An instrumental case study analysis of responsible employee preparedness after participation in mandated Title IX training



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In terms of higher education law, the Title IX Educational Act of 1972 has shaped the way higher education looks today. This law originally sought to ensure the elimination of sex-based discrimination in education, but the conversation has changed as new court cases and guidance on Title IX have shifted the dialogue of this act to the issue of sexual misconduct. There is a lot of research exploring this transition and the documents issued by the Department of Education. However, one new requirement that mandates institutions train all employees responsible for reporting these issues has very little research. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of university employees who are responsible for reporting incidents of sexual misconduct in regards to Title IX, and to gauge the effectiveness of sexual violence response training based on how prepared faculty and staff perceive they are in handling reporting these issues. This qualitative study utilized an instrumental case study approach through the lens of a postmodernist paradigm and was guided by four research questions. The conceptual framework for this study focused on the concepts that VAWA mandates responsible employees to be trained on Title IX, this mandated has only been required within the last year, and with no research on the topic, there is some dispute among how responsible employees should be identified and trained. The participants were two staff members and one faculty member from a large, public, Southwestern research university. Data was collected through the lens of the researcher, semi-structured interviews, and a document analysis of Title IX documents from the study institution. The data collected was coded using the constant comparative method, as well as open and axial coding. Trustworthiness was ensured by doing a bias inventory and allowing participants to correct any misinterpreted data on the transcripts. The conceptual framework for this study was built on the concepts that Violence Against Women Act mandates responsible employees to be trained on Title IX universities have only had this requirement since 2015, and some dispute among how responsible employees should be identified and trained. These concepts guided the questions asked in the interviews with the participants in order to better understand the experiences and perceptions of the responsible employees undergoing the new mandated training. After conducting this research study, it was found that there may be needed improvements in the training of responsible employees at the study institution. These need for these improvements was reflected in the data that showed that the participants had a disparity of knowledge about Title IX and reporting procedures. There were four implications that emerged from this data. The first is that responsible employees across higher education may have varying experiences and perceptions of Title IX training, because trainings are inconsistent in practice and need to be further studied. Another implication is that the effectiveness of training may vary depending on the training type and frequency. An additional implication to this is that although institutions may be upholding their responsibilities in training responsible employees, this may not be enough to train them properly. Finally, an implication was observed that sexual misconduct is a topic that should continue to be explored, in general, and perhaps Title IX training should cover the topic more widely to include emotional competency in handling reports. In order to improve upon these implications, it is recommended individual institutions and the field of higher education should study varying training practices in order to find consistent best practices to be implemented among institutions and ensure responsible employees are trained equitably. It is also recommended that this training should be consistent and frequent in order for faculty and staff to best understand their roles as responsible employees and Title IX. While examining possible training methods, it may also be recommended that some kind of emotional training is included so that responsible employees can not only report Title IX issues but help their students also feel safe. Finally, it is recommended that institutions of higher education share what they learn about their training practices with other institutions, so that more can be learned about the topic.



Title IX, Higher education, Sexual misconduct