerged: (1) issues with online navigation, (2) desire for an orientation to university-level education, (3) instructor qualities (e.g. approachability and availability) and (4) course structure considerations (e.g. balance between online and in-person learning, more frequent class meetings).

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to evaluate a new PSS training program in Alabama. Findings help inform future PSS training programs and assist in the development of best practices in PSS training.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This work described in this paper was made possible by funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grant No: T26HP39458 and Grant No: M01HP42451. The views expressed in this work are those of the authors and do not represent HRSA.

Citation

Witte, T.H., Mumba, M.N., Jaiswal, J., Evans, T. and Mugoya, G.C.T. (2023), "Pedagogical considerations for enhancing peer support training in an online university environment", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 338-346. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-07-2022-0053

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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