Teaching Matters

Evaluating Police Studies programs

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


Evaluating Police Studies programs: reconciling Academia and Academy


Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron, School of Social Sciences, Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies
Romy Winter, School of Social Sciences, Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies


Advancing the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching

Presentation Type

Showcase Presentation


Social Sciences 209




In 2017, Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron received a Teaching Development Grant from the University of Tasmania (UTAS). The overall purpose of this project was to document the evolution of the UTAS Police Studies discipline, and evaluate all UTAS Police Studies programs, which have known unprecedented student growth since 2014.

With the creation of several pathways toward professionalisation available to police officers across Tasmania, UTAS and Tasmania Police have sent a clear message worldwide. All Tasmanian police officers must acquire academic qualifications up to professional honours to progress through the police ranks. This has triggered the interest of Australian police commissioners and Australia New Zealand Police Advisory Agency (a joint initiative of Australian and New Zealand police commissioners, it partners with police jurisdictions, and identifies opportunities for improved performance that results in better community safety outcomes in Australia and New Zealand), and the attention of international policing scholars. Indeed, Tasmania became the international leader in police tertiary education in 2015 when the final subjects for a university-based accelerated program became available to serving police officers up to the rank of inspector.

Literature about police education documents the difficult relationship between academia and the police industry, but does not build on ways to improve the situation (Fleming, 2010; Murji, 2010; Prenzler et al, 2009). The initiatives in Tasmania are in stark contrast to established knowledge in policing scholarship. The full professionalisation process is certainly difficult to achieve but doable. Tasmania is now the pioneer in a field in which most scholars thought success was impossible, and we now have an opportunity to acquire much needed data and further build on this unprecedented success.

Since all (in-service) police study programs have been exempt from SETLs/eVALUate surveys since 2011, it is important to develop the necessary tools to evaluate all police studies programs (starting with the recruit course), and identify the strengths that have contributed to the success of police studies over the past 10 years.

This presentation reports on the identification of weaknesses and opportunities to help further improve on the development and delivery of all police studies programs, according to usual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. It provides an outlook on project methodology, and an analysis of results obtained so far. The presentation offers the insights of both academics and police educators in the evaluation of university programs designed for the profession, with suggestions to design evaluation protocols that provide broader, innovative perspectives on program evaluation, across disciplines and industry specialisation. We provide this analysis against the backdrop of Tasmania setting itself as a standout case study in the midst of a body of critical and negative literature about police–academic partnerships.


Fleming, J. (2010), ‘Learning to work together: police and academics’, Policing: A Journal of Research and Practice, 4(2), 139-145.

Murji, K. (2010), ‘Introduction: Academic-Police collaborations–beyond two worlds’, Policing: A Journal of Research & Practice, 4(2) 92-94.

Prenzler, T., Martin, K. & Sarre, R. (2009), ‘Tertiary education in security and policing in Australia’, Asian Criminology, 5(1), 1-10.

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