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Learning at Work

How to Support Individual and

Organizational Learning

Bridget N. OConnor
Michael Bronner
Chester Delaney

HRD Press, Inc. Amherst Massachusetts

Copyright 2007 by Bridget N. OConnor, Michael Bronner, and Chester Delaney

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this material may be
reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written
permission from the publisher.

Published by: HRD Press

22 Amherst Road
Amherst, Massachusetts 01002
1-800-822-2801 (U.S. and Canada)
413-253-3490 (fax)

ISBN 978-1-59996-056-2

Production services by Jean Miller

Editorial services by Suzanne Bay
Cover design by Eileen Klockars

Preface ...................................................................................................................... ix
Introduction to the Book ..................................................................................... ix
Overview of the Book ......................................................................................... xi
Features of This Book ......................................................................................... xii

Part 1: Prologue.......................................................................................................... 1

Chapter 1: Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective.............................................. 3

The Workplace Learning Professionals Changing World ................................. 3
Integrating Learning Goals with Organizational Goals ...................................... 7
Organizing the Learning and Performance Function .......................................... 10
Identifying Current and Emerging Roles for the
Workplace Learning Professional .................................................................... 21
Understanding the Instructional Development Cycle ......................................... 24
Summary ............................................................................................................. 27
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 29
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 30
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 30
Voices from the Field: Captain Mike Barger............................................................. 33
Part 2: Needs Assessment and Evaluation................................................................. 39
Prologue to Part 2................................................................................................ 39
Chapter 2: Establishing the Need for Assessment and Developing
Needs Assessment Strategies.................................................................................. 41
Learning for Performance ................................................................................... 41
The Needs Assessment Process .......................................................................... 45
Systematic Approaches to Needs Assessment .................................................... 48
Targeting the Learner Population........................................................................ 54
Summary ............................................................................................................. 59
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 60
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 61
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 62

iv Learning at Work

Chapter 3: Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation and Building

Evaluation Strategies .............................................................................................. 63
Evaluation as a Basis for Sound Decisions ......................................................... 63
Domains of Evaluation Criteria .......................................................................... 68
Guidelines for Using Evaluation Data ................................................................ 83
Summary ............................................................................................................. 86
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 88
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 88
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 89

Chapter 4: Collecting and Analyzing Needs Assessment and Evaluation Data........ 91

Acquiring Valid Data .......................................................................................... 91
Observations........................................................................................................ 93
Interviews ............................................................................................................ 98
Surveys ................................................................................................................ 103
Testing................................................................................................................. 112
Experiments......................................................................................................... 114
Summary ............................................................................................................. 120
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 122
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 123
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 123
Voices from the Field: Mary Paul.............................................................................. 127
Part 3: Instructional Design and Delivery.................................................................. 131
Prologue to Part 3................................................................................................ 131
The Delivery of Instruction ................................................................................. 133
A Genuinely New Form of Instructional Delivery?............................................ 136
The Irreducible Challenge of Instruction ............................................................ 137

Chapter 5: Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives on Workplace Learning ............. 139

Theoretical Foundations...................................................................................... 139
The Role of Experience in Adult Learning ......................................................... 141
Learning Orientations and Instructional Design ................................................. 151
Learning Through the Workplace ....................................................................... 159
Humanism and Workplace Motivation ............................................................... 161
Table of Contents v

Summary ............................................................................................................. 167

Think It Through ................................................................................................. 169
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 169
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 169

Chapter 6: Planning for Instruction ........................................................................... 173

The Task of Instructional Design........................................................................ 173
The Design Team ................................................................................................ 176
Planning the How ................................................................................................ 180
Design Challenges............................................................................................... 182
Program Development......................................................................................... 183
Instructional Materials......................................................................................... 187
Evaluation in Instructional Design...................................................................... 189
The Leaders Guide............................................................................................. 190
Summary ............................................................................................................. 192
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 193
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 194
Make a Decision.................................................................................................. 195
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 197

Chapter 7: Enabling Learning in the Classroom........................................................ 199

The Teacher in a Classroom................................................................................ 199
Whole-Group Methods........................................................................................ 200
Discovery Methods ............................................................................................. 203
Small-Group Methods ......................................................................................... 206
Distance Learning ............................................................................................... 210
Computer Conferencing and Groupware ............................................................ 212
Instructional Aids ................................................................................................ 215
The Leaders Guide............................................................................................. 221
The Management of Teaching ............................................................................ 226
Summary ............................................................................................................. 228
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 229
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 230
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 231
vi Learning at Work

Chapter 8: Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom .............................................. 233

Setting the Stage for Alternative Learning Options............................................ 233
Choosing Alternative Learning Strategies .......................................................... 234
A Variety of Media ............................................................................................. 236
Using Self-Paced Tools for Instruction............................................................... 245
Additional Workplace Learning Strategies......................................................... 248
Summary ............................................................................................................. 254
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 255
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 256
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 260
Voices from the Field: Gloria Gery ........................................................................... 263
Part 4: Additional Competencies ............................................................................... 269
Prologue to Part 4................................................................................................ 269

Chapter 9: Writing the Training Proposal.................................................................. 273

What is a Training Proposal? .............................................................................. 273
Communicating Learning Solutions ................................................................... 274
Proposal Presentation .......................................................................................... 287
Summary ............................................................................................................. 288
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 289
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 290
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 290

Chapter 10: Supporting Change in the Workplace .................................................... 293

The Importance of Planned Organizational Change ........................................... 293
Factors Influencing Planned Organizational Change.......................................... 294
Bringing Change to the Workplace..................................................................... 299
Forming Collaborative Relationships ................................................................. 304
The Learning and Performance Professional
as Business Partner........................................................................................... 309
Summary ............................................................................................................. 309
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 311
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 312
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 312
Table of Contents vii

Chapter 11: Administering Workplace Learning Programs ...................................... 315

The Importance of Administrative Support ........................................................ 315
The Program Administration Sequence .............................................................. 316
Creating a Budget................................................................................................ 351
Learning and Performance Department Reports................................................. 357
Summary ............................................................................................................. 360
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 360
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 361
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 361
Voices from the Field: Ron Zemke............................................................................ 363
Part 5: Future Direction ............................................................................................. 369
Epilogue .............................................................................................................. 369

Chapter 12: Maintaining Your Professional Edge..................................................... 371

Summary ............................................................................................................. 374
Think It Through ................................................................................................. 374
Ideas in Action .................................................................................................... 375
Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 375
Voices from the Field: Rebecca Ray ......................................................................... 379

Appendix A: Long Training Proposal ....................................................................... 385

Appendix B: Short Training Proposal ....................................................................... 407
Appendix C: Selected Workplace Learning-Related Resources ............................... 411
About the Authors...................................................................................................... 417
Introduction to the Book

Learning at Work underscores the notion that training is a crucial function in

an organization. As a learning and performance professional, your job is to
support both individual and organizational learning. To do this, you need to
understand the needs of your particular industry, business, and personnel.
You are a team player and a respected colleague. You are an adult educator
and a savvy business person. You are a writer, teacher, coach, mentor, and
administrator. You are versed in the role of technology in both instruction
and administration. You are keenly aware of trends in your community, your
organization, and in society at large that affect the workplace. In short, you
are an active, integral, and vital part of your organization.
As a learning and performance professional, you are heavily involved in
the personnel processes of your organization: hiring, retaining, and devel-
oping staff. You provide training and development programs for new hires
and long-timers at all levels of the organizational strata to enable them to do
their jobs successfully. You provide counseling and educational programs
that help individuals grow their careers. You focus intensively on manage-
ment and executive development activities, including self-directed and
mentoring programs. If organizational downsizing occurs, you provide how-
to programs concerning job-search strategies for those who leave and stress
management programs for those who stay. As organizations adapt to new
work processes and organizational structures become flatter and less hierar-
chical, your role as a problem-solver and facilitator becomes even more vital
to the organizations success. Also, as promotional opportunities expand and
contract, you help managers and staff deal with new reward structures that
acknowledge individuals at all levels for what they know, rather than for
whom they manage.
Your many roles include needs assessor, instructional designer, instruc-
tor, evaluator, coach, and project manager. Your job demands thus are com-
plex and varied. You apply theoretical foundations in adult learning, instruc-
tional design, group behavior, and planned change to develop sound learning
initiatives. You are continually questioning, testing, and evaluating the
results of your craft.

x Learning at Work

As members of a professional field, we identify ourselves through a particular

vocabulary. In the field of training and development, we have long known that we do
more than train people to do their jobs. The American Society for Training and
Development (ASTD), our largest professional association with membership of
15,000 individuals in more than 100 countries, is keenly aware of this fact. The
ASTD, while keeping its link to the past, goes forward with its motto of linking peo-
ple, learning, and performance and a logo subheading of workplace learning and
performance. Following this shift, we have made conscious efforts in this edition to
update the vocabulary of our discussions. Our choice of language moves us from
thinking about ourselves as instructors in a behaviorist tradition (trainers) to work-
place learning and performance professionalslearning support specialists. We use a
much wider repertoire of tools and theory to meet the important mandate of making
sure that individuals in the workplace learn what they need to know at the time they
need to know it, and in a way that transfers the learning back to the workplace.
This evolving mandate manifests itself in the vocabulary we use to talk about our
roles, our work environment, our tasks, and our skill set. This vocabulary reflects the
reality that we have shifted from being dispensers of basic skills and information to
being educational experts and business partners whose work is to make sure that
learners learn, and not just that training takes place. Examples of former and revised
vocabulary include, but are not limited to:
The field of training and development the field of workplace learning
Trainer workplace learning professional
Trainee learner
Training programs learning initiatives
The training function the learning and performance function
The training department the learning and performance department
Learning at Work is the third edition of Training for Organizations (2002, 1996).
This edition includes additional topics, new Voices from the Field, and a general
update of what was covered previously. Like our previous editions, we emphasize the
practical as well as the theoretical in discussing needs assessment and evaluation
strategies. We acknowledge the promises and limitations of technology on the deliv-
ery of learning experiences, as well as on the administration of learning and perform-
ance departments. We stress the art and science of writing proposals to address learn-
ing needs. In short, Learning at Work offers a view of the many roles you will play in
Introduction to the Book xi

your career and provides concrete examples and information that you can transfer to
your first job or your current job, as well as use to move up your career ladder.

Overview of the Book

Learning at Work is divided into five parts and twelve chapters. The parts and chap-
ters are presented in a logical order, but each part can stand on its own. This means
that you can start at your key point of interest and move through topics and chapters
as your interest or learning needs expand.
Part 1, Introduction, sets the stage for the entire book. In the prologue to Part 1,
we describe the need for organizational learning against a backdrop of social trends
and issues. We begin the first chapter by discussing the concepts of the learning
society, the learning organization, and Knowledge Management. Then, we describe
how the mission of a learning and performance department influences its structure and
the services it provides, as well the competencies required of the training and per-
formance professional. We conclude the chapter with an overview of a model we call
the Instructional Development Cycle. This model can help us understand how assess-
ment, design, implementation, and evaluation tasks are separate and distinct tasks, yet
interrelated and interdependent.
Part 2, Needs Assessment and Evaluation, consists of three chapters. In Chapter 2,
we emphasize that learning initiatives are undertaken to address organizational needs
and new opportunities. The best learning initiatives are based on a careful needs
assessment that takes into account the organizational environment and its business-
driven requirements, as well as the needs, abilities, and aspirations of individuals. In
Chapter 3, we stress that evaluation should be considered up front in instructional
design, rather than as an afterthought or its nice to have, but hard to do, so we dont
do it philosophy. Tying the outcomes of the needs assessment with strategies to
determine if those outcomes actually occurred is the focus here. The final chapter in
Part 2, Chapter 4, provides the practical how-to for these two vital steps in the
Instructional Development Cycle. Research techniques related to designing and using
selected methodsobservations, interviews, questionnaires, and simple experi-
mentsare discussed.
In Part 3, Instructional Design and Delivery, the best of what we know about
learning is reviewed: adult learning theory, learning orientations, and motivation
xii Learning at Work

theory. In Chapter 6, instructional design templates and strategies are offered. These
procedures and forms are intended as pragmatic guides in planning for learning initia-
tives. Part 3 includes a chapter on classroom-based instructional approaches and self-
directed and mediated learning support strategies. Here, youll find techniques and
ideas for supporting learning throughout your organization, no matter where your
learner is housed.
The three chapters in Part 4 are all about creating an environment where learning
can flourish. To ensure that plans for learning initiatives are well communicated, we
offer an outline guide for writing a proposal and suggestions for developing oral pres-
entation skills. To better appreciate your role in planned change efforts, read Chapter
10s overview of theoretical foundations for planned, systematic change efforts and
overview of techniques and tools for facilitating group processes. Chapter 11 in Part 4
centers on administrative tasks. While these tasks are not glamorous, they are crucial
to program success. To this end, we include descriptions of typical course registration
and scheduling systems, checklists for facility administration, and even a special
training module on developing departmental budgets.
In Part 5, Future Directions, we suggest action steps you might consider as you
take your career to the next level. In this section, we suggest ways in which you can
hone your professional skills. Here, the goal is to think creatively about what your
current roles are and to think about what they can and might be.

Features of This Book

Learning Objectives. Each chapter begins with learning objectives to help you
focus on key points in the chapter.
Think It Through. Each chapter closes with questions designed to reinforce
key concepts and to provide a structure for critically thinking about what you
have read.
Ideas in Action. Each chapter includes suggestions for further research or
practical activities that are intended to extend your thinking about these
Voices from the Field. Each of the books five parts concludes with an inter-
view of a workplace learning professional who offers related insights, experi-
ences, and perspectives.
Introduction to the Book xiii

Additional Resources. Each chapter concludes with a short list of annotated

recommended readings.
Appendices. In Appendix A, youll find an example of a long proposal. This
full-blown proposal includes all the steps listed in Chapter 9. In Appendix B,
youll find a short proposal. Appendix C lists professional resources such as
popular magazines and scholarly journals in the field, as well as important
professional organizations and listservs.
Learning at Work attempts to synthesize what we know about workplace learning
and management of the learning and performance function in organizations. It is also
an attempt to explain why some learning ventures succeed while others fail. Com-
bined, we have a wide range and many years of experience as academics and practi-
tioners. Our professional lives have been spent in teaching, research, consulting, and
managing training. Our key purpose in writing this book is to provide a single source
of information that is both theoretical and practical, a book that can serve as a learning
guide for the newcomer and a reference tool for the seasoned professional. Learning
at Work can be used in support of train-the-trainer programs in the workplace or career
education courses in colleges of business or applied psychology. We hope this text
helps our readers create and maintain rewarding and satisfying careers in this dynamic
field of workplace learning!

Companies in the United States spend more money annually on learning ini-
tiatives than all the public school systems in the country put together. No
better commentary on the importance of learning exists than this enormous
investment by organizations in its people. And while learning and perform-
ance department budgets continue to expand, this investment may not be
enough, as the learning needs of individuals continue to expand at an even
higher rate.
Perhaps the overriding theme of Part 1and this bookis the need for
educational leadership in organizations. What trends are pushing for innova-
tion in learning options? What does it mean to be a leader in workplace
learning? What does a learning and performance department look like? As a
workplace learning professional, what do I need to be able to do keep up and
move ahead?
The savvy workplace learning professional is a full team player who
speaks the language of the business and the industry. He or she makes sure
that departmental goals are tightly aligned with the goals of the organization.
These goals are then reflected in the way learning and performance depart-
ments are organized and how the innovative approaches to support learning
both classroom-based and self-paced or mediated programsare designed,
delivered, and evaluated.
To this end, this chapter provides a backdrop for the changing nature of
the world in which we work, presents models for organizing the learning and
performance department, provides an overview of the evolving set of skills
needed by workplace learning professionals, and introduces the Instruc-
tional Development Cycle, the action and research framework that serves as
a basis for this book. Take special note of the JetBlue University mission
statement that ties its work tightly to the needs of the industry, the business,
and the employees it supports. Then read the Voices interview that con-
cludes this chapter. Captain Mike Barger, vice president and chief learning
officer of JetBlue Airways, talks about the challenges and opportunities of
setting up and supporting a structure to foster learning in this rapidly growing

2 Learning at Work

The needs of an organization always mirror those of the society in which it exists.
The term learning society aptly describes our needs in this changing world and work-
place. Workplace learning professionals who can understand big-picture issues and
who are well versed in organizational behavior and adult learning theory, corporate
culture, sound business practices, and the promises and limitations of technology are
in an excellent position to succeed.
Putting Learning at Work
Into Perspective

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Discuss the importance of individual and organizational learning in
todays global economy.
Provide the rationale for linking an organizations learning programs to
organizational goals.
List examples of strategic, informational, and operational learning.
Discuss how the philosophy and mission of the learning and
performance function impacts the way the learning and performance
department is organized and the way learning services are provided.
Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the faculty model, the
client model, the matrix model, and the corporate university model as a
means for structuring the learning and performance function.
Outline the usefulness of the Instructional Development Cycle for
project management.

The Workplace Learning Professionals

Changing World
Noted journalist and author Thomas Friedman says that weve been
undergoing globalization since the discovery of the new world in the late
15th century. He suggests that we have evolved from a mindset that success
depended on how much muscle and raw horsepower our country had
(Globalization 1.0: 14921800) to how well our global organization could
take advantage of expanding options and declining costs in transportation,
computing, and telecommunication that led to success (Globalization 2.0:
18002000), to todays Globalization 3.0: 2000) in which individuals from
all over the world are the driving force and communication technologies are
their enabler. Friedman says that what we know as work can be broken down
into components and done anywhere in the world. In this flat world,

4 Learning at Work

any individual with the right skill set can work in any job at any location. How do we
as learning professionals help ensure that the individuals we support can compete in
such an environment? What can we do to ensure that our people and the organization
If we accept the notion that the individual is the driving force today, then the
knowledge and the how-to that individuals possess becomes paramount to their suc-
cess. Knowledge is more than informationits what we have come to know about
how to use that information that helps us process it in new ways. Learning is a term
that describes the process of making those new connections, and we are fast becoming
the learning society. Learning to construct and transform experiences into new ways
of addressing issues is the single most-important skill we need to possess if we want
to succeed in this new world. And those of us who can teach others how to learn are in
a position to make unique and important contributions to not only the people we
teach, but also to the organizations in which we work and the world at large.
In determining learning goals, we often rely on methods and approaches appropri-
ate for times long past, forgetting todays global, diverse workforce with its evolving
job demands and its ever-changing needs for skills and knowledge. Sometimes we
forget that we are in a flat world, and the goal is not to prepare a workforce to adapt to
existing jobs; rather, the goal is to enable the workforce to adapt to global work envi-
ronments and demands. This transformational perspective helps us understand the
magnitude of the dramatic changes that are affecting all aspects of our individual
lives, our organizational lives, and society as a whole.
Two concepts that can help us understand the changing nature of a workplace
learning professionals world are the learning organization and knowledge manage-
ment. A discussion of these concepts follows.

The Learning Organization

A learning organization responds to the demands of both the organization and the
individual learner. In a learning organization, the organization itself learns not only
from its past mistakes, but also from its past successes. In a learning organization, the
rewards for individual success are high and the risks of failure are low, thus encour-
aging people to try something new. In a learning organization, individuals are
empowered to do their jobs creatively and well. Organizations learn only through
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 5

individuals who learn, said MIT Professor Peter Senge. Senge calls this empower-
ment personal mastery: Individuals with this freedom are more committed to their
jobs, take more initiative, and have a broader sense of responsibility in their work.2
In a learning organization, business managers and workplace learning pro-
fessionals work together for a common purpose. In a learning organization, they both
share accountability for learning programs. You are more than just the deliverer of
instructional programs; you are a full business partner and organizational change
agent, relying on a wide repertoire of skills that includes instructional design,
teaching, facilitating, mentoring, and counseling.
In a learning organization, individual workers/learners have an increasingly
independent responsibility to both learn and share what they know. Microsoft
software designers illustrate this point: Designers have no regular hours, and no one
keeps track of their hoursjust their output. New employees are given a
buddy/mentor to help them learn. Projects are usually team-based, and team members
learn together and share what they know, a concept Etienne Wenger calls a
community of practice (see Chapter 8). In a community of practice, individuals are
responsible for their own learning, and willingly share what they know with others.3
The implications for workplace-learning specialists is that we must play an in-
creasingly important role in supporting organizational and individual needs and
demands, particularly in identifying the skills an organization and its workers need
and helping learners choose and use a wide range of appropriate learning options.
This trend can be clearly seen in changing job titles: performance consultant,
instructional specialist, knowledge engineer, relationship manager, and so on. The
person in charge of these functions might be called the chief learning officer, vice
president for learning and development, or president of the organizations corporate

Knowledge Management
Learning and performance functions are increasingly part of an organizations knowl-
edge management (KM) effort. While many different definitions exist for this
concept, knowledge management is basically a formal effort to codify an
organizations collective experience and wisdom, including the know-how that exists
in peoples heads, and to make it accessible and useful to everyone in the enterprise.4
6 Learning at Work

While KM is often discussed in terms of the technology that can support knowledge
sharing, the key to supporting knowledge management is to help employees find ways
to share their expertiseeither face-to-face, or though technology. When Xerox
copier technicians consult with each other about how to make specific kinds of repairs
or when they contribute to a database of tips, they are practicing KM.
Developing such systems, however, requires both the personal and the technical,
as knowledge management systems are only as good as the information that goes into
At first, the technicians were reluctant to submit tips. They didnt find it
natural to write down what they knew But managers seeded the database
with suggestions from engineers at headquarters. Some bosses offered
rewards such as cash and T-shirts for submitting tips. Administrators also
featured the names of people who contributed, resulting in thank yous from
colleagues around the world. Today, Xeroxs Eureka system holds about
70,000 suggestions and saves the company millions of dollars a year in repair
Instructors, managers, and practitioners can use the power of the Internet to share
information, communicate, and organize and access a wide range of learning
resources. The KM umbrella can also include communication hardware and software,
as well as performance support systems. Learning takes on a strategic role when
employee knowledge is referred to in corporate reports as an asset called intellectual
capital. It is clear that learning and sharing knowledge is a high priority in such
To foster information sharing in knowledge-based organizations, learning and
performance professionals need a mix of theory and know-how. Moreover, as a savvy
business professional and adult educator, you must be aware of the myriad of options
for supporting learning. This emphasis on sharing information and effectively using
resources suggests that learning initiatives are increasingly tied to addressing
problems and opportunities in new ways. In the first section of this chapter, we
present this challenge: Take a more active role and link learning and performance
department goals to organizational goals.
In the next section, we help put these organizational challenges into focus by
providing perspectives on how the structure of a learning and performance department
supports organizational aims and mirrors its philosophy and mission. Best practices
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 7

evolve when there is a match between organizational goals, the philosophy and
mission of the learning and performance function, and the career development needs
of individuals. Therefore, we also include a listing and discussion of current and
emerging roles for the workplace learning professional. In part of this discussion, we
provide a perspective on the many interrelated yet distinct roles a professional might
be asked to play during his or her career. The Instructional Development Cycle, a
problem-solving model for project management as well as the organization of this
book, concludes this chapter. The cycle depicts the four stages of learning program
developmentneeds analysis, development, implementation, and evaluationwhile
emphasizing their interrelationships.

Integrating Learning Goals with Organizational Goals

In large organizations, a human resource department is charged with a set of staff
functions, such as hiring (and firing), salary administration, benefits administration,
union relations, and sometimes learning and performance. Whether the learning and
performance function is separate from or part of this department, decisions that affect
the existing or needed labor pool impact the entire organization. The workplace
learning professional can play a crucial role in ensuring that the organization hires,
trains, and retains the skilled workforce that it needs.
Resources for learning, like all resources, are limited. The challenge is to use
them wisely and to provide evidence of their value to the organization. While it is
difficult to measure learning and its organizational impact, the premise is made that
learning initiatives that contribute to organizational goals can be linked to tangible
outcomes of some sort: an increase in sales, reduced turn-over, higher production
levels, improvements on employee attitude questionnaires, and so on.
To make these links between organizational goals and learning initiatives, it is
useful to consider instructional strategies as responses to one of three identified
organizational thrusts: strategic focus; informational focus; or operational focus.
While many learning efforts transcend these categories, they can help describe the
impact of learning initiatives, and thus establish the linkage from organizational goals
to learning and performance activities.
8 Learning at Work

Strategic Learning
Strategic learning refers to plans that take into account long-term organizational goals
and objectives. Examples of these goals might include the development of new or
better products; operating with fewer people; or expanding into a global market.
Strategic learning efforts are typically initiated by the chief executive officer, the chief
learning officer, or the director of learning and performance.
Developing a workforce with core competencies can be considered strategic. Core
competencies are the knowledge, skills, and abilities the organization has deemed
critical to long-term success, such as creative thinking and problem solving;
leadership and visioning; and self-development. The development of core
competencies not only contributes to organizational goals, but also adds to personal
mastery. Such core competencies become the foundation for specific job skills.6
For example, assume that a large U.S. firm is in the midst of expanding its busi-
ness to include distributors in Mexico. Workers in its corporate headquarters should
ideally be relatively fluent in Spanish and knowledgeable about Mexicos history and
culture. A learning initiative to teach these language and cognitive skills could be con-
sidered strategic to individual success and paramount to the organizations success in
their global expansion.
Providing learning initiatives for partners, suppliers, and customers can be part of
an organizations overall strategic plan. Take Harley-Davidson, for example. It invests
between 3 and 5 percent of its payroll in learning and performance throughout its
entire customer and supply chains.7 When the company expanded its business to
include clothing and collectibles, it expanded its learning services as well. Harley-
Davidson has an integrated curriculum; dealers are given the opportunity to learn
business skillseverything from finance to Web site design. The company also pro-
vides its customers with rider training. Such efforts are clearly strategic and are thus
appropriately linked to organizational goals.

Informational Learning
Informational learning provides the workforce with information about the organiza-
tion. Many programs highlight the close relationship learning and performance
departments have with their human resource departments. Workplace learning profes-
sionals can help ensure that employees are oriented to their new jobs, learn about their
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 9

benefits package, and understand the organizations operating policies. Orientation

programs also serve to help new employees develop corporate citizenship and a con-
textual reference for their work.8 Developing corporate citizenship means developing
learning initiatives that result in the employee knowing the organizations history,
culture, traditions, and values. Creating a contextual reference means ensuring that
employees understand big-picture issues related to the firms products and services
and its relationship to its competitors, suppliers, and customers. Such efforts provide
information that will prepare the employee for his or her role as a contributing player
in an organization whose mission, goals, and operating policies are fully understood.
Informational learning is not usually directly applicable to the employees specific
job or task, but rather enhances his or her overall awareness and understanding of the
firm, its culture, and its product line. An employee who knows and understands the
organization and who works for a manager who communicates the rationale for direc-
tions and policies is an employee who is more likely to be able to contribute to a
learning organization. Programs with an information focus can be directly linked to
the organizational goals that improve employee retention rates or raise employee job
satisfaction. Thus, informational learning efforts are ongoing in naturenot one-shot
eventsto maintain open lines of communication.

Operational Learning
Operational learning provides the information necessary to conduct day-to-day
activities, and directly relates to an employees job. Line managers and workplace
learning professionals must work together at all stages of this kind of program devel-
opment. Examples of operational learning include instruction in new work methods
and procedures, skills needed to use new technologies, and new skills required to
upgrade to a new task/job. Every organization offers operational learning programs of
one type or another. Because this type of learning is so vital to the ongoing day-to-day
activities of an organization, linking operational learning initiatives to organizational
goals is usually a simple and direct task.
Increasingly, operational learning follows strategic and informational training,
rather than the other way around. This does not mean that operational training is less
important than developing core competencies; nothing is more important than making
sure that the organizations work can be done. Workplace learning professionals and
10 Learning at Work

the managers of departments they support are finding that they need to develop their
employees core competencies, as well as provide them with a contextual framework.
Increasingly, many job tasks cannot be done well unless the employee already has the
necessary strategic and informational knowledge and skills.
To restate, it is not critical to categorize each and every learning initiative as
either strategic, informational, or operational. In reality, much overlap exists. These
categories simply help us put instructional efforts into perspective and describe how a
specific program will address the overall goals of the organization. The terms strate-
gic, informational, and operational simply help us link organizational goals to learning

Organizing the Learning and Performance Function

It has been said that a workplace learning professional must be both a priest and a
prophet. The former would provide good counsel to the individual employee; the
latter would be able to predict market, technological, and organizational develop-
ments. As a counselor and a business strategist, you work inside the organization to
ensure that it has a well prepared and motivated workforce. To do this, it is important
to have a departmental philosophy and mission on which to build a structure for

A Learning Philosophy and Mission

A philosophy is a system of values. A mission is an activity that is to be carried out. A
corporate philosophy for the learning and performance department originates at the
executive level. Such departments are typically based on one or more of the following
1. To prepare employees to develop specific skills necessary to perform
effectively in their current job assignments.
2. To build skills and impart knowledge that will make employees more
effective in a variety of possible job roles.
3. To prepare employees to take on broader or more demanding job assignments
in the future.
4. To help employees recognize and realize their full potential as human beings.9
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 11

These philosophies are offered in order from the most concrete to the most
abstract. In the first, to prepare employees to develop specific skills necessary to per-
form effectively in their current job assignments, learning resources would be directed
at operational learning activities that can change worker behavior. Results would be
measurable and would likely affect the organizations outcomes and profits.
A learning and performance department takes on an informational and strategic
role when its philosophy is akin to numbers two and three above: To build skills and
impart knowledge that will make employees more effective in a variety of possible job
roles; and to prepare employees to take on broader or more demanding job assign-
ments in the future. Ideally, learning efforts within these roles will be rewarding to
both the organization and the employee. Successful programs match what the organi-
zation needs with what employees want to learn.
An organization focused primarily on the fourth item, to help employees
recognize and realize their full potential as human beings, has a broad mission that is
similar to the U.S. governments mission regarding education. No learning and
performance department should neglect operational, informational, and strategic
learning, but broad-based learning is transferable to any number of different jobs.
In this book, we consider a learning and performance departments role to be con-
cerned with a variety of strategic, informational, or operational learning outcomes.
Moreover, assisting employees to achieve their potential is indeed a desirable out-
come, and one that is increasingly important to keeping a skilled, knowledgeable
A learning and performance departments mission statement is a much more con-
crete version of its philosophy. The mission statement offers an explanation as to why
it is organized in a certain way, what the staff does, and how services are delivered.
Note that these specific activities set the stage for what the learning and performance
department actually does. The mission typically falls under one or more of the fol-
lowing descriptions:
1. To establish a basic curriculum of programs and courses that management can
access to ensure that employees can do their jobs.
2. To anticipate changing conditions (internal and external) and provide pro-
grams to help employees cope with these changes.
12 Learning at Work

3. To provide expertise in analyzing performance problems and to then devise

appropriate solutions.
4. To provide programs that will improve productivity.
5. To respond to requests from individual managers and supervisors for
employee training and development.10
Note the strong connection in JetBlue Universitys mission statement (Figure 1-1) and
long-term goals depicted in Figure 1-1 to business goals, its workforce, its faculty,
and its industry. (Every employee, by the way, is referred to as a Crewmember.)

Models for Learning and Performance Department Organization

Organization charts are graphic illustrations of who reports to whom and their overall
responsibility. Organizational charts in most large organizations are not static in
nature; they are dynamicconstantly changing. As organizations transform them-
selves into learning organizations, organizational charts will probably change fre-
quently to reflect changes in titles or duties that are shuffled among key players.
Sometimes new people are hired; sometimes organizations are forced to downsize (a
more-positive term is right size). Sometimes organizational charts change to reflect
the assignment of more individual responsibility for a given project.
Learning and performance departments share the shifting, dynamic nature of
todays organizations. A learning and performance department can be organized to do
some or all of the following: conduct needs assessments, create program/course devel-
opment; identify internal and external consultants; select learning materials; provide
instructional delivery; and conduct program evaluation. The learning and performance
department structure itself can be considered either mostly a faculty (product)
model or mostly a client (customer) model. Sometimes, too, the product and
customer models converge to form a matrix model. Some large organizations are also
adding a corporate university approach to address their mission and to organize their
training resources. In reading descriptions of each of the following models, consider
the philosophy and mission that a department demonstrates when it uses a particular
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 13

Figure 1-1. The JetBlue University Mission and Goal Statement

To ensure the successful delivery of Crewmember education, in both regulatory and

non-regulatory areas, and the accuracy of records to support these efforts
To continually advance Crewmember knowledge and awareness; and to facilitate
the conversion of continuous learning into better performance, initiative, and inno-
To effectively deliver, promote, and consistently exemplify the corporate culture, the
JetBlue Values, and the JetBlue Principles of Leadership
To be credible and accessible sources of reference and subject matter expertise

Long-Term Goals:
Increase faculty effectiveness by:
Ensuring 100% faculty selection and placement accuracy
Making JetBlue U the spawning ground for Leadership positions across
JetBlue and our industry with a best-in-class approach to personal and
professional development
Establishing JetBlue U as a crucial partner in strategic planning, tactical
policy making, and process development across JetBlue and our industry
Providing a World Class set of instructional tools

Ensure corporate viability by minimizing corporate risk through:

Flawless recordkeeping and qualification management
Impassioned and tangible commitment to safety
Intelligent use of our budgeted capital

Continuously advance Crewmember knowledge and awareness by:

Leading all service industries in our approach to Performance Management
Creating a World Class JetBlue U course catalog of organic and partnered
Achieving regulatory approval and global recognition for our company-wide
approach to Crewmember development that is directly tied to individual
performance improvement
Establishing a World Class reputation for our delivery strategies and tech-

Reprinted with permission, JetBlue Airways

14 Learning at Work

Faculty Model for a Learning and Performance Department. As Figure 1-2

shows, the faculty model of a learning and performance department is much like
that of a college. Its director operates much like a dean, with a staff of experts (often
referred to as consultants) who develop, update, and deliver instruction. Informational
and operational learning programs are kept current and are repeated on a scheduled
basis for a wide range of audiences, or they are custom-designed to meet the needs of
a specific group on a particular subject. Examples include ongoing new employee
orientation programs, and workshops in SEC regulations, business communications,
and presentation skills. Upgrading sales techniques and improving telephone
behaviors are yet other examples. With the faculty model, subject matter experts who
are employees of the organization are responsible for updating and delivering

Figure 1-2. Faculty Model for a Learning and Performance Department

Learning and

Management Sales Computing Administrative Legal

Development Skills Skills Support Skills Regulations
Consultant Consultant Consultant Consultant Consultant
1 2 3 4 5

Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant

Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant

A learning and performance department that is organized on the faculty model

offers some real benefits. One advantage is the careful coverage of the topics they
teach. Also, laying out plans is considerably simplified: what will be taught and when
it will be offered are determined according to the staffs capabilities and availability.
This arrangement makes planning and control easy. Moreover, the faculty modelat
least in the idealis an efficient use of staff, drawing precisely on the strengths of the
instructors, and ignoring their weaknesses.11
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 15

The faculty model has its limitations. By its very nature and organization, its use
can result in ignoring content areas in which the instructors lack expertise. This means
that a department of instructors might teach only some of the skills needed in the
organization, and might even teach skills that the organization does not need at all.
Another danger is that a department of teachers tends to focus on evaluating instruc-
tion, rather than on whether or not specified skills were acquired or were useful on the
job. In other words, the use of the faculty model can put too much emphasis on what
the faculty does and not enough on what the individual or organization needs.

Client Model for a Learning and Performance Department. With a customer or

client approach to structure, as shown in Figure 1-3, a learning and performance pro-
fessional might have responsibility for an entire subpopulation of an organization. In
this illustration, the workplace learning professional (an internal consultant) would
work with line business managers to identify the skill/competency needs of a particu-
lar subgroup and ensure appropriate learning initiatives. Often, this internal consultant
can come up with solutions (e.g., programs) from outside vendors (outsource) or from
an internal program-development group. The emphasis in this model is on ensuring
that the learning needs of a given functional department or group of individuals are
addressed, with the internal learning and performance consultant serving as a broker
or consultant in meeting these needs.
A client model of organization results in built-in responsiveness to changing busi-
ness needs. In this highly flexible model, needs assessment (discussed in the next
chapter) can focus on business needs rather than faculty interest and capability, since
the consultant does not necessarily have a personal investment in a particular subject
being taught. The design and delivery of learning initiatives can more easily focus on
learners needs and their learning styles without overt or covert influence from the
instructor. This is a significant benefit, given an adult learners need for individual-
ized, self-motivated instruction.
16 Learning at Work

Figure 1-3. Client Model for a Learning and Performance Department

Learning and

Operations Information Marketing Finance

Systems Internal
Department Department Department Program
Consultant Consultant Consultant Development
2 3 4 Director

Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant

Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant Assistant

However, a learning and performance department operating in the client model is

always in motion, always shifting, and always compensating for new emphases and
directions. Planning is not easy in such an environment. In addition, workplace learn-
ing professionals who consider teaching as their primary job function find that this
model offers a less-satisfying personal work experience.

Matrix Model for a Learning and Performance Department. Professionals who

are considered part of the learning and performance staff in a matrix structure gener-
ally report to both a line manager and a learning and performance department director.
The workplace learning professional here has the duties of being both a content (fac-
ulty) expert and a client representative. This situation is depicted in Figure 1-4, which
shows the consultant as a subject matter expert (SME) within a centralized department
who is also responsible for coordinating needs assessment, development, delivery, and
evaluation activities for a given population.
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 17

Figure 1-4. Matrix Model for a Learning and Performance Department

Learning and Performance

Department Director
Consultant Consultant Consultant
1 2 3
Client Financial Controllers Marketing department Operations
Population department department

Subject Matter Desktop technology Team building and Executive education

Expert (including computer- self-managed work
based training) groups

Special Projects Selection of new PC- Development of video Selection of 360-

based training for new-hire degree feedback
administration system orientation program instrument for use in
performance reviews

Proponents of the matrix structure explain that this structure helps ensure that
learning initiatives match the needs of the line department and that they will most
closely link with organizational goals. This structure also makes it possible to share
resources and minimize duplication of efforts. This structure also allows for the career
development of the workplace learning professional, who has the opportunity to con-
tinue his or her own learning in a particular content area. However, critics of this
structure explain that in a matrix organization, the professional has two sets of super-
visorsthe line manager and the learning and performance department director. Such
a situation can lead to conflict and confusion. Nonetheless, if carefully managed, the
matrix organization can be a very effective way to balance the needs of a line depart-
ment with the skills of a learning and performance faculty.

The Corporate University Model. Many organizations create their own internal
universities that provide an organizational base for a wide array of strategic, infor-
mational, and operational services and programs that meet the needs of the individual
employee, the organization, its business partners, and the community at large. What
differentiates this model from the faculty, client, and matrix models is its governance
structure, the audience for its learning programs, how it is funded, and its outreach to
18 Learning at Work

The governing structures of corporate universities often mirror those of traditional

universities, with a board of trustees and advisory boards that provide input on direc-
tion and curricula. According to a 2005 survey, corporate universities in their early
stages were more likely to report to human resource departments (64%) than those
that are more established (51%). Survey findings also revealed that corporations with
corporate universities spent 2.5% of their payroll on learning and development and
9% of their own budgets on technology infrastructure.13 The program audience often
includes customers and suppliers, and many team up with local colleges and universi-
ties to offer courses and even degree programs.
Sue Todd, head of Corporate University Xchange, says that corporate universi-
ties in agile and successful companies today are finding they can have an impact on
business performance because they (1) speak the language of the business; (2) partner
with business leaders and take accountability for business results; and (3) add sub-
stantial value in the pursuit of achieving mission-critical objectives.14 Todd says that
while the original model of the corporate university was based on terms and concepts
related to traditional universitiesfunctional colleges, deans, registrars, and the
likethe corporate university itself is becoming increasingly organized like a
business and for the business, as shown in Figure 1-5. Again, what distinguishes the
corporate university model from more traditional structures is its target audience
employees, suppliers, customers, and even learners from the community, who all take
core courses together.
To support learners from the community, corporate university planners can work
with educators at their local community colleges to develop core competencies. Com-
munity colleges are often targeted for such partnerships because their mission is
essentially to respond to the needs of the community (this includes local businesses).
Such collaboration is a win-win situation for everyone involved. For starters, it
ensures that the community college is developing competencies that are relevant in the
workplace. Moreover, individuals who complete these community college core
courses earn a credential that will be favorably considered if they apply for a job at
the partnering organization. In addition, many organizations and colleges have
developed plans that allow those who have successfully completed the organizations
corporate program to transfer these credits to the local community college and
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 19

Figure 1-5. Corporate University Model for a Learning and Performance Department

Governing Board of
Body Directors

Head of the
Corporate University
President and CEO

Training Leads and

Voice of Customer
Advisory Councils

Global Selling Product Management

Research and
Development Product Marketing
Global Building


Global Supply Chain

Shared Services Corporate Function

Performance Research and

Consulting Development

Solution Design Finance

Solution Development Engineering

Sourcing Sales and


Regional L & D Delivery Network

ASIA PAC Distributors

Europe Retailers

North America

Source: Todd, Sue. The corporate university is alive and well. Accessed from, June 19, 2006. Used with permission.
20 Learning at Work

These partnerships take many forms. John Deere has partnered with Indiana
Universitys Kelly School of Business for a personalized e-MBA for their employees.
Lincoln Technical Institute in Maryland has partnered with BMW to build a joint
facility where the latest in automotive technology can be taught to Institute students
and BMW employees. JetBlue Airways has contracted with New York Universitys
School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) to provide JetBlue University
faculty development programs that result in credits that can be applied toward the
SCPS masters degree in Human Resource Development.
The corporate university model appears to be emerging as the way to set up the
learning and performance function in large organizations. By providing one-stop-
shopping for ways to address core competencies, the corporate university offers
economies of scale and more choices. Additionally, as the Internet becomes a preva-
lent mode of communicating, the model supports strategic, informational, and opera-
tional learning by functioning as a portal to any number of live and mediated learning
options. Moreover, in partnering with organizations throughout its supply chain
suppliers, distributors, customers, and the community in generalit provides a way of
serving not only its own business needs, but also those of society at large.
To recap, a learning and performance departments organizational structure is
often a merger and/or combination of the best of these four approaches. The value of
these descriptions is that they allow the workplace learning professional to use the
learning and performance departments philosophy and mission as the basis for a
useful organizational structure. The departments structure facilitates its being able to
provide an array of strategic, informational, and operational learning programs.
The following section moves from these global, organizational issues faced by
workplace learning professionals to a discussion of the skill set needed by individual
training professionals. To provide an array of learning activities, departments rely on
a variety of individuals who have a wide mix of competencies. Competent workplace
learning professionals are the means through which a learning and performance
department offers its services, enabling the department and the organization to achieve
its goals and objectives.
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 21

Identifying Current and Emerging Roles

for the Workplace Learning Professional
Most workplace learning professionals have had several jobs during the course of
their careers. One individual might have held jobs of instructor and instructional
designer before being promoted to department manager. Within each job, this indi-
vidual played various roles. Roles are job functions. To perform specific roles, the
professional uses special skills or competencies. Thus, he or she develops a career by
building a foundation of competencies that allows a variety of roles to be performed
in a number of different but related jobs. In this discussion, we use the term job to
describe how a workplace learning professional uses his or her competencies in a
given workplace.
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), as part of a long-
term, ongoing study of learning and performance practices, identified and defined
three layers of competencies that workplace learning professionals need now and in
the future as they grow their careers: foundational competencies, areas of professional
expertise, and the ability to use the competencies in specific roles.15
ASTDs foundational competencies include interpersonal, business/ management,
and personal competencies. Having interpersonal skills means being able to build trust
and to communicate effectively, and to be able to appropriately influence stakeholders
on the value of learning solutions. Interpersonal competencies also include the ability
to leverage diversity and to network and partner with internal and external contacts.
Business/management competencies include the ability to propose learning solutions
based on business and learner needs, to apply an understanding of the organizations
business model, to set goals related to instruction, planning, and implementing action
plans, and to think strategically. Personal competencies include being adaptable to
changing situations, and continuing to learn for ones own personal development.
The second ASTD competency layer, areas of expertise, concerns the ability to
help employees plan their careers, coach, and deliver engaging learning solutions.
This skill set also includes the ability to facilitate organizational change efforts,
manage organizational knowledge, measure the impact of learning interventions, and,
of course, to manage the learning and performance department.
The third level is about roles, which require combinations of competencies. The
four roles ASTD identified were: (1) strategist; (2) business partner; (3) project
22 Learning at Work

manager; and (4) professional specialist. Within a career, a training professional typi-
cally holds several jobs, each requiring him or her to play roles that rely on a different
mix of competencies or skills at different ability levels. For example, an instructor
needs a high level of presentation skills. A learning and performance manager who
also uses presentation skills may take them one step further and include evaluation of
presentation skills.
Keep in mind, too, that hardly anyone joins an organization as a director of
learning and performance without first having field experience in a wide variety of
learning-related jobs. In building a career, such a professional becomes expert in any
number of competencies; it is the mix of these competencies that determines the job
and the inherent roles the individual plays in that position. Core competencies are at
the hub of Figure 1-6. Note that several competencies are combined to define roles.
Roles in combination define jobs. Jobs in combination make up a career in workplace
learning. Thus, each professionals career wheel is very specific and individual.
So far, we have discussed structures for organizing a learning and performance
department and the skill mix the professional will need to have in order to perform
various jobs within a given structure. Now, it is important to understand what the
learning and performance department or function actually does, putting individuals
competencies, roles, and jobs into a larger perspective. The Instructional Development
Cycle, a conceptual project management strategy, is applicable to strategic, informa-
tional, and operational learning efforts. It can be used within any model of department
organization. In the next section, we discuss the stages of the Instructional Develop-
ment Cycle, who should be responsible for each stage, and how activities at each
stage relate to activities in other stages. As a project management strategy, the
Instructional Development Cycle can help ensure that:
the right things are learned
in the right way
at the right time
and in the right priority order.
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 23

Figure 1-6. The Relationship among Competencies, Roles, and Jobs within a Career

Learning Professional
Career Roles

u ct Des uctio
ns tr i gn n
I er



Ma alu



Sp dia
te ato

r ia r


Ad al
mi v
ni E

ato her
r c

Jobs Res
Evaluator Core

s Asses
Competencies Analyst

en al

Ag n


e atio

ng iz
ha n

Ca unse
C rga

ree lor



24 Learning at Work

Understanding the Instructional Development Cycle

Experts in the field of workplace learning have used a number of systems-based
models that depict the steps for developing learning programs. Systems approaches to
program development rely on observable inputs and outputs. Systems theory also says
that everything is connected to everything else, and a change in one area impacts
others. Systems theory is useful here as workplace learning professionals attempt to
design learning services that will achieve maximum operating efficiency for each
component of the system. However, the use of these models often assumes that a deci-
sion to develop instruction to solve a performance problem has already been made.
The Instructional Development Cycle model is similar to traditional systems models,
but it emphasizes stakeholders solving problems and continual examination and
refinement of the process. In other words, planned change is a key underlying compo-
nent of the model (see Chapter 10).
Kurt Lewin, a noted social psychologist, described change as a three part process:
unfreezing (reducing negative forces toward the change); moving (making the
changes happen); and refreezing (reaching a new status quo). Lewin believed that
learners are more likely to modify their own behavior and managers are more likely to
support learning initiatives when they are themselves involved in the process. This
participation can occur in problem assessment and the design and implementation of
the problem intervention (in this case, a learning intervention), as well as its evalua-
Continuous evaluation and stakeholder participation are the foundations of
Lewins action research model. Action research is a basis for solving problems in
many different situations, and is useful in conceptualizing organizational learning.
Action research has four components: at its base is the assessment of a problem; next,
the development of an intervention to solve the problem, then the implementation of
that intervention, and finally, the evaluation of the intervention as well as the evalua-
tion of the other three components (needs assessment, design, and delivery). All stake-
holderswhoever has something to win or lose by the success or failure of the inter-
ventionare directly involved in this process. Action research has a goal of solving
problems, and the organization is the learning laboratory within which it is applied.
Participants in the process learn what works and what does not work in solving the
problem in a particular environment, and then profit from their experiences. Because
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 25

of the strong, cyclical role action research plays, it supports the goal of creating a
learning organization.
Action research is the basis here for the Instructional Development Cycle,
depicted in Figure 1-7A and 1-7B. Note that the assessment, design, implementation,
and evaluation stages are distinct yet fluid (1-7A). Feedback is continual (1-7B). The
outputs of one stage become the inputs for the next stage. The process is cyclical as
the evaluation stage of one project can become the assessment stage of the next
project. Ideally, learning program development includes all stages. In reality,
however, not all programs are so neatly structured. Many such projects are effectively
done quickly. The more strategic and larger the project, the more useful it is for
planners to follow this more-structured planning method.
Each element in the Instructional Development Cycle encompasses a distinct and
complete process. Circle A in Figure 1-7A shows each element of this cycle. The first
such process is defined as the assessment stage (or phase). Assessment is the investi-
gation of the current state or scope of the perceived problem. Activities related to
the assessment stage include organizational analysis, job analysis, task analysis, and
person analysis. The second stage is design. Design can be defined as the creation of
an intervention (a learning intervention) that is targeted at addressing the problem
identified in the needs assessment. Examples of activities at this stage include cur-
riculum development, a classroom-based course design, CBI course development, and
the creation of instructional aids or materials. The third stage, implementation, is the
actual delivery of the intervention (the learning initiative) that was designed in the
second stage. The fourth stage is evaluation. Evaluation measures the extent of the
interventions impact on the problem.
26 Learning at Work

Figure 1-7A. The Instructional Development Cycle: An Action Research Model

of the Problem

Evaluation Design of an
of Outcome Intervention

of the Intervention

Figure 1-7B. The Instructional Development Cycle: The Interrelationship of Stages

of the Problem

Evaluation Design of an
of Outcome Intervention

of the Intervention
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 27

Activities at the evaluation stage include the assessment of instructional delivery;

the review of the needs assessment process, course materials, instructional evaluation,
and organizational impact; and evaluation of the learning outcomes. To this end, Fig-
ure 1-7B depicts the interrelationship of each stage of the Instructional Development
Cycle. Note that each stage relies on each and every stage that precedes it. Feedback
at each stage means that outcomes are continually being evaluated. Using the Instruc-
tional Development Cycle, evaluation criteria come about as the result of a valid
needs assessment. Likewise, successful delivery of a learning intervention assumes
that not only was the needs assessment valid, but also that the design phase was
effectively carried out and that the right population of learners was being reached at
the right time. The continual interplay between each of these four elements, while
cyclical in presentation, is interactive in nature. This cycle supports the notion that a
workplace learning professional can help facilitate change efforts (this will be
discussed in Chapter 10). Moreover, because stakeholders are involved in all phases,
the cycle supports adult learning theory, discussed in Chapter 5, which is based on the
premise that adults want a say in decisions that impact their lives.
In future chapters of this text, we will explain and expand each phase of the
Instructional Development Cycle, offering practices that are based on theoretical
foundations. Two underlying premises will be repeated: Firstly, learning efforts must
support the organizational mission, goals, and strategies. Secondly, they must be effi-
ciently implemented. Anyone considering the field of workplace learning as a career
focus should have an appreciation and a skill base for each of the specific stages of
the Instructional Development Cycle. It follows that the more competencies that a
workplace learning professional has, the more roles he or she can play and the more
prepared he or she will be to lead the enterprise toward full participation in the
learning society.

In the learning society, your role as a workplace learning professional has taken on a
new importance. The globalization of the economy, demographic trends, and new
technologies have changed where work is done as well as how it is done. These trends
have forced organizations to rethink their roles and responsibilities to maintain a
skilled, knowledgeable workforce. Knowledge management systems, which are
28 Learning at Work

designed to collect, store, codify, and distribute what an organization knows to indi-
viduals at the time they need to know, is an organizing force for learning options that
supports the idea that the focus is on individual learning and is not limited solely to
classroom instruction.
In this chapter, we described strategic, informational, and operational focuses for
learning programs. Strategic learning is related to the organizations long-term plans.
Informational learning has to do with raising workers overall awareness of the
organization and/or its products. Operational learning focuses on the day-to-day
operations of the organization. Learning services in all categories should be based on
a well-planned needs assessment, and expected learning outcomes should be
identified in advance and used to evaluate program success.
A learning philosophy is a set of values upon which a learning and performance
department builds its mission and its structure. The philosophy may be operational (to
prepare individuals to perform their current jobs) and/or strategic and informational
(to prepare individuals to perform a variety of possible roles or take on more
demanding assignments). Sometimes, by the very nature of the learning programs,
training can be considered educational (to prepare individuals to realize their full
potential as human beings).
Four models for organizing the learning and performance department were
described: faculty, client, matrix, and corporate university. Under a faculty model,
workplace learning professionals operate as subject matter experts and offer a range of
ongoing courses and workshops. Under a client model, professionals have responsi-
bility for ensuring that learning and development needs for an entire subpopulation of
an organization are addressed. The matrix model combines the faculty and client
models: the professional works as a subject matter expert within a centralized learning
and performance department, and is also responsible for coordinating the needs
assessment, development, and evaluation activities for a given population. The corpo-
rate university model goes a step further, providing a structure that allows for a wide
range of strategic and informational learning programs for learners who are not typi-
cally learning and performance department clientscustomers, suppliers, partners,
and the community. The corporate university is also a useful way to offer continuing
education services to employees at all levels. Because this model supports strategic
learning so well, the mix of individuals who are involved in the program planning
efforts are often diverse.
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 29

In your workplace-learning career, you will use a wide range of competencies to

perform specific roles within jobs. The American Society for Training and Develop-
ment sponsored a study that resulted in a list of competencies and roles that describe
the needs of workplace learning professionals. Clustered competencies are roles, and
clustered roles are jobs. A mix of jobs constitutes a career.
We concluded this chapter with an overview of the four-part Instructional Devel-
opment Cycleassessment, design, implementation, and evaluation. The Instructional
Development Cycle is a means of understanding processes required to establish effec-
tive, efficient learning programs. Its methodology encourages cooperation from all
organizational stakeholders. Understanding the relationships among tasks related to
assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation is important for project planning
and organizational learning. The Instructional Development Cycle, based on princi-
ples of action research, has the dual goal of systematically solving the problem and at
the same time learning from the entire problem-solving process.

Think It Through
1. Why are trends in the world at large important to organizations? Identify two
such trends, and offer examples of ways that learning and performance
departments have begun to address them.
2. What differentiates strategic learning from informational learning and opera-
tional learning? Is such a distinction important? Why or why not?
3. How might a learning and performance directors personal philosophy
conflict with the philosophy of the department he or she leads?
4. As a workplace learning professional, would you prefer to work in a depart-
ment that was organized on a faculty model, a client model, a matrix model,
or a corporate university model? What are some advantages and disadvan-
tages of each?
5. Corporate University is just a new name for a learning and performance
department. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
30 Learning at Work

6. Describe each of the four stages of the Instructional Development Cycle:

assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation. Why is it termed a
cycle? Discuss why efforts at each stage are so dependent upon outcomes
of other stages.

Ideas in Action
1. Begin a file from your local newspaper for news items and editorials related
to the need to train Americas workforce, and the need for corporate
education to maintain our competitive edge. Highlight important concepts and
points and share selected copies of your readings with your colleagues.
2. As a group project, brainstorm the wide range of roles that an individual
might play in the following jobs: instructor, instructional designer,
department manager. Which jobs appeal to you? Expand the list offered in
this chapter. Which competencies do you already possess? Which do you
need to develop?
3. Draw your own workplace learning career wheel that includes a vision of
your future in the field. In completing this exercise, you may find it useful to
build on your answers to Question 2.

Additional Resources
Friedman, T. L. 2005. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman identifies forces
impacting life in this century.

Harvard Business Review on Organizational Learning. 2001. Cambridge: Harvard

Business School Publishing.
This book includes eight classics (the best of the best) from the Harvard Business
Review on organizational learning.
Putting Learning at Work Into Perspective 31

Meister, Jeanne C. 1998. Corporate Universities: Lessons in Building a World-Class

Work Force. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Meister provides a behind-the-scenes look at how fifty corporations are using the
corporate university model to manage their investment in education.

Web sites is the portal for the myriad of services offered by Corporate
University Xchange (CUX). Through the site, you can subscribe to a variety of free
services, such as a listserv and Web letter. Additionally, you can purchase books and
research reports, and learn of upcoming seminars sponsored by the company.

Chapter 1 Notes

1. Friedman, Thomas L. 2005. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New
York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

2. Senge, P. 1994. The Fifth Discipline. New York: Doubleday.

3. Bridges, W. 1994. Job Shift. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

4. Gordon, J. 1999. Intellectual capital and you. Learning, 36(9), 3038.

5. Thurm, S. 2006. Companies struggle to pass on knowledge that workers acquire. The Wall
Street Journal (January 23, 2006. B1).

6. Meister, J. C. 1998. Corporate Universities: Lessons in Building a World-Class Work Force. New
York: McGraw-Hill.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Zemke, R. 1985. In search of a learning philosophy. Learning Magazine.

10. Ibid.
32 Learning at Work

11. Delaney, C. 1984. Alternate Models for Structuring a Learning Department. New York: Aurback

Lui, A. T. (in process). Unpublished doctoral dissertation.

13. Update on Corporate Universities. 2005. Training. (42)4, p. 8.

14. Todd, Sue. The Corporate University: Alive and Well. Accessed from,
June 19, 2006.

15. Davis, P., J. Naughton, and W. Rothwell. 2004. New roles and new competencies for the
profession. T & D. 58(4), 2636.
Captain Mike Barger on the Learning and
Performance Function

Captain Mike Barger is vice president and chief learning officer for JetBlue Airways.
Mike attended the University of Michigan, where he received his undergraduate
degree in economics and psychology in 1986. He then received his commission as an
officer in the United States Navy, and served three deployments flying the F-18
Hornet aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. These
deployments included combat action in Desert Storm, over Bosnia, and in the skies
above Kosovo. While in the Navy, Mike spent three years as an instructor at the Navy
Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He is also an impassioned and widely published
author of numerous articles on strategy, learning techniques, and complex weapons
Mike was part of the JetBlue start-up team in early 1999. He founded JetBlue
University, the corporate learning organization, which is now supported by over 200
faculty at five campuses across the United States. He still flies for JetBlue as a captain
and check airman (instructor pilot). He says he wakes up every morning knowing that
he has the greatest job in the world.

Learning Mike, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
at Work
Mike G. Its my pleasure, Bridget. At JetBlue U we like to say that we spend the
Barger majority of our time in our places of most potential. I think this chat
clearly fits into this category.
LAW: JetBlue is renowned for its great service and friendly staff. You must be
very proud of your workforce.

34 Learning at Work

MGB: We couldnt be more proud of our Crewmembers (what JetBlue calls all of
its employees). David Neeleman, our CEO, has always said that we could
have the greatest business plan in the world, but without the best people
wed be just another run-of-the-mill company. From day one, we commit-
ted ourselves to finding the right people and giving them all of the tools
they need to enjoy exceptional success in our operation.
LAW: Six years ago, you had the unique experience of building a structure for a
learning and performance function from scratch. Can you tell us what
guided your thinking as you created JetBlue University?
MGB: We were a start-up company in a heavily regulated industry where new
entrants had a greater than 95 percent chance of failure. We also faced the
unique challenge of having to meet significant regulatory training require-
ments with only limited resources with which to accomplish them. Hon-
estly, Bridget, out of necessity to maximize the efficiency of our training
operations and to simplify the management of our limited resources, it
made sense to centralize. Centralizing the learning function also gave us the
opportunity to create a common and consistent vision, philosophy, and
strategy for Crewmember development across our enterprise. We were able
to cost-effectively deploy technologies that met the needs of every depart-
ment within JetBlue U. We uncovered so many natural efficiencies in our
centralized approach that its hard to imagine doing it any other way. One
final part of this story that should be told, Bridget, is the extent to which we
have been able to effectively collaborate across the University. Our faculty
is composed of subject matter experts from every corner of our operation.
Having all of these experts in a common location gives us the opportunity
to truly understand how things work at JetBlue. I cant think of a better
environment in which to create the most effective learning experiences for
our Crewmembers.
LAW: Today, JetBlue Airways is having exponential fleet growth. How has this
impacted your corporate university?
VoicesCaptain Mike Barger 35

MGB: Our growth plan over the next ten years includes the addition of a new air-
plane to our fleet about every ten days. At JetBlue, it takes about 100 new
Crewmembers to support each airplane, so with a little simple math you can
see that well be adding about ten new Crewmembers each day for the next,
oh, 3,650 days or so! This clearly puts the pressure on both our hiring and
our training teams to meet the demands of our growing operation. While
these numbers seem a bit staggering, at least they are fairly well defined. I
know how many new Crewmembers Ill need to support with both initial
and what we call continuous (i.e., recurring annual) training for the next
decade. This clearly requires some solid strategic planning to execute, and
we have no choice but to do our best to optimize the efficiency of our pro-
grams. If we dont find the proper balance of effectiveness and cost, we
will quickly find ourselves either dangerously ill-prepared or significantly
LAW: The corporate culture of JetBlue is captured in your five corporate values of
Safety, Caring, Integrity, Fun, and Passion. How does this culture translate
into how JetBlue University operates, as well as the learning initiatives its
faculty develops?
MGB: Ive always believed that at least half of what our new crew members take
away from their initial training experience is the cultural component of
their education. Naturally, we expect each new Crewmember to leave their
classes with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively function in
his or her operational role. But we expect each to leave JetBlue U with a
very clear understanding of our culture. We hire people who have the same
fundamental core beliefs and values as JetBlue, and then we provide edu-
cation that emphasizes how our success depends on value-based decision
making. If our Crewmembers are able to take the skills they are taught
during their initial training and apply those skills in a manner consistent
with their valueswhich are the same as the JetBlue valuesthen we are
virtually ensured success.
36 Learning at Work

LAW: Can you describe strategic learning initiatives your corporate university is
MBG: All of our strategic initiatives align with the evolving goals of our business.
We exist to support the needs of our operational Crewmembers. We
accomplish this through strategic partnerships with the leadership of each
JetBlue business unit. Each fall, as the plans for the upcoming year are
vetted and set forth by each operational department, a JetBlue U partner
participates in the process to ensure alignment and support for the units
strategic objectives. This has been an exceptionally effective methodology.
LAW: Whats JetBlue Universitys biggest success story?
MBG: I think JetBlue Us biggest success story is the fact that we have earned the
confidence of the operational units that we serve and are viewed as true
strategic partners across our enterprise. We have done this by establishing
exceptional relationships through the clear and comprehensive management
of roles, responsibilities, and expectations. We then nurture these relation-
ships through honest, two-way communication about what we perceive and
when we perceive it, and how we believe things could be done more effec-
tively. Wed like to think that were well on our way to creating a high-
performance, learning organization.
LAW: What about professional development for your staff? Can you tell us why
JetBlue University chose to partner with NYU to create and deliver a fac-
ulty development program? What do you see as the biggest results of this
MGB: Early in the creation of JetBlue U, I decided to draw my faculty from the
best that our operation had to offer. I went out to our front lines and offered
faculty positions to our very best operators. This ensures a been there,
done that credibility that I feel is truly important to the success of our edu-
cators. Unfortunately, I knew that being a great doer did not necessarily
guarantee being a great instructor. This proved to be true, as very few of
my faculty had any background in formal education. I knew that I needed
to find a way to develop my faculty in the fundamentals of adult education.
VoicesCaptain Mike Barger 37

My search for the ideal strategic partner led me to NYU. They shared my
passion for quality learning experiences and it was the only institution of
higher education that was willing to learn as much from us as we could
from them. The faculty at NYU was excited to work outside the traditional
box of higher education to partner with me in the creation of a Master
Instructor program that aimed to provide the fundamentals of adult educa-
tion to my faculty. The program has been an absolute success. Specifically,
not only do we all now speak a common language, but across the board, my
team understands the manner in which program needs are identified, objec-
tives are determined, and curricula are developed, deployed, and assessed
to ensure effectiveness and down-the-line improvements.
LAW: I know you are familiar with the ASTD competency study described in this
text. How applicable or useful is the resultant model to you and your fac-
ulty? Do you see anything that might need to be taken away or added?
MGB: I happen to like the work that ASTD did with their competency model.
Naturally, as it was built to be globally applicable, it provides only a start-
ing point from which to specifically define the unique requirements and
ideal characteristics of a particular organization. With this in mind, how-
ever, I think the ASTD model is a great place to start. I would offer only
that organizations might find that they have competency requirements not
addressed in the ASTD study. At JetBlue U, for example, we believe that a
significant product of our educational programs is cultural inculcation. So,
our faculty must be living, breathing models of our values and culture.
Therefore, we have defined a competency not suggested by ASTD that we
call corporate citizenship.
LAW: What journals do you read on a regular basis that are related to corporate
learning? Do you have any books to recommend?
38 Learning at Work

MGB: There is so much good work being done out there in the learning space
these days. I love to read, and find myself all over the board with my
favorites. I never miss an issue of T+D, CLO, or Training magazine. I
thoroughly enjoy reading Elliott Masies Learning Trends (http://trends. and ASTDs blog, Learning Circuits (http://learningcircuits. These e-spaces provide wonderful opportunities to keep
ones creative juices flowing. Finally, if youre looking for a good book or
two (and assuming that anyone reading this will have Learning at Work in
their hands), I consider Peter Senges The Fifth Discipline an absolute gem
for understanding organizational learning from a systems perspective, and
Thomas H. Davenports Thinking for a Living as a super piece for under-
standing the unique needs of todays knowledge worker.
Thanks for the chat. I really enjoyed our talk.
LAW: Mike, I know our readers will find your experiences and insights to be
invaluable. Many thinks.

Prologue to Part 2
The very raison dtre of a learning and performance department is to ensure
that the right people learn the right things at the right time, and in the right
priority order. The task essential to achieving this goal is to ascertain what
must be learned and by whom, and what the organizations learning priorities
are in terms of topics and people. This task is referred to variously as needs
analysis, needs identification, or needs assessment. It is Step 1 in the Instruc-
tional Development Cycle (see Chapter 1). We will use the term needs
assessment to refer to this stage of the cycle. Evaluation is conceptually the
fourth stage of the Instructional Development Cycle, and learning evaluation
data serve as input for the next step in the processthe organizations ongo-
ing needs assessment. Therefore, in Part 2, we present an overview of needs
assessment and evaluation, and describe the tools you will need to do both.
We will discuss data collection and analysis techniques in Chapter 4.
Needs assessments are performed in a wide variety of situations. Market-
ing and sales departments are constantly attempting to discover what their
customers needs are. Doctors want to discover their patients medical needs,
beginning with symptoms and moving to causes. An entertainment conglom-
erate is always in search of consumer interests and needs and wants, so it can
respond with profitable productions and products. An assessment to deter-
mine learning needs follows the same line of thinking as all of these, but with
its own particular focus. The goal of learning needs assessment is to discover
what our clients need to know.
Evaluation, the fourth stage of the Instructional Development Cycle out-
lined in Chapter 1, has relevance to all other stages because evaluation of out-
comes is conducted at all stages. One major aspect of program evaluation is
to determine whether or not planned learning occurred. If it was not attained
or was only partially attained or it generated new needs, this information
should be fed back as needs assessment data.
Conflicts can arise concerning the learning interests of employees. It is
possible in the needs assessment process to uncover personal learning goals

40 Learning at Work

that the organization does not support. For example, what the employee wants to learn
may not fit with either the organizations business plans or with their view of the
employees job needs, skills, or potential. That is, an employee may consider it neces-
sary or desirable to learn x or may simply express an interest in doing so because
that is where he or she would like to move in terms of career. Management, on the
other hand, may not agree and thus may not support this learning interest; they may
not think that learning x will help achieve the individuals or the organizations per-
formance goals. The employees manager may judge that the employees demon-
strated performance record does not support his or her career interests, and thus
having the employee learn x is not a good allocation of scarce learning resources.
In a large company, there may be many job options available to satisfy the career
aspirations and learning interests of virtually all employees. In smaller organizations,
this might not be the case, and even in larger organizations a match is not always
realistically possible. When such a difference exists, it frequently surfaces as part of
the needs assessment process. It is important that workplace learning professionals be
clear about the philosophy of the organization and how such differences are to be
handled. One point of view says that any such conflict should be resolved in favor of
the companys interests, and not those of the individual. The thinking here is that an
organizations management must decide how its resources are to be invested and thus
will have to ultimately determine not only what needs to be learned by employees, but
which employees should learn which subject matter, and when the learning initiative
should take place. A second point of view argues that the organization will in the long
run benefit (and perhaps even in the short run) if its members all strive to identify and
maximize their own personal potential in terms of work. Thus, in this case, the
employees interests would prevail. The truly important thing for the individual con-
ducting a needs assessment is to be clear on how this potential conflict is to be
With these preliminary points made, we can now turn our attention to a more
detailed look at Chapter 2, Establishing the Need for Assessment and Developing
Needs Assessment Strategies; Chapter 3, Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation
and Building Evaluation Strategies; and Chapter 4, Collecting and Analyzing Needs
Assessment and Evaluation Data.
Establishing the Need for Assessment
and Developing Needs Assessment Strategies

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Identify the interrelated goals of a needs assessment effort.
Summarize the value of systematic approaches to needs assessment.
Explain how to use the needs assessment template.
Explain the value of the needs assessment bulls-eye in targeting the right
individuals for needs assessment data.
Determine the appropriate needs assessment techniques for a given
Explain why needs assessment is an ongoing activity and not a one-shot

Learning for Performance

The basic definition of needs assessment is simple and straightforward.
Assessing is not always easy, but the definition is simple. Needs assessment,
the first step in the Instructional Development Cycle, is the process of identi-
fying what employees need to learn so they can successfully perform their
jobs and grow their careers, and so help the organization to carry out its plans
and achieve its performance goals.
The focus on learning in this definition is crucial. The particular focus is
on what needs to be learned, either to enable or to enhance performance. The
learning and performance department seeks to answer several questions:
What do people need to learn in order to perform?
What do people need to learn in order for the organization to perform?
Where and how can learning support performance?
Once these questions are answered, the task is to help learning occur with
maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

42 Learning at Work

In any organization, there is a constant influx of the new. New hires are asked to
take on new tasks. There are new job responsibilities to be met, new areas of business
the organization has decided to enter, or perhaps a whole new business to grow. New
tools and new processes are continually being introduced into the workplace. In all
these cases, people need to acquire new knowledge or master new skills. That is to
say, they have a need to learn in order for them to perform and in order for the organi-
zation to perform. A needs assessment seeks to identify these learning requirements.
Organizations also have a recurring need to overcome performance deficiencies of
one kind or another. Such deficiencies are caused by many factors, only sometimes by
a lack of knowledge or a lack of skill. It is only a lack of knowledge or skill that can
be addressed by learning. One of the key tasks for needs assessment is not only to
identify performance deficiencies, but also to identify those that can be remedied by
learning to do something better. Workplace learning professionals must be careful not
to leap too quickly into instruction as a solution for all problems. Such solutions can
be successful, but they should be applied if and only if learning something is the
remedy for the problem. This is not a question of being noble, nor is it merely as a
matter of professional discipline. It is an exercise in self-interest. Developing instruc-
tional programs as a solution to the wrong problem or to a non-learning issue is an
exercise in futility and a waste of valuable resources, and it will earn the learning and
performance department a reputation for ineffectiveness.
This definition of needs assessment also reminds us that organizational learning is
dependent upon employee learning. Needs assessment does not focus on instruction or
on programs or on what the learning and performance department has to offer. It
focuses instead on the learning that is needed, and on the knowledge, skills, and abili-
ties employees need to acquire for the sake of performance. This focus on learning
may lead to a wide variety of methods for helping learning to take place. It does not
automatically lead to a classic classroom-based instructional program. When the focus
remains on learning, the workplace learning professional will always search for the
most efficient and effective way to make that learning happen, whether that means a
traditional classroom program or something else. Needs assessments are not about
setting up instruction. They are about finding the right responses to opportunities and
problems caused by performance gaps.
The following discussion deals with issues related to each component in the
definition of this kind of needs assessment: learning for the job, for a career, and for
the organization.
Establishing the Need for Assessment 43

Learning for the Job

The purposes of learning listed in the opening paragraph of this chapter are in the
order in which they are usually encountered. By far the most usual and frequent
reason why a learning initiative is needed is so that employees can successfully per-
form their jobs, carrying out their tasks and meeting the responsibilities assigned to
them. This covers an enormous range of possibilities, varying from project to project
and from job to job. A manager, for example, must learn different things than a recep-
tionist. Computer programmers have to know vastly different things than sales people,
who differ dramatically in what they need to know versus the maintenance staff or the
cafeteria workers or the auditors. Each member of an organization, from top to bot-
tom, has the need to learn or re-learn how to do his or her job.
This might mean learning how to do the job in the first place. Basic, entry-level
learning for all kinds of work is a staple of organizational life. Once the basics are
acquired, additional learning needs will surface sooner or later. After a while, some
part of these basics may need refreshing. More typically, as the individual gains
experience and becomes more proficient, the need arises to learn more complex skills
within the same job stream. An MBA fresh off the campus may be able to perform
solid business analysis at a fundamental level, but may require additional skills to deal
with the complexities of a merger, corporate expansion, or the subject of international
taxation. People in management jobs face the need to learn new skills as their slice of
the organizations resources changesgrowing larger or differentor as the organi-
zations objectives and priorities shift with the tides of business or technology or
demographics or other factors that shape the world in which the organization lives.
The ripples of change in the workplace require every organizations members to con-
tinually relearn, learn new things, and even unlearn what was previously acquired.
In almost any job, there are core competencies that an incumbent must master.
Core competencies often cover organizational culture as well as problem-solving,
basic computer literacy, and interpersonal communication. The responsibilities of an
administrative assistant or controller or systems analyst or supervisor imply that the
individual possesses the ability to apply a set of skills that are needed to meet those
responsibilitiesa skill set that someone new to the job may need to acquire. Fur-
thermore, given the basic core competencies, every job also makes other demands that
are situational in nature. Such demands vary from company to company. Management
philosophy, company goals and constraints, the companys vision of itself and its
44 Learning at Work

future, its equipmenta host of factorsdetermine a core set of skills that will vary
from one company to another. Even though an individual may be experienced in a
core set of competencies, a new circumstance might require new learning. A needs
assessment can identify what those new understandings or skills are.
Even within the same organization, core competencies for a job can remain the
same but vary in their application from department to department or from unit to unit
inside a single department. Once again, the need for new skills is real, and is no less a
job-related need than the original core set. Through a careful assessment, the learning
professional captures all these learning needs.

Learning for Careers

Beyond the learning necessary to perform individual jobs, there is the whole issue of
career development. Most organizations and managers think beyond the immediate
present, recognizing employees needs for professional growth. It is almost always in
an organizations best interest to address such career interests, and most do. Career-
growth interests, of course, generate a great deal of learning requirements and are
usually an exciting area for a needs assessment activity to address.
There is also the issue of growth across careers. New learning needs often arise
from an employees desire to move into a career different from his or her present one,
or to move to a substantially different branch of the existing career track. Perhaps the
most common example of this is the desire of an employee to move into management;
typically, a productive, successful worker is offered or seeks the opportunity to
become a supervisor in the department or profession where that success has taken
place. Such a move builds upon the technical job mastery the employee has achieved
through experience, but it also necessitates mastery of a whole new set of skills.
Moving into a management position makes it necessary to acquire the managerial
skills of planning, organizing, delegating, staffing, work monitoring, evaluating, and
the like. To this skill set must be added the interpersonal skills of supervision, per-
formance appraisals, corrective discipline, coaching, mentoring, and counseling.
While the shift to a management position is the most common jump to a new
career, in most organizations a whole range of careers exist to which people aspire.
Organizations are usually supportive of such career moves, for the results are gener-
ally a win-win all around. Recall the caveat in the prologue to this section of this text,
however. The last thing a learning and performance department wants to do is help an
employee acquire skills for which there is no existing demand within the organization.
Establishing the Need for Assessment 45

Learning for the Organization

Learning initiatives that help the organization meet its goals are the end results that all
learning and performance departments must keep in focus. Organizations make enor-
mous investments in people and the tools they use to do their work. Programs with
well-documented needs assessment data that can be explicitly tied to organizational
goals are in the best position to have an organizational impact and to earn organiza-
tional support. Employee learning is a business function, and its activities must align
with organizational goals.
Needs assessment data provide baseline information regarding the current level of
knowledge, skills, and abilities that employees have. Evaluation data can provide evi-
dence of the outcomes of a learning initiative. Thus, the learning and performance
department can make a business case for specific initiatives. This business case has to
do with return-on-investment (ROI) (techniques for computing ROI are offered in a
later chapter). A well-designed and executed needs assessment helps ensure that dol-
lars allocated to support learning are spent on the right projects and the right people
i.e., that the programs align with organizational goals.

The Needs Assessment Process

Needs assessment means searching out and discovering who in the organization needs
to learn what and with what priority. It is not the same as simply distributing a list of
available courses and asking managers whom they wish to send to which programs
and wheninformation that you need in order to plan and allocate resources
(instructors, materials, classrooms, travel plans, etc.). This is an important task and an
administrative necessity, but it is not a needs assessment, because it does not extend
beyond existing courses or programs.
When a list of courses has gone out and there is interest in these courses, the
learning and performance staff will have a good handle on which programs people
plan to attend, and will know which courses should be either canceled or marketed
more aggressively. They will know what they need in the way of resources. They will
even know that some people in the organization need to learn what the programs
present. But what it will not really understand are the organizations learning needs.
46 Learning at Work

Beginning with the Job

Begin a needs assessment by first identifying what people must know in order to do
their jobs. Assess the current job with all its changing demands, as well as any new
assignments within the same job track. Then look at promotions and career goals that
build upon the current job to identify what the organization needs its employees to do
to operate successfully in the immediate present and with a reasonable eye on the
future. In the simplest of terms, the focus of needs assessment is always on the job,
the job, the job: enabling a person to do this job here and now, as well as to do a
future job that will meet the organizations needs and the individuals career goals.
The real focus of a needs assessment is on the learner. Begin with the learners in
their jobs and systematically build from there; this provides a way to look at the entire
organizations learning needs or any segment of it, since learners and jobs can be
clustered into job families or departments or even the total organization.

Convincing the Client

One of the difficulties that learning and performance departments face is that their
clients often do not understand the value of a needs assessment. Busy managers and
professionals will often assume that they know what the problems are and just as
often have pre-conceived notions about solutions. Managers all too frequently make
assumptions about what their staff members need or dont need to learn. Learning and
performance professionals also make such assumptions in their eagerness to prove
themselves to their clients. Even worse, they are often ready to leap to a learning solu-
tion after the initial phone call from a potential client. Learning and performance pro-
fessionals must restrain themselves from relying on the tried and traditional, and be
prepared to educate their clients in the necessityincluding justifying the costsof
needs assessment as an essential first step.
One suggestion toward convincing managers of the value of a needs assessment is
that a quick solution almost always leaves things in worse shape than doing nothing
at all. Doctors begin the diagnostic process with an assessment in order to get at the
root cause of an illness (rather than focusing on only the symptoms). Yet another good
argument can be drawn from the clients own experience. Most business profession-
als, whether focused on internal or external customers, are careful not to sell the
wrong product or service because they know the risks of doing so. Most of them con-
duct a needs assessment with their own customers to make sure they understand the
Establishing the Need for Assessment 47

real issue before they recommend a course of action. A client pushing prematurely for
a learning solution to a problem can usually be convinced to spend the time and the
money to do a needs assessment by invoking his or her own business practice or track
record. It is very important to persuade a client of the need to assess learning needs
before coming up with learning solutions.
To summarize: The concept of needs assessment is a process that provides
answers to a specific set of questions, answers that both the organizations manage-
ment and its workplace learning professionals need to know. It responds to questions
such as:
Who needs to learn what?
Why do they need to learn it?
At what depth?
What is the priority of the learning in question?
Priorities in terms of learners
Priorities in terms of topics
Priorities in terms of time (When must the learning be completed by each
group of workers?)
The assessment of learning needs, thus, is a set of answers to the right questions
that have been asked systematically of the right people. What are these right
questions? And what is a systematic approach to asking them and capturing the
answers? And who are the right people to ask?

Systematic Approaches to Needs Assessment

The questions that need to be asked of people in an organization to identify learning
needs must begin with what they know about business plans, projects, and strategic
direction. Discussions about these issues reveal gaps in what people need to know or
know how to do. Needs assessment does not begin by asking questions about courses
to be offered. It certainly does not begin with a list of classroom programs that the
learning and performance department has available to offer. The focus must be on the
organizations needs: its plans and problems and issues, and the learning requirements
that follow from them. To keep the focus of needs assessment firmly on the need for
learning, take a systematic approach. This will put discipline in the process, and
48 Learning at Work

ensure focus and follow through. Two such systematic approaches will be examined
here. The traditional systems view examines person, task, and organization, as well as
the interactions among these variables, in order to identify various forms of learning
needed. The learner-centered approach puts the learners at the center of the process.

A Systems Approach
One traditional and quite productive way to undertake a needs assessment is to use a
systems approach. Learning systems lie within and are directly affected by the larger
system consisting of organizational policies, traditional work modes, and a variety of
individual skills. The systems approach to needs assessment is concerned with three
key variables and the interaction among them (a change in any of these variables will
affect the other two):
The organization (the background, setting, and context)
The task (the work to be done)
The individual who is to do the work

Organizational Analysis. Organizational analysis provides a viable framework for

considering work and the people who do it. It provides background, setting, and con-
text. One goal of organizational analysis, for example, is to ensure that learning
focuses on the topics that both fit and foster the organizations various agendas.
Another goal is to ensure that learned outcomes can be transferred back to the work-
place (to make sure that what people learn actually suits the real workplace and its
values). Outcomes must fit within the organizational culture if they are to do any
good. Organizations today are working hard to understand their own specific cultures
as a necessary backdrop to learning activities, but in many cases are striving to change
their cultures to support new ways of working and doing business, given the new eco-
nomic realities of the turbulent, global marketplace. Organizational culture is
addressed in the needs assessment process when key stakeholders (employees, man-
agement, reporting staff, human resource professionals, customers) provide meaning-
ful input to the needs assessment process.
Establishing the Need for Assessment 49

Task Analysis. Task analysis refers to the dissection of a task into the specific knowl-
edge, skills, and abilities needed to accomplish it, and a description of these compo-
nents in observable terms. As will be discussed in a later chapter, this observable or
behavioral vocabulary includes very specific terms that provide the means to identify
and measure the competencies needed to carry out a task. Human resource profession-
als find such job descriptions to be very useful, particularly as standard job titles can
be misleading or incomplete. The position of administrative assistant might involve
a wide variety of responsibilities and positions. Detailed, performance-oriented job
descriptions can be used for hiring purposes to help assess whether or not a particular
candidate is capable of doing the work described. Job descriptions are also useful for
performance evaluation, supporting a judgment concerning the accomplishment or
lack thereof of the work so carefully described. The details of job descriptions written
in performance terms also provide concrete means of identifying gaps in task skills
and thus training needs, as well as to establish standards for evaluation purposes.

Individual Analysis. Organizational and task analyses paint a picture of the organ-
izational setting and the work that is done. What is missing is a picture of the individ-
ual doing the work, the employee to be prepared, and the gaps that might exist in this
persons knowledge and skills. Individual analysis adds this missing dimension. It
provides an understanding of the characteristics of the individuals within the targeted
population. Obtaining a clear picture of what these individual characteristics are is not
an easy task, since learning initiatives are often provided for groups of new hires with
a wide variety of backgrounds. It is nevertheless invaluable information with which to
shape the required learning. The basic job skills of entering workers today are very
different from those of earlier generations of workers; knowing the target population
and the experiences, aptitudes, and attitudes of the workers in this group provides
important information. This is critical today as new generationsGen Xers and
millenialswill have different learning needs and attitudes about what they learn
and how they prefer to learn it.
50 Learning at Work

A Learner-Centered Approach
Another approach to needs assessment puts the learners in the center of the process
and keeps them there, while systematically reviewing the other relevant organizational
issues to create a full picture of what people need to learn. The process begins by
asking job holders about their job responsibilities and tasks. The questions then move
on to broader areas (less tactical and more general) that are of interest to managers
and strategic leaders. The learner remains at the heart of the questions. The template
depicted in Figure 2-1 captures precisely this flow of issues.
The learner-centered approach is the form of needs assessment we espouse in this
book. Not that there is anything wrong with the conventional systems approachwe
simply believe that keeping the learner central to the process is the single most
important aspect of needs assessment. The template offered here is a tool for surfacing
the right issues in identifying what learning initiatives are needed, and keeping the
learner firmly in mind.

A Needs Assessment Template

The first task of a needs assessment is to ask the right questions of the right people.
The first column in Figure 2-1 lists a representative set of topics around which ques-
tions can be developed that can help you probe and explore learning needs with the
job incumbent and other members of the organization who have insights on the
knowledge and skills needed to perform effectively in that job. The second column
indicates whether it is the individual or someone else who has interest or knowledge
about that identified topic.
Figure 2-1 is a template, not a strait jacket. It should be tailored to fit specific
situations. The list of topics will change, depending on the organization being studied
or the timing of the assessment. The template is a road map and provides a way to
ensure that important topical areas are investigated in a systematic way. Here are the
basic items in the template:
Establishing the Need for Assessment 51

Figure 2-1. Needs Assessment Template: Topics

Individual Manager
1. Assigned job responsibilities X X
2. Planned projects X X
3. Career aspirations X
4. Organizational plans X
5. Technical forecasts X X
6. Business forecasts X
7. Departmental skills mix X
8. Dialogue X
9. Strategy X

Assigned job responsibilities. Every member of the organization, from the president
to the lowest level, should be able to talk about their responsibilities and identify what
they need to know in order to meet their responsibilities satisfactorily. Job responsi-
bilities are a topic for everyone.

Planned projects. Are there special assignments taken on as part of or in addition to

regular job duties? Work on specific projects, alone or as part of a team, can easily
generate the need to learn tools, procedures, interpersonal skills, or a new facet of the
business. Project plans usually concern everyone in an organization.

Career aspirations. The focus here is not on the present, but on the future. What do
individual employees want to do next? What would the organization like them to take
on next, currently or in the future? What sorts of knowledge or skills will position the
individual for a career move that is of interest to and in line with what the organiza-
tion needs and supports? Career development should be driven primarily by individ-
ual employees, when they are ready to work on it.
52 Learning at Work

Organizational plans. What sort of learning initiatives will the organization need to
launch in the near future? The organization here might mean anything ranging from a
small unit to a large department to the entire enterprise. The organization or even a
department might be planning to install a new invoice processing system or a new
technology standard, or to downsize, outsource, or begin a new venture or reprioritize
its existing ones. The point is that business plans should be frequently reviewed to
determine new learning needs. As the sample template indicates, primary information
here is from management. Individual contributors should also review business plans
to identify what it is they need to know (to the extent they have access to these plans).
However, managers must make sure that employees have the information, skills, and
knowledge that the organizations goals call for.

Technical forecasts. Technical specialties are always changing. Administrative

assistants, salespeople, computer technicians, human resource personnel, machinists,
mechanics, and cooks do not work today the same way their counterparts did a decade
ago, or five years ago, or even three years ago. Constant change is an equally constant
driver of learning needs. Everyone in the workforce must be aware of trends impact-
ing their profession and they might need learning services to help them adapt.

Business forecasts. We live in what some people have called a whitewater world, a
world of foaming business rapids, demographic rocks, and fast-flowing technology
streams, with only a few quiet, placid pools. The management of an organization must
keep an eye on where researchers think their enterprise in particular and their industry
in general is going. Once again, the goal is to make sure the organizations people are
ready to handle what looks to be coming down the road. The development of learning
initiatives that address this whitewater world has to be a management concern.

Departmental skills mix. All managers want the people in their areas of responsibil-
itya small unit, a large department, the organization as a wholeto be cross-
trained. The idea is to prepare people to back each other up, fill in for each other to
keep things flowing smoothly when a team member leaves for any reason, and test out
new tools and techniques before the old ones are discarded. Learning initiatives need
to be based on the skills mix that management thinks is necessary.
Establishing the Need for Assessment 53

Dialogue. Within every organization, there are boundaries between departments, pro-
fessions, and geographical sites, and even between floors. Managers must see that
these boundaries do not hinder the goals of the organization, particularly in these days
of flatter organizational structures. Good and frequent communication can help the
various communities of professionals inside the organization learn about one another.
People in one organizational silo or self-contained vertical unit need to learn about the
work of their colleagues in another. Systems analysts typically need to learn the lan-
guage of business. Field personnel should learn how to communicate with managers
in the central office. Product developers must do some cross-talk with sales. These
kinds of insights surface from discussions with managers. They are a rich source of
information about learning needs.

Strategy. Organizations are always thinking about where they want to be tomorrow
and about how they want to be positioned in their marketplace. Over and above short
term business plans, thinking goes on concerning the longer, more strategic haul.
Strategy is an important responsibility that deserves serious discussion at senior
levels. While attention to long-term strategy may not identify near-term learning
requirements, it can provide insight into what the organization must learn in order to
survive and prevail over the long term.
Note that as you move down the list of topics in the sample needs assessment
template, the issues move from employee concerns to management concerns and from
the tactical to the strategic. There is some crossover around the middle of the list, as
both individuals and their managers often share an interest in learning needs around
business plans and forecasts concerning the future of the business. While not all topics
or issues are appropriate for every employee, some may apply to people or situations
that the learners themselves do not see. There is a natural tendency to get caught up in
what we have to learn in order to do our assigned job or complete project responsibili-
Remember that the needs assessment template is a guide as to the kinds of topics
and issues to explore with the right people in order to identify key learning needs.
Customize this template or create your own. It is a good way to get the right popula-
tion of learners to discuss what they need to learn and help you record the information
systematically. Now lets look at how to identify your target learner population.
54 Learning at Work

Targeting the Learner Population

The goal in needs assessment is to find out what the members of a given organization
need to learn for their jobs, their assignments, and their careers against the backdrop
of the organizations plans and directions. Except in the most unusual cases, it is vir-
tually impossible to deal with the learning needs of the entire organization at once.
You must inevitably focus on a single group of employees at a time. The set of
employees in question might be a project team, a department, or a group of like pro-
fessionals from the entire organization (on the assumption that they would have simi-
lar learning needs, such as programmers from all departments). In a very small
organization, it is possible for the target audience to be the entire membership as a

Setting Up the Bulls-Eye

Whatever the population of employees is, make them the central focus of your needs
assessment effort for the moment. Discuss with the targeted group or groups all the
topics you have selected. Begin by asking them directly what they think they need to
learn about the topics. Work these employees down your topic list, but remember that
not all topics on the template are suitable for everyone. You need to be proactive as
well as responsive: accurately capture the information about what they have to say
and add your own thinking to theirs. Challenge the assumptions workers are making
about what they need to learn. Bring up issues they ought to consider but have left
out. It is important that you keep a record of the learning needs that derive from these
discussions systematically (such as by using a template).

An Example
Let us imagine that in the course of performing the needs assessment for your organi-
zation, you are ready to look at the recruiting department. The manager of recruiting
is delighted to have your help. She and her recruiters have a good track record in
terms of timeliness and cost control, but she is concerned that her people are getting
burned out and growing a bit brusque and abrasive with the hiring managers. You
remind her that you do not want to sell anybody a false bill of goods; you can help
only with problems for which learning is a solution. Burnout, on the face of it, does
not seem to be a problem that a learning initiative will solve. On the other hand,
Establishing the Need for Assessment 55

gaps in customer service skills can usually be closed through a learning initiative. The
two of you agree that you will undertake a full-scale needs assessment to identify all
the things the people in her department need to learn. You recommend that she get in
touch with her human resource manager to discuss the burnout problem and develop
some countermeasures. You also offer to help.
The recruiting department has a membership of 23: sixteen recruiters in teams of
four, each with a senior recruiter serving as team leader; four administrative assistants,
one for each recruiting team; the manager and her assistant; and a front-desk
receptionist who manages the waiting room and is also in charge of the departments
rsum bank and its high-volume copier. You make each component of the
department a target of the needs assessment (see Figure 2-2.)

Figure 2-2. The Recruiting Department: Taking Turns in the Bulls-Eye

Recruiters Administrative Managers



Begin the needs assessment discussions with the 16 recruiters (Figure 2-2, A),
leading them through a customized needs assessment template. You hold these
discussions in several different ways, fitting yourself into each recruiters hectic
schedule. Phone interviews are used to accommodate several recruiters who are
traveling. Written questionnaires, personal interviews, and a focus group for six
recruiters over a brown-bag lunch are also used. Your objective is to get their ideas
about what each individual needs to learn about each topic appropriate for them.
Next, invite the administrative staff consisting of the managers assistant and the
four administrative assistants to a group discussion. Your thinking, and the manager
56 Learning at Work

concurs, is that these five people make up a cohesive cluster of employees concerned
with administrative support within the entire department. The discussion of their
learning needs focuses heavily on the top half of your templates topic list. Business
trends and strategic issues hold little interest for them. They are, however, keen to dis-
cuss some of the technical trends in administrative work, especially new desktop tech-
nology and the new computer system that the Computer Services Department is
rumored to be implementing soon.
Finally, in a face-to-face interview, put the manager herself into the needs assess-
ment bulls-eye (Figure 2-2, C). Your discussion with her ranges across the entire
department and the organization as a whole. She focuses sometimes on her own
learning needs and sometimes on things she wants to make sure that her staff masters.
She covers most of the items on your templates list, and you remind her of the poten-
tial impact of the new computer system being introduced into the organization.

Rings around the Bulls-Eye

Once you have gotten the recruiters, the administrative staff, and the manager to pro-
vide direct input about what they need to learn, the next step is to seek similar input
from others. These are people who have a stake in how and how well recruiting is
done. They are the recruiting departments stakeholders (customers) and they can
offer a useful perspective on what the target population needs to learn. The target
illustrates that there are people who have information to offer or a vested interest in
what the group learns.
The individuals represented by these concentric rings will, of course, vary in real
life from situation to situation, as you can see in Figure 2-3 on the following page.
Any group of people with insight into the learning needs of the target population
should be asked to provide input. External customers and suppliers are also interesting
sources of data about the target populations learning needs, particularly for employ-
ees with jobs in sales, customer inquiry, or field service. The point is to try to get a
complete picture of what needs to be acquired through learning initiatives from
several sources. You want to be certain to get more than just their own self portrait.
Talking to those surrounding the target provides exactly that: Individuals in each ring
around the bulls-eye provide different perspectives on the targets learning
requirements. Exercise care when involving a supervisors subordinates in needs
assessment, of course; you dont want it to turn into a gripe session (or something
Establishing the Need for Assessment 57

worse). The basic process is to go through each topic on your template and discuss the
issues and questions the template raises concerning the target population. This will
provide a rich, multi-dimensional picture of what that target population needs to learn.
Involving these stakeholders in identifying what the target population needs to learn is
important. It is also a fundamental premise of action research, the model for this
books approach to the Instructional Development Cycle.

Figure 2-3. Rings around the Bulls-Eye

HR Staff HR Staff
anagers (cu anagers (cu
n gm st n gm st
ir i trative o ir i Boss o
inis St




Ma e



an s



tive Staff
Recruiters Re Manager

A Manager


58 Learning at Work

Your understanding of what the targeted group needs to learn must then be pre-
sented to the organizations management at any level appropriate, validated with
them, and then used to plan comprehensive learning initiatives. Information about one
target population can be pooled with the same kind of data concerning other
populations to get a bigger picture of the learning needs of larger and larger segments
of the organization. The approach described here can provide all levels of
management with the information they need to make business-driven decisions
concerning what the members of the organization need to learn and when they need to
learn it. This, of course, is precisely what needs assessment is all about.

Gathering Needs Assessment Data

Finally, how do all these discussions take place? The term discussion is used here in
the broadest possible sense. You cannot talk one-on-one with every individual, but
you can solicit input by questionnaire (paper, fax, e-mail, or the organizations
Intranet), by telephone survey, by group interview, by discussion, or through focus
groups. Additional data can be drawn from employee sources such as exit interviews,
climate surveys, and end-of-course evaluations. Literature searches and the opinions
of acknowledged experts can also play a part. The ways to collect information are
many and varied. In a later chapter, we will discuss the selection of appropriate data-
gathering methods, as well as how to create and use data collection instruments.
If there is a large learning and performance staff, the director may assign key
populations within the organizationsuch as payroll, marketing, HRto specific
staff members. The purpose of such an assignment is to focus on what needs to be
learned by groups specializing in their specific content needs in a continuing, system-
atic way. This approach can give a staff member a rich and satisfying job. It also puts
a useful emphasis on the point that gathering and pooling customer data is actually the
engine that drives all the learning and performance departments activities.
Sometimes there is a need only to focus on a specific topic: A new product the
organization plans to market, a new project a particular group is going to take on, a
new set of tools they are going to be required to use, or perhaps a particular problem
that has surfaced within the organization. Given such a fixed charter, the process
remains the same: Identify what the defined group needs to learn about a topic, a
problem, a project, or a tool. Lead the target group through discussions of the issues
and questions appropriate to the stipulated topic, and the learning gaps will emerge
Establishing the Need for Assessment 59

from these discussions. Be sure to have similar discussions with stakeholders so you
get a complete picture of what you need.

Needs assessment is the first step in the Learning and Development Cycle,
conceptually if not always chronologically. We began this chapter began by providing
a definition of needs assessment: identifying what the members of an organization
need to know and identifying what specific individuals need to know or be able to do
in order for the enterprise to achieve its goals. The organizations goals, of course,
include having individual employees do their jobs and grow in their careers. The
process provides for attention to trends and directions for the future that are important
to the organization and to the people within it.
One way to conceptualize the needs assessment process is to use a systems
approach. The analyst considers three distinct yet interrelated variables in determining
any need for a learning initiative: the individual, the task, and the organization. While
each of these variables is investigated separately, a systems orientation helps make the
relationship between them cleara change in one variable inevitably affects the other
two variables.
In this book, we advocate a learner-centered approach to needs assessment. Such
a process begins by first identifying the right questions to ask of the right persons. The
needs assessment template can guide this thinking: Simply identify categories of
appropriate topics and determine who in the organization has an interest in the topic
or needs to learn about it. Then, the task is to target learners and identify who else has
input regarding what these individuals need to know, questioning them on the topical
Needs assessment should be an ongoing activity, rather than an event. The key is
to ask the right questions of those who can offer useful judgments concerning learning
initiatives that might be needed. Ask questions face to face, but also explore issues by
means of such tools as focus groups and surveys. The most important point we want
to make is that if needs assessment is properly done, it will establish a solid
foundation for all the other steps in the Learning Development Cycle. Failing to take
this important step puts the entire cycle and the learning and performance department
at great risk.
60 Learning at Work

Think It Through
1. Assessing what people need to learn is a matter of asking the right questions.
Why is this so? What does it mean?
2. Why is it important to make needs assessment an ongoing process? What are
the implications of this?
3. One of the key outcomes of conducting a needs assessment is that you will
have a better understanding of the priorities regarding what must be learned
and who must learn it.
a. What are some of the factors likely to be important in determining
priorities as to what should be learned by members of an organization?
b. What factors should determine who gets tapped for participation in a
learning initiative? What issues or criteria might set the priorities here?
c. In either case, who should set priorities?
4. What are some of the ways to gather needs assessment data? Have you had
any experience with any of them? Which do you think would be particularly
effective? Why?
5. Distribution of a catalogue or list of courses and course registration is not a
needs assessment. What need does this process speak to? Whose needs are
met by this process?
6. An academic institution does not undertake needs assessment as described
here in developing curriculum. Why not? What are the differences between
schools and learning and performance departments?
Establishing the Need for Assessment 61

Ideas in Action
1. Using the key terms learning (or training) needs analysis, search the Inter-
net for at least three consulting organizations that can help with needs analy-
sis. Compare the information offered on each site as to the organizations
general philosophy on assessment, as well as documentation of their past
successes. Do any sites include links to other sources of useful information on
this topic?
2. Interview a workplace learning professional and find out how needs
assessment is conducted in his/her organization.
3. Do a search of management and business literature (such as Forbes, Fortune,
Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, Journal of the AMA, or
HRD Quarterly) to see what business managers want from learning and
performance departments or what they find lacking. Then do a search of
training literature (such as Training and Development, Training, HRM
Magazine) on the same issues. Compare the two findings. What do the results
suggest concerning needs assessment?
4. Review this scenario analysis: You have just been hired as the director of
learning and performance for a small cosmetics firm. In 2000, the company
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In the years since reorganization
took place, the number of employees has dropped in half, and 70% of the
remaining sales staff, who sell cosmetics at high-end department stores, have
still not been given formal sales instruction. Moreover, nearly half of
projected sales are expected to be made through the organizations new e-
commerce division. Your department is small, consisting of you and a junior-
level staffer. You have been charged with creating a new learning thrust for
the sales organization, both for the existing sales staff and for those working
in the e-commerce division.
With this information as a basis, create the topics that would appear in a
needs assessment template. Target first the department store sales staff, and
then the e-commerce sales staff. Use the bulls-eye format to depict your
overall strategy for the groups that you intend to focus on in the needs
62 Learning at Work

5. Search business literature for articles on companies that increase learning and
performance department budgets in difficult economic circumstances. What
do the articles tell you? What do they tell you specifically about the needs
assessment process?
6. Prepare a one-minute elevator speech explaining to a potential client why it
is absolutely imperative to do a needs assessment before any instruction is
designed or implemented.

Additional Resources
Gupta, Kavita. 1998. A Practical Guide to Needs Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-
Bass Pfeiffer.
This how-to handbook provides guidelines for conducting and using a training
needs assessment. Includes a 3.5 disk that includes forms, worksheets, and a

Zemke, Ron. 1998. How to do a needs assessment when you think you dont have
time. Training, 35(3), 3844.
Zemke offers perspectives on ways to assess learning needs when time and
resources are at a premium. One approach offered is to use already-existing
datadata that have been gathered for a different purpose but that might relate to
the performance problem identified.

Zemke, Ron and Thomas Kramlinger. 1982, 1986. Figuring Things Out: A Trainers
Guide to Task, Needs, and Organizational Analysis. Reading, Massachusetts:
In sharp, satiric, and even funny language, Zemke makes the case for insisting
that assessing needs is an essential step in the learning cycle, and that training is a
solution only for gaps in knowledge or skill and only for situations where a
learning initiative can be the fix. This is classic Ron Zemke. (A professional
secret: anything Zemke has written should be on your must read list.)
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation
and Building Evaluation Strategies

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Explain the role that evaluation plays in the Instructional Development
Identify the domains of learning evaluation criteria.
Access sources of support and expertise for learning evaluation.
Describe a variety of evaluation strategies, as well as the trade-offs
among them.
Develop and apply guidelines for using evaluation data.

Evaluation as a Basis for Sound Decisions

Every year, Training magazine publishes what it calls its Industry Report.
The report for 2005 appeared in the December issue and was, as usual,
packed with a wealth of informationnumbers, charts, graphs, statistics,
and anecdotes. At the core of all that information is a rather startling num-
ber: U.S. businesses spent $51.4 billion on corporate training in 2005. That
total, the report hastens to add, is based strictly on formal training and on
data from companies with 100 or more employees. It does not include all
the informal on-the-job training (OJT) that goes on all over the business
world, nor does it include the money spent by the thousands of businesses
that dont meet that employee thresholdall the mom-and-pop businesses,
all the virtual companies, and all the dot-coms and e-businesses being
created that are deliberately staying small.1
That number alone, apart from any other consideration, makes the
evaluation of learning initiatives a topic that deserves careful, disciplined
attention. The rationale for spending time and money on such evaluation is
simple: Its more expensive not to evaluate it! To evaluate means to assess
or to judge. In this chapter, we define evaluation as a systematic process to
assess the effectiveness and efficiency of learning initiatives. Evaluation

64 Learning at Work

means putting to use data that describe learning outcomes or results. Its goal is not to
label a given initiative effort as good or bad. Its goal is to provide feedback useful for
a variety of business-related objectives. Organizations need to know if they are doing
the right things right. Evaluation data provide evidence that can be used to correct
costly errors, or to support an exemplary process. Perhaps more importantly, they
allow an organization to learn from its experiences.
These data help decision makers judge how well learning solutions address the
identified gaps in knowledge, skills, and abilities of their employees. These data are
used to determine if learning had anything to do with success on the job, if one pro-
gram was more effective than another, and even if the organizational culture sup-
ported new ways of doing work. In short, evaluation data tell you what you need to
know about your learning initiative or activity.
The evaluation process is not only about determining whether or not employees
acquired particular skills from a specific learning program or if a particular instructor
was well prepared for a class. While these are important considerations, of course, a
wide range of evaluation data is needed by various stakeholders as they make deci-
sions related to all stages of the Instructional Development Cycle.
Workplace learning professionals know all this, of course, but they can easily
rationalize why such evaluation should not be done in the organization:
Time. Were on a schedule here. Who has time to do evaluations? We no more
finish one project than were starting another.
Expense. Were on a budget here, and working with a limited staff. Where
will the additional people and physical resources come from if we are to evalu-
ate everything we do?
Expertise. Were instructors, not psychologists. Im really not trained in
evaluation. Evaluation is a psychologists responsibility, not mine.
History. Weve always been successful with our learning programs. Everyone
tells us that they enjoy the courses and learn from the instructors and materials
we develop. There are no problems. Thats evaluation enough!
W. Edwards Deming captured the essence of why evaluation is so important in
corporate learning. He used the acronym PDCA: Plan, Do, Check, Act. Learning plans
abound. Instructors love to do and teach. However, at each step of the Instructional
Development Cycle, it is important to check and to make sure that the planned process
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 65

is being followed correctly and that the right kind of output is produced for the next
phase of the cycle. No plan is perfect; error and variability inevitably occur, requiring
correction. Human nature is indeed human, and things human inevitably need to be
monitored for midcourse corrections. (There are those who say that the A in PDCA
really stands for Adjust, instead of Act, an idea that is certainly the fruit of experi-
ence.) The ultimate why for evaluation is that it brings the learning and perform-
ance department and its parent organization back to the reason for the departments
very existence: Did the program really help the right people learn what the organi-
zation needs them to learn in order to achieve its goals?
So there are many answers to the Why evaluate? question. A key objective of
this chapter is to offer perspectives on the when, what, who, where, and how of
evaluation, while incorporating the why.

Evaluations Role in the Instructional Development Cycle

In Chapter 2, we focused on identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)
needed for a targeted person, task, job, or career. In the Instructional Development
Cycle (See Figure 1-7), the evaluation stage is adjacent to and tightly linked with the
needs assessment stage. Evaluation strategies are planned once KSAs have been iden-
tified. Throughout the Instructional Development Cycle, evaluation data provide
feedback as to the efficiency or effectiveness of a programs design, its supporting
materials, and its delivery. In addition, because the Instructional Development Cycle
is a cycle, evaluation results serve as input to needs assessment in the next cycle. In
other words, evaluation is not merely an event that takes place once a learning initia-
tive has been run. It is, rather, a process that occurs in each phase of the Instructional
Development Cycle.
Evaluation in the assessment stage asks: Were the right objectives developed?
Were organizational goals addressed? Were the right individuals identified?
Was the right content identified?
Evaluation in the design stage asks: Were quality instructional materials and
technologies developed? Were they consistent with adult learning principles?
Were programs designed to support the learning needs of the targeted
66 Learning at Work

Evaluation in the implementation stage asks: Was quality instruction offered

at the right time and in the right priority order? Did learners learn what the
program was designed to deliver? Did they perceive that the program was
worthwhile? Were they able to use what they learned back on their job? Were
organizational goals addressed in a timely and effective manner?
Evaluation of the Instructional Development Cycle itself asks: Are we doing
enough instruction? Are we spending enough resources (or too many)? Is our
instruction reaching the right populations? Is it moving the business agenda
in the right direction? Is it contributing to the achievement of business
strategies? Do our clients in the organization view our programs as accessi-
ble and worthwhile?
With regard to when evaluation takes place, keep in mind that evaluative data
captured after instruction ends should be fed back into the needs assessment phase,
bringing the Instructional Development Cycle full circle. It may well be that evalua-
tion uncovers learning needs that have not been fully addressed by the program (or not
addressed at all). Evaluation may offer fruitful avenues to explore for future needs
assessments, and it is important to capture and use this information in a timely manner.

Development of Criteria
Criteria are measures of success, or yardsticks, that can be used to evaluate outcomes.
In buying a car, for example, the savvy consumer first identifies what he or she needs
from a car. Lets say that you live in Alaska, with lots of snow and vast distances
between major cities. In your needs analysis, you determine that your car must get
good gas mileage and must have good traction in snow and ice. You have managed to
save $20,000, and you really feel you cannot go into debt. Which of these cars do you
buy? Here are three different choices:
Lincoln Town Car. Equipped with: power steering, power seats, a computer with
a GPS facility, AM/FM/tape/CD player, multiple airbags, rear wheel drive, and
dual car seats for children in the back seat. Estimated MPG: 17 town, 21 highway.
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 67

Honda CRV. Equipped with: power steering, AM/FM stereo radio, multiple
airbags, four-wheel drive, rack and pinion steering. Estimated MPG: 23 town, 28
highway. $20,000.
Jeep Grand Cherokee. Equipped with: four-wheel drive, cassette player, AM/FM
radio, multiple airbags. Estimated MPG: 20 town, 25 highway. $26,000.
Given the data available here and your needs, the obvious choice is the Honda.
The Lincoln has many wonderful features and outstanding luxury. The Jeep is much
closer to your identified criteria, but it costs more than you want to pay, and its MPG
is lower than the Honda. Neither the Lincoln nor the Jeep meets your established crite-
ria. If you opt for one of these vehicles, you will have a vehicle, but you will not have
the right one for you. Youll realize this when making car payments, traversing diffi-
cult terrain, or buying increasingly expensive gasoline.
Like the consumer buying a car, the instructional designer makes many choices
in determining what to evaluate. The car-buying analogy illustrates why adherence
to preplanned criteria is important. If you opt for the Lincoln, you changed your
mind as to what your criteria are after the fact, so your original needs-assessment
data are useless. Criteria developed early in the Instructional Development Cycle
serve to keep us on track, ensuring that what is evaluated matches intended out-
Let us assume that outcomes from your needs assessment suggest that supervi-
sors need to manage their time better. To address this issue, your learning solution
might include a combination of workshops, podcasts, printed materials, and a lecture
series. If you have determined that the sole evaluation measure for this instructional
effort is for supervisors to demonstrate better time management, and then evaluate
the effectiveness of the program by asking the learners how much they enjoyed the
time management lectures or the materials used, you have gathered interesting
databut it is useless. You really do not know if the program met your original
criterion. To evaluate properly, you need to work from appropriate criteria that
ensure that the right people are prepared in the right way for the right things.
Without these yardsticks to determine what is right, learning initiatives cannot be
accurately evaluated.
Relevant criteria are fundamentally derived from the knowledge, skills, and abili-
ties (KSAs) identified in the needs assessment stage and documented there.
68 Learning at Work

Robinson and Robinson put it simply: Write down the purposes of an assessment
before you begin collecting information. Know why you are collecting the informa-
tion and what decisions you plan to make from it.2
Furthermore, to be of value, data must be used. Another way to conceptualize
what should be evaluated is to identify who in an organization is interested in know-
ing if or how well the learning initiative met the identified results criteria. Interested
stakeholders include the learning and performance department managers and staff,
the learners themselves, the line managers, and the executives who make decisions
about organizational goals and support/approve the budget. Once your evaluation
audience has been identified, the next step is to get its commitment to the criteria.
Such up-front work ensures that your audience not only understands the goals of
your learning initiative, but also buys into those goals.
The discussion that follows links the needs assessment to the development of
evaluation criteria. Criteria measures are grouped into clusters (domains). Each
domain includes brief descriptions of appropriate evaluation strategies, as well as how
these evaluation data are used by the decision makers.

Domains of Evaluation Criteria

Domains are categories of similar ideas or thoughts. Domains can also be precisely
defined content areas. To categorize what needs to be evaluated in learning and per-
formance, Kirkpatrick identified four evaluation domains: reaction, learning, job
behavior, and organizational results. We add a fifth dimensionthe instructional
development process itself (See Figure 3-1).

Figure 3-1. Evaluation Content Domains of Evaluation Criteria

1. Reaction
2. Learning
3. Job Behavior
4. Organizational Results
5. Instructional Development
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 69

Reaction refers to the learners perception of the worth of a learning activity. Learners
themselves are in a unique position to determine if their experience is worthwhile.
This means much more than determining if the program itself was an enjoyable
experience. Reaction should also attempt to obtain learners views as to the viability
of the content, the learning support materials used, the scheduling of the course, the
instructors performance, and even their own performance.
Program participants might, at first glance, seem to be only the recipients of
instruction and evaluation efforts, rather than key stakeholders. This perspective is far
too limited. Adult learners should be viewed as resources to the learning development
process as well as its targets. Workers who are given the right information can self-
screen themselves for programs and decide what they need or do not need, thus
helping managers make sure the right people receive instruction. They can also pro-
vide reviews of instructional design and delivery if they are asked the right types of
questions about the learning initiatives in which they have taken part. Feedback from
reaction questionnaires can also help the learning and performance department sell the
programs because the consumers are describing and rating their experiences in the
One way to judge the classroom performance of instructors is to use a detailed
observation guide, such as the one offered in Figure 3-2. An observation guide can
ensure that raters focus on established criteria. An experienced observer can then
document an instructors performance. We recommend that you use more than one
rater and observe as many times as possible.
The end-of-program participant questionnaire is far and away the most common
method used to evaluate learning initiatives. Such questionnaires are often dis-
missed as smile sheets, and they certainly can be constructed to elicit positive
comments about the instructor or the performance and learning department. On the
other hand, these questionnaires also can be designed to engage participants in
determining whether or not the learning objectives were fully addressed and the
extent to which they were achieved. They can, in short, enlist adult learners in the
assessment of their own experience: Was it an experience that lived up to its advance
billing? Did it help or hinder learning?
70 Learning at Work

Figure 3-2. Instructor Observation Guide

Instructor Date
Course Time


1. Preparation

2. Knowledge of subject

3. Participant involvement

4. Use of audiovisual aids

5. Correlation with Leaders Guide

6. Transitions between topics

7. Naturalness or ease with the class

8. Additional comments

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about these questionnaires is that
whether or not reaction data are collected, learners will evaluate their experiences.
The learning and performance department should make sure the right reaction ques-
tions get asked, collect the answers, and put them to use.
Figure 3-3 is an example of a tailored program-reaction questionnaire. It may
not be possible to tailor an evaluation form for each individual activity; if this is the
case, generic (not program-specific) evaluation materials can be used.
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 71

Figure 3-3. Program Reaction Questionnaire

Program Date
Name (optional) Sector/Function

1. Please rate each of the following items to indicate your reaction to the session. If you rank an
item average or lower, please comment on the back of the form.

ITEM Poor Adequate Average Good Excellent

Objective 1 (list)

Objective 2 (list)

Objective 3 (list)

Applicability to your job,

responsibilities, and needs
Enough examples and chances
to practice, so you can apply
your new skills back at work
Opportunity for discussion with
other participants
Length of the program relative
to its objectives

2. Which part of the program was of most value to you? Why?

3. Which part of the program was of least value to you? Why?

72 Learning at Work

Figure 3-3. Program Reaction Questionnaire (continued)

4a. Please use the following scale to comment on each instructors ability to lead the program in the
specified area at the left:
1 = Needs improvement 2 = Adequate 3 = Good 4 = Excellent

Item Instructor 1: Instructor 2:

_________________ _________________

A. Organization/preparation of subject matter 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

B. Presentation of subject matter 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

C. Clarity of instructions 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

D. Ability to control time 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

E. Ability to link content to your business 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

F. Ability to stimulate productive discussions 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

G. Ability to create a productive learning

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

4b. Please comment on these other aspects of the program:

5. How would you rate your overall reaction

1 2 3 4
to the program?

6. How would you rate your level of skill or

a. before the program? 1 2 3 4

b. after the program? 1 2 3 4

7. Other comments:
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 73

The second of Kirkpatricks domains, learning, refers to criteria that determine
whether or not learning took place. Was the learning solution an effective tool? Did
learners actually acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities that the program was
designed to deliver? The question here is one of program efficiency: Did the learning
initiative (whatever its shape) deliver what it was supposed to? Did participants learn
what was intended for them to learn? Did their learning take place because of the
experiences, or despite them?
Participant reactions, as discussed earlier, are one measure of learning. Tests are
another classic way to find out if learning has occurred. Paper-and-pencil exams,
familiar from school days, are one form of test. Tests such as these are arguably less
suitable for adult learners in an organizational setting than in academic settings.
Whatever the setting, tests tend to measure test-taking skills, rather than content
mastery. However, tests do provide quantifiable data that might suggest that there
have been changes over a given period of time. Figure 3-4 is an example of a group
test on banking principles. Several of the questions refer to items in the course
74 Learning at Work

Figure 3-4. Course Exam

Team: _______________________________________ Score: _____________

Course Exam
Principles of Banking
Exam Philosophy
A good exam helps you realize just how much youve learned. If it is really good, it will add to your
knowledge by giving you the opportunity to put new concepts to work on relevant problems. Good
exams concentrate on your reasoning abilities. They provide an opportunity for you to structure the
problem and support your answer accordingly. Good exams do not have a single, unique answer,
but stress the complexity involved in addressing realistic problems. Bad exams, in our view, just
ask you to repeat specific facts and focus on tripping you up over relatively minor details.
Weve done our best to make this a good exam. Youll do your best on it by keeping in mind
that were trying to evaluate your managerial reasoning skills. Please be sure to make your rea-
soning process part of the answer to each question.
In the managerial world, very few problems are solved by individuals working alone. Indeed,
the ability to arrive at a team solution is one of the keys to success in a management career. In
keeping with this, there is just one exam for the entire team and all team members will receive the
same grade.
Weights for each question are indicated to help the team allocate its resources efficiently. The
maximum score is 100 points. You may wish to divide up the responsibility for different questions
among team members. This is an open-book and an open-mind exercise. Please use the space
provided to write your answer.
Please write clearly and concisely. Remember, the course instructor is an experienced teacher
who can readily differentiate between material relevant to the question and unrelated fill.
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 75

Figure 3-4. Course Exam (continued)


1. Using the Executive Information Report and the material in your handbook, what
appears to currently be:
a. your two greatest competitive advantages?
1) (5 points)
2) (5 points)

b. your two worst competitive disadvantages?

1) (5 points)
2) (5 points)

2. Using the End-of-Simulation Analysis*, analyze how well structured your balance
sheet is for the future economic outlook.
a. (10 points) Briefly outline your economic forecast for the next two years.
b. (10 points) List advantages of your current balance sheet structure.
c. (10 points) Identify any changes you would make, and why you would make
these changes.

3. Which individual on your team exercised the most leadership? Put their title/role in
parenthesis after their name.
By what means did the person(s) in this role lead the teams behavior?
a. (5 points) Individual and role:
b. (5 points) Leadership style:
c. (5 points) How effective was your overall teams behavior?
d. (10 points) Knowing what you now know about the bank simulation and the
composition of your team, what would you recommend to a similar
team that is beginning the simulation in order to improve their
overall performance?

*Note: This term refers to course content. (continued)

76 Learning at Work

Figure 3-4. Course Exam (concluded)

4. Assume that youre now three years in the future, and the bank youve examined is
being considered by your current bank as a possible acquisition. Assume that the
acquisition would be structured as a tender offer at 120% of the banks current stock
a. (5 points) Would you recommend proceeding with the tender offer?
b. (20 points) Cite reasons to support your recommendation.

Having people demonstrate acquired skills via role-play or actually doing what
the instruction is teaching them to do (e.g., give a speech or a performance appraisal,
key in a computer document at required speed and error rate, or write an anti-virus
program) is another sort of test. This approach has the advantage of simulating the
application of the new skills on the job. The simulation also avoids the baggage asso-
ciated with paper tests (memories of bad experiences with school exams, cultural bias, and
the like).

Job Behavior
The third of Kirkpatricks domains, job behavior, refers to the degree to which the
KSAs learned were transferred back to the job. Were learners able to apply what
they learned in the workplace? Were they able to take the knowledge, skills, and
abilities they learned in the program back to their jobs and actually use them there?
Line managers play an invaluable role here. They, after all, make (or should
make) the go/no-go decisions about developing and implementing learning pro-
grams. They are ultimately the ones who decide which content the organization
needs its people to learn, what the timing of that learning should be, what participants
should be included, and in what priority order the people and the topics are to be
ranked. Note that all of these are issues on the evaluative side of planning instruction.
While you should take the lead in making sure all these issues are addressed, it is the
organizations management that must ultimately make these decisions. Line manag-
ers play yet another role in evaluation, at the other end of the process. They provide
uniquely valuable insights as to whether or not the completed program has had an
impact on the work of the people they sent for instruction in the first place.
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 77

One of many ways to evaluate the impact of a learning initiative on the job is to
survey participants (and their managers) once the program is over and people have
had sufficient time to put acquired skills and knowledge to use in their work. This
usually takes from one to three months. Such survey data are inevitably anecdotal in
flavor, but they can provide useful input to the evaluation of both the design and the
delivery of instruction. These data also send the useful message that the learning and
performance department is paying attention to the impact of its programs and
whether or not the organization is getting what it is paying for. Figure 3-5 is an exam-
ple of a survey designed to solicit program evaluation from the manager, based on job
behavior. This survey could easily be adapted to target employees rather than their
managers. If you do survey learners supervisors, it is important to manage this proc-
ess carefully. You want to make sure that a manager who has sent several people for
instruction is not inundated with survey forms. You will also want to let your partici-
pants know about the management survey so they do not feel blindsided by the
78 Learning at Work

Figure 3-5. Survey of the Programs Impact on Job Behavior

Name: _________________________________________________________
Functional title: __________________________________________________
Mailing address: _________________________________________________
Telephone: ____________ Fax: ____________ E-mail: _________________

Here is a list of those who attended the workshop. (Provide a list of partici-
pants here)

Name: _________________________________ Telephone: _____________

(Provided by the learning and performance department)

1. As a result of participating in the writing skills workshop, have you noticed

any changes in any of your employees work? Please cite specific

2. Are there additional aspects of business writing that should have been
included in the workshop but were not? Please be as specific as possible.

3. Is there any additional information that would help us assist you in working
with your employees (e.g., changes in your job, major reorganization,
change in business strategy, change in direct reports)?

4. Additional comments:
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 79

The Organizational Results Domain

Kirkpatricks organizational results domain refers to the instructional efforts
paralleling either the short-term goals or the long-term goals of the organization. Has
the instruction helped employees do their work or do it better? Manage/grow their
careers? Understand the companys culture and business goals? Has the instruction
helped position the company in its market? Has it helped the company achieve its
strategic objectives? In short, has the experience done whatever the organization that
funded the instruction intended to accomplish?
Top management is usually interested in having information that indicates that the
learning objectives were linked to organizational objectives. They are not usually as
interested in the outcomes of a particular learning initiative as they are in the bigger
picture that depicts the learning and performance department as a viable, contributing
player in corporate strategies.
Organizational resultsthe ultimate reason for having learning programs in the
first placeare very difficult to measure, chiefly because they are the product of a
combination of variables. For example, if sales go up after instruction has occurred, it
might be due to new product offerings, a seasonal fluctuation, or simply more adver-
tising in the media. The instruction might indeed have had an impact, but it is very
difficult to attribute increased sales to the learning initiative.
On the other hand, it is possible to capture information that is a legitimate result
of a given initiative. Examples here might be a sustained drop in processing errors, or
increased production by an individual or a group of workers. However, the reality is
that such improvements in the workplace cannot easily be tracked, much less attrib-
uted solely to instruction. Many other factors usually play a part in workplace results.
Nonetheless, if such data can be captured and tracked, so much the better. If this
approach to evaluation is to be pursued, it is absolutely essential that it be planned and
agreed to up front, as part of program design.
In a later chapter, specifics will be offered as to putting a dollar value on instruc-
tional costs and benefits, but it is important to consider the value of such calculations
at this point. Cost/benefit figures allow comparisons to be made between different
kinds of instructional programs, helping the professional determine if one structured
program is or was more appropriate than, say, on-the-job training. Even if an initiative
meets all its objectives, if production figures are not affected or if the learners are
80 Learning at Work

frequently moved from job to job without getting an opportunity to use the skills they
learned in the program, the activity may not have been worth the money invested in it.

The Process
We are adding process criteria to Kirkpatricks domain list because these criteria are
measures of what occurred during the assessment, development, and implementation
of a learning initiative. They form an assessment or audit of the learning and per-
formance department as a whole. Process evaluation takes a look at what happened
before, during, and after the learning initiative.
Process evaluation, thus, asks these kinds of questions: Did we target the right
group? Were any stakeholders missed in the needs assessment? Was the right content
covered? Does one kind of activity seem to foster learning more than another? What
segment of the program worked best (worst) for this audience? Were any of the design
objectives left unmet? Were any objectives given too much time and attention? Were
any organizational needs in this topic area omitted?
The answers to these questions provide critical information about the learning
and performance departments programs. After all, if an initiative does not focus its
participants on the right learning and help them learn faster, easier, cheaper, and
more efficiently than otherwise, then why bother with an instructional program at
Evaluating programs, however, is not enough. The astute learning and perform-
ance department manager will also evaluate the effectiveness of the department
within the organization. He or she should, from time to time, answer these questions:
Are we paying attention to the right issues?
Are we playing our proper role as a staff resource to the management of our
Are we making sure that our programs are on target, properly accessible, and
viewed as cost-effective and helpful?
A workplace survey is a good way to ask these questions. One-on-one inter-
views are another effective approach. Interviews with workers, their supervisors,
organizational decision makers, and even learning and performance staff are also
rich sources of qualitative information about the department. Interviews with key
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 81

individuals who have content matter expertise, knowledge of the department, or

instructional design can tell you the effectiveness of learning initiatives. Questions
such as the following all lend themselves well to the interview format: Were the right
employees selected? Were the right topics presented? Was the program itself
designed for the needs of the adult learner?
In addition, group interviews and focus groups can provide qualitative data that
can be immediately verified by others in the group. The same type of questions
posed earlier can result in rich data when the interviewees have an opportunity to
discuss their impressions with each other, as well as with the learning evaluator.
For the sake of objectivity, the learning and performance department should not
conduct its own audit. An appropriate sister department within the organization
another learning and performance group, the firms auditors, the communication/
public relations peoplecan perform a quality audit of the departments work and
reputation. Outsiders such as faculty members or students in a college academic pro-
gram in Human Resource Management or Business Education, external consultants,
and even a learning and performance department in another company can help with
such evaluations. This will give you a healthy, deliberately independent, evaluative
look at the learning and performance department itself, most especially its achieve-
ment (or lack thereof) of its own mission of the right people learning the right things
at the right time, all in terms of organizational needs.
Figure 3-6 shows a list of key stakeholders and their uses of evaluation data. It
briefly summarizes, by criterion domains, what it is that those involved want/need to
know about instructional efforts, along with examples of evaluation strategies. The
methods listed are discussed in detail in the next chapter.
82 Learning at Work

Figure 3-6. Key Stakeholders and Their Uses of Evaluation Data

Criterion Domain Workplace Learning and Line Organization

and Methods Learning Performance Managers Decision
Professionals Department Makers

Reaction Ensure programs Compare their Interested only if Interested only if

deliver planned reactions with there are problems there are problems
outcomes others in the group
Ensure delivery
skills of

Learning Establish that Serve as feedback Establish that Establish a con-

course objectives that personal employees learned nection between
were achieved achievement new skills, tasks, organizational
Simulations resulted or abilities goals and learning

Job behavior Confirm that the Establish that new Establish that what Confirm the con-
right knowledge, KSAs are appro- was learned was nection between
Participant surveys
skills, and abilities priate for the transferred back to organizational
Management (KSAs) were iden- targeted job the job goals and the
surveys tified transferability of
learning initiatives

Organization Provide evidence Establish that the Basis for deciding Basis for deter-
results of the value of learning initiative whether or not to mining the viability
services to the was valued by send other of the learning and
Department audit
organizations superiors employees to performance func-
Interviews bottom line formal learning tion in the organi-
programs zation
Focus groups

The Instructional Assess and modify Ensure participa- Ensure Ensure a connec-
Development needs tion in setting participation tion between
Process assessment, goals and organizational
design, and deliv- identifying goals and learning
ery stages appropriate learn- services; probably
Audits ing solutions not interested,
unless there are
Focus groups problems
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 83

Guidelines for Using Evaluation Data

The so-called contingency approach to evaluation strategies is to do what is best under
the circumstances. Programs should be evaluated from many angles using valid and
reliable measures, but in reality, the instructional designer has to take workplace
constraints and opportunities into consideration. Based on the previous discussion,
guidelines for planning an evaluation strategy include the following:
Make evaluation part of the training proposal.
Make sure that stakeholders agree on criteria and understand their individual
roles in the process.
Use as many different evaluation strategies as is feasible.
Remember that evaluation is feedback. Evaluation data do not have value unless
they are used. At the proposal stage, you must identify needed evaluation data and
specify how you propose to collect this information. Then you need to work with key
stakeholders to determine what kind of business decisions would be based on the data.
Will data be quantitative (numbers), or qualitative (words)? Or a combination of both?
When it comes to using the data, be sure to go back to your initial questions and
respond to them.
Here are some guidelines for using evaluation information: Analyze as much
dataqualitative as well as quantitativefor use by decision makers as possible.
Provide feedback reports to those who provided the data. Share credit for results.
Hone your evaluation skills. Well discuss each of these points next.

Quantitative and Qualitative Data

Quantitative data are about the numbers. Qualitative data consist of observations and
descriptions. Evaluation data come from such sources as questionnaires, tests, obser-
vation guides, interview guides, and organizational records. You make sense of each
piece of information by analyzing it in a manner that will help answer key evaluation
questions. Assessment areas can include the classroom delivery skills of the instruc-
tor, the post-instruction job performance of participants, end-of-course cognitive
learning outcomes, and the like. Making sense of numeric data generally relies on
the use of statistics. Making sense of word data can involve coding schemes and
84 Learning at Work

summaries. While quantitative data such as test scores and questionnaire results are
often described as being more objective (and therefore the more useful), qualitative
data can be equally useful, explaining or confirming the quantitative, numeric data.
Qualitative data can provide a richness of information that mere numbers cannot

Evaluation ReportsExamples
Reading this book will not make you an expert in evaluation, but it will help you
understand the role of evaluation in the Instructional Development Cycle. Lets say
you are the learning and performance department director and you have data that
assess a newly developed leadership development seminar. You are sitting at your
desk, looking at stacks of end-of-course employee reaction questionnaires. Two
months after the course, you interviewed a sample of participants and their managers
to determine what use they had made of the courses since then. A computer printout
detailing end-of-course achievement tests is rolling out onto the floor. Another print-
out of scores from a leadership style inventory given to the participants is sitting on
the windowsill. A videotape of the instructor delivering a unit of study is serving as a
paperweight. What do you do?

Report to the Learning and Performance Department. The department wants to

know whether or not employees found the seminar to be a worthwhile and useful
overall experience, and whether or not the programs resulted in employees applying
key concepts. Information for this analysis will be found in the reaction question-
naires, the end-of-course test, and notes from interviews.
To create a useful report, you can organize employee feedback by averaging
scores on the quantitative end-of-course reaction forms and citing comments from the
interviews as to the perceived long-term effectiveness of the course. A listing of raw
achievement-test scoresseparated into averages, means, and modeswould pro-
vide a numeric or statistical description of what was learned.

Report to Employees. The employees themselves want to know how their individual
leadership style scores compare with the tests norms and with their colleagues
scores. They are also interested in knowing how well they did on the objective test,
which measured how well they understood the course materials.
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 85

You design a report for individual employees made up of two key parts. One part
offers the individuals leadership score and compares it to the groups and the tests
norms. The second part is an overview in which statistical sense can be made of test
averages, standard deviations, and percentile rankings. This allows comparisons of a
broader nature to be made by each person.

Report to Instructors. Instructors want to know whether or not their presentation styles
were effective and the materials used were helpful. Analysis of the videotape might
require an observation guide or a simple checklist. Findings can be summarized in
narrative form or by providing scores for individual observation items. While you
decide that the quantitative scores should be included in a printed report, you opt for
oral, private feedback to the instructor. In addition, you give the instructor a copy of
the videotape to review, along with your instructor-observation checklist.

Report to the Line Manager. Managers want to know whether or not employees
considered the seminar a worthwhile experience, what they actually learned from the
experience, and the degree to which they were able to apply it back on the job. To
this end, you summarize data from reaction forms, compile interview data, and per-
form statistical analyses of the actual test scores. Will the manager have access to
individual scores by employee name? Or will the scores be tabulated anonymously?
These questions must be addressed at the proposal stage.
Line managers should be key players in the needs assessment and program-design
stage of the seminar. If they were, write thank-you notes and give them credit for
their involvement in the introductory part of your report. Managers often give the
go/no-go decisions about learning efforts. List their roles in the program report; this
not only gives the manager a sense of ownership, but also makes the instructor
more than just a deliverer of learning program content. It highlights how instruction
contributed to the achievement of organizational goals. Such joint accountability
supports the instructors role in becoming a key player in the overall organization.

Report to the Organization. Evaluation data are also useful public relations for the
learning and performance department. At the completion of a particularly successful
and high-visibility effort, consider putting an article in the company newspaper or on
a company video broadcast. You can also use the data in employee briefings, and take
86 Learning at Work

it to staff meetings where you report on the success of the program. Such public rela-
tions use of evaluation data serves to further the interests of the department.

Honing the Skills Needed for Evaluation

As the workplace learning professional, you can take the lead in evaluation, making
sure that each phase is done appropriately and effectively. It is also your role to make
sure that evaluation strategies coordinate with each phase of the Instructional Devel-
opment Cycle. You also must direct the services and interests of others who are part
of the process.
Depending on what is to be evaluated, you can rely on the expertise of others to
guide your efforts. You can use trade journals such as T+D or Training magazine,
scholarly journals such as Human Resource Development Quarterly, or journals spe-
cific to the content itself as reference points. You can tap the expertise of profes-
sionals who have instructional development or content expertise. Become a member
of a professional association, participate in benchmark studies, and by all means
Courses in qualitative and quantitative analysis provide the necessary skills to
develop, understand, and report data, but remember that data are only as useful as
the data-collection instruments are valid and reliable. The more you know about
designing evaluation instruments, the better. Sometimes, you will rely on measure-
ment experts to actually design evaluation instruments. Depending upon the complex-
ity of the evaluation itself, the intended audience of the evaluation report, and time
factors, you may want support from psychology and testing professionals. The next
chapter provides an overview of methods related to designing and using evaluation

In this chapter, we provided the when, what, who, where, how, and why
of evaluation. Given the need to operate effectively and efficiently, you must be able
to determine whether or not you are doing the right things right, and should be able
to document the outcomes.
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 87

Evaluation, part of the Instructional Development Cycle, is tightly related to the

needs assessment stage. Outcomes of the needs assessmentknowledge, skills, and
abilitiesprovide the basis for identifying learning goals and criteria that will help
you determine whether or not the resultant programs met those goals. We described
two approaches that can be combined to offer a perspective on what needs to be
evaluated: the grouping of criteria into domains, and identification of just who needs
evaluation data.
Five domains of learning criteria were identified. Reaction refers to the learners
perception of the experience and its value. Learning refers to the content mastery. Job
behavior refers to whether or not the content learned was transferred back to the
workplace. Organizational results describe how instructional efforts are linked to
short- or long-term organizational goals. The process domain includes assessment of
what occurred during the entire cycle and an audit of the learning and performance
department itself.
We discussed what kind of evaluation data various stakeholders would find use-
ful, because each group has distinct and different needs and interests related to
evaluation. The manager of the learning and performance department may want data
documenting appropriate content and effective instructional delivery, organizational
decision makers may want to ensure that instructional efforts match organizational
goals, and so on.
The evaluation planner often relies on content matter specialists and experts in
measurement to determine and develop appropriate evaluation measures. Tests,
observations, interviews, participant questionnaires, and workplace surveys are all
commonly used as evaluation instruments. The appropriate mix of these approaches
depends on the resources of time, people, and money, and the perceived usefulness
of the evaluation data.
Because data have no value unless they are used, we concluded by offering guide-
lines for their use. Understanding the nature of quantitative and qualitative data, as
well as a variety of data analysis methods, is extremely important. Participants in
learning programs and decision makers must have data prepared in a useful report
format. Moreover, when report recipients participate in the needs assessment,
design, or delivery of programs, you must be sure to acknowledge their contribu-
tions. Shared accountability and acknowledgment benefits everyone.
88 Learning at Work

Think It Through
1. What rationales do learning professionals offer for not evaluating instructional
efforts? Are these rationales ever valid? Why? When?
2. Lets assume that a learning and performance department completed a needs
assessment by identifying a group of employees who need to learn project
management skills. How would you go about identifying relevant evaluation
3. See if you agree or disagree with this statement: The only criteria that really
mean anything are criteria related to employee learning. Why do you agree or
4. Review the following list of evaluation criteria for a program on sales presenta-
tion skills. Then identify a different evaluation strategy appropriate for each item.
In which evaluation domain does the selected strategy fall?
a. The learner was able to provide an overview of the companys products in
five minutes
b. The learner believes that the instructional materials were useful.
c. The program content was transferred back to the job.
d. The program content addressed the identified problem.
e. The program was directly linked to improved sales figures.
5. Brainstorm evaluation strategies appropriate for determining the effectiveness of a
program designed to make managers more aware and supportive of a culturally
diverse workforce. Is answering this question more difficult to answer than the
previous question? If so, why?

Ideas in Action
1. Interview a workplace learning professional about how his or her organization
handles evaluation. Share these comments with your colleagues. Were practices
consistent with those outlined in this text? Why or why not? What patterns (small
vs. large organizations, service organizations vs. manufacturing organizations,
and the like) do you see when comparing your information with theirs?
Understanding the Purposes of Evaluation 89

2. Review recent journal articles in publications such as Training, T+D, and Human
Resource Development Quarterly to identify what authors in the field say about
issues related to effective evaluation. Summarize your findings in a brief anno-
tated bibliography.
3. In small groups, construct a reaction-domain evaluation instrument. Then, com-
pare each groups instruments. How are they similar or different?

Additional Resources
Brown, Stephan M. and Constance J. Seidner. 1998. Evaluating Corporate Training:
Models and Issues. Norwell, Massachusetts: Kluwer Academic Publishing.
The authors present an overview of current models and issues in educational

Kirkpatrick, Donald L., and James D. Kirkpatrick. 2005. Evaluating Training

Programs: The Four Levels. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler.
Heres an updated discussion of the four levels of evaluation. Youll want to read
this version to get new insights on why the authors believe their domains have
been so useful to the field.

Parry, Scott B. 1997. Evaluating the Impact of Training. Alexandria, Virginia: ASTD.
Parry offers a reference book of tools and techniques for conducting learning

Phillips, Jack J. 1997. Handbook of Training Evaluation and Measurement Methods

(3rd edition). Woburn, Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann.
An excellent text that covers a wide range of measurement and evaluation
methods, complete with how to examples. It is a bit dated, but a worthwhile
consideration for your professional learning library.
90 Learning at Work

Phillips, Patricia P., Jack J. Phillips, Ron Stone, and Holly Burkett. 2006. The ROI
Fieldbook: Strategies for Implementing ROI in HR and Training. London and
New York: Elsevier Science and Technology Books.
Heres a text that can help you translate soft dollars into ROI figures. There are
lots of useful ideas here.

Web sites
This is the entry to searching the archives of TREDV-L, a very useful listserv through
Pennsylvania State University. Read what practitioners and scholars are discussing
on any number of topics, including evaluation.
The archives of Workforce magazine. Use their research center to search for current
articles on human resource topics, including evaluation.

Chapter 3 Notes
1. Training, December 2005. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Lakewood Publications.

2. Robinson, Dana and James C. Gaines. 1989. Training for Impact: How to Link Training to
Business Needs and Measure the Results. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Collecting and Analyzing Needs Assessment
and Evaluation Data

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Propose techniques for gathering assessment and evaluation data.
Describe ways to prepare for and conduct observations.
Suggest approaches to preparing for and conducting interviews.
Discuss appropriate ways to design and use surveys.
Explain instrument development and validation.
Discuss techniques of valid test construction.
Outline approaches to designing experimental research.
Offer suggestions for using quantitative and qualitative data.

Acquiring Valid Data

A wise consumer comparison-shops for goods and services by evaluating
quality, price, location, and service. Likewise, instructional designers seek
the most effective methods for conducting needs analyses and evaluating the
initiatives delivered. This means determining how to obtain useful informa-
tion on which to base your decisions about program design and evaluation.
We use the term data to refer to bits and pieces of detail from which
information is derived. Information is data that have been compiled in a use-
ful way. Thus data and information are not synonymous but complementary.
In reverse order, decisions are made from conclusions, which are obtained
from information. Information comes from data. In this chapter, we will
describe methods and tools used in the collection of accurate, valid, and reli-
able data and how these data combine to provide information that is of maxi-
mum use to all decision makers: the learning and performance department,
instructors, line managers, the learners themselves, and the organizations

92 Learning at Work

Needs assessment and evaluation are tightly linked stages within the Instructional
Development Cycle. In fact, the evaluation of one project can become the needs
assessment component of the next project. Evaluation is an ongoing activity that takes
place at all points in the cycle; the design team works continuously to ensure that the
right people learn the right things in the right way at the right time.
The essence of needs assessment begins by identifying and defining a problem to
be addressed. After this step, determine what is already known about the issue and
make some educated guesses or hypotheses about the relationships between the
variables that might help you solve or address the problem. All needs assessments
tend to follow basically the same pattern:
1. Identify the problem to be studied.
2. Determine what is already known about the problem.
3. Make assumptions about the problem (which leads to educated guesses about
the relationships between the identified variables).
4. Choose appropriate methods to collect needed data.
5. Select existing instruments or develop new ones that will result in the collec-
tion of valid and reliable data.
6. Collect the data.
7. Analyze the results of this data collection to determine what it all means.
8. Formulate conclusions and recommendations that address or resolve the origi-
nal problem.
In earlier chapters, we covered items 1 through 3. This chapter begins at point 4 to
describe a variety of assessment and evaluation methods that can be used to acquire
appropriate data. We will also look at how to use these methods effectively. There are
many assessment and evaluation techniques; this chapter will focus on those most
frequently used in organizational learning environments: observations, interviews,
surveys, tests, and experiments.
Collecting and Analyzing 93

Of all the data-collecting methods available, the most basic and perhaps the most use-
ful method is observation. Assessment by observation can be as simple as sitting
down with a spreadsheet user and identifying instances where advanced features of a
program can be used. On the other hand, observation can be as complex as trying to
identify the myriad of tasks a worker performs in a normal day. How simple or
complex the observation process is depends on the questions and the value of the
information gathered. To use the observation method, you first determine the type of
activities to be observed, decide how to record these observations, and then create an
instrument that will systematically guide the data collection and subsequent analysis.

Types of Observation Variables

There are three basic types of variables in observation research: descriptive, inferen-
tial, and evaluative. Descriptive variables are measured by using checklists to describe
situations or events. Descriptive variables such as resources used and voice and
projection are relatively straightforward, and are valid if recorded accuratelythat
is, if the observers instruments and the data thus obtained truly measure what they are
supposed to measure, not something else. Subsequently, when other raters use the
same checklist and describe the same variables in similar manner, the observation
results are considered to be reliable. Reliability refers to consistent, comparable data.
Data that are valid and reliable are two basic requirements not only in the observation
method, but for all other research methods used.
Descriptive variables, as this phrase suggests, describe a situation or event, and in
general do not require major interpretations or projections on the part of the
researcher. However, inferential variables, on the other hand, do. Inferential variables
take descriptive variables a step further. Inferential variables are developed by the
researcher by drawing on past research and personal experiences to make sense out of
what is currently being observedwhat can be inferred from the data collected. Some
activities contain so many interrelated actions and behaviors that inferences are diffi-
cult to make. For example, when evaluating instructor performance, the observer may
be required to interpret facial expressions and body language to see if the instructor is
encouraging or discouraging participation. Recording an instructors defensive pos-
ture, such as standing with arms folded, is a descriptive measure. The recording
94 Learning at Work

becomes inferential when the observer concludes from this behavior that the instructor
may be uncomfortable with the class or that he or she reflects a degree of unprepared-
ness. It is likewise inferential to interpret vocal mannerisms or tones to imply encour-
agement or disapproval. Valid and reliable inferences may be difficult for a single
observer to make; therefore, it is useful to have multiple observers and/or observa-
tions, depending on the complexity and importance of the situation.
Evaluative variables are the most complex of all observations because the
observer goes a step further and makes an informed judgment about what is seen.
Measuring the quality of responses to questions, for example, requires more skill than
saying simply that a number of learner-instructor interchanges occurred. Therefore, a
single observation by one observer in a single setting cannot, on balance, provide ade-
quate, reliable, and/or valid data upon which to judge the instructors behavior.
Many firms that rely on customer contact use volunteer observers called mystery
shoppers in order to identify areas where service can be improved. A mystery shop-
per observes, notes, and evaluates the nature and the quality of the contacts between a
supplier and a customer. Mystery shoppers can be found as travelers on airlines, as
customers in bank queues, as information seekers in brokerage houses, as diners in
restaurants, and as retail shoppers in department storesanywhere there is contact
with the customer. Many use an observational checklist; however, due to the covert
nature of this contact, the checklist is usually designed to record an event, rather than
to record the number or frequency of activities that have taken place. The next section
describes strategies for recording these observational data.

Recording Observation Data

Observational data may take many forms, and recording these data in a usable format
is important. Decisions are made on information derived from many data points or
observations; therefore, the recording method is critical if sense is to be made of what
is collected. At least four different types of observational recording exist: (1) elapsed
time recording; (2) frequency recording; (3) interval recording; and (4) continuous

Elapsed Time Recording. Elapsed time recording relates back to the scientific man-
agement approach of the early 20th century and the work of Frederick Taylor. Taylor,
often called the father of scientific management, was an engineer who maintained
Collecting and Analyzing 95

that an expert, not the manager or the employee, can find the one best way to do a job
or perform a task. Scientific management is based on the premise that every task can
be observed and broken down into its smallest component parts. An expert can then
determine how best to complete the task and how long it should take. Workers can
then be trained to accomplish the task in the best way. Taylor is credited with being
the first to use elapsed-time recording where the observer, complete with stopwatch
and checklist, records the amount of time it takes someone to complete a specific
activity or task. Today, the computer is used instead of the paper and stopwatch
checklist for elapsed-time recording.
Elapsed-time recording yields quantitative data that are relatively descriptive and
relatively reliable. For this reason, this method is often used for certain types of
repetitive tasks that lend themselves to measurement observation. Workers tracked via
elapsed-time recording include order takers for home-shopping networks, stock and
bond inquiry clerks, and airline and hotel reservation clerks. However, a number of
extraneous variables often account for wide variations in these data (the time of day,
the day of the week, the month or season, etc.), and provide a wide variety and range
of data. For example, the home shopping network order takers are likely to be much
busier in December due to the holidays than they are in August, when many people
are on vacation. Other complicating variables include the personality of the caller or
the degree of detailed information required from the employee or from the caller. Yet
another variable might concern the type of equipment involvedPBX, touch-tone,
dial, headset, and the like. Downtime, 800-numbers, routing number and information
requests, and please hold announcements all influence these observations and thus
can impact the data noted on the observers checklist.

Frequency Recording. Frequency recording is about determining the number of

times that the telephone user or the target individual performs a specific activity. Most
frequency observations are best done under conditions of short duration when there is
relative stability or consistency in the activity observed. While more complex behav-
iors can be observed, they will take more time and effort. The more expert or experi-
enced you are in the activities being recorded, the easier it will be to identify and
record the behaviors. For example, a former telephone operator might have a better
sense of the type of call being answered; a former teacher, a better idea of the nature
of a classroom observation; and a former production supervisor, a better understand-
96 Learning at Work

ing of the assembly-line activity performed. The more complex the behavior is, the
more important it is that an experienced and knowledgeable observer conduct the
These illustrations all describe an observer tallying certain types of data, but there
are also instances where individuals can track their own activities. For example, Help
Desk agents can record the instances of calls that come in for help on specific topics.
Customer-service representatives can tally how many times customers call in asking
questions about a new product. The corporate librarian can keep tabs on how many
people enter the organizations library during lunch time. Data about these kinds of
questions can easily be captured on time logs and document logs maintained by the
workers themselves, thus providing valid, reliable self-evaluation data.

Interval Recording. Interval recording usually takes the form of observing targeted
individuals at specific time intervals. A recorder observes a target at specific periods
of time (say five minutes out of each hour, over a one-, two-, or three-day period). If
consistency is notedthat is, if the same actions occur within the observed period
over a block of timethe observer might conclude that those behaviors are typical.
The disadvantage of interval recording, however, is that there might not be any
observed or recorded flurries of activity or peaks of high volume and valleys of low
activity during the observation period, which might skew the categorized data in one
direction. On the other hand, interval observations are an effective use of time when
the observer has to record the activities of multiple individuals.

Continuous Recording. In continuous recording, you note all the activities or

behaviors of the target(s) throughout an entire observation period. For example, if you
wish to determine which tasks an employee engages in during a normal day, you
would, of course, have to observe him/her throughout the entire day and record every
task performed. This is usually done during the exploratory or opening phase of a
needs assessment project to determine patterns or significant clusters of actions, which
will help you develop categories useful for observation guides.
Collecting and Analyzing 97

Using the Observation Method

The observation guide itself largely determines not only what is observed, but how it
is observed, so it is critical to the observational process. Take care to design and vali-
date it to make sure that the data collected are accurate and valid. Many samples and
styles of observation guides are available from commercial sources, but the best one is
the one that you design for your specific purpose.

The Observation Guide. Figure 4-1 illustrates a partial observation guide used to
observe a new instructor. To create such an observation guide, first decide what you
wish to observe. Second, determine how you want to observe it (in person, covert,
video). Third, list the questions or items you need to record, referring back to the first
step in this process. Fourth, pilot-test the form with an actual observation to see if it
actually can do what you want it to do. Finally, revise the guide accordingly. These
steps, of course, have many subparts; however, the point is to design a guide that
helps you gather the needed data effectively and efficiently.

Figure 4-1. Sample Instructor Observation Guide

Name of Instructor Date of observation

Class observed Course/Module ID
Number of participants

1. Instructional aids used (number and type)

2. Interactive questioning involved (number and type)

3. Medial summaries used for each topic (number and type)

4. Mannerisms noted (positive)

5. Mannerisms noted (negative)

(Note: Add other factors you wish to observe)

98 Learning at Work

One way to reduce the problems related to observer interpretations and to cut
down on labor costs is to use audio or video to record behaviors. Whether recorded on
analog tapes or digital disks, audio and video provide running commentary of the
observed phenomenon, to which you can return time and time again for clarification.
Video provides additional value, because you can record the precise activity desired
during the observation. When conducting any type of observational study using
recording devices, you must be responsive to the ethics and legalities of observational
data collection and obtain the permission of any individual who will be observed.
Remember that if your presence influences or impacts the observed in any way, your
data is likely to be considered contaminated, and thus be of limited value.

Computer-Assisted Observation. Computer-assisted observation is an increasingly

popular method for data collection. For example, a computer program called a
cookie can track the number and type of features people use in doing on-line data
searches. Such data can be incorporated into instructional designs to ensure that the
most frequently used commands are taught to new employees. Computers might also
record data showing that some employees are using only a few features and thus
might benefit from additional instruction, or benefit by joining a users group.
Keep in mind, however, that these computer-based observations/data-collection
procedures must be openly announced and fully explained, lest they be perceived as a
sign that big brother is keeping tabs on employees. How you approach this issue is
critical to the success of all of your data-gathering activities. Allowing people to opt
out of such tracking is one good way to address the serious problem with privacy
invasion. The computer can be an invaluable aid in collecting, tabulating, and ana-
lyzing data.

Interviews are meetings between an information-gatherer and an information-giver.
Interviews can be conducted face-to-face, via the telephone, online, or in a group
(focus groups). The key to success in using this method is to identify the right people
to interview, know what kind of information you need, and design a good interview
guide. Observation data can provide a framework for developing interview guides,
ensuring that the right questions are asked of the right people.
Collecting and Analyzing 99

Types of Interviews
Interviews can be open or structured. Open interviews are exploratory, and are used
when only a small number of interviewees are needed. Almost all of the resultant data
obtained through open interviews are qualitative. Structured interviews, on the other
hand, tend to be based on questions that require yes/no, categorical, and other specific
answers. Whether interviews are open or structured (or a combination), the inter-
viewer uses an interview guide to ensure that the right questions are asked and resul-
tant data can be interpreted easily. A guide also makes it easier to compare data
among respondents. Conducting interviews takes skill and practice; however, the
process in interview research is similar to what is used in the observation method. The
next section presents guidelines for using the interview method and illustrates how
you can apply this method to address a perceived problem.

Using the Interview Method

Step 1. Define the purpose or problem to be studied. The first step in any investi-
gation is to identify the problem to be studied. It must, therefore, be assumed that the
problem can be answered through the interview process. Data from previous assess-
ments and evaluations should also be reviewed to ensure that the organization has not
already answered the question or addressed the issue.

Step 2. Select the sample to be interviewed. Carefully select the individuals to be

interviewed so you get a range of responses. Avoid tapping those willing or eager to
participate, as they may not be the most appropriate subjects. Avoid this trap: Why
not interview Harry? Hes between projects this afternoon, and has nothing pressing
to do. Another bit of advice is to include as many stakeholders as possible.
Participation in the assessment stage is highly correlated with success in the
implementation stage.

Step 3. Design the interview guide by determining the major points, questions,
and sequence of the interview topics. An interview guide should be neither too long
nor too short. One way to begin is to brainstorm questions to which youll need
answers, and then structure or cluster these questions into a logical order. Remember,
100 Learning at Work

the guide should focus on the objectives and outcomes desired. Figure 4-2 presents a
sample interview guide to assess current and future learning needs of the sales staff.

Figure 4-2. Sample Interview Guide (Partial)

Name and job title of subject Date

(Attach business card, if possible)

Location of interview Telephone

Subject of interview

Topics and/or Questions

1. How large is your sales department? Is it growing, shrinking, or in a steady state?

2. What has been your experience with the instruction conducted for members of your staff?
(positive/negative/neutral/unknownand to what degree)
3. In what cases has instruction been effective? How did you measure this effectiveness?
4. In what cases has instruction been ineffective? How did you measure this?
5. What products does your staff find the easiest to sell?
6. What products are the most difficult to sell?
7. Where do you see the gaps in your staffs effectiveness that the learning and performance
department might be able to fill?
(Note: Additional questions should be developed.)

Step 4. Test the effectiveness of your interview guide by conducting pilot inter-
views with similar individuals to determine the validity, accuracy, reliability, and
shortcomings of the interview. Developing a good interview guide takes time and
practice, and often has to go through many revisions. Test the effectiveness of your
interview guide by asking people who reflect your target group to help you try it out.
Determine whether or not the questions are worded in a way that will result in useful
data, and practice your skills as an interviewer. You can also see whether or not your
note-taking ability is adequate and determine whether you should audiotape or video-
tape the interview. This tryout interview also serves as a way to determine how
much time an interview will take, as well as help you identify any difficulties in
Collecting and Analyzing 101

asking questions or keeping the subject on track. How do you get beyond what the
interviewee is saying to capture what is being meant, rather than what is being said?
Most important, can the questions you need to have answered actually be answered?

Step 5. From the pilot data, develop and refine a coding or tabulating method
that will allow you to arrange and categorize responses. The practice session also
provides you with data that can be used to form your coding and analysis structure.
Since interviews frequently result in lengthy transcripts or qualitative data, what type
of coding will you use? Key words? Phrases? Images? Themes? Should quantitative
data also come out of the interview, how will you compile or tabulate these data so
they are useful? Many interviewers find coding to be the most difficult step in the
interviewing process. Coding responses to a 30-minute interview can take longer than
the interview itself. At the problem development stage, you decided on what data you
neededkey themes or issues, important processes, and the like. Coding is done by
looking for key phrases that occur throughout the interview. Coding can also be done
by listing the specific issues you wish to identify through this process.
One of the most effective ways to code data is to list your desired outcomes (your
interview goals) as column headings across the top of a large sheet of paper. For each
item down the left-hand side of the page, identify the specific questions you intend to
ask to get at these goals or objectives. As you review your notes or listen to your tape
recording, fill in the blanks accordingly. You might have to read between the lines
from time to time to pick up on important responses; however, after a few practice
sessions, you will become more comfortable with this process. Data-reduction skills
such as these are developed over long periods of trial and error, so do not be discour-
aged if your first efforts do not produce the hoped-for results. Time and experience
will sharpen these skills to where you will become proficient in the process. Figure
4-3 illustrates a topic from the sample Interview Guide shown in the previous figure.
102 Learning at Work

Figure 4-3. Sample Interview Coding and Analysis Matrix

Types of Knowledge, Skills,

Products Learning
Questions and Abilities
General Specific Needed

1. What products does your staff Copier Color Product knowledge, Instructor-led class
find the most difficult to sell? supplies toner how to match color (1)
and new and high inks and toner with
trends quality appropriate paper Web-based instruction
(1, 2) paper (1, 2) (2)

2. What new products will your

department have to sell in the
next two years?

3. What instruction will be required

for your sales staff in the next
two years?

Code: 1 = New employees 2 = Experienced employees

Step 6. Collect data by conducting interviews. Schedule interviews in a timely

fashion. Many interviews focus on time-sensitive issues that your instructional efforts
must address, so request and hold interviews as soon as possible following the
approval to conduct them. Interviews are generally conducted on the interviewees
home turf; you may have to make prior arrangements to record the interview on audio
or video.
It goes without saying that interviews must be conducted at a time when you
wont be interrupted. However, be prepared for interruptions, and keep the conversa-
tion focused on the topics established. Try to differentiate between fact and opinion,
and avoid inserting your own ideas. Finally, make sure you ask your subject for any
final comments: It is at the end of the interview, when rapport has been established,
that your interviewee is most likely to provide the most valuable data. Thank your
subject for the interview, gather up your materials, and depart on good terms. It is
likely that you will need additional information or clarification of some of the discus-
sion content later; leaving on good terms is therefore crucial.
Collecting and Analyzing 103

Step 7. Analyze and interpret the results of your interview. Assemble your materi-
als and begin to analyze the data as soon as possible, because impressions, body lan-
guage, setting, and tone all fade from memory with the passing of time. Transcribe
notes or tapes as quickly as possible, and search for themes and answers to questions.
There are sophisticated qualitative software programs to assist you in this process;
however, you should conduct a number of trial runs with such programs so you are
familiar with the package you select. If you have questions concerning gaps in infor-
mation or what was said, contact your interviewee for clarification as soon as
possible. Do not wait until a complete series of interviews has been completed before
transcribing and coding data. This is why audio or video recording the interview is so
valuable; it allows you to focus on your conversation, rather than trying to take good
When you have completed your transcript, summarize your findings and conclu-
sions and make recommendations based on your interviews. Ask yourself what you
have learned from the results. What instructional programs need to be developed? If
your investigation was part of an evaluation of the learning and performance depart-
ments effectiveness, which programs might need to be created, revised, or deleted?
Then make recommendations for the next steps in the process.
Despite the complexities of doing interviews, interviewing is one of the best ways
to gather valuable information needed to focus on a problem. Many researchers use a
selective interview process before gathering survey data to ensure that they ask the
right questions on the questionnaire. Some do additional interviews after gathering
survey data to add meaning and depth to the responses.

When data are needed from a large number of people who are geographically dis-
persed or when time and expense do not permit observations, a questionnaire is the
data-collection instrument of choice. This section will cover some of the essential
elements in the survey method: designing and validating questionnaires, selecting the
people who can give you the data you need, and developing follow-up strategies to
acquire missing data or to contact nonrespondents.
104 Learning at Work

Types of Surveys
Surveys are very helpful in acquiring a great deal of data that reflect a large group,
and standard statistical techniques can be used to extrapolate useful data from a small
sample. Begin by designing and validating a questionnaire, or locate one that has pre-
viously been used and validated. You can distribute surveys through office mail or
through in-person or group contacts (i.e., corporate meetings, or at the end of a class
or seminar). Increasingly, however, participants are invited to respond electronically
via an Internet or Intranet site.

Using the Survey Method

Step 1. Identify the data you need. What data are needed? By focusing on identified
objectives, you will be better able to construct a questionnaire that addresses these
specific issues. These objectives can be generated through needs assessments, obser-
vations, and interviews.

Step 2. Identify the individuals who can answer your questions. If you are target-
ing employees in a small department, you will probably want to send a questionnaire
to everyone. If, on the other hand, the size of your group is large (such as your entire
organization), you will need to identify a sample. A sample is a subset of the target
group that reflects all of the characteristics of the larger population. For example, if
your population is the entire organization, you cannot send a questionnaire to people
in one specific department and then assume that these people can speak for everyone
else. Not all departments operate in the same manner, and individual needs and reac-
tions will vary. Drawing a sample that reflects the larger population, however, can be
conducted through randomization.
Randomization refers to the selection of individuals on a pure chance basis. You
will need to take steps to ensure that everyone in your population has an equal chance
of being selected to receive the questionnaire. Randomization helps ensure that the
individuals who are asked to respond to your questionnaire reflect the characteristics
of individuals throughout the entire organization. Techniques for randomization
include picking names from a hat, assigning random numbers and picking several ran-
domly, or using a computer program to generate a random list.
Collecting and Analyzing 105

Step 3. Design the questionnaire. Once you find out what you need to know and
who has the answers, you then turn to the development of the questionnaire
instrument itself. As mentioned before, avoid reinventing the wheel; before you put
pen to paper or fingers to computer keyboard, check your company files and the
research literature to see if a data-gathering instrument or questionnaire already exists
that will do the job you want.
When measuring broad, general constructs such as organizational culture or group
behavior, it is useful to check to see if there are instruments already available. Two
references may prove helpful: Tests in Print V, Vols. I & II (1999), and The Sixteenth
Mental Measurements Yearbook (2005). These reference books, both published by
The Buros Institute of Mental Measurements, describe hundreds of test instruments
and contain information on their development, background, previous use, reviewers
comments, and important validity and reliability details.
There are many advantages to using an existing instrument: You will have a vali-
dated instrument that you know does what it is supposed to do. It is already in print,
and is probably available at a lower cost than if you created it from scratch. The disad-
vantage is that what you find might not mesh exactly with your objectives or will be
too long for your practical use or too complex for your population or sample under
investigation. However, check out these reference guides so you at least know what
does and what does not exist.
If you cannot find an instrument that does what you need it to do, you will need to
create a questionnaire yourself. For the sake of illustration, assume that your objective
is to determine the attitudes toward learning initiatives within your organization. What
do former and current participants think about their general or specific experiences in
your classrooms? Can they translate their learning into greater job-related efficiencies
or effectiveness? Did their experiences result in higher productivity? Higher wages?
Greater responsibilities? Did they have a good experience, and would they return for
more instruction if the opportunity arose? Did they have a favorable attitude toward
the learning initiative and the learning and performance department or its staff? Did
participants at various levels hold similar positive, negative, or neutral attitudes
toward their experiences?
Once you have drafted a number of these basic questions, what other information
will you need or find helpful? This other information may include demographic
questions relative to time on the job, age, gender, or title. This information will pro-
106 Learning at Work

vide you with relationships concerning your samples responses to their attitudes
toward the programs effectiveness and these demographic variables. You might find
that younger employees have higher positive attitudes toward learning and that
women are especially enthusiastic. You might find that job titles correlate highly with
the assessment of program outcomes. Such helpful data can be used to make
judgments concerning your programs effectiveness. The template in Figure 4-4 can
help you design a questionnaire.

Step 4. Submit the draft to a jury for review. After you have finished a draft of
your questionnaire, your next step is to make sure that you have not missed any criti-
cal issues or forgotten to ask essential questions. This is why you should submit your
draft to 39 experts (odd numbers are better to avoid evaluation ties). This panel, of
course, should have some expertise in areas you are including in your questionnaire
and should be able to evaluate the contents of your draft. They will, no doubt, add
questions, delete others, and make suggestions concerning the wording and sequenc-
ing of items. The panel can also provide input as to the nature of the questionnaire
responses: Will you use a separate response sheet? What type of response will you
anticipate? Are your responses a yes-no type, or spread across a Likert-type scale of
from 1 to 5? If so, what descriptors or codes will you give to each number? These
questions should be addressed by your panel of experts. Remember to keep your ego
in check because you want critical responses. You may have to return to your panel
with a second draft in order to refine your questionnaire further. A consensus of your
panel is generally the level of agreement necessary to proceed. Spend more time
refining your questionnaire and youll be more satisfied with the results.
Collecting and Analyzing 107

Figure 4-4. Questionnaire Template

Directions. Briefly outline how the respondent is to go about completing

the survey, explain any unusual items or actions to be taken, and state
where the survey form is to be returned. Prepare an accompanying letter
or memo containing this information, and explain the nature of the survey,
who has authorized it, the confidentiality policy, and for what purposes the
results will be used.

Demographic Data. Ask for the respondents title, organizational posi-

tion, years of service, gender, age, education, and other details that are
necessary to get at the objectives of the survey. Do not ask questions that
are personal in nature, and do not ask for nice to know data that you do
not intend to use. When the actual age of the respondent is not important,
cluster responses such as age into categories or large chunks to hide the
specific data requested (e.g., 2030; 3040). If the actual age is needed,
ask for date or year of birth.

Body of the Questionnaire. This is where you ask for responses to spe-
cific questions. Remember to keep the survey as short, simple, and
uncomplicated as possible. When you have to have a lot of questions,
cluster them into smaller segments or like parts under a heading that
identifies the nature of the questions to follow. Try to leave enough space
for open-ended responses, but plan ahead on how you will tabulate and
use these comments. Here are a few examples of good questions:

108 Learning at Work

Figure 4-4. Questionnaire Template (continued)

Categorical-type questions:

1. How many people do you supervise? ____________

How many people do you directly supervise? (circle one)
(a) none (b) 16 (c) 720 (d) 2150 (e) more than 50
How many people do you directly supervise? Place an x next to the
appropriate response.
_____ (a) none
_____ (b) 16
_____ (c) 720
_____ (d) 2150
_____ (e) more than 50

Likert-type questions:

Using the scale below, rate yourself in each of the following categories by
circling the number of the item that best describes your proficiency.

1 = I do this very wellno help needed

2 = I do this okay most of the time
3 = I do this about average
4 = I could use a little help here
5 = I could use a lot of help here

2. Orienting new employees 1 2 3 4 5

Collecting and Analyzing 109

Figure 4-4. Questionnaire Template (continued)


Using the scale below, rate yourself in each of the following categories by
placing a checkmark on the line above the number that best describes

1 = I do this very wellno help needed

2 = I do this okay most of the time
3 = I do this about average
4 = I could use a little help here
5 = I could use a lot of help here

2. Orienting new employees 1 2 3 4 5

As you can see in the first Likert-type example, by asking respondents to

circle a certain number, you will get a specific response. In the second
example, asking them to put a checkmark on the line that best describes
them might require respondents to make judgment calls when their
responses fall between numbers. Both approaches have advantages and
disadvantages. The former provides hard data, but the latter allows for
gradations in responses.

End of Questionnaire. Provide space for any open-ended final com-

ments, thank the respondent for his or her help, and state where and how
the questionnaire should be returned. Provide your name and telephone
number in case any respondents have questions. Finally, make sure you
include in bold type your response deadline. It is a good idea to offer
each respondent a summary of the results as a benefit to encourage par-
ticipation as well as to encourage timely responses.
110 Learning at Work

Step 5. Field test and then distribute the questionnaire. Once you have the
panel/jurys responses and have incorporated them to whatever degree you feel appro-
priate, your next step is to pilot or field test the revised instrument. Select a small
group similar to your sample and administer the questionnaire as a tryout measure.
This is done to identify any problems with the content, distribution, and the return of
the instrument; the nature and type of responses given; questions that are ambiguous
or vague; and so on. This will give you an idea of responses you will get from the
actual survey. This pilot or field test is the last step in validating your questionnaire
before you distribute it to your targeted sample. Pilot numbers can be as few as 510
or as many as 50, depending on the size of your sample.
All questionnaires should come with a cover letter or memo that explains the
nature and importance of the survey. In this letter, you should explain why the indi-
vidual was targeted to receive the survey and specify the deadline for responding and
who to contact for answers to any questions about the survey itself.
You might need to do one or more follow-up mailings or make individual
contacts to get a sufficient number of respondents to reply; plan for this ahead of time
by coding survey forms to allow for follow-up efforts. Numbers or codes printed on
each questionnaire allow you to track those who have responded, as well as identify
those who have not yet responded. This code preserves confidentiality, since no
names are needed and only you have the coding key. However, it also allows you to
check off the code name of the respondent when the survey has been returned in order
to avoid unnecessary remailings.
Here is an example of sample code: A number of 1023 tells you that 10 is the
department and 23 represents the individual contacted. If you send a follow-up
survey, you could give it a code of 1023X to indicate that it is the second survey form
sent to that person. Confidentiality should be explained in your cover letter to enhance
your response rate. While mail surveys used in marketing often result in a very low
response rate (110%), you should strive for at least a 50% response so you can gen-
eralize your findings to your entire population. This may take more than one follow-
up mailing or contact.

Step 6. Analyze and interpret the data. Once you have exhausted the ways to con-
vince members of your sample to reply and the final batch of questionnaires is now
piled high on your desk, it is time to compile your data. You can use descriptive sta-
tistics to show the responses to each of your questions, such as the average response
Collecting and Analyzing 111

(mean), the midpoint response (median), and the most-frequent response (mode).
These three terms reflect the clustering of responses, and together provide a picture of
the group as a whole. Showing the lowest and the highest scores in each category,
which is the range, will provide yet another dimension to assist the reader in under-
standing your results.
Another descriptive statistic is the standard deviation, a number that indicates the
distance away from the average. Standard deviations are expressed in terms of plus or
minus numbers, usually confined to a maximum of plus/minus three. Large deviations
such as plus or minus 2 suggest areas for further examination because they show
where there is substantial disagreement. Small deviations such as zero or plus or
minus 1 tend to suggest a homogenous sample, with the majority of the scores clus-
tering about the average or mean score. This, too, may be worth further examination,
since there might be important outliers that are not shown.
The next logical step is to look at how certain responses relate or correlate to
other responses. For example, do gender, age, or job-title differences show up on
certain responses? Or do they correlate highly with other responses? This information
is important if you are to design an instructional program to meet the needs of people
with very different interests, learning styles, or objectives. This step requires you to
enter the data obtained into a statistical software package, such as SPSS, and ask your
computer to perform one or more of these relatively simple statistical tasks. Once you
have performed as many calculations as you feel are necessary, it is time to return to
the beginning of your research and answer your original questions. Some researchers
suggest using a cut-off point to indicate statistically significant findings; however, in a
learning environment, one looks for meaningfulness or importance, rather than relying
solely on statistical results.
Statistical techniques can be applied using pencil, paper, and hand-held calcula-
tors, but a spreadsheet program or a statistical software package supports compiling
and analyzing statistics. It is easier than you think! Once you identify the type of sta-
tistic you need (such as a t-test, analysis of variance, or correlation), you enter your
data or scores from your data-gathering instrument. With a simple mouse-click, the
software calculates the statistics. You can save these data on your computer, so you
can do multiple statistical applications without re-keying the numbers. Moreover,
there are an increasing number of Web sites that offer excellent on-line survey
software and development templates to help you prepare, score, and analyze data.
112 Learning at Work

A test measures what an individual knows about some given content or how well he
or she performs a specific task. A test can also measure how well an individual takes
tests, too. Instructors use tests for assessment and evaluation; when you use a test, just
like other measures, you must be sure that the test is valid and reliable. In other words,
does the test measure what you want it to? And is it consistent and fair in doing so?
Care must also be taken in preparing the test for use, administering it, and scoring the
results. In this section, we will briefly outline written test considerations.

Types of Tests
There are a wide variety of test types: standardized tests such as the traditional IQ,
SAT, GMAT, and GRE tests; achievement tests to measure the accomplishment of a
learning objective; and performance tests to assess how well a task has been done.
You can also give open-book tests to adults or use self-checking measures of
achievement or progress.
Tests are used for many purposes. A test can be used to determine the level of
knowledge of your target audience (placement) before you instruct or used during the
class to evaluate progress (formative) or identify learning problems (diagnostic). A
test can also be used at the close of the class or program to determine the total
learning that occurred (summative). Once you have made the important decision as to
how the test will be used, you can begin to develop the test.

Creating and Using Tests

There are four basic steps to creating a test.

Step 1. Develop and record test items. The test developer begins with the list of
objectives, the expected outcomes of a classroom experience, and an outline of course
content. The test developer often makes up a table of specifications (a chart that works
as a test blueprint) to make sure all the important content details are included. (See
Figure 4-5.) Choices are also made at this time as to what types of questions to use:
true/false, matching, multiple choice, or essay. The first three are objective-type
questions; essay responses are subjective-type questions.
Collecting and Analyzing 113

Figure 4-5. Sample Table of Specifications

Financial Framework
Types of
Behavior Statement for Financial Totals
Design Analysis
1. Describe the format and 2 items on 1 item on 3 items on
contents of basic financial the test the test the test
statements about this about this about this
2. Determine the earning power of 1 item 3 items 3 items 7 items
a company using established

(Note: Add additional items.)

Total Items 10 20 20 50

Step 2. Review and edit test items. The table of specifications helps ensure that
major topical areas are covered, that test items are developed to measure each of the
objectives, and that each area is tested for its appropriate weight (value) to learning
outcomes. The reviewer of a test makes sure that the test is valid (that is, it measures
what it is supposed to measure) and that test questions are clear and unambiguous.

Step 3. Arrange the items in the test, and prepare directions for the test. The way
you order the items can influence the results of the test. By placing objective, true-
false questions first, followed by multiple-choice questions, the test-taker is moved
from simple responses to more complex responses. Moving from easier questions to
more difficult questions is also a positive motivation factor. Essay, short-answer ques-
tions, and problems should be left to the end on a multiple-section test. However, par-
ticipants should be directed to keep this in mind when deciding which items to take
the most time on. Finally, it is a good idea to weight the test items according to their
difficulty and importance. A true-false question, for example, should not receive the
same weight as a short-answer essay question or a problem.
114 Learning at Work

Step 4. Administer and score the test. Test administration should be as carefully
done as the development of the test. Make sure that your participants are comfortable
and settled in before you distribute the test. Ensure that insofar as possible, pressures
as to the outcomes of the test are reduced or removed. Provide all of the necessary
materials prior to the distribution of the test so that everyone begins at the same point
and with the same resources. Before the test begins, provide directions and answer
any questions. Then remain available for questions during the test. The attitude of the
test administrator has a great deal to do with the results of the test, and a confident,
comfortable, and relaxed environment will provide the most reliable and valid data as
a result of the test experience. Figure 3-4 represents a test on banking principles that
measures a groups understanding of concepts. Such a test can be a teaching or rein-
forcing device and may be used for diagnostic purposes (how well they are doing),
rather than for a summative evaluation (how well they have done).
When scoring a test, take time to review and record responses to each question.
This is referred to as conducting an error analysis. If a substantial number of partici-
pants miss the same question, it is likely that the topic was not covered during the dis-
cussion or the question was too difficult to answer correctly or was worded poorly. It
is also possible that your answer key is inaccurate. In such cases, you may want to
discard the question and not count the responses. In any event, use the test results to
measure what has been learned or use it as a teaching device for the next session or
for the next course. Keep the primary purpose of the test in mind (placement, perform-
ance, formative, diagnostic, or summative), as this decision determines what you do
with your test results.

Consider this scenario: Tim Owens and Lori Cortez, instructional designers with XYZ
company, are considering two methods of instruction, and want to know which of the
two methods will provide better results. Owens has used the direct, instructor-oriented
hands-on approach before, and feels intuitively that it is effective. However, Cortez
says that she has had good results with self-paced independent study. The problem
they face is that while both types of programs have proven effective, not much hard
data exist to provide comparisons of the relative effectiveness in their organization.
Classroom-based instruction is expensive; however, Owens knows that the personal
touch can be very important to achieving desired learning outcomes. Cortez, on the
Collecting and Analyzing 115

other hand, reports that since the learners are already motivated to learn, independent
self-paced study is better because they can learn at their workplace, on their own time.
Independent, self-paced learning also reduces the expense of traditional classroom
Costs and time allocations are also factors. Materials involved in live instruction
are cheaper to develop but more expensive to deliver, relatively easy revise, and inex-
pensive to change. Self-paced materials, on the other hand, are more expensive to
develop, cheaper to deliver, and much harder to maintain and change. Its all about the
learning; however, the more expensive materials might be more effective in the long
Owens and Cortez are willing to consider that an experiment might be the best
way to collect data that would be useful in solving their dilemma. Experimental
designs are research experiments that look at outcomes after a specific treatment (in
this case, a specific instructional program). An experiment here would compare the
learning outcomes of a treatment (the self-paced learning initiative) to the learning
outcomes of a control group who learned the traditional way. Since Owens and Cortez
want to determine the effect of each of their instructional methods on actual learning,
an experiment sounds reasonable. What would be the impact on the learners perform-
ance? What would be the lasting effect, over and above short-term gains? What differ-
ences do variables such as gender, age, experience, job title, and previous learning
experiences have on achievement or productivity? Through a carefully designed
experiment, they can answer these questions.
However, because of the number of variables that must be controlled in any
experiment, the learning and performance professional cannot use a pure experimental
design to assess differences between treatments in the workplace. It is difficult if not
impossible to control every facet or variable between two or more groups involved in
an experiment. Location, lighting, interruptions, resources, time, and other conditions
wont always conform to learner differences or preferences, or to the rigid controls
necessary for a true experiment to take place. However, this is not to say that one can-
not conduct an experiment in the workplace; the contrary is true as long as you take
into account how these uncontrolled variables might affect the results.
116 Learning at Work

Using Experimental Designs

This section briefly describes five of the most common experimental designs: a post-
test-only design; a pre-test, post-test design; a two-group pre-test, post-test design;
four-group designs, and time series. The difference among these designs is the effort
involved in controlling for extraneous variables. In other words, the more controlled
the experiment is, the more you can say that outcomes were a result of the treatment
(in this case, the specific instructional effort). Keep in mind that each of these is con-
sidered quasi-experimental, primarily due to the fact that randomization of the groups
may not be possible. You will not be able to precisely control such extraneous vari-
ables as individual backgrounds and abilities, experience, and prior knowledge that
might impact the results. Designs are generally illustrated using the terms observation
(O), and treatment (X). Thus an illustration O1 X O2 would mean an initial observa-
tion or pre-test (O1), a treatment or intervention (X), and a second or follow-up obser-
vation or post-test (O2).

Post-test-only design. The most common experimental design is a post-test-only

design. It is used whenever a pre-test is not possible or feasible.
X O1
An example of a post-test-only design is where participants take a test or complete a
reaction sheet at the conclusion of a class or program. The learning or reaction to the
instruction can be measured; however, there is no way to determine if this learning
resulted from the instruction or from some other interaction. For example, how much
did respondents know about the subject prior to instruction? Post-test-only designs
cannot provide answers to this question; however, they can suggest relationships, if

Pre-test, post-test design. The pre-test, post-test design shown below, however, can
compensate somewhat for the post-test-only design weakness because it provides for a
pre-test observation, such as when you want to measure what was known before
instruction took place.
O 1 X O2
At the end of instruction, a post-test observation (test) can determine if a change in
understanding or perception has occurred and to what degree (either more or less
Collecting and Analyzing 117

favorable), as compared with the earlier test results. Obviously, influences such as
time to use the skills on the job or previous learning experiences can influence the
results of either of these tests or observations and even cause an incorrect or unsup-
ported interpretation of the results. In experimental research, a general rule is that the
more control you have over the variables, the more you can trust your results.
The disadvantage of the pre-test, post-test design for only one group is that you
cannot tell if the results were due to the intervention or for some other reason, such as
maturity (or aging) of the subjects or some other uncontrolled element. One of the
more common contaminants is the presence of the pre-test itself, which can sensitize
the subjects to the post-test and thus artificially inflate the results. A way to compen-
sate for this is to use the four-group design, which we will discuss on the next page.

Two-group pre-test and post-test design. One way to compare two types of
interventions is to involve two separate groups, all of whom take a pre-test and a post-
test. Using the opening example, only one group would receive the traditional, face-
to-face instruction; the second group would receive the self-paced program. This
design, of course, demands that both groups must be as comparable as possible in
terms of job title, age, prior knowledge, etc. The two group pre-test, post-test design
looks like the following:
O1 Xa O2
O1 Xb O2
The first group is usually termed the control group (Xa). This group is exposed
to the traditional program. The second group (Xb) is termed the experimental
groupin this case, the group exposed to self-paced instruction. Care is taken to
ensure that the groups are comparable and all receive the same pre-test and the same
post-test. If both groups are comparable to begin with, any differences in outcomes
understanding, attitudes, or whatevershould be due to the learning strategy. Of
course, if there is no difference in the results, it means that both programs are equally
successful and that either can be used with equal effectiveness.
When we look at differences in learning outcomes with this design, we will
probably see differences in numeric measures. But are these differences significant?
Statistical measures can be used to determine if these outcome differences are either
significant or too small and/or due to chance. Keep in mind that what is statistically
118 Learning at Work

significant is not always meaningful. You might see a statistical significance between
test scores of these two groups, but these differences might not be sufficiently mean-
ingful to warrant any substantial conclusions or changes in your operating procedures.
If you find a 5% positive difference in attitude about self-paced study but only a 2%
positive difference in these same attitudes from the traditional group, is this difference
large enough to comfortably decide to continue the traditional classes? Is this differ-
ence sufficient to warrant not offering the traditional classes? Probably not. Of course,
this is an oversimplified illustration; however, it is important to point out that what is
meaningful is not always statistically significant, and what is statistically significant
might not be meaningful, given the context of the experiment.

Four-group designs. The final formal experiment to be discussed here is the four-
group design, commonly called the Solomon Four design because it uses four sepa-
rate but comparable groups. It is intended to compensate for most potential contami-
nants (maturation, pre-test bias, or sensitivity). The Solomon four-group design is
shown here:
O1 Xa O2
O1 Xb O2
Xa O2
Xb O2
This design has been simplified to show only the experimental program variable
(Xa)the self-paced study. It assumes that the other group (Xb) receives the tradi-
tional treatment. As you can see, the effect of this design is to compensate for any pre-
test bias as well as for the two different interventions. Should scores be higher for the
first and third groups, you have added assurance that the self-paced treatment was
effective and that the scores were not contaminated by pre-test sensitivity, since group
three was not exposed to any pre-test. If the scores for groups two and four are higher,
you can feel comfortable that the traditional treatment was more effective and was not
impacted by any pre-test bias.
The four-group design is much more difficult to use because four separate but
comparable groups must be assembled, and all other potential contaminants have to be
held constant. In addition, if statistical treatments are to be incorporated, there must be
sufficient numbers of individuals within each group, which adds substantially to the
Collecting and Analyzing 119

difficulty of this design. On the other hand, the results from this design are powerful;
for this reason, this design should be given serious consideration. The more important
the instructional program is to the organizations goals, the more care should be taken
to ensure that its the right learning solution. Experimental design results can help in
this decision.

Time series designs. The time-series design is merely a variation of previously-

mentioned experimental designs. All of the foregoing illustrations can incorporate the
time-series concept to identify long-range effects.
You will probably find that your intervention works or does not work. If it works,
you report it, make recommendations concerning it, and then move on to another
research activity. Learning needs change rapidly; only rarely can you look at the long-
range effects of a program. However, findings can be impacted by the learner who
knows that he or she is involved in a research project. The uniqueness of the environ-
ment and/or the attention paid to the activity itself may lead an individual to perform
in an uncharacteristic way.
What, then, is the long-range or long-term effect of your findings? There is a rela-
tively simple way to determine long-term effects, if any, and this is through the use of
a time-series design. A single-group pre- and post-test design involving a time series
appears as the following:
O 1 O 2 O 3 O 4 X O5 O 6 O 7 O 8
As can be seen here, a number of observations (or pre-tests, if you will) are taken
prior to the application of the variable (in this case, self-paced study). In the observa-
tion immediately following the treatment (O5), you can determine the immediate
results of the program. However, unless you make additional observations, it will be
impossible to know if the results were, indeed, lasting. Two, four, and six months
later, for example, did the participants in this self-paced group remember what they
had learned? In addition, by making multiple observations prior to the program, you
can determine the benchmark progress of the group. Sometimes increases in scores
are due largely to the groups natural maturation. The negatives with this design
include the time needed to make such early and post-intervention observations, and
possible contamination of each observation. Most researchers tend to agree, however,
that on balance, the potential gains of time-series design offset any negative factors.
120 Learning at Work

This design can be used with any of the foregoing illustrations if time and resources
allow. It is also important to keep in mind that increasing numbers of learning and
performance departments use experimental designs to make sure they are doing things
right before rolling out high visibility/large scope programs.

Using Statistical Measures

A wide variety of statistical measures can be used to treat data acquired through the
use of any of these research designs. This text will not address the statistics issue,
leaving an extended discussion of this to the many excellent statistics books and soft-
ware packages available. It is important, however, to refer again to the difference
between statistical significance and meaningfulness. In the first case, differences
occurring in group A versus treatment group B might be statistically significant due to
the specific intervention, rather than to just mere chance.
While the results of this statistical significance might suggest a difference
between groups, the difference may not be sufficiently meaningful to justify the time
or investment of other resources to achieve the same results. For example, if you are
measuring the acquisition of spreadsheet knowledge between one group of learners
using mediated self-paced methods and another group using a more sophisticated (but
more expensive) self-paced computer-aided method and you find that there is a small
but statistically significant difference, would it be worth the cost of adding the new
technology needed to achieve these results in the future? You must consider signifi-
cance vs. meaningfulness when making recommendations concerning the results of a
planned learning intervention.

In this chapter, we have presented in just a few pages a snapshot of what research
texts and courses cover over entire semesters or more. Research is a complex, yet
essential element in instructional development because it provides answers to ques-
tions upon which critical business decisions are made. Individual and the resultant
organizational learning is a key element in business success; however, because all
resources are limited, research provides a road map as to where learning resources
should be directed in order to obtain the biggest bang for the buckthe greatest return
Collecting and Analyzing 121

on investment. Therefore, research effortsobservations, interviews, surveys, tests,

and experimentsare all used to help answer these essential questions.
Observational variables were described as descriptive, inferential, or evaluative.
Descriptive data provide relatively straightforward pictures of events, whereas infer-
ential data require that the observer interpret results or behavior. Evaluative data
require that the observer assess or judge the behavior. Developing a useful observa-
tional guide is all about creating a form that will help the observer record data in a
useful format. We reviewed four different types of recording observational data:
elapsed time recording (timing behavior); frequency recording (determining how
many times an event takes place in a given time frame); interval recording (recording
behavior for short periods and at numerous instances); and continuous recording
(noting all the behaviors throughout a specified observation period). Once the type of
data needed is determined and the target audience is selected, you determine what
behavior is to be examined and how many observations of what type and duration will
be needed. The resultant form should be examined by a panel of experts, field-tested,
and revised if necessary.
Interviews are conversations between an information gatherer and an information
giver. Knowing what kind of information is needed and who has it is the first step.
Develop an open-ended or structured interview guide that will ensure that valid, reli-
able data are gathered. Open-ended interviews are used when a small number of peo-
ple are needed to explain processes, offer opinions, or forecast needs. Results are
largely qualitative. Structured interview guides, while gathering qualitative data, usu-
ally result to some degree in gathering quantitative data. Word and sequence the ques-
tions in such a way in order that you get useful data. Conducting interviews requires
interpersonal skills and a good understanding of the problem at hand. You might have
to transcribe the interview from audio/video tapes or disks and/or code notes using
some type of an interpretation matrix in order to make sense of the results. Many soft-
ware packages are available to help you analyze these complex data, and many of
these are free or inexpensive and easy to use.
Surveys are large-scale data collection efforts. Select individuals as a sample for
the project who are representative of the larger population. Follow the tips for devel-
oping effective observation and interview guides to develop a questionnaire, and
involve others, especially experts who can critique a draft questionnaire. Have a small
representative sample actually complete the instrument before you use it for a larger
122 Learning at Work

group. These actions help ensure that you develop valid questions that will produce
usable data. Again, as with using qualitative data, see if you can find free or inexpen-
sive software packages to assist in the process of survey development, distribution,
and analysis.
Tests are used to collect data concerning the effectiveness of participant learning.
They are most effective when they are developed in conjunction with your course
objectives, because all important facets should be included in the test in the right
sequence and with the appropriate weights and emphasis. Tests are not only useful to
measure learning outcomes; they should also be used as instructional tools to modify
content for future courses.
Experimental designs are used when you want to know how effective a given
treatment (learning intervention) is. Experimental designs discussed in this chapter
include the very common post-test-only design, single or multiple group pre- and
post-test designs, and the time series design (which measures outcomes at various
points in time). The main difference among these designs is the degree of control
within each design that helps you determine if outcomes are the result of learning
rather than the result of something else. Finally, keep in mind the differences between
significance and meaningfulness when using statistical assessment tools. While it is
important to report significant findings, it is even more important to ensure that these
findings represent results that are meaningful to the organization and useful in
(re)designing instructional programs.

Think It Through
1. Describe the differences between the terms reliability and validity. What impact
do they have on data-gathering activities such as observations, interviews, ques-
tionnaires, and tests?
2. List a variety of instances where using each of the following research methods
would be appropriate:
a. Observation
b. Interview
c. Survey
d. Test
e. Experiment
Collecting and Analyzing 123

3. For the same group of tools listed above, provide at least three strengths and three
weaknesses for each research technique.
4. Evaluate which of the four tools you would consider using in any given instance.
5. What advantages are there in testing/evaluating a research tool or instrument?
6. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of each of the five experimental
designs presented in this chapter.

Ideas in Action
1. In groups of two, draft a one-page questionnaire that might be used to describe
your instructors teaching style. When complete, act as a jury to evaluate other
groups questionnaires. Make specific recommendations to enhance both the
validity and reliability of this instrument.
2. Design a simple experiment that would compare the achievement of your class
with the achievement of another similar class. Consider at least three important

Additional Resources
Babbie, E. 1990. Survey Research Methods. 2nd edition. Belmont, California:
A thorough and easy-to-read text about survey research methods and tools. Con-
tains examples and specific recommendations for sampling and follow-up activi-
ties in survey research.

Creswell, J. W. 2005. Educational Research. 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, New
Jersey: Pearson.
This text covers the planning, conduct, and evaluation of quantitative and qualita-
tive research in a lucid, comprehensive, and thorough manner. A strong basic text.
124 Learning at Work

Czaja, R. and J. Blair. 2003. Designing Surveys: A Guide to Decisions and

Procedures. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
An excellent little paperback text written by a sociologist and director of a survey-
research center that covers the basics of this type of research.

Dillman, D. 2007. Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method: Update
with New Internet, Visual, and Mixed Mode Design. New York: John Wiley and
An update of one of the most widely read and recommended texts in the field of
survey research. If you follow Dillmans recommendations, your survey
responses will be more complete.

Leedy, P. D. and J. E. Ormrod. 2004. Practical Research: Planning and Design. 8th
edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
An easy-to-use, full-of-examples, paper-bound 8 1/2 x 11-inch users guide for
novice researchers. If youre just starting out in research, this text is for you.

Murphy, L. L., J. C. Impara, and B. S. Plake (eds.). 1999. Tests in Print V, Volumes I
and II. Lincoln, Nebraska: The Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.
Another excellent reference in the Buros series that describes a wide variety of
test instruments (along with their reliability) and validity assessments.

Spies, R. A. and B. S. Plake (eds.). 2005. The Sixteenth Mental Measurements Year-
book. Lincoln, Nebraska: The Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.
These yearbooks constitute the primary reference and resource for tests and test
information in the U.S. One of the 36 publications in the yearbook and test
reference series.
Collecting and Analyzing 125

Web sites
The American Educational Research Associations Special Interest Group (SIG) on
Survey Research has an excellent survey research site located at:

The American Statistical Associations Survey Research Section has a listserv that is
very informative. The address for this listserv is: www.srmsnet@

The Survey System is an excellent source for questionnaire development and informa-
tion on interviews, questionnaires, data entry, sample size calculators, analysis, and
Web surveys. It can be found at:

Survey Monkey is an easy-to-use program that allows just about anyone to create a
survey instrument, collect responses, and analyze results. It is a very worthwhile addi-
tion to your library, and can be found at: www.

The American Anthropological Associations Resources on the Internet Web Page

contains a very comprehensive list of qualitative research program sites:
Mary Paul on Needs Assessment and Evaluation

Mary Paul is the manager of Organization Development and Training for Powertrain
Operations at Harley-Davidson. She is in charge of technical training, soft-skills
training, computer training, and OD functions such as change management, individual
and team effectiveness, labor-management partnering, and coaching. This is a huge
undertaking, as there are roughly 2,000 employees in H-Ds Powertrain Operations
about 300 salaried and 1,700 union employees. Harley-Davidson is well-known for its
innovative learning and development strategies, and Ms. Paul is on the cutting edge.

Learning Mary, I always knew my old University of Evansville roommate would go

at Work places. But on a Harley? Wonderful. Thanks for agreeing to this interview.
Mary Well, its always good to hear from you, Bridget. And its fun to reflect on
Paul whats happened since the last edition of the book. Five years ago, I was
director of rider training. I was responsible for development and imple-
mentation of programs for customers and for instructors of our Riders
Edge programs. Today, Im a real factory girl!
LAW: Our readers, Mary, are very interested in what is happening at Harley-
Davidson. And wed like you to focus on assessment and evaluation trends.
What sort of business benefits have you seen derived from your assessment
and evaluation efforts?
MP: 2006 has brought a real focus to technical training. A highly skilled work-
force is our competitive asset, and it will bring sustainability to the future
business of Harley-Davidson. We have been building our technical-training
laboratories to create that highly skilled workforce in the areas of high-tech
manufacturing equipment.

128 Learning at Work

LAW: What sorts of trouble have you seen people get themselves into in trying to
do needs assessments and program evaluations?
MP: Our problem is usually associated with timeby the time we do a tradi-
tional needs assessment, we feel like the data are outdated. We are experi-
menting with technology that would allow us to do data collection on needs
assessments via remote electronic devices. The remote devices would allow
us to forego paper assessments that are completed by our production
employees. Employees would be able to submit their responses via remote
control devices and we could calculate immediately upon input. We hope to
have this technology up by late fall of this year.
LAW: Are there other trends related to conducting needs assessments and evalua-
MP: We depend on several different methods. We do a formal needs assessment
survey every two years to identify what learning is needed based on
employee feedback. In addition, we meet with engineering and technical
managers to identify what new types of equipment and machinery will be
purchased in a one-to-three year time frame so we can plan our training
budgets and courses to align with technology.
Evaluation is focusing more and more on training effectiveness on the
job, rather than on the quality of the training event. While the training event
still has to be top quality, the transfer of knowledge and relevance of the
program to the learner is the most important. Otherwise, you have wasted
your time and money.
LAW: Can you tell us about a time when training efforts didnt go as planned?
MP: Oh, Ive had lots of these experiences, and of course they are the greatest
learning lessons one can have! The majority of unproductive training efforts
Ive experienced have to do with large corporate rollouts, where results
were expected almost immediately after training. This giant aspirin
approach really frustrates all parties in the endthe management, the par-
ticipants, and the training department. Ive had this happen in two organi-
zations with regard to team-based training. The training and organizational
VoicesMary Paul 129

development departments wanted a pilot group to first experience the pro-

gram, get feedback, fine-tune the program, and test the initial results.
Leadership wanted the program to be given to all parties at once, sort of the
shotgun approach, to get a quick fix. Unfortunately, launching a program
to 50-some teams at once was overwhelming for not only the teams and the
training department, but also the leadership. Such important factors as job
relevance, expected outcomes, adequate resources, and just time to incorpo-
rate the new skills were not properly anticipated. What happened? After
about a year of foundering, we were asked by leadership to do an assess-
ment and start over small, with a pilot group. Go figure.
LAW: Whats next for training at H-D?
MP: Harley-Davidson has begun to take a blended instructional approach. We
blend curriculums with both e-learning and classroom learning. Often, we
will use e-learning as a pre-cursor to a classroom event that usually includes
hands-on activities.
LAW: How do you know when you have been successful?
MP: Our department depends upon customer feedback to know whether or not
we have been successful. We use evaluation forms at the time of training,
but the real essence is in the effectiveness of the training once the program
is complete. We depend on feedback from employees, managers, and union
LAW: Anything else?
MP: Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to providing workplace learning
programs! Even though you may be right and have the solution to a par-
ticular issue, thats no guarantee that the powers that be will see it. Many
times over the years, I have come to the leadership table with the answer,
only to be told no. However, in time, divine order prevails and the learning
solution is implemented at a later time. Sometimes you just have to wait for
the organization to catch up with you.
130 Learning at Work

LAW: Mary, thanks for sharing your experiences and expertise with us.
MP: And thank youI really enjoyed the interview.

Prologue to Part 3
Theory and practice are often seen as antagonistic to one another. The practi-
tioner is portrayed as impatient with theory and focused solely on bottom-line
results, irrespective of theory and its demands. Theory and theoreticians, on
the other hand, are painted as impractical, dreamy, and not connected to the
real world and its demands.
This picture is not grounded in hard reality. Theory and practice are
indeed different things, but they are not at all separate and distinct, much less
hostile or opposed to each other. Theory, real theory, is in fact the basis for
action. Theories explain observable data. They explain why things happen the
way they do and predict what will happen in defined circumstances. They are
testable, and what is tested is always and precisely the theorys power to pre-
dict and explain action accurately. It is because of this very real and positive
connection that the workplace learning professional needs a good under-
standing of learning theory.
Why do people learn? What differences are there in the way they learn?
How do they learn? How precisely does it happen? Do some forms of
instruction help people learn better and faster and easier than others? Are
some kinds of materials better than others? If types of instruction or materials
differ in their effectiveness, why? And how can the design of learning pro-
grams take advantage of these differences?
These are some of the questions that learning theory helps answer. And
the answers are nothing if not practical. The answersand the theoriesare
also complicated because they deal with human beings and the virtually infi-
nite array of human preferences and styles and psyches and intellects. Thus,
the question for the workplace learning professional is not, What is learning
theory? The questions are What are the various learning theories, and how
can I use them to help people learn effectively? Chapter 5 of this section,
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives on Learning, deals with these
important issues. In this chapter, we provide a theoretical rationale for
instructional design as well as delivery, and focus on understanding learning

132 Learning at Work

and adult learners. The chapter is concerned with what we know about teaching and
learning and what motivates people to want to learn. Keeping in mind that no one
best way exists, Chapter 5 helps us understand that we have choices to make when
designing and delivering effective instruction, and that these choices matter.
Chapter 6, Planning for Instruction, goes on to treat the topic of designing
instruction based upon what we know about how adults learn. In addition to the
insights of learning theory, many factors affect the process of design. These factors
include the content to be delivered, the organizational climate, the background and
personality of the workplace learning professional and the targeted learners, and the
urgency or perceived strategic value of the instruction. These and other variables
interact, making the design activity a learning process in itself, with the result that the
instructional designer often discovers what works best through trial and error.
Design represents the second stage of the Instructional Development Cycle, the
stage where solutions are developed to help people learn what they need to learn.
Design begins with the outcomes of the assessment stage. And just as the workplace
learning professional was a team member in needs assessment, that same team-focus
often continues in the design stage. Design requires input, feedback, and ideas from a
wide range of stakeholders. Thus, design is based on multiple perspectives and is an
iterative process. Instructional design is not usually a one-person, one-shot response to
problems, although sometimes circumstances dictate exactly that. Instructional design
is essentially all about shared learning and experimentation. The challenge for design
is how to convert identified learning needs into a solution that works for a given
Chapter 6, Planning for Instruction, takes a very pragmatic, how-to approach.
The Instructional Design Funnel is an approach to translating identified knowledge
and skill needs into deliverable instructional solutions. Chapter 6 describes the design
process itself, and the Funnel is a step-by-step guide for managing the process. Illus-
trations and charts are included to help the designer (more often a design team) trans-
late identified needs into goals and break goals down into detailed training objectives.
A sample worksheet to support this process is offered. Because not all solutions have
to begin from ground zero, and because there are a number of external vendors who
can provide design services, the chapter concludes with an overview of how to evalu-
ate off-the-shelf learning solutions and materials, as well as how to work with external
training vendors.
Instructional Design and Delivery 133

The Delivery of Instruction

There are two fundamental approaches to the delivery of content to be learned: (1) live
instruction, which means that the instruction is delivered by an instructor, face-to-
face, to one or more students; and (2) mediated instruction, which means that the
instruction is delivered through some medium, other than a live instructor.
We are all familiar with live instruction from our own experiences in school:
years of having teachers stand in front of the classrooms in which we sat, providing
instruction in the material we were to learn. Live instruction is an ancient tradition.
Aristotle employed it as he strolled with his students around the stoa during the
Golden Age of Greece. Indeed, it was the method used by the first person in human
history who realized that he or she knew something another needed to learn.
Mediated or self-paced instruction is also very old. The live instructor is not pre-
sent, but has left something behind from which the student can learn. The oldest form
of this something left behind was perhaps a clay tablet with cuneiform script, or
maybe a carved tree. It may have been a cave wall with a drawing, or stones with
petroglyphs. It could have been as simple as a piece of bark or leather with pictures.
Mediated instruction means that there is some medium for carrying and delivering
instruction from a teacher who is not present. The number and types of media have
expanded dramatically over the centuries. Today, the absent teachers instruction can
be presented to the student(s) by means of video, through computer software, via the
Internet, by a simple information manual, or through an iPods ear buds or a cell
phones tiny screen. The varieties and possibilities are many and constantly shifting,
limited only by the creativity and resources of instructional designers and ever evolv-
ing technologies. The use of media in instruction is sometimes referred to as self-study
or self-paced instruction. It will be discussed in Chapter 8. Live instruction will be
discussed in Chapter 7.
Each of the two fundamental approaches to instruction has its advantages and dis-
advantages. The live instructor can adjust material and method on the fly in real
time, adapting in ways that no preprogrammed medium can possibly do. A live
instructor can also be prepared to deliver instruction far more swiftly and less expen-
sively than the time and costs associated with developing stand-alone instructional
media. Mediated or self-paced instruction, on the other hand, offers an absolute con-
sistency of content that live teachers cannot equal, no matter how thoroughly they are
prepared. Moreover, media can be shipped around the world much more easily and
134 Learning at Work

cheaply than human teachers can travel. Given the power of the Internet, instruction is
but a few clicks away.
Neither of the fundamental approaches to instruction can be said to be better than
the other in any absolute sense. There are, however, circumstances and requirements
that seem to call for one or the other approach, as the examples in Figure P3-1 show.
(These examples simulate actual situations.)

Figure P3-1. A Sample of Situations and Appropriate Approaches to Delivering Instruction

Situation/Requirement Approach

Need to equip sales personnel with Live instruction would appear to be the best choice. Experi-
necessary product knowledge for enced designers/instructors assigned full time can deliver the
the release of a major new product new program(s) in time. It is not possible to do justice to the
family two months from now. information needed via a self-paced approach in the time
These sales reps work in six differ- frame available. The geographic spread can be dealt with by
ent locations and in overlapping video conferencing. (The really important question here is this:
time zones. Why was the training need left until the last minute in the
product development life cycle?)

FASB1098/99New accounting Complexity of topic prevents handling by means of a simple

regulations will require the control- informational desk drop (as was done in support of the instal-
lers in each department of the lation of new phone equipment last year). The controllers
organization to handle asset cal- have reliable connection to the corporate Intranet; the
culation and tracking in an involved requirement has almost a year of lead time; and this popu-
new way. The new regulations go lation has a track record of successful use of self-study
into effect in 11 months. approaches. The discipline is there. CAI software distributed
through the Net will furnish satisfactory instruction in this case.

A continuing need to orient new The job here is to design something that can be handed off for
hires to the culture of the organi- use in the seven HR centers as part of their new-hire intake
zation, its vision of the future, its process. The material will include a video of the CEO talking
strategies, and its values, all with about the organizations culture and values. An advantage of
allowance for appropriate tailoring this is that the recording can be translated in all the needed
for businesses and geographic cir- languages and dubbed in. The acculturation demands, how-
cumstance. Hire rate: 130 people ever, preclude solely video. Live instruction will be also nec-
per month, in seven different HR essary, as will the involvement of local senior management
centers around the world. (as guests). Materials will have to include a full scale Leaders
Guide for the host facilitator, written to the lowest level of
detail, in all the right languages, and thoroughly tested before
release. This is an enormous job!
Instructional Design and Delivery 135

Figure P3-1. A Sample of Situations and Appropriate Approaches to Delivering Instruction


Incoming clerical staff in the Needed programs can be bought off the shelf (self-study
Indianapolis Operations Center materials and live instruction). No need to reinvent these
consistently need work on basic wheels. A mix of programs will allow the Indianapolis Center
skills: math, writing, reading, to provide employees with the approach that best suits their
keyboarding, word processing, learning styles and preferences. Self-study modules may also
analytics. serve as pre-work or reinforcement for live programs where
this makes sense.

New middle managers need to Some of the need here might simply be informational, which
learn the core job requirements for can be met by simple lecture, live or mediated. Learning
the role of manager of managers, about performance coaching and appraisal, however,
particularly with regard to (a) requires hands-on skill practice. Major portions of this
policy demands concerning learning requirement can be met only by live, interactive
performance management, and instruction, with people working in classroom groups where
(b) the value and use of employee role playing and peer/instructor feedback are possible.
attitude surveys.

Figure P3-1 shows that decisions concerning methods of instructional delivery are
highly situational. The workplace learning professional must be aware of his or her
personal preferences and beliefs and be appropriately wary of them. One instructional
designer might favor live instruction, while another might be biased toward multi-
media computer-assisted instruction. These personal preferences, however, cannot be
allowed to become guiding principles. The overriding decision criterion for choosing
the best delivery method is participant learning. Instruction, live or mediated, is all
about learning. If participant learning does not take place, the most elegantly
designed, most sophisticated instruction in the world is simply useless. This learner-
focused thinking must go into the design stages of learning interventions, as well as
into its implementation. Design decisions about delivery options must be governed to
the fullest extent possible by the target audiencetheir learning styles, their needs,
and their preferences. Cost, geographic spread, type of content, urgency of need, audi-
ence level, and other factors are all additional and legitimate parts of decisions
regarding the instructional approach. The ultimate determinant is the answer to this
question: What will help this target population, in this set of circumstances, learn the
most, learn the best, and learn the easiest?
136 Learning at Work

Care must be exercised not to make delivery methods into screening devices. If an
organization insists that all its training is to be done by method X, then only those
who do well with that method will be successful learners. The organization will thus
be screening out all others, without even having made a conscious decision to do so.
This is a classic case of unexamined assumptions driving outcomesthe instructional
tail wagging the training dog. This reversal of priorities is often what takes place
when design and delivery decisions are left solely to factors such as cost, at the
expense of learner need and preference.
While no absolutes exist here, the voice of experience tells us that most people
prefer the traditional classroom as a training vehicle because it is the approach with
which we are all the most familiar. Most of us seem to respond better to the motiva-
tion, discipline, and lock-step, inertial momentum of a classroom full of peers with a
live teacher and a clear agenda driven by that teacher. Most of us do not seem to learn
as well if we are left completely to our own devices in a self-study situation. The point
is that if learning is the goal (as it is), then decisions about how to provide instruction
are decisions about how to help real people learn what they need to know. Instruc-
tional decisions cannot be left totally to designer or instructor bias, nor to the cost of
different types of instructional delivery.
Instruction is not a goal but a means, totally in the service of something else
namely, participant learning.

A Genuinely New Form of Instructional Delivery?

As new types of self-instructional media have been introduced in the modern business
world, they invariably have been surrounded by a repeated cluster of vendor promises.
One ad promises that this new medium will provide consistency of content delivery,
enable learners to move at their own pace, obviate the need for live instructors, and
above all lower costs. This new medium, the ads trumpet, will finally break the
ancient mold of training (meaning live teacher + student) and finally move things into
the 21st century. These same sorts of claims were made for, in order of appearance,
training that was broadcast by radio, programmed instruction, televised teaching,
videotapes, CBT, interactive video, Web-based training, and so on and so forth.
Indeed, the original laptops were, of all things, slate. It was a powerful educational
innovation when teachers gave class participants their own small, personal-sized
slates so they could write, calculate, and draw right at their seats, with the teacher at
Instructional Design and Delivery 137

the classrooms large slate blackboard. And some of the same things that are said now
about the educational possibilities of portable laptop computers were surely said then
about those individual laptop slates!
In Chapter 8, we explore a wide range of mediated or self-paced instruction and
investigate the possibility that todays Net-enhanced e-learning offers potential
beyond earlier forms of self-instruction.

The Irreducible Challenge of Instruction

Teaching others, whether done live or with a self-paced component, has a certain
inherent challenge that cannot be removed by any instructional stratagem, no matter
how clever or leading-edge. The essential task is to get information or skill from the
head of someone who knows into the head of someone who needs to know. This proc-
ess of information transfer must work its way through the filters on both sides of the
person-to-person communication gap, and then must work back through those same
filters to ensure that the message was received, and received as intended. This alone
makes teaching a daunting task. In addition, the outcome of instructionlearning
means change in the learner, and change is never easy. Resistance to change can be
lessened by good instructional design, by strong motivational techniques, and by the
clever use of technology. Resistance, however, always exists around new ideas and
Most important, if instruction is to be successful, the learning mind must choose
to take in and absorb what the instructing mind has presented. This interaction, which
defines instructional success, cannot be forced or made to happen, let alone made
automatic or effortless or self-sustaining. Grounding design and delivery in solid
learning theory and choosing appropriate instructional approaches are critically
important responsibilities for workplace learning professionals. But there should be no
expectation that a theory or a method can eliminate instructions dependence on the
individual learners preference, choice, motivation, and capability.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives on
Workplace Learning

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Discuss the role of experience in adult learning.
Compare and contrast instructor-centered (pedagogy) and learner-
centered (andragogy) approaches to instructional design.
Discuss the importance of understanding your own and others learning
Explain how behavioral and cognitive science learning orientations
impact instructional design.
Summarize the assumptions of constructivism and social learning in
understanding how individuals learn in the workplace.
Identify the role motivation plays in adult and workplace learning.
Reflect on the concept of transformational learning and its implications
for individuals in todays workplace.

Theoretical Foundations
Nothing is so practical as a good theory.
Kurt Lewin, 1944

Theories help us understand why something happened or help us predict what

will occur under given circumstances. An educator needs to understand
learning theory as a guide for the design and implementation of effective
instructional programs. Learning theory explains and predicts how individu-
als learn. It provides the framework for answering the question of how to
structure content so that the learner can grasp the concepts and/or skills being
presented. However, there is no single theory that explains how or why two
or more individuals learn the same material in different ways.
As an adult, you learn in a way that is shaped by your experiences,
aptitude, and motivation. Whether you learn best in a traditional classroom

140 Learning at Work

environment or by reading a book or through e-learning will depend on a number of

elements, such as your individual characteristics, the perceived value of the learning
task, and how much experience (and perhaps success) you have had with the topic and
the learning media in the past. Thus, no single theory explains how or why learners
acquire the same material using different learning approaches.
One reason why learning theory is so incomplete and imprecise is that theorists
find it difficult to agree on a definition of learning. In the first half of the 20th century,
learning was defined primarily as some type of behavior change, influenced largely
by the environment. Differences of opinion, however, generated questions like these:
If no change can be observed, has learning actually occurred? How do individuals use
their experiences to make changes in their behavior? And if a change in behavior is
observed, did this change result from a planned instructional initiative? Does matura-
tion or growing older alone result in learning? One useful definition was put forth by
Maples and Webster: Learning can be thought of as a process by which behavior
changes as a result of experiences.1 In other words, learning is a process, not an out-
puta journey, not a destination.
Our purpose in this chapter is to provide an overview of historical and current
thinking about how adult learning occurs in the classroom and in the workplace. The
chapter begins with an overview of the role of experience in learningcurrent think-
ing about the concept of andragogy that leads to a discussion of learning as problem
solving. The primary learning orientations used in instructional design, behaviorism
and cognitive science, are discussed, followed by constructivism and social learning.
No learning initiative will work unless the learner does, so we will review some well-
known motivation theories from a humanist orientation. We conclude the chapter with
a brief overview of transformational learning, a theory that is increasingly of interest
to adult educators.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 141

The Role of Experience in Adult Learning

Experience is not what happens to you.
It is what you do with what happens to you.
Aldous Huxley, 2005
( January 28, 2005

When examining the rsum of a job applicant with 15 years of experience, consider
that the applicant may have had either 15 years of personal growth, whereby he or she
continually learned, took on new tasks, and grew within the job, or 15 years of the
same set of experiences that did not lead to growth. Why do some people continually
learn, yet others do not? How can we best use learners experiences in developing
relevant curricula to help them grow in their jobs? In an attempt to depict how adults
use their experiences to learn, lets first examine a set of assumptions about adult
learners and look at the Kolb Learning Cycle, which depicts the roles of reflection and
experimentation in learning. Here, too, we explore the notion of learning as problem
solving. Problem solving includes how we think about our thinking (metacognition),
critical thinking, and creative thinking.

Andragogy and Pedagogy

Andragogy and pedagogy refer to the study of teaching. Andra comes from the
Greek word aner, which means man, adult. Peda comes from the Greek word
pais, which means child. Both terms use the Greek word ago, which means
leading. Those labels, however, tend to be somewhat misleading, as the terms more
appropriately refer to teaching strategies than to the chronological age of the learner.
Pedagogy originated with early monks who recorded common characteristics
among children who were learning basic skills. Much study has been done in child
development, learning, and teaching. However, it was not until the middle of the 20th
century when instructors realized that their assumptions about how children learn did
not fit the adults they were teaching. Andragogy, a term first used in 1833 by a teacher
in Germany, was reintroduced by a Yugoslavian social scientist in the 1920s, and was
next adapted by adult educators in Europe in 1957. The term became known in the
United States in the 1960s through the work of Malcolm S. Knowles.2 Andragogys
basis focuses on learner-directed instructional approaches, while pedagogy is based on
teacher-directed learning experiences. Knowles emphasized that these two approaches
142 Learning at Work

coexist. The task to be learned and the individuals learning style in combination dic-
tate whether a pedagogical approach, an andragogical approach, or a combination of
both should be considered in the design and delivery of an instructional program.
For example, how would you prefer to learn in each of these situations?
To be oriented to a new job
To understand union politics
To improve your writing skills
To understand the technical aspects of the Internet
To use a new spreadsheet program
You probably found yourself preferring an andragogical approach for some of the
above and a pedagogical approach for others, depending on your experiences or back-
ground. A young MBA might learn best about union politics through the lecture
method (using elements of pedagogy), but someone with more experience or a greater
need to know might be encouraged to assist in a membership campaign or actually run
for union office to acquire the perspective that is desired. Likewise, to improve your
writing, you might need a refresher course in grammar or even an intensive, hands-on
practical workshop, or you might just need to review Strunk and Whites Elements of
Style. To learn to use the Internet, you might want to discover its usefulness on your
own, or you might need classroom lectures or coaching from an expert. To develop
skills using a new spreadsheet program, you might be able to learn through a hands-
on directed workshop or through self-directed study of a software manual. Some of
these learning strategies are pedagogical (teacher-led) and some are andragogical
(learner-led). Andragogy and pedagogy are approaches that guide learning, no matter
what the age of the learner is. The assumptions and process elements used by
Malcolm Knowles to contrast these two orientations about teaching and learning are
illustrated in Figure 5-1.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 143

Figure 5-1. Pedagogy/Andragogy Assumptions

Assumptions About Pedagogical Andragogical

Concept of the learner Dependent personality Increasingly self-directed

Role of learners experience To be built on, rather than used A rich resource for learning by self
as a resource and others

Readiness to learn Uniform by age-level and Develops from life tasks and
curriculum taught problems

Orientation to learning Subject-centered Task- or problem-centered

Motivation By external rewards and By internal incentives


Climate Tense, low trust Relaxed, trusting

Formal, cold, aloof Mutually respectful
Authority-oriented Informal, warm
Competitive, judgmental Collaborative, supportive

Planning Primarily by teacher By learners and facilitator mutually

Diagnosis of needs Primarily by teacher By mutual assessment

Setting of objectives Primarily by teacher By mutual negotiation

Designing learning plans Teachers content plans Learning contracts

Course syllabus Learning projects
Logical sequence Sequenced by readiness

Learning activities Inquiry projects

Independent study
Experiential techniques

Evaluation By teacher By learner-collected evidence

Norm-referenced (on a curve) validated by peers, facilitators,
With grades experts
144 Learning at Work

Figure 5-1 shows that learning concepts and the assumptions generated by peda-
gogical and andragogical points of view differ substantially. And the conditions that
are manipulatedthe process elementslikewise differ as to who controls them.
Learning initiatives, therefore, will differ significantly, depending upon the approach
taken by the instructional designer and the instructor or facilitator. How might we
apply these learner characteristics in developing learning initiatives? Here are few
ideas to consider:
Learning is not always its own reward. Adults are not motivated by gold
stars or good report cards; they want a learning outcome that they can put to
use in concrete, practical, and self-benefiting terms. Therefore, instructional
designers should remember that adult students prefer practical, hands-on
learning sessions over general, theory-oriented classes. An appropriate way to
motivate individuals to learn to use a spreadsheet software package, for
example, is to show them how they can apply it in their own environment for
a task such as data analysis or budgeting. This is referred to as whats in it
for me? or WIIFM (pronounced whiff-em).
Adult learning is integrative. Adults learn best when they are able to inte-
grate new ideas with what they already know. If the information conflicts
with what the learner knows or values, learning is more difficult. The conflict
must be dealt with, or it will generate resistance to learning.
Adults want control. Whenever possible, instructional designers should col-
laborate with their target audience about the content and pace of the learning
program. Such an approach gives learners opportunities to contribute to help
identify what needs to be learned. They can thus suggest instructional meth-
ods that fit their preferred learning styles. In some instances, content can be
structured to support self-paced learning back at the work site or at home.
Practice must be meaningful. Repetition for repetitions sake does not pro-
duce a substantial learning effect for adults. This principle is borrowed from
the work of E. L. Thorndike, an early leader in learning theory, who was
opposed to meaningless drill. Adults tend to be slow in some physical, psy-
chomotor tasks, and adults generally do not like to make mistakes, so they
compensate for this by being more exact. Thus, they make fewer trial-and-
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 145

error ventures (and consequently, fewer errors). Rather than have adult learn-
ers work on textbook drills, the instructor can have them practice on actual
work-related tasks in the training environment. The transfer of learning best
takes place when an adult can immediately apply what has been learned in the
classroom back on the job. In the language of learning theory, this is rein-
forcement for an instructional session just completed or pre-work for the next
instructional session.

How Adults Learn

One of the earliest thinkers on learning as problem solving was the noted sociologist
Kurt Lewin. His action learning or action research model, which serves as the basis of
our Instructional Development Cycle, is the theoretical construct we have used to
frame the activities that go into the instructional development process (Chapter 1).
Lewin depicted the four-stage process of assessment, design, implementation, and
evaluation as inclusive, cyclical, and integrative. When we use action learning as a
framework, we are continually evaluating our actions and are continually learning
from what we did right as well as from what we did wrong. This continuous experi-
mentation is an effective way of depicting learning.

The Role of Reflection. Other researchers, such as David Kolb, have built on
Lewins work in an attempt to further explain the role of experience by emphasizing
the role of reflection in the learning process. When we reflect on our experiences, we
attempt to make meaning of them. Experiences by themselves are not learning
opportunities, unless we think about them and evaluate them. Kolb described
experiential learning as a cyclical process that includes reflection as one of four states
(see Figure 5-2):
1. The learner has a concrete experience.
2. This experience is observed and reflected upon (reflective observation).
3. The experience is abstracted, conceptualized, and generalized (abstract con-
4. The generalization is tested in new situations (active experimentation) that
lead to a new concrete experience.
146 Learning at Work

Figure 5-2. The Kolb Experiential Learning Model



Active Reflective
Experimentation (AE) Observation (RO)
Doing Reflecting


Conceptualization (AC)

For example, lets say Niels, a camera salesperson, is in a class where he sees an
instructor demonstrate the new swiveling-screen feature on the companys latest digi-
tal camera (concrete experience). This is such a novel approach to using the camera
(reflective observation). It seems to Niels that by using this feature, a photographer
would be able to catch different perspectives and lighting effects by simply moving
the camerawithout having to get up on a ladder or down on the ground (abstract
conceptualization). So, the next time Niels prepares a sales presentation, he includes
the demonstration of this feature to see if it is, as he believes, a strong selling point
(active experimentation). He does this, and notes that his audience finds what he is
saying interesting but suggests that the same feature could be used like a regular cam-
era to make the picture-taking process easier and quicker (concrete experience). In
preparing a subsequent presentation, he considers this suggestion (reflective observa-
tion) and decides that he could easily incorporate those ideas into his presentation
(abstract conceptualization) the next time he presents both sets of functions (active
experimentation). And so it goeslearning that continues and continues and con-
tinues, based on his experiences and what he does with them.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 147

Learning Styles. In developing an instrument to measure how individuals prefer to

learn, Kolb began with the understanding that the elements of this learning process
model are polar opposites: concrete experience is the polar opposite of abstract con-
ceptualization, and active experimentation is the opposite of reflective observation
(see Figure 5-2). While we learn from all four elements, scores on the Kolbs Learn-
ing Style Inventory (LSI) measure our preference toward each state, and results in a
description that shows how much we favor one of them. Each style falls between
these polar opposites: converging, diverging, assimilating, and accommodating.3
As described in Figure 5-2, each learning style is a combination of two of these
four learning modes. The convergent learning style combines the abstract conceptu-
alization and active experimentation modes. Convergers are interested in the practical
application of ideas, and tend to be unemotional and task oriented. Convergers want
to know how to apply what they have learned. The divergent learning style combines
concrete experience and reflective observation; divergers are imaginative and people-
oriented. Divergers like time to think about what they are learning, and like to use
logs and journals. The assimilative learning style combines the learning steps of
abstract conceptualization and reflective observation modes. Assimilators are inter-
ested in abstract ideas more than people. Assimilators like lectures and papers and
prefer to work alone. The accommodative style combines active experimentation and
concrete experience; accommodators learn best through hands-on experiences and
interactions with people, and they are perceived to be risk takers. Accommodators like
case studies and simulations. For example:

Learning to play golf:

Converger: Receiving practical tips and techniques from a
golfing expert
Diverger: Thinking about hitting the ball and watching
Tiger Woods play
Assimilator: Understanding the theory of what happens when
various clubs make contact with the ball
Accommodator: Getting out on the golf course and playing
148 Learning at Work

Learning instructional design:

Converger: Taking a structured course in instructional design
Diverger: Observing how others have designed the courses
Assimilator: Reading articles to find out the pros and cons of
different methods
Accommodator: Creating a new course

Learning leadership skills:

Converger: Enrolling in an executive MBA program
Diverger: Observing others in the workplace who have been
effective leaders
Assimilator: Reading books and articles by leadership experts
Accommodator: Taking on a leadership role

There is substantial debate about the reliability and validity of the Learning Style
Inventory (LSI). However, LSI scores provide insights into the degree to which your
learning style is reflective or active, and the instrument can be particularly useful in
understanding yourself and your students, choosing careers, solving problems, man-
aging people, and working as part of a team. While we have focused here on the Kolb
LSI, other inventories or measures exist that help educators learn more about how the
people they are teaching prefer to learn. One of these, for example, is the Myers-
Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)a well-known and widely used measure of personal-
ity type.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligence. Through his theory of multiple intelligence,

Howard Gardner suggests that learning capacity and ones environment influence
preferred learning styles. He suggested that our intelligence is more than our IQ, and
that we reflect and come to know the world and solve problems though individual
profiles of human intelligences.4 Gardner holds that each of us has some degree of
each of these intelligences, but the ways we combine them are unique to our own
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 149

personalities.5 A description of these eight intelligences and instructional strategies

that take advantage of them follows. The ultimate goal is to ensure that learning takes
Verbal Linguistic intelligence (sensitive to the meaning and order of words,
as a poet is). Uses activities that involve hearing, listening, impromptu or
formal speaking, tongue twisters, humor, oral or silent reading, documenta-
tion, creative writing, spelling, journaling, and poetry.
Logical-mathematical intelligence (able to handle chains of reasoning and
recognize patterns and orders, as a scientist can). Uses activities that involve
abstract symbols/formulas, outlining, graphic organizers, numeric sequences,
calculation, deciphering codes, and problem solving.
Musical intelligence (sensitive to pitch, melody, rhythm, and tone, as a com-
poser is). Uses activities that involve audio tape, music recitals, singing on
key, whistling, humming, environmental sounds, percussion vibrations,
rhythmic patterns, music composition, and tonal patterns.
Spatial intelligence (perceives the world accurately, and tries to re-create or
transform aspects of that world as a sculptor or airplane pilot does). Uses
activities that involve art, pictures, sculpture, drawings, doodling, mind map-
ping, patterns/designs, color schemes, active imagination, imagery, and block
Bodily Kinesthetic intelligence (able to use the body skillfully and handle
objects adroitly, as an athlete or dancer can). Uses activities that involve role
playing, physical gestures, drama, inventing, ball passing, sports games,
physical exercise, body language, and dancing.
Interpersonal intelligence (understands people and relationships as a sales-
person or teacher does). Thinks by bouncing ideas off others (socializers who
are people-smart). Uses activities that involve group projects, division of
labor, sensing others motives, receiving/giving feedback, and collaboration
150 Learning at Work

Intrapersonal intelligence (accesses ones emotional life as a means of

understanding oneself and others, as exhibited by individuals with accurate
views of themselves). Uses activities that involve emotional processing, silent
reflection, thinking strategies, concentration skills, higher order reasoning,
centering practices, and metacognitive techniques.
Naturalist (connected to the intricacies and subtleties in nature, such as
Charles Darwin and Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame). Uses
activities that involve bringing the outdoors into the class, relating to the natu-
ral world, charting, mapping changes, observing wildlife, and keeping jour-
nals or logs.
Reflective Practice. An educator in an organization may be able to help individuals
learn how to learn from their experiences in any number of ways. Donald Schn was
among the first to suggest that reflection is part of professional development.7 To sup-
port reflection-on-action, whereby the individual attempts to understand what he or
she has experienced, the instructor can help people create portfolios or do journal
writing. Creating a portfolio is simply putting examples of individual work in a format
that is understandable to others. In so doing, the learner stands back and looks at what
he or she has experienced. In journal writing, the individual does much the same
thing, with an emphasis on not only what happened, but why they did what they did
and what they might do the next time they are confronted with a similar event.
Reflection-in-action, on the other hand, is when the individual responds to the
experience in real time. Schn said that reflection-in-action is based on surprise.
When we are in the situation and what is happening does not conform to what we
believe should be happening, we experiment to see if we can change things. Class-
room instructors do such on the spot experiments frequently. For example, when an
instructor sees that the students do not understand the material, he or she changes
mode (such as going from lecture mode to a small-group activity in which they ask
their students to summarize what theyve learned and/or list any questions they may

Metacognition, Critical Thinking, and Creative Thinking. Solving problems is a

type of learning. Concepts related to problem solving are metacognition, critical
thinking, and creative thinking. Making sense of what we have experienced is vital,
and the next step is developing ways to address perplexing issues or unacceptable out
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 151

comes. Meta means above and cognition means thinking; thus metacognition simply
means thinking about (above) our thinking. Using metacognitive skills, we think
about how we best go about solving problems, given our past experiences. An ulti-
mate goal is to think critically about what we are experiencing and to creatively plan a
next level of experience to address that problem.
In critical thinking, we must identify relevant evidence, rather than rely on our
preconceived notions about the problem at hand. A critical thinker is fair minded, can
evaluate claims of truth, and can follow logical argument structures. Stephen
Brookfield suggested that one way to get people to think critically is to have them
observe and reflect upon exemplary role models.8 To foster critical thinking, one
activity could be to have learners identify someone whom they admire and then reflect
upon how or why they consider that person to be exemplary. In so doing, they prac-
tice reflection skills and develop an ability to continually look at problems and
opportunities in new ways.
Creative thinking, on the other hand, is when you come up with potential solu-
tions that will be critically considered. To foster creative thinking, a designer or
instructor helps learners pull in and reflect on their wide range of experiences to
develop novel responses to problems. In the data-gathering stage for problem solving,
for example, instructors and designers often use focus groups and questionnaires to
get participants to describe what is wrong at their workplace. Chris Argyris prefers to
use double-loop learning rather than single-loop learning, in which individuals are
asked only to depict what is wrong. In double-loop learning, individuals not only
identify problem areas, but are also asked to reflect on the problem and offer
suggestions for improvement.9 Instructors who use teaching strategies that involve the
instructor as the sage on the stage rather than engaging learners to think outside the
box are sometimes surprised when their narrow curricula do not produce the thinking
necessary for an individual (and thus the organization) to confront new situations.

Learning Orientations and Instructional Design

The predominant learning philosophy underlying the design of many of todays
training programs comes from the behavioral tradition that dominated the psychology
of learning until the 1960s.10 Behavioral science defines learning as changes in behav-
ior. This single definition of learning is questionable, which is why other theories,
particularly those based on cognitive science, have evolved that provide more insight
152 Learning at Work

into the learning process. As individuals mature and the tasks they learn become more
complex, early learning strategies developed as a result of their K-12 school experi-
ences lose their effectiveness. We suggest that it is important for instructional design-
ers to be aware of the usefulness and limitations of both approaches: behaviorism and
cognitive science.

A Behavioral Orientation to Instructional Design

The behavioral orientation to instructional design is grounded in the following basic
1. There must be observable behavior before you can confirm that learning has
taken place. (Identify what the learner actually must do.)
2. The environment shapes the behavior of the learner, not the reverse. (Create
realistic learning conditions to mirror those under which the task will be per-
3. The timing of reinforcement is critical. (Plan to give feedback at the point of
accomplishment and reinforce performance at appropriate intervals.)
The best-known behaviorists are Edward L. Thorndike, Ivan Pavlov, and B. F.
Skinner. In the 1880s, Thorndikes experimental work with animals and birds
resulted in the stimulus-response (S-R) theory of learning. Thorndike said that con-
nections between stimuli (sensory impressions) and responses (subsequent behavior)
are strengthened or weakened, depending on the consequences of the behavior. When
given an appropriate stimulus, the learner responds positivelythat is, he or she
accomplishes the task correctly. A response can be strengthened or changed, depend-
ing on the particular stimulus applied.
Thorndike proposed three laws of learning to explain his findings: the law of
effect, the law of exercise, and the law of readiness.11 The law of effect suggests that
the learners will acquire and remember responses that led to after-effects that were
satisfying. The law of exercise says that the repetition of connections that are mean-
ingful will result in substantial learning. The law of readiness says that the learner
must be ready for this connection for learning to take place. If the learner is not ready,
learning will be inhibited. Learning that is satisfying, meaningfully repetitive, and
taking place at the right time results in maximum effectiveness.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 153

Other researchers built upon and modified these premises, most notably Ivan
Pavlov, who conducted experiments with dogs around 1900 in Russia, and B. F.
Skinner, whose work with pigeons in the 1960s resulted in the theory of operant con-
ditioning. In basic terms, operant conditioning means to reinforce what you want the
individual to do again and to ignore what you want the individual to stop doing.12 The
concept of reinforcement is critical to operant conditioning. If you accept the premise
that the environment (stimulus) controls behavior, then modifying the environment
means that positive behaviors can be encouraged and negative behaviors can be dis-
couraged (and possibly even eliminated).

Applying the Behavioral Orientation. The application of the behavioral approach to

instructional design has traditional roots, stemming from Frederick Taylors work at
the turn of the 20th century. Taylor, called the Father of Scientific Management,
believed that workers want to perform well. His goal was to make sure that they were
instructed in the one best way to accomplish a given task. Taylor attempted to quan-
tify his workers output by recording each motion made, every tool utilized, and the
time needed to perform a specific task. Each workers actions were then examined and
modified. Workers can be individually trained to do a specific job the right way,
according to Taylors expert analysis. Many current education and training activities
can be traced to this approach. The structured and systematic design of instruction,
development of behavioral objectives, programmed and computer-aided instruction,
competency-based education, and instructor accountability are all grounded in
behavioral learning theory and in business practicality.
A behavioral approach to designing a learning experience calls for the develop-
ment of learning activities that sharpen associations between stimuli and behavior,
create chains of alternative responses, and develop discriminations between responses
of differing effectiveness. Such experiences, thus, would emphasize drill and practice.
For beginners who must learn routine tasks, behavioral approaches can result in rapid
and effective learning.
154 Learning at Work

A Cognitive Science Orientation to Instructional Design

Cognitive science provides another foundation for designing learning programs. Cog-
nitivists suggest that since the individual interprets experiences and sensations and
gives meaning to them, the mind is more than a simple system where stimuli arrive
and responses leave. Learning, they say, involves the individual being able to reor-
ganize past experiences to make sense of new environmental stimuli. Sometimes this
sense comes through flashes of insight, but it often requires reflection.
In his 1936 work Experience and Education, John Dewey proposed that all learn-
ersregardless of their agelearn best through experience. Building on this premise,
cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget in 1952 suggested that learning occurs when indi-
viduals interact with their environment in an ever-expanding number of experiences.
From the cognitivist orientation emerged new research interests in information-
processing theories, including memory, organization, and problem solving. Helping
individuals learn how to learn is the key goal of a cognitive science approach to
learning. It is designed to move learners from reliance on someone else to creating
within themselves an understanding of how learning one task can be transferred to a
more-complex activity. Once these connections are made, learners can build on them.
In short, by teaching someone how to learn, an instructor provides the learner with
lifelong survival skills in the workplace, and shifts the responsibility of learning from
the environment to the individual learner. The cognitivist focuses on the mental proc-
esses within the learners control that impact on and influence learning. We will now
explain how these ideas translate into a foundation for instructional design.

Applying Cognitive Science to Instructional Design. Given the challenge of

instructional design and its goal of helping people transform their experiences into
knowledge, some organizations refer to their instructional designers as knowledge
engineers. Cognitive science is concerned with the study of taking apart and rebuild-
ing (engineering) mental processes such as memory and problem solving.
Answer the following three questions quickly:
1. Where did you go to grade school?
2. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
3. What is the capitol of Kentucky?
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 155

Which of these questions could you answer correctly? How can you explain what you
remember and what you do not remember? Memory is often divided into three major
processes: encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is simply what we choose to
notice from among all the stimuli around us in the environment. Storage is how much
and how long we can remember those observations. Retrieval is accessing that infor-
mation from our memory. We can keep a great deal of information in long-term
memory, but short-term memory is capable of holding only a few items for a few sec-
onds. As a rule of thumb, we can remember seven things (plus or minus two) in our
short-term memory (a telephone number is a good example). While you probably
remembered where you attended grade school (meaningful information stored in long-
term memory), you might not have remembered what you had for lunch yesterday
(perhaps not meaningful information, stored in short-term memory). And unless you
recently memorized state capitals or live in the South, you might not have recalled
that Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky (not stored in your long-term memory).
Cognitive scientists suggest that instructional designers can help learners remem-
ber by developing organizing strategies and problem-solving skills, and learning to
formulate schema. Here are some principles:
1. Develop organizing strategies. To understand this concept, quickly memo-
rize the following list:
lake, ocean, bus, pond, truck, car, brook
How did you memorize these items? Some of you used rote memorization
and repetition, putting the list items in your short-term memory. Others may
have used a mnemonic strategy. Without any given structure, others may have
organized items into similar groups (lake, ocean, pond, brook; bus, truck,
car), which facilitates long-term recall far better than rote memorization.
Everyone agrees that organization helps recall, but no one agrees on a one
best way to do this. What we learn from this principle is that we have to help
our learners organize concepts and tasks.
2. Develop problem-solving skills. Knowing how to write a database program
requires procedural knowledge (knowing how to do something), rather than
factual knowledge (knowing a fact). While we might understand concepts that
define a relational database (facts), being able to group those facts into rules
(procedures) that would allow us to write the program is yet another issue.
156 Learning at Work

Over time, facts are transformed into production rules, and these mental pro-
duction rules increase efficiency.
What we can learn from this principle is the desirability of developing
problem-based activities that require components of a task to be made into
3. Learn to (re)formulate schema. Schema are internal diagrams or outlines of
something we know (facts or frames) stored in a time sequence. Cognitive
scientists believe that we learn by building frames and then continually modi-
fying our schema based upon new facts. For example, when insurance claims
adjusters get a call from a policyholder who has had an accident, they collect
specific data from the policyholder (facts) in a particular order (schema) to
ensure that all information about the claim is complete. No two accidents are
ever the same, so adjustors continually modify the way they dealt with previ-
ous claims to deal with the unique facts of the situation at hand. What we
learn from these principles is that strategies to help learners develop thinking
skills are activities whereby learners solve problems in which they develop
knowledge structures and flexible, evolving schema.
Problem solving is composed of many processes, of which memory is a major
player. Previous experience is the basis for means/end analysis. The problem solver
(the learner) tries to figure out how to solve or get to the heart of the problem. Prob-
lem solving is at the crux of cognitive science; it requires remembering and organiz-
ing facts, recalling rules, and applying schema.
We know that the problem-solving skills of novices and experts differ markedly.
The novice learner progresses from a knowledge-based state to a rule-based state, then
to a skill-based state (expert). Therefore, in designing lessons, we can work with an
expert to determine how he or she organizes and develops schema, and then translate
the experts organizational methods, rules, and schema into useful lessons. We may
find that by organizing learning activities around solving a problem, learners will see
relationships and develop schema to establish an understanding of how to accomplish
tasks and jobs.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 157

Blooms Taxonomy
Benjamin Bloom developed a cognitive learning taxonomy in the mid-1950s that
identified sequential learning stages or steps. As Figure 5-3 shows, the cognitive
learning taxonomy begins at the basic Knowledge level and steps up in complexity
through Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation stages.
Each of Blooms levels is further subdivided into sequential levels of difficulty within
the taxonomy. Knowledge, for example, moves from basic knowing of facts through
knowledge of specifics, terminology, trends, criteria, principles, and theories. Thus
each taxonomy level has within itself a hierarchy. Each element is also measured in
terms of specific verbs, indicating what the learner should be able to do as evidence of
successful and observable completion of a learning task in action terms.

Figure 5-3. Blooms Taxonomy







Knowledge: identify, list, tell

Comprehension: describe, explain, summarize
Application: construct, demonstrate, solve
Analysis: analyze, generalize, organize
Synthesis: compile, create, design
Evaluation: appraise, compare, contrast
158 Learning at Work

In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl13 revised Blooms taxonomy to reflect changes

in cognitive objective development thinking over the previous five decades. Their
taxonomy, also consisting of six dimensions, ranges from Remembering, Under-
standing, Applying, Analyzing, and Evaluating, and shifts Blooms Synthesis stage
into one termed Creating. As with Blooms original taxonomy, Anderson and
Krathwohl established stage intervals of increasing complexity within each level of
the taxonomy; however, they modified Blooms verbs into gerunds, suggesting a
more active participative role for the learner. Both taxonomies are extremely useful to
the learning professional. The key point here is that these taxonomies can help us
frame instructional design and evaluation.
Robert Mager has contributed greatly to the use of behavioral objectives in busi-
ness training, setting forth three essential elements for the measurement of an objec-
tive within Blooms taxonomy. These elements are the conditions under which the
desired activity will occur; the performance to be completed; and the criteria estab-
lished for acceptable performance. Each behavioral objective must contain all three
elements. The learner may not move forward in the process until the objective has
been met according to a specific performance level or standard. Some experts believe
that the time frame for the completion of the task should also be identified. After all, if
a worker can describe machine safety features but takes an hour to do so, the effec-
tiveness of the performance objective is compromised. A sample behavioral objective
for a knowledge task may be expressed as:
Given a diagram of machine tool X (the condition), the learner/trainee will
be able to describe (the performance) all safety features with 100% accuracy
within one minute (the criteria).
The behaviorist, therefore, sets out to define and measure learning (behavior) with
some degree of precision. These measures can take into consideration a wide variety
of conditions, including increasingly complex skill and knowledge levels. However,
since each behavioral objective addresses only a small segment of a larger learning
task, a combination of objectives will be required as the task expands or becomes
more complex. Because it is a hierarchy, Blooms Taxonomy becomes a useful guide
for instructional design. Learning goes from the simple (knowledge) to the complex
(evaluation). Once the terminal (or end) objective is identified, intermediate modules
or units provide the structure and sequence of learning activities. These objectives are
more meaningful when they reflect the business goals that the organization is
attempting to reach.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 159

Performance objectives are valuable to the designer, who must be able to docu-
ment the fact that learning has actually occurred. They depict practical and concrete
goals. The assumption is that if one can measure learning outcomes, the training proc-
ess is easier to manage. It is also important to note that performance objectives relate
to more than task performances; they should also measure acquired knowledge.
Performance objectives are the outcomes of needs assessment activities (Chapter 2).
Whether one uses a behavioral approach or a cognitive science approach to the design
of the learning activities, most training programs begin with performance objectives.
Despite their value, many designers hesitate to write objectives because they find
the task difficult and time-consuming. Writing is difficult for most people and the
development of objectives demands a high level of skill. You must choose the right
terminology (performance verbs), and identify the proper amount of qualification and
quantification criteria. Objectives are only as good as the standards for the task being
taught, and if no standards exist, they must be developed or identified. Learners often
come to training with various levels of skill. Common goals are difficult to identify.

Learning Through the Workplace

There are people who consider constructivism and social learning to be lesser sci-
ences in supporting knowledge development because one persons truth becomes
what is experienced and is not necessarily empirically developed. The premise is that
the individual or the group reflects on what they are experiencing or seeing through
their own lenses. Effective instruction for such learners means challenging them to
review their frames of reference or schema from other perspectives. Constructivism
and social learning orientations are frequently used in diversity awareness and anti-
harassment programs where individuals are encouraged to work with each other to
develop new schema that reflect their changing environment and not their precon-
ceived notions. They are also the basis for much thinking around the concepts of
knowledge management and the learning organization, which are all about devel-
oping ways to collect and share what is known about an organizations operations and
how it solves its problems.
160 Learning at Work

Often, after a set period in school or a job training program, we begin to learn by the
seat of our pants. The concept of constructivism suggests that we read, share ideas,
experiment, learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, and continue our
craft. Constructivism has as its premise the notion that we come to know by actively
constructing meaning of our experiences. In the workplace, constructivism helps us
understand that not all learning is instructor-driven.
When applied in the classroom, constructivism is akin to learner-centered learning
in which the instructors job is not to lecture, but rather to identify problems and
issues, and to guide learners, usually through questioning, to develop new patterns of
thinking. The challenge if you are using a constructivist approach is to develop prob-
lems that are meaningful to the learner, and then to provide scaffolding (support) to
ensure that learning occurs.

In a constructivist classroom...
Learner autonomy and initiative are accepted and encouraged. Instructors help students
attain their own intellectual identity. Learners frame questions and issues and then go about
analyzing and answering them. They take responsibility for their own learning, and become
problem solvers.
Higher-level thinking is encouraged. The constructivist instructor challenges learners to
reach beyond the simple factual response. He or she encourages learners to connect and
summarize concepts by analyzing, predicting, justifying, and defending their ideas.
Learners are engaged in dialogue with the instructor and with each other. Social
discourse helps learners change or reinforce their ideas. If they have the chance to present
what they think and are exposed to others ideas, they can build a personal knowledge base
that they understand. Only when they feel comfortable enough to express their ideas will
meaningful classroom dialogue occur.
Learners are engaged in experiences that challenge hypotheses and encourage discus-
sion. When allowed to make predictions, learners often generate varying hypotheses about
natural phenomena. The constructivist instructor provides ample opportunities for students to
test their hypotheses, especially through group discussion of concrete experiences.
The class uses raw data, primary sources, and physical and interactive materials. The
constructivist approach involves students in real-world possibilities, and then helps them gen-
erate the abstractions that bind phenomena together.

Adapted from In Search of Understanding: The Case for Constructivist Classrooms by Jacqueline G.
Brooks and Martin G. Brooks (Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1993)
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 161

Social Learning
Social learning is the theory that we learn from being participants in our environment,
observing those around us. In the 1960s, Albert Bandura found that individuals some-
times learn from such observation without ever having applied or imitated that learn-
ing in another setting. Social learning helps explain what happens when we read a
book or attend a lecture, or when we observe colleagues at their craft but do not
immediately put what we have observed to use. For example, how did you learn to be
a parent or a friend? Iron a shirt? Skateboard? While formal instruction in all these
skills is possible, most probably you learned by watching others. Bandura suggested
that it is our self-efficacy or belief in our own competencies that influences whether or
not we learn. The higher our self-efficacy, the more likely we are to succeed at a task.
To apply social learning, an instructor should work with individuals to identify
exemplary behavior, and then develop ways to dissect that behavior in a way so that
the individual can practice that behavior in new situations. Observations by them-
selves are not useful. Moreover, learners are more likely to learn in this mode if they
see the value of adopting the positive behaviors of others.

Humanism and Workplace Motivation

To recap, behaviorists consider learning to be changes in behavior based on envi-
ronmental interaction that can be observed. Cognitivists think mental information-
processing activities are key. Social constructivists and social learning theorists sug-
gest that it is by interacting with our environment that we learn. To these we add the
humanist orientation, which often overlaps with these other orientations. Humanists
consider learning from the perspective of human potential for growth. This orientation
suggests three things: individuals are able to control their own destiny; people are
inherently good and free to act; and behavior is the consequence of human choice.
Individuals hold unlimited potential for growth and development. Therefore, human-
ists do not accept the position that behavior is solely determined by the environment
or by the subconscious. From a humanists perspective, learning is centered in experi-
ence, as well as motivation and capacity for self-determination. This principle is basic
to the concepts underlying self-directed learning, of which adult learning is a critical
162 Learning at Work

Many theories of motivation exist. As you begin reading the ideas of selected
humanist/motivation theorists, draw a picture (yes, use paper and pencil!) of individu-
als on their first day in your classroom or as they begin a new self-directed learning
task. What does your picture tell you about their motivation? Motivation, which is
highly related to learner readiness to learn, determines whether or not someone actu-
ally learns. We can use the work of Abraham Maslow, Douglas McGregor, and Carl
Rogers to help us understand motivation.

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow is perhaps the most renowned of all the humanists. He was an
optimist who suggested that we all crave to be self-actualized, to be all that we can be.
To get to this state of self-actualization, he suggested, we move in stages up a ladder-
like hierarchy. His hierarchy of needs, depicted in Figure 5-4, connects the physio-
logical self with the self-actualized self. This was an extremely novel idea in 1954; he
was perhaps among the first to write about learning as a means to becoming a com-
plete person. According to his hierarchy, our lower-level needs such as food, water,
and air must be satisfied before the next level becomes a motivating element. Thus we
must be safe, feel that we belong, and have a degree of self-esteem before self actuali-
zation becomes possible.
The hierarchy of needs helps us understand why students dont participate in our
classes when the classroom is too warm or too hot, has uncomfortable chairs, or when
the class is held right before lunch. The steps in the model can also help us understand
that learners may be less motivated to learn when the organizational climate is such
that they are anxious about their jobs, have personal problems, or when they feel they
are not a part of the group. An experienced instructor or facilitator makes efforts to
anticipate such things, and makes every attempt to alleviate negative issues by making
the classroom a warm, comfortable, safe, and friendly environment in which individu-
als have an opportunity to learn.
The theory suggests that lower-level needs must be satisfied before the next level
becomes a motivator. This notion of hierarchythat one need level must be satisfied
before another can be reachedcontinues to be studied, because evidence exists that
sometimes individuals do skip motivation levels. That said, we suggest that Maslow
has provided an easily understood and applicable theory to understanding motivation
to learn.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 163

Figure 5-4. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Self-fulfillment, realization
Self- of one's potential, creative
Actualization talent

Esteem or Self-respect, recognition,

Ego/Status needs achievement

"Belonging" needs Friendship, acceptance

Security, protection from

Safety/Security needs harm, freedom from fear
of deprivation

Basic Physiological needs Food, water, air,

shelter, sex

Rogerss Learner-Centered Approach

Carl Rogers in the 1980s applied the notion of client-centered therapy to education.
This dovetails with Maslows concept of self-actualization and self-directed learning14
and fits in with Knowless concept of andragogy. The following principles comprise a
learner-centered approach, according to Carl Rogers:
The learner must be personally involved in the design of the learning activity.
The individual self-initiates the activity.
The learning activity affects the learners subsequent behavior.
The learner evaluates and assesses his/her own learning.
The essence of the learning takes on permanent meaning for the learner.
Both Maslow and Rogers contend that if learning is to be worthwhile in a larger
social context, the humanistic approach should be used. As problem-solvers, adult
learners have learning needs that are best addressed by assuming that they want to
learn and are capable of learning, and that their own self-interest (as well as their
organizations) will determine the outcomes.
164 Learning at Work

McGregors Theory X and Theory Y

In his 1960 work, The Human Side of Enterprise, Douglas McGregor identified two
separate and opposite concepts of human nature. McGregor refers to these terms as
Theory X and Theory Y. At one extreme, Theory X suggests that individuals inher-
ently dislike work and will, if possible, avoid it. Because they dislike work, people
must be forced in some way to perform in order to meet organizational objectives.
These forces include pressures of coercion, control, or threat. Theory X contends that
over a period of time, the average worker has been conditioned to accept rules, and
actually prefers to be directed. He or she wishes to avoid responsibility, has little
ambition, and desires security most of all.
On the other hand, Theory Y suggests that workthe expenditure of physical and
mental effortis as natural as play or rest. And while they may be effective in some
cases, external controls and threats are not the only methods of achieving organiza-
tional objectives. Individuals who are committed to bringing about organizational
goals will exercise self-direction toward those ends without coercion and threats. The
individuals commitment to organizational objectives is a function of the internal
rewards associated with ones achievement and work satisfaction. Therefore, under
proper conditions, Theory Y says people learn not only to accept but to seek out
responsibility. These individuals have a high capacity for imagination, ingenuity, and
creativity in solving organizational problems.
To sum up, Carl Rogerss thinking about learners provides an interesting parallel
to the theories concerning those of workers provided by McGregor. McGregors con-
cerns dealt with assumptions by managers; Rogerss with assumptions by educators.
Paralleling McGregors concept of Theory X from within an educational context,
Rogers believed that much educational practice assumes that students cannot be
trusted to pursue their own learningbased on the prevailing attitude that instructor
presentations of facts equal learning, and the aim of education is for the learner to
accumulate pieces of factual knowledge. Rogers criticized other assumptions that
truth is a known and teachable element; that creative citizens develop from passive
learners; that evaluation equals education; and that education equals evaluation.
Rogers sharply criticized the Theory X approach to management and training, and
used McGregors Theory Y assumptions to suggest that people have a natural poten-
tial for learning and that learning occurs when the subject matter is perceived to be
relevant. He believed that a great deal of learning is acquired through ones own
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 165

activity outside of a traditional classroom, facilitated by participation in the learning

process itself. Table 5-5 illustrates these comparisons.

Figure 5-5. Comparison of Assumptions about Human Nature and Behavior Underlying
Theory X and Theory Y Management Philosophy

Theory X Management Assumptions about Assumptions Implicit in Current Education

Human Nature (according to McGregor) (according to Rogers)

The average human being inherently dislikes work The student cannot be trusted to pursue his own
and will avoid it if he can. learning.
Because of this characteristically human dislike of Presentation equals learning.
work, most people must be coerced, controlled, and The aim of education is to accumulate brick upon
threatened in the interest of organizational objectives. brick of factual knowledge.
The average human being prefers to be directed, The truth is known.
wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little
ambition, and wants security above all. Creative citizens develop from passive learners.
Evaluation is education and education is evaluation.

Theory Y Assumptions Assumptions Related to Significant

about Human Nature Experiential Learning

The expenditure of physical and mental effort is as Human beings have a natural potentiality for learning.
natural as play or rest. Significant learning takes place when the subject
External control and threat of punishment are not the matter is perceived by the student as relevant to his
only means for bringing about effort toward organiza- own purposes.
tional objectives. Man will exercise self-direction and Much significant learning is acquired through doing.
self-control in the service of objectives to which he is
committed. Learning is facilitated by students responsible par-
ticipation in the learning process.
Commitment to objectives is a function of the internal
rewards associated with their achievement. Self-initiated learning involving the whole person
feeling as well as intellectis the most pervasive and
The average human being learns, under proper con- lasting.
ditions, not only to accept but to seek responsibility.
Creativity in learning is best facilitated when self-
A high capacity for imagination, ingenuity, and crea- criticism and self-evaluation are of primary importance
tivity in solving organizational problems is widely, not and evaluation by others is of secondary importance.
narrowly, distributed in the population.
The most socially useful thing to learning in the
Under the conditions of modern industrial life, the modern world is the process of learning, a continuing
intellectual potential of the average human being is openness to experience, an incorporation to oneself
only partially utilized. of the process of change.
166 Learning at Work

Transformational Learning
When was the last time you learned something that shook your world? While such
learning does not happen every day, when it does happen, it is life-changing. Trans-
formational learning often occurs when unforeseen events or new understandings of
an issue change the way concepts or political views were previously considered. Con-
sider what happens when a parent brings home a new baby for the first time. Consider
what happens when one company merges with another. To be considered transforma-
tional learning, an individual questions critical assumptions about what was true,
becoming open to an entirely new way of thinking about something.15 Transforma-
tional learning is a category unto itself here, building on the concepts of andragogy,
experience, reflection, and critical thinking as they relate to adult development.
According to Jack Mezirow, transformation is all about questioning our inner
beliefs. He suggested that transformation goes through some variation of the follow-
ing phases:16
1. A disorienting dilemma
2. Self-examination with feelings of anger, guilt, or shame
3. A critical assessment of assumptions
4. Recognition that ones discontent and the process of transformation are
5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
6. Planning a course of action
7. Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing ones plans
8. Provisional trying of new roles
9. Building competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
10. A reintegration into ones life on the basis of conditions dictated by ones
new perspective
For an experience or learning event to be transformative, it needs to result in pro-
found (re)thinking about the way you view your life or world. Few experiences reach
this level of intensity, but there are times when learning experiences attempt to create
such disquiet. For example, in times of profound organizational change (i.e., when a
need exists to rethink a business model or when global competition causes an entire
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 167

industry to rethink its assumptions about markets and consumer wants and needs),
transformational learning is often required.

For effective learning to take place, it is essential that you understand learning theo-
ries, not merely as buzz words and jargon, but as ideas that can be used to design
learning interventions, predict success, and explain differences between and among
learners and instructional strategies. In this chapter we offered some historical per-
spectives on adult learning, and introduced the concept of andragogy and the founda-
tions of behavioral science that early on helped theorists study the process of learning.
However, more recent understanding about how adults learn in formal learning pro-
grams and through their interactions at work suggests that we need to take a new look
at adult learning in the workplace.
Adults come to learning with a wide range of experiences. The savvy educator
uses those experiences to design instruction. In this chapter, we discussed the Kolb
Learning Cycle, in which reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation are criti-
cal phases in adult learning. Learning style refers to how an individual prefers to
learn. The concept can be understood by considering the degree to which someone
learns through the polar opposites of concrete experience/abstract conceptualization
and active experimentation/reflective observation. Another useful way to understand
learners is through Multiple Intelligence theory, which holds that a set of characteris-
tics other than IQ can predict how individuals best learn. We concluded this section
with an overview of reflective practice, metacognition, critical thinking, and creative
thinkingall part of a toolkit that instructional planners can use to help understand
how our experiences affect our learning.
Two learning theories related to instructional design were discussed: behaviorism
and cognitive science. For a behaviorist, learning occurs when a demonstrated behav-
ior change occurs. The cognitivist suggests that perception, meaning, and insight are
keys to learning, and that learning how to learn occurs through discovery, flashes of
insight, and motivational activities. Social constructivism and social learning orienta-
tions can be used to examine situations where individuals come together to develop
knowledge or understanding with others in their workplace. The humanist looks at
learning from a perspective of human growth potential and stresses the motivational
168 Learning at Work

development of the learner, an individuals needs, and self-direction. We learn by

finding new meanings, either individually (constructivism) or in a group (social
learning). We concluded this chapter with an overview of transformational learning
an adult development theory that relies on foundations of andragogy, experience,
reflection, and critical thinking.
No one theory will fit every instructional experience, due to the complexity of
human nature; the content and the context of the tasks to be learned; and the environ-
ment within which training interventions occur and are to be applied. It is critical that
we be aware of these theories and concepts as we attempt to make the most effective
bridge between instructor and learner. Learning, in its most effective context, can
never be completely identified and isolated. We do know, however, that for effective
learning to occur, you must have congruence between the learner, the content of the
material to be acquired, the environment, and the instructor. An instructional designer
who understands and can apply learning theories can make these parts fit.

Think It Through
1. How might learning styles differ or evolve, from the time individuals are fresh-
men in college to when they graduate and take on a new job?
2. What surprised you as you read about behaviorism, cognitive science, social con-
structivism, social learning, and humanism? Of what value are they to instruc-
tional design?
3. What motivated you to read this book? Analyze your motivation using terms
found in this chapter.
4. A Theory W manager has been described as a Theory X manager masquerading
as a Theory Y manager. Can you offer examples of Theory W behavior in the
workplace or at your school?
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 169

Ideas in Action
1. Using the Kolb Learning Style categories, attempt to identify your own learning
style. Then compare it with what motivates you to learn. Contrast the results in
the foregoing question with those of three or four of your colleagues. What differ-
ences, if any, did you observe?
2. Observe an introductory class in the natural or computer sciences and note the
instructors instructional style. Identify the instructional approach used, and try to
find out why this style was used. Compare this observation with one in a work-
place environment, and note any differences.

Additional Resources
Cranton, P. and A. Knox. 2006. Understanding and Promoting Transformative
Learning: A Guide for Educators of Adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
In this book, Cranton and Knox describe transformative learning and provide
suggestions for creating transformative activities.

Jarvis, P. 2006. Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning. London:

Jarvis suggests that learning theory is interdisciplinary. In this book, he critically
reviews existing theories. A must read for the serious scholar.

Knowles, M. S. 1984. The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Houston, Texas: Gulf.
This is a wonderful text on adult learning, as seen through the eyes of Mr. Adult
Learning himself. An excellent resource for any instructor.

Mackeracher, D. 2004. Making Sense of Adult Learning. Toronto: University of

Toronto Press.
Here, Dorothy Mackeracher provides ideas on how to work with adult learners.
170 Learning at Work

Merriam, S. B., R. S. Caffarella, and L. M. Baumgartner. 2007. Learning in Adult-

hood: A Comprehensive Guide. Third Edition. San Francisco, California: Jossey-
This book is an overview and synthesis of what we know about adult learning,
examining not only the learners but also the context in which learning takes place.

At the time of this writing, TRG Hay/McBer, publishers of the Kolb Learning Style
Inventory, offer you the opportunity to take the Kolb Learning Style Inventory online
for $10: http://trgmcber. learning/lsius.htm

Chapter 5 Notes
1. Maples, M. F., and J. M. Webster. 1980. Thorndikes Connectionism. In G. M. Gazda and R. J.
Corsini (eds.) Theories of Learning. Itasca, Illinois: Peacock.

2. Lee, Chris. The Adult Learner: Neglected No More. Training. March 1998; p. 50.

3. The Kolb Learning Style Inventory 1999. Boston: The Hay Group.

4. Gardner, Howard. 1995. The Unschooled Mind. New York: Basic Books. p. 12.

5. Gardner, Howard. 1993. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (10th Anniversary
Edition). New York: Basic Books.

6. Accessed 6/16/2006.

7. Brookfield, S. 1987. Developing Critical Thinkers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

8. Ibid.

9. Argyris, Chris. 2001. Good communication that blocks learning. In Harvard Business Review on
Organizational Learning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

10. Howell, W. C. and N. J. Cooke. 1989. Training the Human Information Processor: A Review of
Cognitive Models, in I. L. Goldstein and Associates, Training and Development in Organizations.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p. 123.

11. Hergenhahn, B. R. 1988. An Introduction to Theories of Learning. Third edition. Englewood

Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Appreciating Theoretical Perspectives 171

12. Skinner, B. F. 1974. Beyond Freedom and Dignity. New York: Knopf.

13. Anderson, Lorin W. and David R. Krathwohl (eds.). 2001. A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching,
and Assessing, Abridged edition. New York: Longman.

14. Rogers, Carl. 1983. Freedom to Learn for the 80s. Columbus: Merrill. p. 20.

15. Cranton, Patricia and A. Knox. 2006. Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning:
A Guide for Educators of Adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

16. Mezirow, J. and Associates. 2000. Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a

Theory in Process. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p. 22.
Planning for Instruction

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Identify the steps of the instructional design process.
Offer suggestions as to how to manage the instructional design process
Provide suggestions to establish ongoing design evaluation.
Evaluate internally-developed and externally-developed learning solu-
Discuss the importance of a leaders guide and how to go about creating
and using one.

The Task of Instructional Design

To design means to develop something new. Designs have order, purpose, and
utility. That new something can be a poster, a building, or in this case, a pro-
gram that supports learning. Design is both a science and an art. The raw mate-
rial for instructional design is the data derived from a needs assessment. The
final design is a collection of what the individual instructional designer (or
design team) brings to the table in terms of experiences and content knowl-
edge. Given the same set of needs assessment data, it is unlikely that any two
design teams would come up with the same solution. That said, both solutions
might appropriately result in the needed learning.
Design is the second stage of the Instructional Development Cycle. In this
chapter, we offer a step-by-step approach to instructional design that is practi-
cal and easy to follow. The steps begin with an approach to translate needs
assessment data into learning objectives, and then develop strategies to
organize those objectives into modules, units, lessons, and curricula. Along the
way, we discuss organizational issues, constraints, and opportunities relevant
to successful design, as well as the pros and cons of working with external
developers. We conclude the chapter with suggestions on how to create a
leaders guide, an important tool that ensures instructional completeness and
consistency for large-scale learning initiatives.

174 Learning at Work

Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes

The first step in the design process is to group what needs to be learned into logically
connected clusters. Next, decide which clusters should be linked together to form the
goals or outcomes of a particular learning program. Once established, the goals of the
program are then, one by one, separated into more specific learning objectives. Learn-
ing objectives, introduced in a previous chapter, are the specific things that you want
participants to know or be able to do as a result of completing the program. Most pro-
grams have multiple objectives.
The difference between the terms know and able to do is similar to the important
distinction between cognitive and behavioral learning outcomes. In Chapter 1 of this
text, we referred to these types of outcomes as informational and operational learning.
Whatever the terminology used, the outcomes should reflect legitimate organizational
needs. While there are those who argue that learning should concern itself exclusively
with behavioral outcomeswith skills for doingthe reality is that an organization
often needs its people to know things, without necessarily requiring them to put
knowledge into specific behaviors. Moreover, providing a way for people to obtain this
knowledge is frequently seen as an instructional responsibility. Awareness or informa-
tional programs with cognitive outcomes are the result. Such programs can take many
forms and serve many organizational purposes. An example is the organizations need
for employees to understand, know, and be able to articulate its strategic direction.
Another example is the need for managers to be able to identify and assess demographic,
societal, and industry trends. Still another kind of awareness program, often critical to
an organizations success, is a management overview of a particular product and its
potential. The outcome of this last kind of program is precisely one of awareness: a con-
ceptual grasp of the features and power of a product (e.g., a new line of artificially intel-
ligent oil-drilling rigs), as opposed to the ability to apply this awareness.
Organizations may view informational programs as the responsibility of its com-
munication department or, in the case of product knowledge, see these programs as the
marketing departments responsibility. However, many organizations believe informa-
tional programs belong to the learning and performance department. Thus, cognitive
outcomes are often the task of program design. The instructional designer should recog-
nize that learning initiatives offer a great opportunity to contribute to the organizations
operation and bottom line, a chance to add real value. Informational programs can
mobilize peoples energies around a new organizational vision. They can galvanize
Planning for Instruction 175

motivation in the face of an industry challenge. They can ensure understanding of

critical business decisions, and they can orient people to new organizational structures
or institutional policies. Providing programs that deliver these kinds of informa-
tionall cognitive outcomesmakes a significant organizational contribution.
Furthermore, informational programs often provide a big-picture perspective that
can be ultimately more important than developing specific behaviors. Informational
programs may, in fact, provide an absolutely necessary context for behavior, a context
without which the most perfectly sharpened skill is useless. An instructional designer
should expect to deal with cognitive as well as behavioral outcomes.

An Example
Instructional design is a science as well as an art. The designer must take into account
the purpose the organization wants the learning initiative to achieve and apply princi-
ples from learning theory, along with pragmatic considerations such as cost and
organizational sponsorship (the science). The instructional designer provides creative
solutions for learning needs (the art). Suppose an organizations needs assessment
indicates that supervisory staff members need to learn the appropriate policies and
procedures concerning performance management. The designers goal is for supervi-
sors to achieve the following three outcomes in performance management:
1. Supervisors must know the company policy on performance management
(cognitive outcome).
2. Supervisors must follow the company rules and procedures in managing
employee performance, specifically the following (all performance-based or
behavioral outcomes):
a. Set individual performance objectives and measures of success.
b. Monitor performance against objectives, using agreed-upon measures.
c. Coach ongoing performance to ensure alignment with objectives.
d. Communicate the results of performance reviews to employees.
3. Supervisors must be aware of the legal considerations concerning performance
managementpitfalls to avoid, risky language, and so on (another cognitive
More specific learning objectives are then developed from these target outcomes.
176 Learning at Work

The Design Team

In this example, a team from the learning and performance department is assigned to
design a program to address these identified learning needs. The teams first step is to
seek a wide representation of the organization in this design effort. The team believes
this is especially important for this particular program because the outcomes will touch
virtually everyone in the organization. Therefore, they want substantial department
involvement in the design effort; they do not want the program to be the creation of the
learning and performance department alone. Thus, they expand the design team to
include representation from all the major departments and hierarchical levels within the
organization. They also make a point of including non-management personnel who will
be the recipients of the performance appraisal process. Finally, they seek out repre-
sentation from the Human Resources and Legal departments to ensure proper handling
of employee relations and legal technicalities.

From Instructional Goals to Program Modules

The expanded design team studies the findings of the needs assessment, which includes
the three goals previously mentioned. The team makes a preliminary judgment that all
three outcomes can be achieved in an instructional program that will be one to two days
in length. They group the previously identified outcomes for policy and legalities (#1
and #3) into a single awareness module.

The Awareness Module. This module will be about the organizations policy on
performance management, which consists of four points:
1. All employees will receive a formal appraisal of performance at least once a
year, and will sign a written summary of the appraisal discussion as proof that it
took place (the actual appraisal itself can be oral or written, at the managers
2. Managers will involve employees in setting performance goals and in defining
measures of successful goal attainment.
3. A mutually accepted professional development plan (or a mutually signed
explanation of why one is not appropriate) will be one result of every
employees appraisal.
Planning for Instruction 177

4. Part of every managers own performance plan will be improving the way he or
she conducts performance appraisals for employees, as measured by signed
summaries of appraisals filed for all the managers staff members (see A, l),
and by anonymous feedback from appraisal recipients captured through regu-
larly scheduled company-wide climate surveys.
The legalities of dealing with performance appraisal are:
1. Appraising performance against objectives other than those mutually agreed
upon is unfair, and this can put the organization at legal risk.
2. Discriminatory language or practices cannot be used.
The design team determines that the program will open with a module that explains
the details under points A and B above. This will be Module #1 and will serve as a con-
ceptual introduction not only to the subject of performance management, but to the pro-
gram itself. This introduction will present both the policy aspects of performance
appraisal and its legalities as an umbrella set of definitions under which the specific
appraisal skills and practices will fit, coupled with multiple examples as appropriate
(e.g., unacceptable language and ample opportunity for questions and answers). The
introduction will make workers aware of the policy and its legalities, the cognitive
learning that the organization considers necessary for its managers.

A Skills Module. The design team next turns its attention to the requirement that
supervisors learn the actual procedures the company wants followed in managing
employee performance, items (a) through (d) under program goal #2. The team spells
out very specific behaviors necessary for item 2a, then item 2b, and so forththe action
steps a supervisor must actually take to carry out each of the tasks identified in the list.
These actions are specified in the form of terminal behaviorsi.e., what the successful
program participant, who has successfully learned the content, will be able to do at the
termination of the program.
Program goal #2 is Supervisors must follow the company rules and procedures in
managing employee performance. The design team develops more-specific learning
objectives for this program goal. These learning objectives are the items identified as 2a,
2b, 2c, and 2d in the list that follows. The team then defines these learning objectives
still furthercreating for each objective a statement of what supervisors must do if they
are to carry out the organizations policy regarding performance management. These
178 Learning at Work

detailed actions are the terminal behaviors for this module of the training program, and
follow each learning objective below.
2a. Set individual performance objectives and measures of success.
At the end of this program, a supervisor will be able to:
Identify specific performance goals for individual employees that result in
the achievement of assigned job responsibilities.
Identify measurable indicators of success for each goal identified.
Involve staff members in defining of goals and measures.
Establish checkpoints during the planned performance period to review
performance objectives, and redefine them as needed.
2b. Monitor performance against objectives, using agreed-upon measures.
At the end of this program, a supervisor will be able to:
Establish reporting mechanisms and/or project milestones to ensure that
performance is reviewed in a timely and realistic way.
Review interim performance results to ensure that they are on track to
achieve planned objectives.
Apply mutually agreed upon measures in reporting and reviewing these
2c. Coach ongoing performance to ensure alignment with objectives.
At the end of this program, a supervisor will be able to:
Exhibit helping behaviors rather than fault-finding behaviors in reviewing
performance outcomes with employees.
Assist staff members in finding ways around difficulties they are encoun-
tering in achieving desired results, offering perspectives they might not
have thought of or resources they might have overlooked.
Assist staff members in setting/adjusting/sticking to priorities.
Planning for Instruction 179

2d. Communicate performance judgments to employees.

At the end of this program, a supervisor will be able to:
Discuss performance in terms of results and job behaviors, rather than in
personal terms such as motivation or attitude.
Given a situation of a poorly performing employee, present clearly and
directly to that employee that performance results were unacceptable.

The Instructional Design Funnel

The design team in our example has now documented the what of its proposed pro-
gram. The careful listing of program modules, with objectives and terminal outcomes
for each module, creates a complete, clear outline of what the proposed instruction will
cover. This outline serves to document their plans for their own further work in devel-
oping the program and for review by other interested parties. (See the later discussion
concerning reviews by various stakeholders.)
The design team has taken a set of generic learning requirements for supervisors
and turned them into learning objectives for an instructional programterminal
knowledge (awareness gained by the end, or terminus, of the program) and terminal
behaviors (skills acquired by program end). This design process is one of progressive
narrowing, which can be graphically represented as an instructional design funnel, as
shown in Figure 6-1.
180 Learning at Work

Figure 6.1. The Instructional Design Funnel

1. Identify learning requirements with a needs analysis

designed for the target population.

2. Group learning needs into logical clusters of

training outcomes.

3. Develop program goals from clusters

of learning outcomes.

4. Develop learning objectives for each

program goal (cognitive and behavioral).

5. Plan for program delivery.

Planning the How

The first four layers of the design funnel pictured in Figure 6-1 focus on the what of
instruction: (1) determining what it is that program participants need to learn; (2) clus-
tering these needs into logical groupings; (3) translating them into program goals; and
(4) then turning them into learning objectives that can be used by the design team to
develop appropriate program activities and materials. Only when the design team has a
clear picture of the programs what does the team shift its attention to the how phase and
begin to plan the ways in which the program will present material to its participants so
they will learn the required content.
A cautionary word is in order here. We often move too quickly into the fifth layer of
the design funnel, the how, which is to focus on planning program delivery. For many
instructors, this is the most exciting part of the design process. This is perfectly under-
standable, since program delivery is where the instructor meets the learnerprecisely
the interaction that most workplace learning professionals like best. Moreover, program
delivery is concrete, familiar work with tangible outcomes, which are additional
reasons for its appeal. It is important, however, to make sure that the content of an
instructional program receives due attention in the design process.
Planning for Instruction 181

The Design Worksheet

At Step 5, design teams typically use a worksheet something like the one in Figure 6-2.
The purpose of the design worksheet is to plan in complete detail how to deliver instruc-
tion so that participants will learn what is needed for the successful attainment of a
particular learning objective. The team creates a separate worksheet for each goal of the
program, clustering these worksheets into modules or program sections. Recall that in
the program structure assumed here, each module of the program contains one or more
program goals, and each program goal is broken down into one or more terminal objec-
tives. It is at the level of these last items, the learning objectives, where you use the
design worksheet to outline specific program activities.

Figure 6-2. The Instructional Design Worksheet

Program name: ______________________________________ Worksheet date: _________________

Module #: ___________________________________________ Module name: ___________________
Program goal #: _______________________________________________________________________
(statement of goal, cognitive or behavioral)

Training Activity Timing Materials Costs Who


1 What will be done in the Length of time planned Whatever materials are The parts played by
program to make sure for this activity necessary for this each actor in the
participants acquire this activity (a film, flip- program (the role of the
piece of knowledge or charts, handouts, game instructor, the partici-
this behavior (e.g., material, etc.) pants, guests, etc.)
instructor lecture,
showing and debriefing Costs of developing
a video clip, group work, the materials needed
quiet time, role play with for this activity
group feedback, etc.)

TOTALS Total time estimated Hours/minutes Total cost estimate:

for this module $
182 Learning at Work

The major design focus at this point is on the items in the activity column on the
design worksheet. The work involved here is on the creative side of this process. Here is
where instructional designers bring their science and art to beardevising ways for
people to learn what they are supposed to learn, and learn it faster, easier, better, and
with greater retention than if they were merely left to their own devices. This is where
the techniques and tricks of training are employed. Here is where the decisions are
made to use live or mediated (self-paced) instruction or some other form of self-study,
and whether or not to include pre-work. Here is where the choices are made concerning
the use of instructional tools such as feedback instruments, games, role plays, or video
to deliver information or for skill-practice.

Design Challenges
The challenge of instructional design is heightened here because the design team has to
create materials that will be used by others. This makes thoroughness a necessity. You
must spell out every step and every nuance for each step. Experienced instructors can
sum up a great deal in personal teaching notes using a single word or phrase. However,
when others need to use the materials, the design team has to create and describe activi-
ties for each learning objective using a lot of detail. The team must always remember
that others will be delivering the material. The designers themselves might decide to
teach the pilot offering of the program and leave the final fine-tuning until the pilot is
completed, but they will eventually have to be exhaustively explicit about every single
instructional step, and incorporate all these details in a leaders guide. The process of
creating a leaders guide will be described later in this chapter.
A major responsibility is, of course, to see to it that the activities designed into a
program are consistent with solid instructional design principles and adult learning
theory. There must be variety in the activities, with more emphasis on interaction and
group work than on readings or lecture. The design should draw on the experience and
pre-existing knowledge of the learners. The program must accommodate individual dif-
ferences, while at the same time clearly convey the messages that the organization
wants people to hear and learn consistently. The program must reflect awareness that
adults are motivated to learn by pragmatic need, rather than by the theoretical value of
the material presented to them. The organization and its culture must always be the
backdrop for the methods and activities that the program includes.
Planning for Instruction 183

Above all, designers must work with one eye always on the goal of the program:
participant learning, above all else. The goal is not to create elegant materials or a clever
design. It is, again, that our targeted group learns. At the same time, they should design
programs that can be suspended when the required learning has taken place. A pro-
grams activities, its instruction, and its very design are all totally geared to participant
learning. When the learning has taken place, the astute professional gets out of the way.
Good design keeps in mind that the program is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Program Development
One way to organize programs into manageable segments is to develop small,
self-contained modules that can easily be rearranged. Modules are rolled up and com-
bined into units, and units are rolled up and combined into larger periods of instruction.
However, nothing is sacred about the terminology used here; a variety of words and
outlining approaches can be and are used by instructional designers to compartmental-
ize their programsunit, section, segment, component, module, etc. In the academic
realm, the equivalents are syllabus, unit, module, topic, and lesson. The program, hav-
ing been framed overall in terms of content, must now be segmented so that the design
team and ultimately the participants can focus on deliverable/learnable pieces of the
content, one piece at a time. The practice we suggest is to divide programs into days,
days into units, and units into modules. Modules are the smallest, basic divisions of a
learning program. Each module delivers one or several learning objectivescognitive
or behavioral. It is, of course, possible to omit the unit level and just have a number of
modules per day, in which case the modules would be numbered 1 through n (n
represents an unknown number; in this case, it is the total number of modules) for each
day, or 1 through n for the entire program. Whatever the decision as to levels of organi-
zation and terminology, one design worksheet per program goal builds the program
from the bottom up.
Programs can be linked together to form a curriculum or series of courses that lead
as a whole to some larger, overall objective. Curricula are perhaps most often estab-
lished for management development, where the organization has an interest not only in
outcomes that can be delivered via individual programs, but also in a planned progres-
sion of programs spread over time. A leadership development curriculum, for example,
is often a sequence of learning events that intersperses traditional classroom programs
184 Learning at Work

with developmental job rotations, university courses, etc. Other subject matter also
lends itself to being organized into curricula, depending upon the organization and its
interests. A good example of a curricular approach is the approach used by corporate
universities, which develop extensive curricula based on the organizations belief in the
benefits of an integrated, long-term response to its learning needs.

Stakeholders and Sponsorship

The design worksheets should be shared across the whole design team and with others.
The worksheet is a perfect tool for obtaining reviews from colleagues. It is also a good
tool for getting feedback from various stakeholders in the organization concerning what
the program is aiming at and how it is going about achieving that objective. Very often,
particularly in the development of mission-critical management initiatives, a learning
design team will set up some sort of formal sponsorship, often taking the form of a
board of reviewers who provide input into the program content and evaluation plan, cri-
tique its proposed processes and materials, help select participants for its offerings, and
evaluate the program at the pilot stage and thereafter. Sponsors can also play a role in
the actual delivery of the program, kicking it off with an opening talk, teaching one or
more of its modules, or hosting a reception or dinner as part of the agenda. In general,
sponsors help establish the programs validity for and credibility with its intended tar-
get population. Sponsors are almost always valuable resources that a design team
should use.
The design team and other stakeholders must ultimately review and accept the
program as a whole. An ideal vehicle for this review is a module-by-module outline of
the program mapped into the time frame the design team recommends. That is, once all
learning objectives have been covered and the worksheets have been completed, each
module is allocated a time slot in the program. The scheduling process is ongoing, so
that the time required for the various instructional activities can fit into the total time
available for the program. The ideal, of course, would be to design the activities and let
the time requirements be simply a function of the design, but in the real world of
instruction, this is not usually possible. There is almost always a requirement that the
program take only X amount of time, a constraint the design team must accommodate.
Planning for Instruction 185

In any case, the design team produces an overall module-by-module outline of the
program in the time allocated to it. Module worksheets should be attached for support-
ing details, with break times also included in the outline. The final result is the ultimate
review and sign-off document, the full statement of what the program in question will
deliver: what its topics are, what its participants will learn, what the instructional
materials will be, and how the delivery of that material will be accomplished. A pro-
gram outline for a corporate new-hire orientation program is provided as a sample in
Figure 6-3.

Program Costs
The worksheet shown in Figure 6-2 includes a cost estimate for developing materials
for each activity. Development costs are totaled at the end of each worksheet. Such esti-
mates are important, because there is usually a dollar limit at work in the design process.
While design should ideally dictate the programs budget, the reality is that the reverse
usually occursbudgetary limits are often set first. The total cost of developing the
program is a major factor in its design; many designs are returned to the team for
rework because a budget has not been submitted for the program.
The design team must also give consideration to the cost of rolling the program out
once it is designed. The costs of developing a program are not limited to design factors
such as the cost of making the master of a film or creating a workbook or a set of
handouts. There are also implementation costs: expenses related to making participant
copies of master documents, the purchase of consumables the program requires, and so
on. Implementation costs must be factored into the design teams choices of materials
and activities, and must be included in its estimates. Whether the design team begins
with an up-front budgetary limit or is given a free hand to propose a program and accept
its associated costs, the budget for development and rollout must be approved before
the design team can proceed any further. A major cost consideration is whether the
development work will be done in-house or outsourced to outside contract resources.
We will discuss internal vs. external development in a later section.
186 Learning at Work

Figure 6-3. Sample Outline for a Corporate Orientation Program

Program: New-Hire Orientation (one day, no units, module details attached).

Start: 8:30 a.m. (coffee available at 8:00 a.m.) Minutes
Module 1: Ice Breaker and introductions 30
Module 2: From Today to 2020 The Company Vision 30
(Guest Lecture Management Committee Member)
Group Exercise Implications of Vision/Values 60
(Facilitator-led, group reports/drawings)
Out: 10:30 a.m.
Back: 10:45 a.m.
Module 3: How We Make Our Money 45
(Guest Lecture Business Development Group)
Business Simulation (whole-class exercise);
Tracing a customer purchase through the company
What We Look Like This Morning
Facilitator Lecturette on organization at the
Corporate level and major staff resources
Out: 12:45 p.m.
Back: 2:00 p.m.
Module 4: Where We Came From (Video, company history) 30
Module 5: Where We Are and Where Were Going
Current major business Initiatives: Teams of
program participants interview visitors representing
each initiative and prepare team presentation to
whole class. Visitors present for questions
(activity includes break time)
Module 6: Company Jeopardy (Facilitator-led game as
review of the day)
End: 5:00 p.m.
Planning for Instruction 187

Instructional Materials
The program reviews have been received, the original plans have been modified to the
satisfaction of the design team and its reviewers/sponsors, and the budget has been
approved. Now work can start on the development of activity materials. This is often
started earlier, but it is better to wait until the team is certain about the final form of the
program and the budget.
The design worksheet in Figure 6-2 provides the planning guide for the materials
needed for program activities. The next step is to actually create these materials, which
can range from the simple to the complex, from the everyday to the unusual. Lectures,
games, a vast array of group activities, individual work, simple reading, case studies
both paper and electronic versionsand computer-based and simulation materials are
examples of program activities that support learning. Delivery strategies are limited
only by the imagination of the designers and such constraints as cost and time. The only
other proviso is that participant learning must be the most important consideration of
There are many good off-the-shelf instructional materials. Two magazines, T+D
(the national publication from ASTD) and Training (Lakewood Publications), are filled
issue after issue with ideas for a wide variety of instructional materials and approaches.
In their articles, regular features, and advertisements, both magazines offer suggestions,
samples, experiences (successful and not), and sources for materials. In addition, sev-
eral annual publications specialize in instructional materials. Among them are The
Training and Development Yearbook, edited by Carolyn Nilson and published by
Prentice Hall; Annual: Developing Human Resources, edited by J. William Pfeiffer and
published by Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer; and Games Trainers Play, by William Scannell.
These particular resources have been published for several years now, and are filled
with games, exercises, and ideas to use, as well as articles discussing trends in the field
and experiences with various kinds of materials.

Internal vs. External Development

A learning and performance department can outsource or hire people to help with its
workload, especially when time or cost is an issue. Consulting costs will vary,
depending upon locale, type of assignment, subject matter, level of the contractors
experience, length of the consulting relationship, frequency of involvement, and other
188 Learning at Work

factors. At the time of this books publication, consultant costs in New York City range
from $1,000 to $1,500 per day for program delivery, and somewhat less for simple
design consulting.
Consulting help can also be purchased at a fixed price for a stipulated product,
rather than for a daily rate. In New York City, hiring a consulting firm to develop a
three-day management learning program from initial design through delivery of a pilot
offering, complete with a leaders guide and other materials (with the program then
belonging totally to the client), will run in the neighborhood of $180,000 for a generic
classroom program and $300,000 for a fully customized classroom program. The cost
of other forms of instruction varies. The generic estimate for creating a video or a movie
is $3,000 per finished minute for a professional-level, commercial-quality instructional
film. Internet- based learning programs can cost $24,000 to $36,000 to develop an hour
of instruction, with all the necessary support and ancillary materials included.
Computer and Internet-mediated instruction is increasingly being created and used.
Multimedia-based modules, which can employ sound, moving and interactive graphics,
and/or video modules, can be delivered to learners desktops, laptops, notebooks, iPods,
and even their cell phones. Cost estimates for state-of-the-art multimedia programs
typically run around the $60,000 mark for each finished hour, again including all
appropriate support materials.

External Design
Money is not the only and perhaps not the most important consideration when it comes
to deciding on either in-house or outsourced consulting resources. Consider these
Desirability of the task. For some people, design is often the most creative and
exciting part of their work; some people even consider design as having a
higher status than other learning development tasks. Thus, it might be wise to
keep design in-house; if there are unexpected resource shortages, you can
always outsource some of the learning and performance departments delivery
responsibilities instead.
Credibility. An outside consultant might add to your understanding about what
other organizations are doing in similar situations and offer services that are
creative and respected. This perception of outside consultants is not always
Planning for Instruction 189

correct, but it is no less real for the learners and can be used to good advantage
when people pay attention and learn. On the other hand, there are times when
only an insider will do. A program on the organizations strategic direction
should not be taught by an outsider, however, no matter how gifted or experi-
Skill. It is entirely possible that the learning and performance departments own
staff members wont have the experience or knowledge to handle the design
task. Consulting assistance is absolutely necessary here. A team approach, with
insiders learning from outsiders, provides win-win possibilities.
Time. It is entirely possible that you will need a program right away. Then
outside help is imperative, particularly if the outside contractor already has a
program on the shelf that fills the learning need being targeted, even partially.

Evaluation in Instructional Design

Evaluation is discussed elsewhere in great detail. However, for emphasis here, consider
the following two points about evaluating design:
1. One kind of evaluation examines the learning outcomes during the program
design phase. Designers must take the time during the design process to ask
themselves over and over, for each objective, How will we know this par-
ticular outcome has been achieved? Sometimes, design teams even add this
question as another column on the design worksheet pictured in Figure 6-2.
2. The second kind of evaluation concerns the quality of the design itself. Instruc-
tional design covers the activities planned to deliver the learning objectives: the
sequence, the instructional logic, the materials developed for use in the pro-
gram, and the instructions for their use. These components of design must be
evaluated repeatedly in the design process itself to make sure they serve the
required learning objectives and meet the criteria of good instruction in general
and adult learning principles in particular.
The design team itself must constantly evaluate its own work as it proceeds through
the design process, but it is important that others assess the design outcomes on these
dimensions, too. These individuals can be department colleagues, sponsors, and clients
of the program(s) being developed, and particularly potential participants. It is impor-
190 Learning at Work

tant to involve others in the evaluative process because they will provide fresh and
different perspectives.
A very productive way to involve key stakeholders in evaluating the design is to
test the materials in a pilot offering of the program. Both of these strategies involve get-
ting what has been designed conceptually or in draft form into usable shape, and then
actually delivering it to an audience. The resultant reactions are factored back into the
design process. Pilot offerings in particular are powerful ways for the design team to
test its ideas in a simulation of the real world. And pilot offerings need not necessarily
wait until the program is 100 percent complete, either: Pieces of the program (i.e., a par-
ticular module or a specific exercise or a new feedback instrument) can be tested with
sample participants throughout the design path. Pilots are especially important if there
are differing audiences to whom the program must be delivered, such as participants at
very different levels within the organization, or people from different geographies or
The most important principle in evaluation is this: It must be planned up-front. It
cannot be left to last, treated as an afterthought and left until the program activities have
been identified and the materials have been developed. Earlier chapters dealt with
evaluation methods and strategies, and that material will obviously not be repeated here.
What does bear repeating is that the overriding goal of evaluation itself has to be
front-and-center: Does the program help its participants learn what the organization
needs them to learn? Do they apply what they have learned at their work? These are the
essential questions that the design team must have answered if they are to be sure the
learning objectives have been achieved. The answers to these questions will drive the
instructional activities, methods, and materials the team develops in the body of its
design work. Thus, evaluation cannot be left to the end of the project. It must be consid-
ered at every stage in the design process.

The Leaders Guide

A leaders guide is critical to the design of a program where content will be delivered
wholly or in part through live, classroom-oriented instruction (Chapter 7). A leaders
guide might be the same thing as an instructor/facilitator/trainer guide, a teaching out-
line (as distinct from a content outline), a teaching manual, or a lesson plan. What you
call yours is not so important; we use the term leaders guide here, but the point is that
Planning for Instruction 191

it is a major design task. The leaders guide is the ultimate how-to instructional manual:
It tells the instructor how to use the programs activities and materials to enable the
participants to achieve the programs objectives. It is much more than a mere content
outline or list of the points to be covered in the program. Such a guide provides detailed
instructions on how to deliver the program content, what to say, when to say it, how to
say it, and how to make transitions from module to module. It is not a script. It is, rather,
a statement of all the talking points the instructor is expected to make; it states what
must be said, while allowing the instructor to put it into his or her own words.
The two goals underlying the development of a leaders guide are to ensure con-
sistency of content throughout the program and provide delivery assistance to the
instructors. Sometimes the organization needs consistency of message; a leaders guide
can thus be a way to control delivery, where little or no deviation from the guide is
allowable. More frequently, a leaders guide gives the instructor a running start,
eliminating the need to do program preparation from scratch, since it provides the bulk
of what needs to be said. Good examples are usually found for corporate programs
where the same content must be delivered all across its reach, or where vendors certify
instructors in its customer companies or on the open market.
A guide for the instructor or facilitator should be the design teams final effort. It is
often done in progressive stages of draft versions, each version approximating the final
product and fully completed only when the results of program pilot(s), if any, are
considered. A practical way of getting the leaders guide written involves the use of out-
side consulting resources. Members of the design team can teach the pilot activities and
hire a consultant to observe the pilot and use the detailed program outlines and design
worksheets to document what the design team instructors did and said. The consultant
then uses these documented observations and supplied materials to produce the leaders
When you have purchased an existing external program or have an outside con-
sultant design a new program, the learning and performance department should be
given detailed content outlines and a leaders guide. Use a detailed content outline to
see what a program will deliver so you can make reasonable judgments as to the pro-
grams fit with what is organizationally needed. A leaders guide will specify not only
what will be delivered, but how the delivery will be achieved. This information will
help you make reasonable judgments concerning the content, quality, methods, and
schedule of a program being considered for purchase.
192 Learning at Work

Use good judgment regarding the what and the how of a program. Demand to see
both. Consultants and vendors will sometimes balk at this, especially if you request a
copy of their version of a leaders guide. Fear that ones intellectual property rights will
be infringed upon are part of such resistance, but there are contractual ways to protect
such rights. Nondisclosure agreements are a standard feature of research-to-purchase
agreements. In some cases, there is no true leaders guide because it is an enormously
demanding task to produce one. However, you should insist on a leaders guide as well
as a content outline. One of the reasons a consultant instructor commands a larger daily
fee than a standard consultant is that the instructor must spend time getting ready to
teach. A leaders guide or instructor handbook is essentially the documentation of that
preparation, and it ought to be available for review (with the proper professional and
legal safeguards). When self-paced instructional materials are to be used outside the
classroom (see Chapter 8), you will need learner facilitation guidelines. If you plan to
use such solutions, be sure that the support materials are used, and plan to incorporate
feedback about their value into the total package.

The process of designing a learning intervention begins with the needs assessment that
details what it is that people in the organization need to learn. These learning needs are
grouped into logical clusters, which then become the planned outcomes of programs to
be created: cognitive skills (knowing content) or behavioral skills (knowing how to do
something). Program design, typically done by a team of people, is where you pro-
gressively narrow the needed content down to specific goals that can be defined as ter-
minal learning objectives, and delivered in the modules of a program.
Module by module, the design team plans the activities that will enable program
participants to achieve the learning objectives for that module. The modules are then
aggregated to form the program as a whole. One of the key challenges for the design
team is to create instructional materials for use by others, not simply for themselves. An
important design activity is to have the program plans reviewed by people outside the
design team, key stakeholders who bring differing perspectives to the design work and
help ensure its applicability across organizational boundaries.
Pilot offerings of the program also test its usefulness to learners, all the more so if
pilot participants are a representative sample of the programs target audience. Program
Planning for Instruction 193

costs for design and rollout are important factors that must be considered by the design
team, but the decision to either develop the program internally or hire an external
consultant to do it will also have to be based on such factors as credibility, time, skill,
and task status.
Evaluation in the design phase of the Instructional Development Cycle focuses (a)
on whether or not and how well the identified learning outcomes have been achieved,
and (b) on the extent to which the program materials reflect sound instructional practice
and the principles of adult learning. The final product of the design effort for a program
of live instruction is a leaders guide, a formidable but essential element.

Think It Through
1. Why can the design process discussed in this chapter be characterized as one of
progressive narrowing? Read the short case study about The Imago 1024 that
followsIdeas in Action. Answer this question with regard to the case: What
learning initiatives do you think the Eidekon Corporation will need to create in
this case? Answer in terms of modules.
2. Explain the meaning of cognitive skills and of behavioral skills. What are three
key differences between them as learning outcomes? Which type of skill do
you think is easier to prepare for? Why?
3. What are some of the advantages of having the design of a program reviewed
by people outside the design team? Who are some of the typical stakeholders in
an organization that is sponsoring a learning initiative?
4. What kinds of costs must an instructional design team consider? What are some
of the key factors that go into these costs?
194 Learning at Work

Ideas in Action
1. A blank copy of the instructional design worksheet in Figure 6-2 can be found
at the end of this chapter. Use all the columns to:
a. Plan the program activities for one of the modules required for Eidekon
Corporations Imago 1024.
b. Plan the activities for a real-life program at your place of work.
2. Repeat action la or lb in teams of four to five classmates, all working together.
3. Prepare whatever notes you need for a four-minute lecture about any topic you
chooseyour favorite sport or time of year, the best vacation youve ever
taken, the best/worst teacher you ever had in school, etc. Do not give the talk;
just prepare it. Then create a leaders guide for the talk you have just prepared
that includes whatever notes and materials you think someone else would need
in order to present your exact same four-minute talk. Test your leaders guide:
Pair up with a classmate, give your partner your leaders guide, and see if he or
she can, in fact, give your talk from your leaders guide. Your partners
experience in using your materials should rule here. Report the results of this
exercise to the class.
4. Contact a working instructor in an organization and explore that organizations
use of leaders guides. Discuss how they are produced and how they are used.
Ask to see a sample.
5. Contact a vendor who certifies instructors in its programs, and explore the
materials used for certification. Explore with the vendor how important it is for
them to manage or control what instructors do with their material in a class-
room. What kind of programs might call for the same kind of manage-
ment/control of instruction inside a company?
Planning for Instruction 195

Make a Decision
Case Study

The Eidekon Corporation manufactures and sells office copying equipment to the
business marketplace, and is about to introduce a new model copier, the Imago
1024, to market. Eidekons product development department notified the learning
and performance department of the imminent release of the new copier, and the
learning and performance department people immediately conferred with the com-
panys sales representatives about what they wanted in the 1024. While the new
model is not totally dissimilar to other models in the company line, there is a clear
need on the part of the sales reps to learn everything about the 1024. Consultation
with sales management and the product development staff (two kinds of relevant
subject matter experts here) has made it clear that the sales reps need detailed
knowledge of the functions, features, and benefits of this new product. (a) They
must be able to identify customer needs and explain the 1024s features and
benefits verbally as solutions to identified needs. (b) They must put together a
presentation of the family of products into which the 1024 fits (an important con-
textual consideration for customers, and an important step in differentiating it from
other Eidekon models). (c) They must be able to demo the product completely and
flawlessly. (d) Finally, because Eidekon is a small company and has a tradition of
its salespeople providing customers with after-sales support, the sales reps must
also be able to install the 1024, educate customer personnel in its operation,
troubleshoot problems after installation, and make sure customers know how to
acquire and deal with the consumable supplies that the 1024 requirestoner, ink,
paper, etc.
Needs analysis data have also surfaced a need for supervisory training of the
managers of the sales reps. These managers need a functional overview of the
1024not the detailed knowledge necessary to operate and troubleshoot, but
sufficient knowledge to allow them to discuss the copier intelligently with poten-
tial customers and guide and manage their sales reps in marketing it. The instruc-
tional design task is now yours! You can use Figure 6-4 to create your learning
196 Learning at Work

Figure 6-4. The Instructional Design Worksheet

Program name: ______________________________________ Worksheet date: _________________

Module #: ___________________________________________ Module name: ___________________
Program goal #: _______________________________________________________________________
(statement of goal, cognitive or behavioral)

Training Activity Timing Material Costs Who


TOTALS Total time estimated Hours/minutes Total cost estimate:

for this module $
Planning for Instruction 197

Additional Resources
Eitington, Julius E. 2002. The Winning Trainer. 4th edition. Boston: Butterworth-
A wide-ranging, easy-to-use collection of training delivery techniques and materi-
als. This paperback handbook provides a wide array of hands-on illustrations and
handouts for instructional use.

Furjanic, Sheila W., and Laurie A. Trotman. 2000. Turning Training into Learning:
How to Design and Deliver Programs That Get Results. New York: American
Management Association.
An easy-to-read handbook that focuses on learning as well as on instructional
methods and practices. Chapter 2, Designing Learner-Based Training, is espe-
cially helpful.

Romiszowski, A. J. 1984. Designing Instructional Systems: Decision Making in Course

Planning and Curriculum Design. New York: Nichols Publishing Co.
This classic book describes the major areas of decision making that face the instruc-
tional designer. The author describes the design process as a heuristic, dynamic
problem-solving process.

Silberman, Mel. 1990. Active Training: A Handbook of Techniques, Design, Case

Examples, and Tips. San Diego: Lexington Books/University Associates, Inc.
Case examples make this book a useful resource for instructional designers. Its
emphasis is on why training professionals make specific design choices.
198 Learning at Work

Web sites
As the home page of the American Society for Training and Development, the site
includes a detailed listing of member services, as well as links to a multitude of
This homepage of Lakewood Publications lists and describes the services and
products Lakewood provides. If you cant find it here, it probably doesnt exist.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Examine the contributions of teachers who have made a difference.
Describe instructional techniques that work for large groups.
Discuss instructional techniques that work for small groups.
Describe a variety of technologies that can support synchronous distance
Discuss situations where distance learning is desirable.
Present guidelines for developing instructional materials and learning aids.
Summarize the considerations involved in managing live instruction.

The Teacher in a Classroom

A teacher in a classroom with a group of students is the picture most of us con-
jure up when we hear the word instruction. Teachers with students are a part
of human history, a constant in our universal collective consciousness. From
the sensei in snowbound Himalayan monasteries and the griots of storytelling
cultures to the academies of ancient Greece and Rome and the books and
movies of our own time, it is the teacher who makes a chief difference in
peoples lives. The list of teachers from the movies includes Robert Donat in
Goodbye Mr. Chips, Glen Ford in Blackboard Jungle, Sandy Duncan in Up the
Down Staircase, Sidney Poitier in To Sir with Love, John Voight in The Water
is Wide, Robin Williams in The Dead Poets Society, and Richard Dreyfuss in
Mr. Hollands Opus. Memorable or forgettable, help or hindrance, a teacher in
a classroom is the chief means of instruction for most of us, from kindergarten
through graduate school, and there is usually one who stands out above all
others. Live instruction is still the most frequently used form of instruction in
the support of adult learning.
In this chapter, we describe a wide range of instructional methods you can
use to enable learning in your classroom. Well explore distance learning
options that can support live instruction and describe instructional materials

200 Learning at Work

and aids that can be used effectively. This section will cover the use of a leaders guide
and conclude with suggestions for managing live instruction.

Whole Group Methods

In many programs, the instructor works with the program participants as a whole. The
methods for doing so involve fundamentally using lectures and discovery learning tech-
niques. For a given learning goal, these two strategies can be used individually or in
concert. Lets look at each strategy in turn.

The Lecture Method

Traditionally, the lecture has been the primary method of classroom instruction; it is a
very efficient way to present a great deal of information to large groups. Lectures lever-
age the expertise of the teacher so that others can share in it and make good use of the
teachers time. Lectures enable the teacher to be in control and accomplish what is
planned for a specific class.
Some educators, however, argue that the lecture should be used only sparingly. If
You Must Lecture is the title of Julius Eitingtons chapter on the lecture method,
and he is not enthusiastic about its use.1 Problem- laden, he calls it, and he is not
alone in this assessment. It is primarily instructor-centered, not learner-centered. Long
stretches of uninterrupted instructor talk, with nothing else going on, is usually a recipe
for poor learning.

When a Lecture Is Appropriate. Given these cautionary remarks, there are many
situations where a lecture, delivered by a knowledgeable instructor, is clearly the best
delivery method. A lecture is particularly useful when the learning goal is informational;
it is an efficient way to present information about a topic that learners need to hear, see,
and have the opportunity to ask questions about. The lecture format can be used
effectively in situations ranging from an announcement that the organization is opening
a new branch office in Milan to a description of an organizations policy concerning a
new tuition-reimbursement benefits program.
Also appropriate for lecture are those points in a program where something needs to
be explained more fully. In a workshop on writing skills, for example, a short lecture on
how to avoid overuse of the passive voice might be a good way to introduce exercises in
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 201

active/passive sentence construction. Sometimes a procedure to be followed in the next

segment of the program needs to be fully explained. In this case, the instructor might
say the following:
Your group will be responsible for developing a list of appropriate activities to
solve the case. Keep in mind that teamwork is vital to your success here, so use
the nominal group technique to ensure that everyones ideas are included. To
use the nominal group technique, youll first
Such lecturettes (brief presentations of 2 to 10 minutes) provide information that
other program activities process, reinforce, exemplify, and expand upon. If the pro-
grams design calls for interactive, planned activities (e.g. a game or a role play), do not
underestimate the importance of properly setting up these activities. The cleverest, best-
designed exercise will flop if its participants do not understand what they are to do. The
lecturette that introduces and explains the activity is crucial to this understanding, even
though it is short. Directions and explanations are a critical instructional responsibility.

Using the Lecture Method Effectively. In developing a lecture, keep a few major
points in mind. First, anticipate your listeners and the relevance of the content to them,
as well as their learning styles and motivation. Try to identify essential knowledge or
skill outcomes that you can measure.
Second, pay attention to preparation. A structured outline of the major points you
wish to cover, illustrations, and time segments will be critical. It is often useful to have
visual aids in the form of overhead transparencies or PowerPoint slides (see discussion
later in this chapter). Learner copies of the slides distributed at the time of presentation
also aids in their note-taking.
Third, plan the execution or delivery of the lecture. An important aspect of lectur-
ing is encouraging and handling questions from the program participants. Anticipate
and welcome questions. A lecture should not be a situation in which the speaker is
active and the listeners are passive. Active participation from the listeners is a way of
clarifying and expanding on points the speaker has made, as well as a way of enabling
the participants to tap into their own knowledge and experiences. The smart lecturer
happily handles questions well. Questions that are received gratefully can be an occa-
sion for wider learning; questions that are dismissed or put down suggest that the
speakers point of view is the only one that counts.
202 Learning at Work

Questions and the responses to them early in a program will set the tone for the rest
of the instruction: shared inquiry and curiosity and a penalty-free opportunity to learn
from mistakes. Instructors must always be aware that the way a question is handled is as
important as the answer because it is a message that will be heard and heeded by the
questioner, as well as by all who are listening. Experienced lecturers suggest these
practical techniques for handling questions:2
Listen to the learner and be sure you completely understand the question.
Maintain eye contact. Wait a second or two before you respond to be sure that
the participant has stopped speaking.
Vary your reactions. Rephrase the question in your own words; ask for clari-
fication, expansion, or examples; expand on what the participant has said;
acknowledge the contribution (but also ask for another view) or nod or look
interested, but remain silent.
Whatever its length or purpose, a lecture should engage its listeners as much as pos-
sible. Put variety and vitality into the verbal presentation by effectively using tone,
volume, pitch, pace, phrasing, and repetition. Pause frequently for questions. Have
participants write summaries and create lists. Break for small-group work. Stage a
debate to engage learners.
A lecturer in a classroom should present information visually, as well as through
words. Flipcharts, overhead transparencies, and computer-generated presentations are
common forms of visual aids. For the most part, such tools are readily available, inex-
pensive, straightforward, and capable of adding an important dimension to a verbal
presentation. The lecturers goal is to get the ideas into the learners heads, rather than
to simply present prepared materials. Make the presentation attractive and memorable,
and pay attention to length. A wise, seasoned speech teacher put it this way:
When you think about the length of your speech, plan to leave them hungry.
You dont want them to stop listening before you stop talking. Above all, you
want them wishing you hadnt stopped, rather than wishing you would!3
The final point we wish to make about lecturing is to conduct a follow-up evalua-
tion of your lecture. A video recording of your performance can provide handsome
dividends as you reflect on your presentation. You can also use peer reviews and feed-
back from participant reaction forms to improve your presentations.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 203

Discovery Methods
Another approach to dealing with a class of students as a whole is to use the discovery
method, which helps participants find things out for themselves or discover the content
they are to learn. Note that the concept of discovery is consistent with adult learning
theory. Through questions, cases, and other activities, the instructor draws on the
knowledge and experience of the participants, relying on their judgment and involving
them not merely as recipients of instruction, but also as generators of it. Unfortunately,
discovery methods have the disadvantage of taking longer to get to the point than does a
straight lecture. Moreover, discovery works well only when the participants have
reasonable levels of knowledge and experience to draw upon.
We will briefly explain three variations of the discovery methods: the Socratic
method, the case study, and the informational treasure hunt, and will offer suggestions
for their effective use.

The Socratic Method

Socrates, a philosopherteacher in ancient Greece, made a practice of presenting
information to his students by asking them questions rather than telling them what he
wanted them to hear. The process drew from them collectively the points they were to
learn, an approach that came to be called the Socratic method. This method is not to be
confused with open or unstructured discussion in which learners control the direction of
a discussion. In open discussion, participants digress (legitimately) into topics the
instructor did not predict or perhaps even want. The Socratic method, on the other hand,
is a tool the instructor consciously uses to lead learners to a particular answer through
an established line of reasoning. The leading is accomplished through astute ques-

The Case Study

The case study, common in professional schools and management training, provides a
forum for a discussion of complex issues. Participants read a case or story in which
real-world elements and the learning points to be acquired are contained. The reading of
the case is often augmented by an assignment to outline the case or prepare written
answers to a set of preplanned questions. Through class discussion, a class of experi-
204 Learning at Work

enced professionals can develop solutions that are far different from what the instructor
expects or has heard before. As a result, the instructor usually joins in the learning.

Informational Treasure Hunts

Still another form of the discovery method is an informational treasure hunt. Partici-
pants are asked to make decisions about a carefully selected situation or problem by
first finding relevant information in, for example, the organizations personnel policy or
code of ethics. Participants then discuss possible solutions and judgments based upon
both their own experience and what they discovered in the policy guide or code. The
chief design goal of this kind of exercise is for learners to be able to handle decision
situations independently, yet remain aligned with organizational policy.

Using Discovery Methods Effectively. Discovery methods can be put to good use by
skilled instructors as a productive and engaging alternative or complement to a straight
lecture. The instructor who uses the discovery method must prepare very thoroughly in
advance by first developing good cases and questions. Some questions elicit the content
of the case, to make sure the salient facts are understood by all. Other questions ask for
conclusions, decisions, or recommendations. The questions, of course, cover the real
instructional points that the session is constructed to deliver. C. Roland Christensen, a
professor emeritus at Harvard University and a proponent of the use of case studies,
suggests that instructors develop a typology, or inventory, of questions to help lead
class discussions. Figure 7-1 shows such a typology of questions adapted from his work
that is useful for many situations.5
The discussion leader should obviously know the target audience well. Discovery
sessions are typically driven by the instructor, who should ensure that all learners
participate over time. The instructor must plan discussions partially around knowledge
of particular individuals in a classthose who never volunteer, for example, or those
who tend to dominate discussions. Choose in advance how you will address the first
questionto the class as a whole or to a specific person. It is the instructors respon-
sibility to find a graceful way to make sure that everyone is a part of the discussion.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 205

Figure 7-1. Typology of Questions for Leading Case Discussions

Open-ended questions:
What was your first reaction to the situation? What key points do you
Diagnostic questions:
Who were the key players in the case? Who had the most to win or lose
from the proposed operational changes? What was at the root of the
Information-seeking questions:
What are the organizations procedures and rules for backing up data?
What part of the copyright law addresses how application software can be
Challenge (testing) questions:
What are your reasons for saying that? What led you to this conclusion?
What might your opposition say?
Action questions:
What steps should be taken? What procedures should be followed?
Questions on priority and sequence:
Given the organizations goals and resources, what should we do first?
Second? Third?
Prediction questions:
If we implement this policy, what might be the outcomes? If nothing is
done, which department would be impacted the most? The least?
Hypothetical questions:
What would have been the results if X had not occurred? What would have
happened if Y had been outsourced?
Questions of extension:
What implications can you draw from the results of this case? What would
be the impact if this happens in our organization here and now?
Questions of generalization:
Based on your study of video conferencing, what do you consider to be the
major forces that support the use of this technology?
206 Learning at Work

Small-Group Methods
Another important way to instruct is to divide a class of participants into teams of two to
eight people each for activities that bring about the desired learning. Small-group meth-
ods can be used to encourage conversations about a lecture or case-study points, or to
provide participants with an opportunity to hear their colleagues viewpoints on topics.
As discussed here, small-group methodsdiscussions, games, simulations, and role
playscan provide strong vehicles for learning.

Small-Group Discussions and Reports

Perhaps the most common small-group activity is a group discussion on a topic, fol-
lowed by group reporting of what it discussed and what it concluded. You can ask each
small group to write its discussion points on a flipchart and nominate a teammate or two
to present the chart to the entire class. Other options for small-group reporting depend
on time and resources and what will work with the participants and their culture. The
options range all across the presentation spectrum:
All members of the small group, rather than just a single spokesperson, are part
of the team presentation.
Discussion teams are supplied with video equipment and are asked to display
their presentations on videotape.
The small groups express their findings in a creative way: a short play, a song,
a drawing, etc.
Such small-group strategies not only provide variety, but are also excellent ways to
tap into the creative, playful sides of the program participants and allow them to use
their multiple intelligences (see Chapter 5). Providing a team of adults with crayons or
felt-tip markers and asking them to draw a colorful picture of the desired future state of
their organization breaks through the formality and discipline with which professionals
normally operate. While such techniques offer powerful potential, it is extremely
important that the instructor make sure none of the participants are embarrassed or
uncomfortable in any way, and that the activities are fundamentally acceptable in the
culture of the organization. As always, situational fit is a crucial element of successful
learning activities.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 207

Games and Simulations

Games are icebreakers, exercises, illustrations, or activities that support learning.
Newstrom and Scannell, co-authors of the series Games Trainers Play, explain that
games require the use of props and are typically brief, inexpensive, low-risk, and adapt-
able to many situations. Simulations, on the other hand, allow students to engage in
activities that are akin to realistic situations. While more conventional methods are best
used to achieve cognitive objectives, games and simulations can favorably impact
learner motivation and participation.
For example, the exercise in Figure 7-2 on the following page can be used as an ice-
breaker or to make an interesting opener for a program on creativity. Content-related
games such as the TV quiz shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune can be used as
models to create training activities, as can well-known board games such as Trivial
Pursuit or Monopoly. The instructor uses the formats of these well-known games, and
fits the content of the program into the games content. Some simulations have been
designed specifically for instructional purposes, such as The Prisoners Dilemma, in
which participants are arrested and charged with a serious crime. This particular simu-
lation introduces learners to plea bargaining and the workings of the criminal justice
system. Thick reference binders of ice breakers, games, and exercises are readily
available and offer materials suitable for use or adaptation for a wide variety of learning

Using Games and Simulations Effectively. Games tend to have a competitive aspect
when one or more teams compete for points, placement, or prizes. To balance the
composition of the teams, consider the personalities, skills, and experiences of team
members. Simulations are more often designed to place students in a real-world envi-
ronment, sometimes containing a competitive aspect. Games and simulations can be
expensive to develop, and will typically take several hours or more to run. Essential to
their effectiveness is building in time for group discussion about key learning points.
208 Learning at Work

Figure 7-2. Sample Creativity Exercise

1. By adding one line or stroke, turn the following into a 6:


2. What is the ordering in the following numbers?

8, 5, 4, 9, 1, 6, 3, 2

3. What is the next letter in the following sequence?


4. What is the pattern that differentiates the following two groups?

Group 1: A E F H I
Group 2: B C D G J

Source: From a Robert Bostrom workshop presentation at the University of Baltimore. Any number
of answers are correct. One set of correct solutions is: (1) place an S before the IX; (2) alphabetic;
(3) S for seven; (4) Group 1 consists of straight-line letters; Group 2 consists of curved letters.

Role Plays
We do not develop skills by listening to lectures. When the learning objectives are
behavioral, it is imperative that learners have the chance to practice or try out the pre-
scribed methods and get feedback on how well they did. Keyboarding skills and inter-
personal communication skills and any other kind of skills needed in the workplace
cannot be acquired without practice, practice, practice, as well as opportunities to make
mistakes in a safe, penalty-free, environment. The amount of practice required will vary
from skill to skill and from individual to individual, but practice is always necessary.
Role plays are excellent ways for participants to practice skills they are learning in
a program. Role-playing typically takes the form of two or more program participants
enacting various roles while the instructor and other program participants observe and
offer feedback when the role play concludes. In fact, role plays are sometimes referred
to as skill practices. For example, supervisory personnel who need to learn how to
conduct staff performance appraisals might use role playing to practice exactly what
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 209

they will be doing later. In exercises where one individual plays the role of supervisor
and another plays the role of the staff person, participants have an opportunity to see
what might happen when the skill is actually applied. In this example, the point of the
role play would be to see how the role playerthe supervisorhandles situations
where he or she is expected to work with a staff member to settle on mutually agreeable
goals or provide coaching for skill improvement. You can also use role plays to practice
techniques that help supervisors describe what they have observed in behavioral,
nonjudgmental terms calculated not to stir up defensive reactions.

Using Role Plays Effectively. Good, useful feedback is important to the success of role
plays, and participants can provide excellent feedback to each other. All participants in
small-group sessions learn, not just the individuals who are performing. Some people
believe that they learn more when they are observers. The instructor should guide par-
ticipants in how to give feedback and provide them with a template to capture their
observations for maximum results. The key is to get observers to focus on specifics
rather than on generalities, and this often requires participant coaching.
To understand the importance of coaching in peer feedback situations, consider the
following responses given by participants about a colleagues performance in a role
1. Megan did well as supervisor.
2. Megan worked well with Jonathan to identify the objectives.
3. Megan made sure Jonathan understood what he was going to have to do by ask-
ing him to repeat the objectives in his own words.
The third example provides Megan with the most specific information on what she
did well, the tactics she used, and how she involved her partner. The first example is of
no use at all, other than to make Megan feel good. Likewise, while the second response
is better, it is still too general to be very helpful. Meganand her observerswill learn
only if the feedback is detailed and specific.
Role plays and other practice activities can be made more intense and more power-
ful if you use video. Video-recording a skill practice allows learners to observe their
own behaviors. Video recording is very helpful for most people, as learners can view
their actions in private and do their role play again until they are pleased with the out-
come. Learners are often their own worst critics in such situations. Keep in mind that
210 Learning at Work

the use of video recording adds a significant dimension of complexity to a program in

terms of time, equipment, and physical facilities.
Other ways to use role plays include doing the role play in a fishbowl style: Role
players perform in front of classmates who form a circle around them as though they
were observing a fishbowl. The observation group then discusses how well the role
players demonstrated the targeted skills and provide feedback to the players. When time
permits, invite different participants to perform the role over again. The fishbowl tech-
nique is not terribly complex, but it does put pressure on participants to perform for an
audience. It can even put the focus on competitiveness, on performing better than the
last set of players. These nuances can easily interfere with the role plays primary
learning value.

Distance Learning
Distance learning is a form of instruction used when learners are geographically or
organizationally dispersed or few qualified instructors are available to reach a large
target audience. Communication technology must be available to support interactions
with the instructor and with other classmates.
Distance learning can be either synchronous (an instructor in real time leads a class
session) or asynchronous (a live instructor is not necessarily present at the time a
learner is using course materials). Asynchronous learning is considered a form of medi-
ated or self-paced learning and will be discussed in detail in Chapter 8.
There are a wide range of communication/conferencing tools that enable instructors
and learners in different places to meet in real time for audio conferencing, video-
conferencing, and computer conferencing (the use of groupware tools). Well look at
these options next.

Audio Conferencing
Audio conferencing refers to voice-only interaction via telephone or speakerphone.
Audio conferencing can be used in many different types of learning situations where
people need to hear information and have direct communication with the informa-
tion-giver and one another. Examples of its application include informational
announcements about new products or markets or new operational policies and proce-
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 211

The only hardware needed for an audio conference is an ordinary telephone; how-
ever, a speakerphone, which frees the listeners hands, is useful. When multiple sites
are involved, meet-me bridges are needed to tie the communication links together. In
such cases, participants either call into a central service, or the central service calls and
connects each site at a given time. Facsimile machines and electronic whiteboards can
be used to send graphs, charts, or pictures between/among conference sites.

Initially, videoconferencing was heralded as a way to lower instructor and student costs.
Today, however, the videoconferences biggest selling point is the timeliness and con-
venience it offers: quick communication, with little disruption in normal work patterns.
Videoconferencing allows participants to observe facial expressions and body lan-
guage, which are lost in text-based, audio-only, or chat conferencing. Videoconferenc-
ing can be one-way video, two-way audio, or two-way video. One-way videoconferenc-
ing systems allow the instructor to be both heard and seen from remote sites connected
to each other and the instructor. Usually, a voice connection is also established from the
participants back to the instructor, allowing for two-way audio. Two-way video-
conferencing systems, on the other hand, allow all participants to see and hear each
other. Either form of conferencing has the potential to closely emulate a traditional
classroom, because it allows for learner-learner as well as learner-instructor interaction.
Marketing departments, for example, find videoconferencing a fast, effective way to
disseminate new product information to a diverse sales force. Videoconferencing has
also been effectively used at manufacturing sites, where programs in such areas as qual-
ity control can be offered without pulling employees off the job for any length of time.
In some organizations, specially equipped rooms have been created to support
videoconferencing. Such dedicated facilities are designed to account for acoustics,
lighting, seating, and technology placement. Increasingly, however, videoconferencing
is moving to the desktop computer, a result of compressed digital transmission tech-
nology and increasing bandwidth in transmission lines.
Small, high-quality desktop systems allow for communication directly to and from
the users workstation. Room-sized video systems are expensive and complex, but
desktop videoconferencing is relatively inexpensive, simple, and readily available in
todays marketplace. Figure 7-3 lists several vendors. The only technology required is a
standard computer with sound capability, and software downloaded from the vendor.
212 Learning at Work

The downloaded software allows a sessions host to replicate the host computer
screens on the desktops of all the users logged on, to explain the screens being shown,
and to have participants follow instructions and try out the features on their own desk-
tops. All those logged on are also audio-connected so they can interact with each other.
The host can enable any of the users present to take over the host screen to show or try
something. Participants typically take part at their own desks rather than in a conference
room. Video sessions can be set up quickly and conferees may be located anywhere.
The constraint is time zones, not geography.
Figure 7-3. Sources for Desktop Videoconferencing Products

CU-SeeMe (CUseeMe Networks)

NetMeeting (Microsoft)
MeetingPoint (CUseeMe Networks)
PictureTel (PictureTel)
PictureTalk (Pixion, Inc.)
iChat AV

Computer Conferencing and Groupware

An increasingly number of learning initiatives rely on software that supports synchro-
nous Internet or Intranet communication, including instant messaging, chat rooms, and
other groupware tools.
Instant messaging allows users to see who else is online. A user can send a message
that instantly pops up on the addressees screen, and two or more users can have an
interactive discussion. Chat sessions allow larger groups to communicate either pub-
licly or privately just by typing to each other. Some products in this category are akin to
instant messaging and chat sessions, with the addition of audio and video. Groupware
tools support group communication and problem solving that skilled facilitators can use
in classroom settings; these tools are more fully discussed in Chapter 10.

Using Distance Learning Tools Effectively

Synchronous distance learning has become a very real and viable teaching method, and
success stories abound in organizations, as well as in traditional academic institutions.
We explore ways to use distance learning tools effectively in this next section.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 213

Selecting and Presenting the Content. Distance learning that only uses lecture for-
mats is very unpopular. In such situations, the sending camera typically zooms in on the
lecturer, who talks or reads from a prepared script. Such talking heads instruction is
relatively uncommon today; lecturers now know how important it is to give audiences
ample opportunity for interaction.
When you wish to use conferencing technologies for instruction, pay attention to
two key areas. The first is the technical quality of the transmission. Support technicians
usually make sure that video and audio transmissions are established. Students at the
remote site must be able to see the instructor and any visual aids that are used. Low
audio quality, even more than poor video quality, greatly reduces comprehension. The
instructor can quickly learn such operation skills as how to operate the camera, the
facsimile, and the computer, while staying within the physical limits of the camera and
microphones. Such skills come by hands-on experience with the tools, and practice,
practice, practice!
The second key area to attend to is the adaptation of traditional stand-and-deliver
techniques to the medium being used. Instructors must be sure to employ a full range of
adult-oriented, learner-centered activities, (e.g., small-group activities and role plays).
To keep remote learners interested and motivated, the instructor should encourage
learner participation by directing questions to individuals at remote sites by name, and
pausing frequently for participant comments or questions. Once again, proficiency
comes with practice.
Professionals who have evaluated instructors use of distance-learning technolo-
gies note that technology itself does not make a poor instructor good; it will only allow
him or her to reach more people. However, technology can make a good instructor even
better. All good instructors know their target audience and stick to their learning
objectives, no matter the environment. Using distance-learning technology effectively
requires additional planning in these areas. Such preplanning on the part of the
instructor makes for a good learning experience for everyone.
See Figure 7-4 for a summary of this discussion about live instructional techniques.
This table lists situations where a variety of live instructional approaches are used,
along with their advantages and disadvantages. Selecting the right instructional
technique requires that the instructor determine how learners can learn in the most
effective and efficient way, given the content to be delivered, the audience, and the time
frame available.
214 Learning at Work

Figure 7-4. Advantages and Disadvantages of Selected Live Instructional Techniques

Approach Commonly used in Advantages Disadvantages

situations where

Lecture The learning goal is infor- Instructor can reach large Speaker is active; learners are
mational numbers of participants at passive. To be effective, must
once be coupled with other learning
strategies (e.g., small group
discussions, games)
Lecturette Program activities must be Provides an opportunity Speaker is active and partici-
explained or content provided for the instructor to set up pants are passive, unless
through other means (e.g., if a learning experiences or questions are encouraged
video or small-group exercise expand on the content of
needs to be expanded upon) exercises
The Socratic Learners have a reasonable Requires high involvement Requires much planning on the
Method amount of knowledge about on the part of learners part of the instructor and great
the topic already confidence to handle things
when the Q & A does not go as
Case studies The goal is to teach skills of Draws on the knowledge Relevant cases are difficult to
problem identification and and experience of learners create; instructor must be flexi-
diagnosis ble and able to take risks
Informational The goal is to teach people Learners learn how to find Time consuming; learner
treasure hunts how to find, use, and apply information on their own motivation is key to successful
existing information implementation
Small-group The learning activity is to Offers learners a chance Can be taken over by powerful
discussions encourage discussion of topics to interact with each other personalities; reluctant partici-
or problem solving pants may still not contribute
Games and The instructional goal is to Games make learning fun; Instructions must be carefully
simulations establish interest in a topic, or simulations provide considered; may be too time
serve as an icebreaker real-life experiences consuming for desired out-
without personal risk comes
Role plays Learners need an opportunity Learners are put into a Can be misused; must be taken
for hands-on practice and specific role and learn seriously; a role play is an act,
immediate feedback appropriate behaviors unless its purpose is clear and
immediate feedback is given
Synchronous Learners and instructors are Learners can access Telecommunication technology
distance learning geographically dispersed; instruction without travel; can be costly; traditional
adequate technology exists to instructors can reach large instructional methods must be
support interaction numbers of learners adapted
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 215

Instructional Aids
Instructional aids, sometimes referred to as audiovisual aids or materials, are those
items that an instructor uses within the class session to help participants understand key
points. Pictures, charts, graphics, animation, videothe list goes on and oncan be
used to provide structure and add variety in classroom situations. Instructional aids
needed to deliver a program are typically created at the program design phase of the
Instructional Development Cycle. They are tested in the pilot programs and then made
available for instructor use as part of the program rollout. Keep in mind three criteria
when you design these materials:
Professional quality. In these days of desktop publishing, powerful computers,
presentation software, and sophisticated copiers, there is no excuse for any-
thing less than high-quality, perfectly legible materials (18-point type or the
equivalent on visuals, 4-inch letters on flipcharts, a maximum of half a dozen
lines on any one visual). While crisp, clean, readable back-and-white visuals
are a perfectly adequate minimum, artistic design and color can add interest to
the presentation. For readability, follow the 6x6 rule: No more than six words
on a line and no more than six lines on a page.
Timeliness. If the organizations quarterly financial report is part of the pro-
gram, it should be the most recent report, not a copy of the one used when the
program was piloted two years ago. If a video of senior executives discussing
ethical issues is part of the program, both the executives and the issues must be
reasonably current. However, if this means frequently updating the video,
video might not be the right choice of medium here. A slide show with
voice-over or printed materials might be more appropriate.
Simplicity. The less complicated your materials are, the less likely that there
will be problems. This is particularly applicable to those situations in which
instructional materials are created in one place and then used elsewhere by
Instructors often create real-time materials in the classroom, inspired by the need or
opportunity of the moment. Examples of spur-of-the-moment materials include flip-
chart sheets to sum up a discussion, a chalkboard filled with the afternoons brainstorm-
ing notes, or an overhead transparency with a scribbled formula that captures an idea
216 Learning at Work

not previously considered. These are the results of learning in action, and are not at all
to be restricted by the criteria set for preplanned materials.
Six kinds of preplanned instructional aids will be discussed here: overhead trans-
parencies, handouts, flipcharts, films, presentation software, and the leaders guide.

Overhead Transparencies
Overhead transparencies are simple to create, highly portable, readily adaptable to
changes, inexpensive, and easily turned into handouts. Once a staple of live instruction,
theyve largely been replaced by PowerPoint presentations; however, there are times
when an overhead is the best instructional aid. Indeed, overhead transparencies argua-
bly lend themselves to teaching and interacting, while PowerPoint presentations all too
easily can turn into speeches and canned presentations. Transparencies (also called foils)
can be mounted on frames or have a cloth strip along one side. Transparencies, which
come in colors, can be masked or overlaid so that the masks/overlays are used one step
at a time for a reveal technique or the gradual build-up of a concept. Overheads do not
need a screen or dimmed lights if you have the right kind of wall. Transparencies can be
created by word processing or presentation software, or marked up by hand with a
grease pencil or marking pen.
The transparency itself is placed on the projector, where a light source is focused
through the transparency and bounced back 90 degrees to a wall, screen, or other flat
surface. The projected, enlarged result allows the presenter to face the program par-
ticipants and maintain eye contact as the listeners attend to the image. Using two over-
head projectors at once permits an instructor to put an overview up as one visual, then
explode the components of the overview in a second image, one component at a time.
Skilled use of an overhead projector keeps an audience focused on key points and helps
maintain interest. Another projection device called an opaque projector is rather cum-
bersome and not widely used anymore, but it can directly project pages from books and
other printed material, as well as project small three-dimensional objects.

Tips for Using the Overhead Projector. Overhead projectors must be checked ahead
of time. Many are equipped with a second bulb so that if the first bulb goes out in
mid-presentation, the show can still go on with a simple flip of a lever. Keep in mind the
first law of audiovisual equipment: Take nothing for granted, and always kick the
tirescheck, check again, and then recheck. Be sure equipment is operable, and be sure
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 217

that whatever backup you have is also in working order. Make sure you have an extra
bulb handy and practice installing it. Aim the projector so that the visuals are properly
focused and visible from every seat in the room before the session begins. Also, be sure
that the projectors electrical cord is taped down so that no one will trip over it.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when using overheads (the term
overhead is used to refer to the transparencies as well as the projector) is to face the
participants and point at the image on the projectors glass, rather than point directly at
the image on the screen. It is very easy to forget this simple rule and get caught up in
looking at the wall or screen, gesturing, and talking to it rather than to the participants.
When you remove a transparency, immediately replace it with another or turn the pro-
jector off right away before you show the next one because the blank glass will project
a blindingly brilliant light that can easily create a major distraction.

Traditional picture slides are rarely used in day-to-day instruction, though they are
often used for large-scale informational sessions, because they provide stunningly
colorful images. Unlike overheads, 35 mm color slides are not very flexible: Once you
load them into a projector tray or carousel, you cannot easily change or re-sequence
them. They cannot be written on, are somewhat expensive to make, and require a
darkened room for full effect. The impact of slides, however, is very effective if you are
doing a planned, formal presentation.
Slide projectors are also more complicated than overhead projectors and require
even more careful checking and backup. If you are going to use a slide projector, be
sure to test its mechanics and projection quality thoroughly beforehand. Insist on a
remote-control device to change the slides so you are not tied to a podium. Use slides
primarily for informational sessions and prepared speeches. (Note: Presentation
software that allows us to add pictures as slides is making traditional picture slides

The most basic form of instructional aid is the handoutpapers or materials distributed
in a class session that capture or summarize the information being conveyed by the
instructor. Handouts provide space for note-taking during instruction, and serve as
218 Learning at Work

memory aids and reference material. While the handout may be basic, it is an extremely
useful tool for learners. Instructors frequently provide program participants with a copy
of the visuals used in the instruction, often condensing six to nine illustrations on a
single page. Participants can flag content areas that they would like more information
on and jot down questions. An alternative is to prepare a summary outline of the
instructional content that contains the same information as the visuals, without the
necessity of duplicating them. Presentation software can help you create handouts that
reproduce miniature versions of the visuals with space for notes or comments. Hand-
outs ensure that the participants have the most important information in a useful form.
Any handout material developed, of course, must be first-class quality.

Flipchart pads of approximately 22 x 42-inch paper fastened together at the top can be
placed on an easel or a wall unit. They can be used to present and record ideas. They are
inexpensive, travel fairly easily when rolled up in a tube, can include color and graphics,
and offer great flexibility in use. Use chart paper that has a pre-gummed top (like a large
Post-it note) or put plain sheets up on walls with masking tape.
Prepare flipchart pages in advance for information such as agendas for modules or
days of the program, summaries of program content, logistics, directions for program
activities, and the like. Then organize the pages and tape them onto the pad.
Flipchart pages can also be printed on specialized copying equipment. The original
visual is drawn or desktop-published on an ordinary sheet of 8 x 11 inch paper, which
is then fed into a special copier to produce a flipchart-sized version. It is also possible to
lightly laminate flipchart sheets so they will wear longer and can be written or drawn on,
erased, and then reused. Use flipcharts in real-time during discussions or presentations
to express certain points in the program, display content, and capture ideas from partici-
pants. Participants themselves can use flipcharts, for example, in reporting out on group
discussions. Figure 7-5 includes guidelines for their effective use.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 219

Figure 7-5. Tips for Effective Flipchart Use

 PRINT in big, bold letters  Talk to your audience, not

to your flipchart
 Keep the number of items
on each page to a minimum  If appropriate, prepare the
charts in advance
 Use a variety of colored
pens (preferably no more  Use masking tape to hang
than three colors per completed charts on the
sheet) wall

 Keep charts in easy

view of participants

Video Recordings
Training films have been around a long time, but analog and digital recorders and
players have revitalized the medium. Whether shown on classroom TVs or via
large-screen projectors, video is a powerful way to present information. A video of a
senior executive talking about a new policy gives a certain panache to the material that
is hard to match. Consider using a professionally produced video to introduce the fea-
tures and benefits of, say, a new product; it lends a gloss and graphic excellence that a
live presentation usually cannot match.
Another important use of video is to model behavior. A demonstration of the
proper way to communicate or interact with staff or to give a speech, especially when
followed by videotaped skills practice, will enhance the learning experience. Show
me has always been the cry of learners faced with the need to learn a specific skill.
Entire libraries of material in video form are available on the open market. Video raises
the bar, showing a whole new dimension of possibility and power. Additionally, seeing
oneself on videotape is usually an enormously effective learning experience. A more
extensive discussion of video is offered in Chapter 8.
220 Learning at Work

Presentation Software
Presentation software is frequently used to create visuals that are projected directly onto
a screen or wall, or printed for use as overhead transparencies (e.g., Microsofts Power-
Point). Presentation software produces professional, easy-to-modify instructional aids;
the user can add pictures, animation, sound, video, and direct links to the Internet with a
simple click of the mouse. The structure of presentation software also has the bonus of
helping you keep your presentation on track. Additional features such as speaker note
pages allow you to remember key examples or illustrations that make your point. Hand-
outs consisting of miniature slides, with space for note-taking, are easily produced.

Figure 7-6. Tips for Using Presentation Software

 Choose an appropriate font for your slide. Avoid script and anything too
stylistic; what looks good on paper may not translate well to an overhead.
For instructional purposes, keep your font consistent throughout, and keep
it large enough18-point or better.
 Choose backgrounds and colors that are conducive to getting your point
across. Test your presentation on the equipment youll be using for the
presentation; colors might fade or show up differently if you use a different
projection device.
 Keep participants attention where you want it. Use bullets to keep your
audience with you.
 Limit the number of transition and animation effects. Use them only for
interest or humor.
 Limit the length and number of audio and video clips. Less is more is a
good rule of thumb.
 Avoid long, complex quotations.
 Dont read your screens aloud to the class. Use them as discussion
starters, not as text.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 221

Presentation software requires a projector connected to the computer (usually the

presenters laptop) where the visuals reside. Projectors made by several manufacturers
continue to drop in both price and size; it is now easy to pack one in a carrying case,
along with a notebook or laptop computer, for a complete presentation setup. Ideally,
the proper hardware will be available on site, and you can simply carry your presenta-
tions on a CD or flash drive.

The Leaders Guide

The main resource for the instructor in preparing and teaching a program is the leaders
guide. The leaders guide lays out the entire program, module by module, so an instruc-
tor knows what to say and what to do throughout. Formats vary, but a good leaders
guide provides an overview of the program as a whole; explains the overall and specific
objectives, components, and modules; and states clearly how they all fit together. The
leaders guide must include the following:
The objectives and learning points of each component, so the instructor knows
why the component is part of the program and what its results are to be.
The talking points for everything the instructor is to saysomething less
than a script, but more than a mere content outline. The leaders guide is a
teaching outline that tells the instructor what needs to be said or done about
each learning pointand sometimes even how to say itat every major junc-
ture of the program. It is not a script to be memorized, but it does make each
and every point the organization and the designers want made in the program.
A copy of all participant materials.
An explanation of each activity in the program at the point where it is to be
usedwhat the purpose of each is and how it is to be done, together with
copies of all materials necessary for the exercise: flipcharts and other visuals,
game or discussion materials, handouts, role play directions, feedback forms,
and the like.
A copy of all visuals to be used in the programoverhead transparencies,
PowerPoint slides, flipchart pages, and wall charts. Put them all in the leaders
guide binder, sized for ease of packaging and transport.
222 Learning at Work

A suggested time schedule for each component of the program, organized in

15-minute segments that aggregate the components into larger units.
A transition into/from the next/previous component(s) of the program.
The leaders guide is typically placed into a three-ring binder, with tabs for each
component or day of the program and tabs for the handouts, flipcharts, overhead
transparencies, and any other program material the instructor should have. The purpose
of the leaders guide is to provide the instructor with everything needed to deliver the
program in a quality fashion with the required degree of consistency. Most instructors
will prepare some form of teaching notes for themselvesfile cards they can tuck into
their shirt pockets, sticky notes affixed to the pages of the leaders guide or participants
manual, pieces of paper with summary notes, etc. The leaders guide should contain
everything that an experienced instructor will need to teach the program.
The leaders guide tells the instructor what the program sponsors/designers want
said and done, and states how to achieve what the program is to deliver. Follow it, but
keep in mind that it is a tool with a purpose, not an end in itself: If some part of it no
longer works, the instructor should feed the information back to the developer of the
leaders guide for review and modification. Use discretion in deviating from the guide:
the instructor is the deliverer of the program, not its designer or its redesigner.
Figure 7-7 on the following page shows sample pages from the leaders guide for a
management development program.
A final note regarding the instructional aids discussed here: If you purchase a ven-
dors packaged program for use in live instruction, make sure it includes a complete set
of appropriate instructional aids. It is certainly not essential that every program include
video, powerful as the medium may be, but visuals, flipcharts, and handouts (or a
master copy of them to be used for their production) should be part of any program
package designed for live delivery. Most important of all, the package should include a
detailed leaders guide. Because the development of a leaders guide is a complex,
demanding, and detail-intensive task, dont be surprised if the vendor does not offer a
full-scale guide. The inclusion of a leaders guide may well have an impact on price.
Purchase the program if it is right for you, but be aware of what is and what is not
included in the packaged program. Happily, many vendors not only provide a leaders
guide, but also offer reasonable train-the-trainer support to certify instructors for the
program under consideration.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 223

It is worth noting here that the classroom is metamorphosing as technology evolves

and new devices are becoming standard instructional equipment. Smart classrooms
often include a computer and projection system built into an instructors podium at the
front of the room, as well as a variety of tools available for students themselves to use.

Figure 7-7. Sample text from a leaders guide

The following text is based on material in the Leaders Guide for Managing at Chase, a
one-day orientation to management responsibility at Chase Manhattan Bank. The information
guides instructors in setting up a team activity in the program.

Segment 4.2 Instructor Presentation: Managerial Tools and Resources

Purpose: To introduce a variety of tools and resources available to the Chase manager
in managing human-resource-related issues.
To give participants the opportunity to become familiar with the Chase Human
Resources Guide and the Chase Code of Ethical Standards.

Time: 9:15 9:40

Method/Media: Lecturette, Class discussion

Introduce: Introduce team discussion with ideas such as the following:

As managers, we are often called upon to deal with HR situations. Some of these
are messy or complicated. How often have you wished you had a guide or specific
tools to help you figure out what to do? We want to introduce you to several such
tools in this exercise.

Elicit: Ask: What are some examples of messy or complicated HR situations you have

Capture: Use blank flipchart paper to capture key words of examples participants provide.
Use alternating colors for ease of reading.
(Typical responses: poor performance, excessive lateness/ absenteeism compli-
cated by a diversity issue, low motivation, unrealistic expectations, unethical
behavior, not living our behavioral values and/or department standards)

224 Learning at Work

Figure 7-7. Sample text from a leaders guide (continued)

HR Guide: Point out that there are a variety of resources to help managers to help with
situations such as the ones weve listed on our flipchart here. Among those
resources is the Chase HR Guide, the so-called red book.
Ask how many participants have a copy of the Guide. Mention that you will tell
them in a minute how to order a Guide if they dont have one.

Distribute: Pass out copies of the Guide to all. Mention that the copies being used in the
classroom today must be returned.

Present: Using Flip 4.2.2, make the following points regarding the Guide:
We have a written HR policy guide chiefly for consistencybecoming familiar with
the Guide and its contents is an important managerial responsibility:
Employees need to know what they should expect in the way of HR policies.
Managers need a common policy framework to help ensure fairness and
reasonable consistency.
Ask participants to look at the Guides table of contents. Review categories of
policies: Employment, Time Off, Compensation, Staff Development, Employee
Services, etc.
Tell participants to look in the back pocket of the Guide. There they will find a form
they can use to order a copy for themselves if they need it.
Tell participants they will do an exercise in a few minutes in which they will have to
use the Guide to find the solution to a typical HR problem.

Enabling Learning in the Classroom 225

Figure 7-7. Sample text from a leaders guide (continued)

The instructor introduces three additional policy documents, making much the same points:
The three Code of Ethical Standards, the Performance Management Policy, and the Vision
and Values. Once the class has all four policy documents, the instructor leads the program
participants through an exercise designed to get them to use the documents to gain familiarity
with them.

Segment 4.3 Team ActivityCase Analysis

Purpose: To give program participants the opportunity to analyze an HR situation from the
perspective of the policy documents provided to them.

Time: 9:40 10:30

Method/Media: Team discussion and presentation; policy book search

Introduce: You will now have a chance to use the policy documents weve been discussing.
Take out the cases handed out for reading last night.
You will work in teams. Ill assign each team one case.
You individually will analyze the case from the perspective of one of our four
policy documents.
You will then analyze the case as a team, each team member bringing to the
discussion the policy perspective assigned. Each team will see the case from
all four policy points of view.
Each team will then present its case and educate the rest of us on the case, the
policies that apply to it, and why you recommend the course of action youve
decided on.

Activity: Analysis and presentation by each team

226 Learning at Work

The Management of Teaching

Selecting the right people for teaching responsibility is a key step in ensuring effective
live instruction, whether it is for a permanent position in a learning and performance
department, a contract instructor, a consultant to be hired to teach on a per-diem basis,
or a line person to teach on a visiting basis (the line on loan approach.8). Focus your
selection on the candidates ability to communicate and on instructional skills. Look
Platform skills. Instructors must be able to organize and present material, hold
a classs attention, read and react to participant messages, use the customary
teaching aids, facilitate group process (including discovery methods), and
ground instruction in the principles of adult learning.
The communication mindset. The instructor must believe that communica-
tion (and therefore teaching) has not been successful unless and until the lis-
tener has received and internalized the message. This is the mindset that under-
stands that it is not enough just to present information, facilitate, and follow a
leaders guide in a planned, systematic way. All these things are important and
necessary, but these are not enough. Look for someone who considers that the
participants acquisition of skill or knowledge is essential and is the single most
important measure of instructional success.
In an interview process, classroom platform and communication skills are not
always easy to identify. A candidate who has history of successful teaching is likely to
possess platform skills. A candidate who has demonstrated familiarity with the litera-
ture on adult learning and its principles, perhaps through completion of an advanced
degree in education, knows the value of the communications mindset. In the interview
itself, you can pick up on just how well a candidate listens, which is at least some
indication of the ability to listen in a classroom. It is possible and certainly within the
bounds of careful selection to ask a candidate to audition. Requiring a candidate to
teach a carefully chosen module of a program, in either a real or artificial setting, is usu-
ally a revealing demonstration of platform skills and the individuals communication
mindset. Note that platform skills are far easier to acquire than the communication
mindset: While individuals can be trained in presentation and group facilitation skills,
the communication mindset is typically the product of a long seasoning process and can
seldom be acquired in a brief five-day train-the-trainer program.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 227

Once selected, instructors should be managed like other professionals, with respect
for their dedication, intelligence, and expertise. Provide ample opportunity for growth
and creativity, and watch for burnout. Organizational learning initiatives tend to be a
world of short workshops offered repeatedly. No instructor should be asked to teach the
same workshop too often in too short a time. Too often and too short are relative, of
course, but asking an instructor to teach the same class over and over with little respite
or change is a surefire recipe for instructor burnout.
Preparation time is important. One rule of thumb is to allow three hours of prepara-
tion time for every one hour of teaching time, given a reasonable level of experience on
the part of the instructor. Most instructors find the chance to observe someone else
teaching a program an enormous help in preparing to teach it themselves. The 3 to 1
rule will obviously vary according to the individual, and will, in any case, change as
familiarity with a program grows through experience with it. Unrushed, uninterrupted
preparation time, however, is a reasonable expectation on the part of an instructor, as
well as a solid principle of good instructor management. To avoid ringing phones and
other distractions, prepare your program away from the officein a library, in a bor-
rowed office or conference room, or at home.
The manager of a group of instructors should observe instructors in the classroom
from time to time. Feedback from peer observations is useful, too. Observational data
can provide the information needed for coaching the instructors, as well as for rewards
and recognition. Performance plans for instructors often specify the number and variety
of programs to be taught. Such activity measures, however, should not be equated with
instructional success. Good instruction leads to learning.
For feedback on instructional skills, instructors and managers might agree on an
acceptable average rating from participant reaction questionnaires completed at the end
of a class or program. Because the use of reaction questionnaires is relatively common,
a productive way to handle these data is to focus on management use of such ratings by
exception. This means scanning the end-of-class comments and ratings for anything
that deviates from the norm. After all, good end-of-class ratings are to be expected. An
experienced instructor can and should get good ratings. Instructors themselves appre-
ciate being told what a good job they did in the classroom! However, in a department
that relies on management by exception, favorable ratings are taken for granted; the
department assumes that instructors should and will get them and thus pays attention
only to those that are exceptions. This places responsibility for the evaluation of the
teachers performance on the learner.
228 Learning at Work

Finally, the manager of instructors must exercise care to avoid the so-called
shoemakers children problem: learning support specialists who do not receive
sufficient learning opportunities themselves. Just as each member of the learning and
performance department has a performance plan, so also should each member have a
development plan. The focus of this plan should be on a mix of preparation for immedi-
ate job responsibilities and longer-term career thinking, as appropriate. Line-on-loan
instructors will obviously have job and career needs that are different from staff instruc-
tors. The crucial point here is to make sure that plans also address staff needs for profes-
sional development.

Classroom teacher-led instruction is a time-honored tradition in our society. Todays
teacher will work to enhance that picture and make certain that the instruction supplied
in such a setting is learner-focused and conducive to learning in the classroom. Two
categories of live instruction were presented in this chapter: whole-group methods (the
lecture and discovery techniques), and small-group methods (such as small-group
discussion, games, and role plays).
You can use the lecture method as an efficient means of providing information to a
large group. When coupled with question-and-answer periods, lectures allow your stu-
dents to hear, see, and ask questions about the topics presented. However, long periods
of lecturing are usually not motivating. Thus, you will want to break up long discourses
with other activities that require more active participation on the part of participants,
such as making lists or engaging in small-group activities. You can use a lecturette or
mini lecture to introduce concepts or provide instructions for group activities.
Use discovery methods when you want to challenge participants to learn for
themselves. To actively engage workers in discovering concepts for themselves, you
must do careful preplanning. You can use the Socratic method, case studies, and infor-
mational treasure hunts in situations where individuals will best learn by discovering
appropriate responses/behaviors that are based on their own experiences and the mate-
rials available.
Small-group methods enable learners to be active participants and learn from each
other. Ask individuals in small groups to review materials and come to their own
conclusions, and then later report out to the larger group on what they come up with.
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 229

Games and role plays are effective small-group activities. Your primary responsibility
as an instructor in small-group methods is to plan the activities carefully and to make
sure that participants not only get feedback from you, but also learn to give and receive
Undoubtedly, you will also find learning situations in which distance learning is an
appropriate way to deliver instruction. When you and your students are not in the same
location, use a wide variety of technologies to improve communication: audio con-
ferencing (voice-only communication); videoconferencing (audio plus video); and
computer conferencing (the use of special communication software that facilitates
group communication in synchronous and asynchronous modes). The effectiveness of
these tools requires clear lines of communication, and the use of instructional strategies
that take advantage of the technologys capabilities. In such cases, you might want to
talk less, use a lot of small-group work, and direct questions to individuals at the remote
site(s) to help them focus on the lesson.
Use instructional aidsoverheads, handouts, flipcharts, presentation software, and
videoto enhance learning and retention. The most important instructional aid is the
leaders guide, which details the objectives, content, methods, and major points of the
program to be delivered.

Think It Through
1. Has there been a teacher in your life who has made a difference to you?
Describe the teacher and the circumstance. What was the impact of this teacher?
What was the result of that impact? From your experience with this teacher,
what would you like to bring to your students?
2. Lecture only if you must. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Explain your response.
3. Identify three of the many alternatives for delivering face-to-face instructional
programs. Give an appropriate performance gap problem/opportunity for each.
4. Describe some characteristics of effective use of overhead transparencies and
PowerPoint visuals. Why is it so important that such visuals be of professional
5. List several pointers to follow when using flipcharts.
230 Learning at Work

6. Define distance learning. What alternatives do organizations have for deliv-

ering instruction from afar? Give an appropriate performance gap situation for
each alternative.
7. The leaders guide has been described as a teaching resource, not a teaching
script. What does that mean? When is it acceptable for a instructor to deviate
from it?
8. Imagine that you have just been hired at the XYZ Company as an instructor.
Plan an initial personal development discussion with your manager. What sort
of development would you consider appropriate for yourself for your first year?

Ideas in Action
Break into pairs. Tell each other about a teacher-led, face-to-face or distance learning
experience that you thought was very effective. What was it about the experience that
contributed to its success? Next, tell each other about such an experience that was not
successful. What caused the experience to be problematic?
1. Attend a computer trade show and try out or observe demonstrations of a
variety of presentation graphics packages. Obtain literature from vendors. List
key features and compare them across packages. Which seems most appro-
priate for a training professional?
2. Create a T-chart. On the left-hand side of the T write Good ways to handle
student questions. On the right side, write Bad ways to handle questions.
Complete the chart based on your own experience.
3. Contact a local learning and performance manager and ask about the issue of
instructor burnout. What has been the managers experience with it? How/why
does it happen? Has the manager developed any telltale signs of its approach?
Any methods for handling it? Any ways of preventing it?
Enabling Learning in the Classroom 231

Additional Resources
Eitington, J. E. 2002. The Winning Trainer. 4th edition. Boston: Butterworth-
A comprehensive reference book for instructors. Includes an appendix of valuable
resourcesforms, checklists, and other practical job aids.

Mager, R. E. 1988. Making Instruction Work or Skillbloomers. Belmont, California:

Lake Publishing Company.
One of Magers best, the book is about what he calls the craft of instruction.
Mager is at the top of his form here, showing how to choose instructional solutions
and implement them. Written with a practitioners wealth of experience and
Magers usual dose of puckish humor.

McKeachie, W. J. 2006. Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theories for College
and University Teachers. 12th edition. Lexington, Massachusetts: Houghton
This very well-written and organized paperback is crammed with helpful informa-
tion intended for instructors at all adult teaching levels and in a wide range of teach-
ing environments. If you cannot find instructional help here, it probably does not
exist anywhere.

Powers, B. 1992. Instructor Excellence: Mastering the Delivery of Training. San

Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
A fine discussion of the issues involved in stand-up teaching. Note the book titles
implicit equation of instruction with training delivery. The book itself is smarter
than that. This text is particularly useful for those who evaluate and manage

Staley, D. J. June 7, 2006. Smart Classroom: Imagining the Multisensory Classroom.
Downloaded November 19, 2006.
From a creative mind, a description of where classroom technology might lead us
in a few years.
232 Learning at Work

Chapter 7 Notes
1. Eitington, Julius. 2002. The Winning Trainer. Houston: Gulf Publishing.

2. Davis, Barbara Gross. 1991. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp. 8889.

3. Duncan, O. and C. Quentin, in a 1958 presentation at Whitefriars Hall, Washington, D.C.

4. Christensen, C. Roland, David A. Garvin, and Ann Sweet. 1991. Education for Judgment: The
Artistry of Discussion Leadership. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press. p. 11.

5. Ibid. pp. 159160.

6. Pfeiffer, J. William (ed.). The 1994 Annual: Developing HR. San Diego: Pfeiffer and Company.
A three-ring binder published annually, with sections devoted to games and other experiential
learning techniques, inventories of surveys and questionnaires, and resources for presentations/
discussions on topics of current interest in the world of human resource development. The binder
format makes it easy to use the material.

7. Regan, Elizabeth A., and Bridget N. OConnor. 2002. End-User Information Systems:
Implementing Individual and Work Group Technologies. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:
Prentice Hall.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Explain how adult learning theory drives learning outside the classroom.
Offer examples of learning goals that can be supported by self-paced,
mediated instruction.
Discuss the just-in-time learning potential for e-learning and m-learning
Describe features of Help Desks, on-line help, and performance support
Discuss how knowledge-management systems can be used to create, store,
and disseminate knowledge.
Propose ways in which communities of practice, mentoring, and coaching
support individual and organizational learning.

Setting the Stage for Alternative Learning Options

When you ask individuals what they have learned in the workplace, they some-
times describe their experiences in classroom-based programs. They might talk
about participating in a workshop on communication skills or Microsoft Word.
They might describe a three-day course they took on strategic planning. How-
ever, they are also likely to talk about what they have learned on their own over
the yearshow they used the wizard in PowerPoint to create their first sales
presentation, or mastered a technical problem using software manuals. They
might even describe how they learned on the job as part of a team that worked
together to expand the companys market into Asia. These examples make it
clear that the organizations learning environment is not limited to the class-
room, and that instruction does not have to come from a live instructor.
Among your key responsibilities as a workplace learning professional is to
constantly explore new ways to encourage and support learning, no matter
where it needs to happen. You use every conceivable method to ensure that
individual workers can do what is necessary for the organization to survive and

234 Learning at Work

prosper. Traditional classroom-based delivery is widespread and popular, and is often

the preferred environment. However, you can continually experiment with a whole
gamut of other instructional methods and learning support strategies in an attempt to
discover the best possible match among organizational expectations, learner needs and
abilities, and materials related to what is needed to be learned.
As discussed in Chapter 1, these times demand innovative ways to provide the
quantity and quality of learning opportunities that workers need to flourish in the
learning society. The Internet is an important repository of information and a com-
munication enabler. You can find and share knowledge found in databases, spread-
sheets, documents, and the like. You can also use collaborative technologies to connect
dispersed individuals in situations where expertise is jointly created and shared.
Therefore, learning can occur exactly at the point in time and place it is needed.
We begin this chapter with a brief discussion of how and when to choose learning
support strategies other than classroom instruction. In this chapter, we will describe
media ranging from paper-based materials to podcasts. The digitization of data and
information and the ubiquity of the Internet have changed not only where individuals
receive instruction, but also how they receive it, what they learn, and whom they learn
from and with.
In the last part of the chapter, we discuss strategies for workplace learning that meet
different types of learning needscommunities of practice, mentoring, and coaching.
Here we provide suggestions as to how you can develop and support such programs.
Keep in mind, however, that it is the right mix of classroom, mediated tools, and
alternative workplace learning strategies that together result in the best solutions for
individual and organizational learning.

Choosing Alternative Learning Strategies

When we talk about alternative learning strategies, we mean ways in which individuals
learn outside the formal classroom. Sometimes the employee initiates the activity, such
as calling a Help Desk or using online help. At other times, he or she learns through a
flexible, structured training program held at the work site during regular working hours.
Individuals learn for many reasons. Some need technical skills to master their
current job, obtain a new job, or maintain professional certification. Sometimes the goal
is to enhance self-esteem, communication, decision-making, or life-coping strategies.
Sometimes we learn for personal enrichment and the joy of mastering new skills and
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 235

understanding new concepts. Learning has a positive snowball effect: the more one
learns, the more one wants to learn. Ideally, in this process, individuals also become
more skilled at learning how to learn.
This approach has been called self-paced learning, individualized instruction, or
self-directed learning. It increasingly involves the use of digital technologies for
information or instruction, or as a means of communicating with others. Such methods
fit well into what is known about how adults learn (see Chapter 5). Users of self-paced
instructional programs take charge of their learning, adjusting the materials to their own
learning style and needs and determining when they learn and the pace at which they
want to learn. They can review lessons any number of times, they can self-diagnose
their progress, and they can more easily fit it all into a busy schedule. They are actively
involved in their own learning.
When employees learn on the job, sometimes they do it by themselves; other times,
they collaborate and learn with and from others in the workplace. Sometimes they find
their own learning resources. At other times they are members of a group that helps
each other continue to learn to address new problems that are encountered. This
inherent participation, combined with control over when learning happens, encourages
their feeling of ownership of the learning process, and ultimately leads to the mastery of
the content.
In such situations, the role of the workplace learning professional becomes that of
providing learning supportnot necessarily delivering classroom instruction, but
doing what we can to foster a culture of learning throughout the organization. We
design alternative learning strategies when the target group has a wide range of
experiences and/or abilities, when a large audience is spread out geographically, when a
small number of workers need to learn a specific skill, or when there is a repeated need
for small numbers of new people to learn the same skills. Self-paced instruction is in the
mainstream of delivery options. These options may, of course, be used in conjunction
with traditional classroom instruction. Clearly, the two approaches to instructional
deliverytraditional classroom and learning outside of the classroomcomplement
rather than replace each other, and thus can be combined quite effectively.
236 Learning at Work

A Variety of Media
In this text, we use the terms self-paced or mediated to describe a situation in which
workers use any of a variety of media on their own to access information or communi-
cate with someone else in an effort to solve a problem or learn new skills. Media range
from paper-based books and manuals to DVDs to e-learning options. As Joseph Lipson
noted in a presentation on distance learning:
New technology does not usually diminish the use of old methods; we use a
technology when it serves a particular purpose, when it is effective.1
Choosing the appropriate medium for instruction is a matter of matching the
learning objectives, the learning styles of the target audience, the characteristics of the
various media, and the medias ability to support appropriate learning activities.
Moreover, expense and time are also major considerations. Developing self-paced
instructional materials in-house is a very expensive and time-consuming process; it is
almost always cheaper to buy off-the-shelf materials and adapt them to a particular
audience if you need to.
Self-paced learning materials can be found on a wide range of instructional media:
paper, audio and video, and computer- and Internet-enabled systems (e-learning).
Mobile learning (m-learning) has emerged as a new category in which learners use their
personal digital assistants, cellular phones, and even satellite radio connections to
access information and communicate with each other. While we discuss these
approaches as separate options, in reality, self-paced instruction is often based on a
combination of media.

Paper-Based Materials
The printed document is an extremely comfortable, familiar, simple, transportable,
inexpensive, and easy-to-use learning medium, particularly for informational learning.
Company newsletters, bulletins, and simple job aids are now developed internally.
Desktop publishing software allows learning and performance departments to inter-
nally develop and produce professional-looking and high-quality materials, including
entire courses, and distribute them via e-mail.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 237

Books and Journals. Many organizations maintain large libraries, complete with
up-to-date subscriptions to relevant business and industry magazines and journals, as
well as a wide range of classic and best-selling books on a number of topics of interest
to employees. Reference books such as atlases, statistical abstracts, handbooks, manu-
als, and writing guides such as Strunk and Whites The Elements of Style also line the
However, simply having print materials available may not be enough. While it is
valuable to have a library, if a book is to be part of a specific learning strategy, it should
be packaged with other resources, such as study guides or checklists. Here are a few
examples of ways to help a reader use print-based materials proactively:
Document well-articulated learning objectives that are tied to performance
Design a study guide that includes exercises such as requiring the reader to out-
line a chapter, respond to discussion questions, and/or complete related appli-
cation activities.
Require an interactive log, and ask the reader to record reactions that are con-
sidered meaningful and to explain why they are meaningful.
Provide activity sheets on which learners identify progress in mastering materi-
als and then share these ideas with the facilitator.
Written Tutorials. Another type of paper-based instruction is a written tutorial or
cheat sheet on how to do something, such as use application software or update
databases. Such learning aids are often found as part of a software manual, but they can
be difficult for the first-time user to follow. Tutorials are often developed as a part of
application systems. When they are computer-based, they are considered a kind of
computer-assisted instruction, which is discussed later in this chapter.

Audio and Video

Audio and video lend a human element to self-directed learning. Books that are
recorded on audiotapes or CDs constitute a very popular section of many bookstores,
and audio and video libraries are commonly found in learning and performance
departments. Such media offer content, discussions, demonstrations, and real-life
238 Learning at Work

examples that can augment print-based materials. Additionally, learners can use the
media at their own convenience and pace.
The media for the delivery of audio and video material are clearly changing. While
a stock of analog audiotapes and videotapes exists and will be around for a good while,
digital media storage, specifically CDs (audio) and DVDs (audio and video) will
eventually replace their analog counterparts. As instructional designers use the tools
being perfected by the entertainment industry, expect to see more and more information
delivered through podcasts and satellite radio.

E-Learning and M-Learning

E-learning and m-learning are umbrella terms that refer to a variety of ways in which
individuals use learning or reference materials stored on or accessed through a com-
puter or other digital device. Lessons stored on CD-ROMs and DVDs can help a learner
master everything from computer skills to leadership skills. In e-learning (wired) and
mobile or m-learning (wireless), the user accesses the Internet or the airways to find
information, to download informational or instructional learning programs, or to com-
municate with peers or other experts. Beginning in the early 1950s with paper-based
programmed instruction (PI) and cumulating today with m-learning, the use of tech-
nology to deliver instruction has been constant.
What follows is a summary of computer-based instruction and the media that sup-
port it (CD-ROMs and DVDs), performance support systems, Help Desks, and knowl-
edge management systems. We will also talk about ways that communication
capabilitiese-mail, chat rooms, and audio- and videoconferencingare used outside
the classroom to help individuals learn. Our goal here is not to provide technical
expertise on these tools; rather, it is to get you thinking as to how they can be used to
enhance individual and organizational learning.

Computer-based Instruction (CBI). Initially, computer-based instructional programs

were simply mainframe-based versions of linear programmed instruction. This pro-
grammed instruction quickly evolved into random-access, multi-branching modules
that could be accessed on a variety of computer platforms.
CD-ROMs and DVDs are a driving force for CBI multimedia applications, as their
enormous storage capabilities allow designers to use graphics, animation, sound, and
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 239

video. The interactive features of CD-ROMs and DVDs enable self-paced and
self-directed learning, since the user can navigate among the modules and select topics
of interest in whatever order is deemed logical if it fits his or her learning style. Thus,
learners can take multiple, alternative routes through information and learning modules,
depending on their particular needs and styles. This user control helps learners decide
what modules are of interest, skip those that cover material they already know, and go
back to modules they want to review.
CD-ROM/DVD drives are standard equipment on most personal computer systems.
Almost all software vendors offer their software and documentation on CD-ROM
instead of on disks or paper. In fact, purchasers can often buy and download software
and documentation directly from the vendor via the Internet. One benefit of CD-ROM/
DVD is that a learner using his or her own computer does not have problems accessing
remote sites and is not held up by slow data transfer rates. Privacy is an additional
Increasingly, vendors are packaging program content on CD-ROM/ DVD as well
as making it accessible through the Internet. A corporate learning and performance
department might choose, for example, to purchase an entire learning solution related to
core competencies such as supervisory skills or communication skills from any number
of vendors. Entire e-learning solutions are available from many traditional universities,
including New York University, Columbia University, and Stanford University.
E-learning solutions allow a worker using a computer to access information and
instructional materials, connect to a wide range of supplementary resources, and have
direct communication with their fellow participants, as well as with the instructor.
M-learning expands e-learning to wireless connections on mobile technologies.
Learning management systems are software products that allow an instructor to
deliver a course either synchronously, whereby learners are expected to be online
simultaneously with the instructor, or asynchronously, whereby each participant goes
online on his or her own schedule. Blended learning combines both synchronous and
asynchronous approaches. Learning management systems are instructor-facilitated and
can support course registration, discussion boards, chat rooms, multi-point audio and
video, whiteboards, class assignments, interactive quizzes, and even course
development. Internet streaming using audio and video allows learners to replay
educational lectures on demand. A total distance-learning solution can integrate other
products that support data and/or video transmissions. Software components can
240 Learning at Work

include an instructor client, a student client, and a server. Figure 8-1 lists several
popular products, along with their vendors.

Figure 8-1. A Sampling of Vendors for Internet-based Learning Management Systems


Course Online Thomson Course

IBM Lotus Learning IBM
Management System
BlackBoard BlackBoard

Performance Support Systems

Performance support systems are tools and technologies for just-in-time learning,
accessed through the companys Intranet via landline or wireless connection. The most
effective learning happens when training is imbedded in the work that needs to be done.
Noted consultant Gloria Gery pioneered in this area by emphasizing what technology
could do, rather than what was being done with it. Performance support tools include
computer-based instruction (CBI) course modules, as well as Help Desks, on-line help,
knowledge management systems, and expert systems. The ultimate goal is to lessen the
need for formal learning programs, particularly the need to memorize information or
learn skills that are infrequently used.
Performance support can also be based on printed materials, video, classroom
instruction, or other more traditional materials. The objectives of performance support
are to provide information or assistance at the time the user needs it, rather than to teach
some broader set of skills and knowledge for future use. Sometimes all someone needs
is information, not training!
And when information is needed, increasingly were relying on wireless, mobile
technologies for performance support: cellular phones, personal digital assistants
(PDAs), MP3 players (e.g., iPods), satellite radio, and handheld, notebook, and laptop
computers. When such tools are used for learning, they are considered m-learning tools.
They allow a user to learn what they need to know at an appropriate time and from
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 241

wherever they are located. The small screens found on many of these devices make it
unlikely that they will be used for mainstream course use, but they are important new
reference and communication tools.
A salesman, for example, can access information about new products via a wireless
computer or a PDA. He or she can also download a lecture about these products on an
iPod and listen to it while driving to work or walking through a park. In the car, the
salesperson can listen to a satellite radio broadcast that announces the new products.
And if a program has been saved as a digital file on the companys Web site, a salesper-
son in a different time zone would be able to download that broadcast onto an MP3
player and listen to it at an appropriate time. It has been estimated that by 2009, 124
million households will own MP3 players.2 We are just beginning to see the potential of
m-learning tools for performance support. The sidebar that follows shows how
instructors and students in a university setting use MP3 players; as you read the exam-
ple, consider how this technology could support similar learning in an organizational
E-Learning is Music to Your Ears

Researchers in the United Kingdom continue to study the use of podcasting as a

tool for enhancing the learning experience of students. E-learning experts at the
University of Leicester say their pilot program for downloading audio onto personal
MP3 players shows that students have embraced the idea of using podcasting to
improve their education experience. The researchers developed a podcast model
consisting of a current news item that is relevant to their course each week,
give-and- take on learning and collaborative team work during the week, and a
light-hearted segment such as a joke or rap, with each part lasting 10 minutes. The
students listened between lectures, during commutes, and while they performed
other tasks, says Gilly Salmon, a professor of e-learning at Leicester. Students
added they were able to study at their own pace, rewind whenever they wanted,
and contact classmates while they studied. They also lauded podcasting because
it made learning informal and prevented them from missing anything. Salmon now
heads a 12-month project called IMPALA: Informal Mobile Podcasting and
Learning Adaptation, which includes researchers from the University of
Gloucestershire and Kingston University as participants, to focus more on using
such technology to bring learning resources to students.

Information, Inc., 2006. Reprinted with permission.

242 Learning at Work

Help Desks and Online Help. One thing we know about systems is that they some-
times dont work exactly as expected. Glitches and operator errors are commonplace.
And one thing we know about formal training programs is that instructional designers
cannot anticipate every application or every problem. Thus ongoing support or
just-in-time learning and troubleshooting must be part of the planning process in any
workplace learning effort.
Help Desks and online help services are distance alternatives to face-to-face coach-
ing. Most Help Desks or hotlines offer centralized tutoring from a person at the other
end of the telephone line. Online help is assistance from a computer program at the
touch of a key or click of a mouse. Both services are highly interactive, and both offer
support just at the time it is needed.
Help Desks can be located anywhereat the organizations headquarters, at the
software vendors site, or anyplace in the world, accessed by an 800 number. Help Desk
agents who have strong interpersonal skills and are trained in troubleshooting can offer
immediate help over the telephone. Alternatively, the learner could initiate an instant
messaging or chat session with an agent. In such blended calls, agents respond using
the most appropriate tool available. The key here is that workers have a variety of
communication options to address their just-in-time learning needs.
One technology-based aid that helps Help Desk agents is desktop conferencing or
screen-sharing software. These tools allow the Help Desk agent to see and operate what
is on the users desktop, taking over keyboard and mouse controls to type information
into dialog boxes, install new programs, open configuration files, transfer or retrieve a
file, or use the screen to demonstrate new products.
The Help Desk agents overriding objective is to increase user satisfaction and
morale through personalized coaching. Highly trained agents work to help the per-
plexed user solve specific, real learning needs or solve software glitches, just when help
is needed.
On-line help programs, on the other hand, offer computer-based assistance that is
built directly into the software application package. When the help function is con-
text-specific, a user having difficulty mastering a mail-merge function, for example,
can press the help key to get immediate instruction on how to use this function. Con-
text-specific help, including embedded wizards such as Microsoft Words Office
Assistant (which actually guides the user through a function), is an increasingly impor-
tant marketing feature of nearly all best-selling software packages.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 243

Knowledge Management Systems. Knowledge management systems attempt to

capture an organizations collective experience and make it accessible to everyone. One
way to think about knowledge management is:
Knowledge Management = knowledge + process
Knowledge management systems attempt to gather, codify, and create a
dissemination process for knowledge that is explicit (facts), as well as that knowledge
that is tacit (in the heads of employees). Explicit knowledge can be objectively
documented in manuals, databases, books, and the like. Tacit knowledge, on the other
hand, is subjective; it is the how-to, it is the thinking that goes into making complex
decisions, and it is difficult to put into words. Users of KM systems are both knowledge
creators and users. Most require the personal interaction of experts or advisors or
groups of peers who have experiences to share. Thus, KM systems play an important
role in innovation and the generation of new knowledge, and as they support the
development of new knowledge, they are more than just a database.
Hughes Space and Communications is one organization that connects lessons
learned databases so that designers of new satellites have better and timelier access to
technical and regulatory information. Engineers at General Electric Appliances in
Louisville, Kentucky use a knowledge-based system to search stored documents and
published articles for reference, which they describe as a concept-based document
retrieval method (as opposed to a keyword retrieval method). Eli Lilys Scientific
Performance Improvement Network (SPIN) is based on Lotus Notes and includes
threaded discussions, a directory of subject-matter experts who can be contacted, links
to databases, and entire courses on-line. SPIN is an example of performance support
that is designed to impart existing knowledge, as well as to create new knowledge
through human interaction.
The goal of such databases is not simply to create a warehouse of information, but
to keep track of the wide variety of wisdom, experience, and stories that comprise
information. A side benefit is that such systems can reduce the need for paper
documents and books, which can be hard to search and catalog.

Expert systems. When knowledge is rule-based, rules can be automated. An expert

system is a computer program that incorporates the knowledge of an expert or group of
experts on a particular subject and enables a user to systematically ask questions related
to that knowledge. It mimics human reasoning by using facts, rules, and inferences,
244 Learning at Work

which respond to nonlinear thinking and problem-solving skills. Expert system

development requires a computer programmer, known as a knowledge engineer, to
work closely with a subject-matter expert or domain expert to ascertain the facts,
identify the rules, and then develop an effective user interface.

Figure 8-2. Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Paced, Mediated Instructional


Approach Commonly Used in Advantages Disadvantages

Situations Where
Books and Journals The content to be learned Excellent self-paced To be effective, must be
is reflected in excellent instruction; materials are coupled with quality training
concept/skill materials that extremely portable; inex- activities
already exist pensive, familiar
Audio and Video Learning program is con- Additional sensory input To be effective, recordings
recordings tinuous; need to reach (sight and sound) valuable must be of high quality; this
dispersed audience is time-consuming, costly to
develop, and hard to
Podcasting Information changes Ease of distribution and Recordings must be of high
quickly learners have additional quality; this is time-
options as to where they consuming to develop
learn; easy to update
Satellite Radio Information changes Ease of distribution If not recorded and saved
quickly centrally, learners are
bound by time constraints
Computer-based The content to be learned Learners can use tools on Time-consuming and
Instruction is required by a large own time; continuous expensive to develop; hard
population; content lends feedback; learners are to maintain
itself to programmed active participants
Performance Support Dispersed users need Quick, easy access to Development time can be
Systems just-in-time assistance expert assistance at the long and costs can be high
time training is needed;
reduces the need to
memorize procedures
E-learning (Groupware Content needs frequent Easily distributed learning Course development and
and Learning Support updating; learners are option; communication delivery time can be high
Systems) geographically dispersed with instructor and other
learners supported

Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 245

Figure 8-2. Advantages and Disadvantages of Self-Paced, Mediated Instructional

Approaches (concluded)

M-learning (Wireless Geographically dispersed Easily updated; just-in- Small device size does
Cellular Phones, PDAs, learners; need reference time performance support not always lend itself to
and the like) materials, updates, or full-scale instructional
communication capa- options
Knowledge Management Individuals can share tacit Can be an invaluable The development and use
and Expert Systems solutions to work-based learning resource when of information requires
problems, and the organi- workers are dispersed or both technical expertise
zation needs to capture tackling new problems and personal motivation to
this information share ideas

Using Self-Paced Tools for Instruction

Once the choice to use mediated instructional methods is made, you must answer sev-
eral questions. Should you produce your own materials? Hire an outside vendor to
produce custom materials? Find generic products in the open market that meet your
needs? What steps are involved in ensuring that the materials get to the targeted audi-
ence? How do I make sure that the learners use the resources as planned? How do I deal
with problems they encounter in trying to use the materials? How do I evaluate the
outcomes of self-paced, mediated learning?

Selecting or Developing Courseware

Producing original instructional materials is an art as well as a science. To do it well
takes time, practice, expertise, and money. The development of study sheets for print-
based materials or audiotapes and videotapes that already exist is relatively quick and
inexpensive, but developing coordinated self-paced instructional materials or course-
ware requires high-level instructional design skills and teams of subject-matter experts,
artists, technicians, documentation writers, analysts, and programmers. To develop
good courseware from scratch requires considerable skill, time, and effort. It has been
estimated that instructional design teams can spend 200 to 300 hours to develop one
hour of instructional materials.
Courseware development or selection always begins with the learning objectives.
An extensive variety of self-paced learning materials already exists. Whenever possible
246 Learning at Work

and appropriate, such materials can be purchased for a given learning outcome. Modi-
fying purchased courseware is an option, but it can be costly and possibly void supplier
warranties and support. Printed materials must be of publishable quality, and any multi-
media materials must have quality graphics, animation, video, and/or sound. Thus,
development is an expensive and time-consuming process. Quality materials are
essential, however, if learners are to get the full benefit of the content being described.
Learners have little patience with poorly designed and executed materials.
But there is more to instruction than having professional-looking materials.
Enhancement of presentation and the effectiveness of the learning experience are two
different things. In selecting a delivery option, you should keep in mind that excellent
media can never compensate for bad writing, poor design, trivial information, repetitive
delivery, or mundane feedback. Once we become enamored by the delivery system
(and perhaps even dazzled by our own magnificence at mastering its use), we tend to
lose sight of our original goal, which should be to deliver useful information and
courseware to the learner.

Delivering Self-Paced Instruction

Self-paced or mediated instruction can take place at a learning center, a specific
location for learning resources that has a librarian or technical support person to assist.
The learning center can be at a company site or at a vendors location. Away from his or
her desk, the learner may find going to a center a way to be able to focus on learning and,
at the same time, have someone to assist should questions arise. Alternatively, learners
can sit at their work desks, in an airport lounge, in an easy chair at homeat any place
and at any time they prefer.
The instructors role in self-paced instruction is to create an implementation plan
for the learner, including a rationale for using the media for instruction. The next step is
to guide or coach him or her in the effective use of the learning resources. Getting the
materials in the hands of the learners is only the first step, but it is an easy step with
e-learning and m-learning. You must make sure that instructional materials are useful
and that users can effectively use the tools. This might require face-to-face instruction.
Careful pre-planning is necessary, especially when the learning effort is extensive and
affects a large number of learners. It is extremely important that you pilot-test the
materials and provide opportunities for learner feedback.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 247

A pilot test is a planned and managed test drive or trial of the learning initiative.
Trial results are analyzed and fed back to program designers and developers, who then
ready the materials for the larger population at multiple locations or within the entire
organization. Before you pilot test, ask these kinds of questions:
Will using these materials achieve the desired learning outcomes?
Are the materials useful and easy to use?
How long will it take for learners to master the content?
What types and levels of live support do we need?
How should we provide feedback?
What do users think about the usefulness of the materials and their ease of use?
How can we modify materials, based on pilot results?
How will we collect data on all these things so we can sell the package to
learners and to the organization?
With classroom-based instruction, participants go to a location and an instructor
leads them through a series of planned learning exercises. However, when mediated
instruction is involved, implementation means developing a strategy to get materials to
learners, maintain the materials, and in some cases, distribute changes or updates.
Implementation also means supporting the learning process itself by answering ques-
tions, clarifying instructions, and dealing with any glitches in the instructional materials.
Ideally, too, learners have opportunities to meet with each other, whether in-person or
online. This aspect of implementation is often overlooked in planning. You cannot sim-
ply give the materials to the learner and then assume that your work is doneespecially
when self-paced instruction is being used for the first time. Sometimes coach-
ingone-on-one helpis required. Be sure the learners and their supervisors under-
stand that quiet time needs to be set aside for learning, even though users wont be
going to a classroom. In one organization, employees actually put up yellow crime
scene tape around their work area to discourage colleagues from interrupting their quiet
time for learning.
248 Learning at Work

Evaluating Self-Paced Instruction

The use of mediated instruction in no way lessens the necessity of appropriate evalua-
tion. Self-paced learning programs are planned learning experiences, and those
involved in the program will want reports. Evaluation strategies and procedures in such
cases differ little from those conducted on traditional instructional programs. To apply
Kirkpatricks learning domains of reaction, learning, behavior, organizational results,
and process simply requires re-thinking.
For example, reaction questionnaires would gauge the learners evaluation of the
preparation and organization of materials, the study guide, and any facilitation help.
Learning outcomes could be reviewed by using tests, simulations, or role plays. In fact,
computer-based instruction is often designed to give learners instantaneous information
regarding their mastery of the subject. Three or six months after a self-paced learning
event, you could send follow-up surveys to learners and/or their supervisors to find out
how and if the knowledge or skills learned were used back on the job. Measuring organ-
izational results of learning initiatives is always a challenge, but you may well be able
to make connections between learning support and performance improvements. You
might want to ask participants process questions regarding their satisfaction with their
personal role in the determining learning objectives and the adequacy of the ways they
received or accessed learning materials.

Additional Workplace Learning Strategies

In most of this book, we define and discuss learning objectives and the development of
learning initiatives that have fairly concrete outcomes. However, individuals are learn-
ing continuously, so our role isnt always going to be to provide classroom or self-paced
Often, we must work with managers to support initiatives whereby individuals have
opportunities to share their experiences and learn from and with each other: communi-
ties of practice, coaching, and mentoring.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 249

Communities of Practice
The term communities of practice, coined by Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave in their
1991 book Situated Learning, has at its basis the idea that individuals with common
expertise and passion for their work learn from and with each other. Communities of
practice (CoPs) tend to be naturally occurring groups of people who are passionate
about their work and will work together to achieve common goals. Such communities,
according to Wenger, work to create a sense of community and their own knowledge
management system. Wenger says that learning is the engine of practice.

Families struggle to establish a habitable way of life. They develop their

own practices, routines, rituals, artifacts, symbols, conventions,
stories, and histories. Family members hate each other and they love
each other; they agree and they disagree. They do what it takes to keep
going. Even when families fall apart, members create ways of dealing
with each other. Surviving together is an important enterprise.
Religious groups are other CoPs. How many professional
organizations do you belong to? Would you classify them as your
CoPs? How active are you in the organization? Do you have shared
goals? In some CoPs we are core members. In others, our role is more
Source: Wenger, E. 1999. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

While we are all members of groups, not all groups are communities of practice.
The people we work with, whether they are in the cubicle next door or across the globe,
can often be considered communities of practice if they fit the definition of shared
passion and goals. Examples can include our families, social groups, choirs, religious
groups, and professional organizations.
Membership in a CoP is based on a collective commitment to share what we know
about how work is done. Learning in a CoP is social. Sharing knowledge and
experiences can be done over coffee, via Internet chats, or at planned events such as a
brownbag lunch or breakfast meeting. While workplace CoPs are often created from the
ground up, members self-select, and leadership is not based on one person. The overall
result is a structure to help one another cope on the day-to-day job, solve new problems,
250 Learning at Work

create new knowledge, bring new employees into a work environment, and grow as
In Cultivating Communities of Practice, Wenger and his colleagues tackled the
problem of what learning professionals can do to foster the development and growth of
CoPs. The challenge, they say, is designing an intervention for an activity that is by
definition spontaneous and self-directed. From their research, they developed seven
1. Design for evolution.
Develop and nurture preexisting groups.
2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives.
Bring information from experts outside the group, to help the community grow.
3. Invite different levels of participation.
Most groups have core members who are the leadership group; active
members who participate in events regularly; and peripheral members who
rarely participate. Ensure that CoPs have room for all levels of participation.
4. Develop both public and private community spaces.
Public places are good locations for meetings, and might have their own Web
site. Private spaces are closed locations where members can work more
5. Focus on value.
Initially, value evolves around problem solving; as the CoP matures, value
may be in developing a system of knowledge.
6. Combine familiarity and excitement.
While many events are routine, learning professionals might want to invite
members to attend special conferences or attend invited lectures.
7. Create a rhythm for the community.
Encourage attendance at regular meetings and chat rooms. Encourage Web
site activity. Try to ensure that enough activities are planned, but not too
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 251

Like communities of practice, mentoring is yet another means to pass on an organiza-
tions culture. Mentoring is defined here as a process whereby an experienced member
of an organization provides problem-solving strategies and career advice to new
employees. Heres how we do this around here. In an organization with a learning
culture, informal mentoring occurs among its employees continually. Increasingly,
though, organizations have benefited from establishing formal mentoring programs in
which they assign new hires to senior members of the company, rather than assume that
such relationships will evolve on their own.
Formal mentoring programs help ensure that everyone who wants a mentor has one.
Formal mentoring programs have start and stop dates, although informal mentoring
may continue. Key to the ultimate success of any mentoring program are these three
things: appropriate assessment and design steps taken prior to roll-out; the support of
ongoing activities; and an evaluation plan. The workplace learning professional takes a
leadership role in not only making sure that the program is well designed, but also that it
is nurtured.

Prior to Roll-Out. Like any instructional design effort, you will want to be sure that the
expectations of the mentoring program are clear. Why should we do this? What do we
want to achieve? How will we measure success? Do we have top-management
sponsorship? Additionally, a design team may want to consider the organizations
culture and determine the degree to which potential mentors will welcome an
opportunity to participate in the program or will need incentives. Full participation
requires time on the part of both the mentor and the mentee, and both will benefit from
advice on how to manage the relationship. Be sure that the following questions are
answered: What will the scope of the program be? Who and how many individuals are
eligible? How will we select mentees? How will we select mentors? Is it important that
mentoring teams be in the same location, or can distance mentoring work?

During the Mentoring Period. During the mentorship period, you should make sure
that mentor-mentee teams are meeting regularly. Schedule regular group events, such
as brownbag lunches, and remind participants to meet at a time and place convenient to
both parties; this vital follow-up can be done by e-mail. Immediately address any issues
that arise if teams are not compatible.
252 Learning at Work

After the Program. Evaluation is a key step. You must learn what worked and what
went wrong. It is possible that a program succeeded because of the attention to detail in
the matching of mentor and mentee. Mismatches might be a reason for a program not
achieving its goals. Mentors and mentees should be part of any evaluation strategy;
reaction questionnaires and focus groups are often used for this purpose. What is
learned here becomes input for the development and delivery of the next mentoring
program. The sharing of stories of successful mentormentee teams through company
newsletters is a good way, too, of casting the spotlight on your program.

Coaching is undoubtedly the way most of us would prefer to learn how to do almost
anything. Supervisors and managers can be considered coaches when they work
one-on-one with someone who needs to learn how to do a job. Peers, such as members
of a CoP, can sometimes be labeled coaches. A good coach provides help just at the
time that it is needed, and continually encourages team members to do their best.
Coaching can be done to improve performance for an existing job, to better develop
someones potential, or to help an individual get through a difficult personal challenge
or master leadership skills. Dialogue and positive reinforcement support effective per-
The coach is someone who can listen to an individuals problems and can help him
or her develop strategies to address or cope with the problem. A good coach can even
guide the employee to be more self-assured and comfortable in new roles. Many con-
sultants and consulting firms provide these services. Coaching is a field for which no
universally accepted licensing or credential exists, and the search for an effective coach
is highly personal. What follows is an example of one coaching experience.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 253

Coaching Case Study

The Situation: A high-potential corporate manager needs to learn to manage

time and people more effectively so that she can take on more responsibility and
have visibility to executive levels of management.
* * * * *
Ann was identified as a high-potential corporate manager who needed to
improve her time- and employee-management skills in order to be promotable to
an executive level. She had a pattern of working excessive hours, not focusing
on strategic priorities, and over-reacting emotionally to stressful situations. Ann
has an undergraduate engineering degree and an MBA from top schools. She is
married, a mother of four children, and the primary wage earner for the family.

The coaching process began by helping the client assess career goals, needs,
values, strengths, weaknesses, work-style preference, and thought processes
that impeded her success, and to find areas for skill development. The most
immediate focus of coaching was on developing skills in setting priorities,
handling interruptions, and delegating tasks. To accomplish this, Ann had to
become aware of her behavior and the ways she was spending time. Anns
personal challenges were resistance to making requests; saying no to
interruptions and other requests for time; empowering others with responsibility;
letting go of perfectionism and the need to solve others problems. Some of the
tools used were journaling of accomplishments, self-talk, role-plays of
employee-management situations, creation of a time-management chart, and
use of creative methods that involved imagery, humor, and gimmicks to lighten
up. Distinctions about behavior were also used to help Ann shift her mind set to
be more productive and confident.

After five months of coaching, Ann was exhibiting an even temperament under
stress. She was rarely staying late and was maintaining an exercise regimen
three times a week. She developed an innovative system for time management
that was utilized by others in the company. She had the confidence to request
consideration for executive level positions. She is now being given more
opportunities to participate in executive level meetings, which will provide access
to a promotion to this level.
Marcia Grubel, career, life, and business coach, Irvington, New York. Used with permission.
254 Learning at Work

Self-paced learning strategies are those where instruction is offered through print, audio,
video, or computer-based materials, rather than via a classroom-based instructor.
Self-paced instruction fits well with what we know about how adults learn. Such
learning strategies are often used when participants possess a wide range of experiences
and/or abilities; when participants are spread out geographically; when only a small
number of individuals need to learn something; or when repetitive, ongoing learning of
specific skills needs to take place.
In this chapter, we took a developmental approach to describing self-paced or
mediated methods, starting with paper-based instruction and tutorials, moving on to
audio and video recording, and concluding with computer-supported resources and
knowledge management systems. These methods build on each other and are often used
in combination.
Audio and video generally accompany other materials, such as study guides, books,
programmed instruction, tutorials, and manuals. Computer-based instruction (CBI)
includes tutorials, drill and practice, instructional games, modeling, simulations, and
problem-solving exercises. Learning management systems can help with registration,
assessment, record-keeping, and testingthe administrative side of training. CBI
products combine text, graphics, animation, sound, and video, and exist in a wide range
of formats. Because of their huge storage capability, CD-ROMs and DVDs are impor-
tant integrating media.
In e-learning and m-learning (mobile learning), learners access instructional mate-
rials, readings, assignments, interactive quizzes, and the like, as well as informational
resources using communication tools such as discussion boards, chat rooms, iPods,
satellite radio. E- and m-learning can be used for self-paced instruction, as well as live
interaction. Software vendors can provide generic or personalized learning solutions.
Because information can be easily updated and accessed independent of geography and
is universally available, e- and m-learning are powerful just-in-time learning options.
Computers are used for the communication, retrieval, examination, and manipula-
tion of data, which can be accessed when needed. Performance support includes Help
Desks, on-line help, and expert systems. Help Desks offer centralized tutoring from a
person at the other end of a telephone. On-line help is built directly into a software
applications package, available to the user at the click of a mouse. An expert system is a
computer program that is developed by a subject matter expert and a knowledge engi-
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 255

neer. It includes a user interface that allows the user to systematically ask questions.
Performance support systems can include the entire gamut of instructional media dis-
cussed in this chapter, and provide just-in-time learning, which might reduce the need
for formal learning.
Producing self-paced materials from scratch is sophisticated, costly, and
time-consuming. Delivering such instruction requires planning: determining where
learning will take place, planning for the delivery and maintenance of needed materials,
and creating mechanisms for support and feedback. Evaluation of outcomes is con-
ducted much the same way as for live instruction. The instructor is more of a facilitator
who stands behind the scenes, managing the instruction rather than acting as a live
teacher. The focus of instructionwhether mediated or liveis always on learning.
In the final section of this chapter, we defined and discussed three contemporary
approaches to guide learning through an organization: communities of practice, men-
toring, and coaching. Communities of practice (CoPs), groups of people who share a
common expertise and passion for their work, help newcomers master their jobs and act
as sounding boards. CoPs create and share new knowledge. Mentoring programs help
create and sustain a relationship between a seasoned member of the organization and a
new employee. The goal is to help the new employee learn the organizational culture.
Coaching, on the other hand, is a one-on-one approach whereby an individual either
learns how to do a current job or is groomed for future positions that will require new
skill sets.

Think It Through
1. With the Instructional Development Cycle as a framework, summarize the major
differences between classroom and self-paced instruction.
2. Paper-based mediated or self-paced instructional methods remain popular despite
the widespread availability of computer-based instruction. Why?
3. Given the following knowledge/skill sets to learn, which self-paced method best
fits your own learning style? Why? Are there some instances in which a variety of
media (as well as live instruction) would be useful to you?
a. The newest version of Word.
b. How to write a training proposal.
256 Learning at Work

c. How to speak Japanese.

d. Basic supervisory management skills.
4. Discuss the implications of the following statement:
Performance support systems actually decrease the need for learning.
5. Identify a community of practice of which you are member. Describe your
participation in that CoP, using terms such as shared passion and common
6. Have you ever been or had a mentor or a coach? Share your experiences with your

Ideas in Action
1. Identify a non-fiction book of interest from the New York Times Best Seller List
that would be appropriate reading for an executive development program.
a. Develop a study guide for the bookexercises that would help a reader retain
and learn the content.
b. Summarize the key points of the book on an audiotape or disk. Listen to your
recording. What did you learn about the book? What did you learn about
creating a recording?
2. Interview someone at your organization or school who has taught a course over the
Internet. Ask him or her to describe the content of the course. Also ask how the
course was implemented and what evaluation data are available. What, if any, are
the time and cost estimates? Report your findings to your classmates.
3. Interview individuals at your institution who have taken a course over the Internet.
Ask them to describe the content of the course. What were their reactions to the
course? Were their learning goals achieved? Ask them to compare the course to one
they might have taken in a traditional classroom environment. Report your findings
to your classmates.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 257

4. Using data from the PHH VMS example below, write a memo to employees
describing the new system and why they should sign up for courses.
5. Check out the Web sites of at least three Web-based learning vendors. Make a list
of the services each vendor offers. Take advantage of any offer to test drive their
products. Write a brief report summarizing what you found and how you perceive
the relative value of their sites.

Featured Case: PHH Vehicle Management Services

As you read this case, identify the technical issues and the people-issues related to
the introduction of a new learning technology.
The introduction of self-paced methods in an organization is a complex
challenge. Risks can be high and costs can be great. Learning pro-
fessionals must have a vision and a tolerance for risk if they intend to
encourage innovational approaches to learning. Management must
also have effective delivery strategies that not only support learning,
but also support the organizational culture.
PHH Vehicle Management Services in Hunt Valley, Maryland spe-
cializes in fleet leasing and vehicle support services. The 900+
employees obtained their computer skills training through a local ven-
dor who provides full-day courses on the basic use of the computer,
MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Windows. Course delivery was coor-
dinated through the companys small training department. Courses
were popular. However, as a service business, employees were con-
cerned that they needed to be close to their customers and often could
not devote a full day to learning to use software.
Marc Sokol, director of human resource development, was asked to
examine computer-based training as a possible alternative to, or addi-
tional strategy for, software training. He asked himself if their small
training department could support computer-based training (CBT),
even if it were an appropriate alternative. Would they need to find an
external provider? A study team consisting of Sokol, one trainer, one
human resource information specialist, and two people from the infor-
mation technology unit was set up to explore the idea further. Members
visited three very different types of organizations that were heavily
involved in developing and using CBT: UPS, GEICO, and Q-E Midlantic.
258 Learning at Work

First, they visited United Parcel Services (UPS), a large informa-

tion-intensive organization in New Jersey. At the time of system devel-
opment, UPSs CBT development group creates training modules to be
shipped with new software. Their CBT is sophisticated, tailored, inten-
sive, and expensive; but because they support a large number of users
worldwide, the investment is extremely cost-effective for UPS.
Next, Sokols team visited a smaller company, Government Employ-
ees Insurance Company (GEICO) in Washington, D. C. GEICO has a
subgroup of four training professionals who report to the human
resources department and are directly involved in CBT development.
GEICOs CBT products are labor-intensive and expensive, but are con-
sidered to be extremely effective for their distributed users learning
The last site visited was a small leasing company named Q-E Midlan-
tic, a value-added reseller that specializes in CBT equipment, software,
and training facilitation. Hardware, including state-of-the-art com-
puters, laser disks, CD-ROMs, and sophisticated computer software,
was set up in Q-E Midlantics learning center. Students from many
diverse organizations in Q-E Midlantics metropolitan region are able to
come in to the center any time between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., pop in
a program, and watch an instructional video on one of the three chosen
levels: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. The learner, using a tog-
gle, can switch between the instructional narrative and the actual soft-
ware application.
The study team was intrigued with this setup because it is not as
staff-intensive as the other approaches, and the individual learner has
control. PHH VMSs culture to date had been high-tech/high-touch, and
the company employees were used to, and expected, live instruction.
Therefore, the study team decided to pilot the CBT in a manner that
would also support a change in training delivery (remember this as you
read Chapter 10). So, with the assistance of Q-E Midlantic, they devel-
oped a three-month, three-stage pilot test.
For the first month, everyone in a single department (the HR depart-
ment), was signed up for two half-day courses. At the end of the month,
department members discussed their experiences. Reaction was gen-
erally positive, but members of the study team still werent sure that
CBT was for everyone, particularly for workers with absolutely no
computer experience or workers who wanted the feeling of comfort that
comes with an instructor-led class.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 259

During the second month, the study team identified 15 people from
throughout the organization who had previously had instructor-led
computer training, and invited them to participate in the CBT courses
free of charge. This time, individuals could go to the Q-E Midlantic
training center when they had timeanytime within the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
learning center hours. These more experienced users could work at a
level appropriate to their needs, and were very enthusiastic about their
experiences. However, they reported that the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. time
frame was too restrictive, and that the learning center itself was noisier
than they would like.
During the third month and final phase of the study, the team leased
two complete training systems and set them up in a small room on their
own premises. They advertised that the equipment was available on a
sign-up basis, and brought in the vendor to demonstrate the equipment
in the firms cafeteria and in the lobby. They advertised it as Free train-
ing for a month. Individuals were encouraged to sign up for a trial use
of the system, and to the teams astonishment, more than 100 people
signed up. By the middle of the month, the room was booked from 7
a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, and frequently on weekends. Users
reported that the system was easy to navigate and more effective than
the live instruction, and it fit more easily into their busy schedules.
As the third month wound down, the question changed from
Should we use the system? to Should we lease it or buy it? Given
the pace of technological change, did it make sense to buy the system
outright, or lease it? Sokol explained that this is a standard dilemma,
faced by the computer industry as well as training departments. Its a
paradox, he said. You cant afford to wait, and yet theres an inherent
risk in buying equipment outright. Moreover, CBT wasnt for all learn-
ers. Users with little computer experience, for example, needed
more-direct support. Scheduling the classroom site and the requisite
facilitator support were complex administrative issues, but the team
also needed to think about evaluationhow to determine if learning
actually took place. For example, are on-line computer-generated
evaluation tests useful and valid?
For the future, Sokol intends to address the issue of portabilitythe
use of the system at the desktop or at home. Weve come a long way
from early programmed instruction, which was simply a series of
branching screens of text, said Sokol. We moved on to graphics and
260 Learning at Work

colors to display information, then interactive software, and now multi-

media applications. The challenge is to move from computer-based
learning to computer-based support.

Based on an interview with Marc Sokol, Director of HRD for PHH Fleet America when
the interview was conducted. (Note: PHH Fleet America has subsequently become part
of Cendant Corporation.)

Additional Resources
Rosenberg, M. J. 2006. Beyond E-Learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Rosenberg assesses the current state of e-learning, provides case studies of
successful implementations, and includes essays by noted experts in the field,
including Elliot Masie and Kevin Oaks.

Rudestsam, K. E., and Schoenholtz-Read (eds.). 2002. Handbook of Online Learning:

Innovations in Higher Education and Corporate Training. Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage.
In this book, the authors explore issues related to teaching and learning over
electronic networks.

Schank, R. 1997. Virtual Learning: A Revolutionary Approach to Building a Highly

Skilled Workforce. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Schank offers case histories and examples of organizations, including Andersen
Consulting, that have used computer simulations and role-playing scenarios in
virtual training. Schanks argument is that virtual training results in better,
more-effective learning outcomes. This book is a must-read for all workplace
learning professionals.

Zachary, Lois J. 2005 Creating a Mentoring Culture. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This resource is a step-by-step guide to launching an organization-wide mentoring
initiative. Youll find the forms and procedures easy to follow.
Enabling Learning Outside the Classroom 261

Chapter 8 Notes
1. Lipson, Joseph. Learning by Distance: How Effective? Presentation delivered to the Regional
Forum on Distance Learning in Austin, Texas on April 5, 1984.

2. Podcast Popularity Grows. Training. April 2006. 43(4), p. 14.

Gloria Gery on Instructional Delivery

Gloria Gery is an internationally recognized training consultant and principal in the

Tolland, Massachusetts-based Gery Associates, which specializes in performance-
centered software design and implementation of interactive training and performance-
support systems. She is a member of Training magazines HRD Hall of Fame.

Learning Gloria, your name is synonymous with performance support. Can you
at Work describe the types of services you provide organizations as a consultant?
Gloria Basically, Chet, I work with organizations to consider strategies, tactics,
Gery and software tools to serve as an alternative to traditional training as the
primary means of performance development. Training is working less
and less and is falling of its own weight in many organizations, due to
the volume, complexity, and change in content and task/process require-
ments. I help my clients understand how they can integrate support for
task or work processing with knowledge, data, tools, and communication
so they can generate immediate performance by people who do not know
how to do the work. I also show them how they can integrate resources to
permit learning that is collateral with doing (rather than as a precondi-
This work involves making people unhappy with the status quo,
demonstrating and describing alternatives, educating people on what it
takes to do these new things, and sometimes actually working with them
in the design and development of such systems.
LAW: What business benefits have you seen derived from performance sup-

264 Learning at Work

GERY: Lots. Mostly, it enables people to reduce or even eliminate training on

work process and factual/conceptual content, reduces coaching and
supervisory requirements, allows work to be assigned to different
peopleeven directly to customers. Because comprehensive perform-
ance support systems build best practice and strategic goals within them,
the goals can include such high level outcomes as finally enabling the
implementation of strategy.
The idea here is to consider efficiency, effectiveness, value-added,
and strategy outcomes and see how achieving all of them can be built
into the support system. Because performance support is an integrating
viewpoint, its success typically requires collaboration with those in the
line of business and information systems.
LAW: What trouble have you seen people get themselves into in trying to
implement technology to support learning?
GERY: There are many pitfalls, but to me, the biggest one is not exploiting the
power of the technology. People start and often stop with automating the
past. They apply technology to old mental models for design and old
methods for development. They dont consider, for example, how learn-
ing and the need to learn change when information is ubiquitous and
available to all. They continue to teach at people rather than present
problems or goals and enable people to meet them. They fail to employ
collaboration technologies and stick to the model that the student is a
vessel to be filled. I am a constructivist at heart and believe we can now
implement that approach to learning. Getting stuck in the past and failing
to adapt point of view, goals, methods, and techniques to the new reali-
ties is a shame. But it happens more than not.
Misuse of media is another pitfall, Chet. People integrate gratuitous
animations, sound, video, and so on because they can. Designers must
control and constrain and use only value-added representations of knowl-
edge. The law of diminishing astonishment operates overtime here.
The things that seduce dont sustain. Learners quickly tire of cute and
trivial elements. They are hungry for relevant and filtered contentnot a
lot of glitz. This is not to say the quality production values should
VoicesGloria Gery 265

not be achieved, but a little media goes a long way. And the criteria
should be value-added. That is, does the representation improve time to
understanding or performance? Thats the measure.
LAW: So what do you see as major trends concerning mediated instruction of
all types?
GERY: My response depends on who or what I am thinking of. Of course, every-
ones rushing to the Web or the Intranet. This is good in a small way:
universal access. But because the Web is based on a page metaphor,
because the development tools are so limited, and because theres no
local memory, storage, or processing assumed in Web design, it reduces
the potential to designing for the lowest technology denominatorthe
dumb terminal. I find it frightening that we must regress to the early days
of CBT in a dumb terminal environment, but the regression is a trend.
One of the best things I see is the effort to integrate learning and
knowledge resources into the work context. Good designers consider how
they can anticipate needs for knowledge, understand the best representa-
tion of that knowledge, and provide on-demand, just-in-time, just-
enough, best-represented content. The moment of need is the teachable
moment. We must be there. It is more or less difficult to achieve this
integration. But even when its difficult, it is our responsibility as those
tasked with enabling learning. If we dont achieve integration, then
chance operates and the learner or performer may or may not be moti-
vated or able to search out knowledge, evaluate it, filter it, integrate it,
and use it.
LAW: What impact do you think improved bandwidth and computer capacity
will have on Web-based training of all sorts?
GERY: High bandwidth and fast, cheap, large machines connected in powerful
networks are the necessary but not sufficient conditions for achieving
good, rich, effective learning environments. Design of good learning
resources and performance support systems by knowledgeable people is
at least as important. Power without appropriate content is an empty
266 Learning at Work

vessel. We shouldnt underestimate the technologys significanceor

depend on it entirely.
LAW: How do you know when WBT has taken place successfully?
GERY: How do you know when any learning occurs? When people can do
things. Performance is the measure. Teaching people the threads (i.e.
subjects, systems, etc.) is inadequate. We must help them weave the
threads into desired performance.
LAW: Gloria, what roles do you see instructional design playing over the next
few years or so?
GERY: I see people shifting from developing events to designing learning envi-
ronments. That means integrating more with others who create knowl-
edge in various forms (e.g. those in documentation and training, help
desks, product engineers, and those in knowledge management). I see a
shift from learning to performance... and performance consulting will be
a part of it.
LAW: What would you say are the most important tasks that workplace learning
professionals must do for their organizations?
GERY: Focus on outcomes, not on activities or events. Play a significant role in
designing software interfaces and linking knowledge to the task context
supported by new computer systems. This is in direct contrast to using
training to compensate for badly designed or data-driven software. Shift
design of learning experiences from information-transfer events to prob-
lem solving or simulation-based learning events involving collaboration
with others (through technology).
LAW: What specific advice can you offer our readers to help them make train-
ing an organizational investment, rather than an overhead expenseand
help them persuade others to see it as an investment, rather than an
VoicesGloria Gery 267

GERY: Make it work-oriented, not content-focused. Integrate the threads of

decomposed knowledge that are in most courses to help learners synthe-
size. Make learning practical and applied. Stop being focused on our
design needs, and focus on the business and performers needs. Think of
participants as performers, rather than students.
LAW: Gloria, thank you for sharing your considerable insights and expertise in
this area. You've given us much to think about.
GERY: Chet, youre very welcome.

Prologue to Part 4
Orville and Wilbur Wright were successful because they were systems think-
ers. They alone identified three interconnected facts of flight demonstrated by
birds without motors. Before you could hang wings on a bicycle and ride it
through the sky, you had to figure out how to:
1. Get it in the air
2. Keep it in the air
3. Make it go where you want
Part 4 is all about creating environments in which learning initiatives can
fly. Even the best solution will flounder if it is not described in such a way
that decision-makers will have enough information on which to determine its
worth (get it into the air). Even the best solution will fail if it is not admin-
istered appropriately. For example, instructional support materials must arrive
on time and participants should be able to hear a presenter (keep it in the
air). It will be useless if the outcomes are not consistent with the way we
work around here and learners or their superiors resist it (make it go where
you want). This systems approach forces us to consider the many things
inside and outside the learning solution itself that determine whether or not
instruction will be effective.
Systems thinking also makes use of the concept of equifinality, which is
another way of saying that there is more than one way to do anything. The
chapters that follow do not provide foolproof templates for problem-solving,
but are instead ideas and suggestions that will fit some circumstances per-
fectly, others partially, and some not at all. Part 4 is all about the effective use
of a toolkit for communication and leadership skills and tools for writing,
speaking, delegating, organizing, facilitating. How you get the instructional
program into the air, keep it there, and make sure it does what it is supposed
to do depends on many factors related to the individual, the current environ-
ment, and the organization that is being served.

270 Learning at Work

Therefore, in addition to being a purveyor of sound learning support practices,

you need additional skills to work successfully within the organizational system and
communicate how specific solutions can address a business need, manage the process
by which solutions are implemented, and understand how you can participate as a
fully functioning member of the organizations management team.
A critical part of making your case for a learning intervention is being adept at
crafting a training proposal. The training proposal is a comprehensive planning docu-
ment. It includes an analysis of the needs assessment data and shows how the solution
it offers fills a performance gap or organizational need. Chapter 9, Writing the Train-
ing Proposal, suggests structural outlines, writing strategies, and cost/benefit analysis
techniques that are frequently used in developing successful proposals. The training
proposal itself must offer decision makers the information they need to make the go
or no-go decision regarding whether or not the program itself is feasible.
Chapter 10, Supporting Change in the Workplace, takes you back to Chapter 1,
where instruction was described as all about learning, and learning as all about
changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Change, and therefore learning, is a
constant in all organizations. We begin this chapter with a simple change model
innovation, infusion, and assimilationand discuss the workplace learning
professionals role in the problem-solving process. To provide a framework for
understanding the concept of planned organizational change, we include excerpts
from the work of Everett Rogers, Kurt Lewin, and Peter Senge. Also included here is
a sampling of techniques for facilitating group processes that emphasize the
increasingly important role of the workplace learning professional as a business
In Chapter 11, Administering Workplace Learning Programs, we provide a menu
of suggestions for operating a learning and performance department and administering
the logistics of instructional delivery. Good administrative support consists of ensur-
ing that program descriptions are available, that participant registration is easy and
efficient, that materials arrive on time, that the physical facility is set up properly, and
that any equipment is in good working order. Youll find checklists that can be
adapted to many situations, as well as a sample program cost worksheet that can help
you establish budgets.
The Wright Brothers invented their own wing, elevator, rudder, engine, and pro-
peller. They had to think how each part of the system affected the planes ability to
fly. They had to go beyond solving isolated sets of problems. The workplace learning
Prologue to Part 4 271

professional, likewise, must understand how important it is that the right things are
learned in the right way, for the right people, at the right time, and in the right priority
order. Leadership for this role requires an understanding that organizations need inter-
ventions, and that organizations themselves are complex entities. Making sure that
learning solutions are understood and administered appropriately and that they are
useful interventions requires teamwork and an understanding that learning and per-
formance are business functions. All this, in turn, requires an understanding of the
entire organizational system.
Writing the Training Proposal

In this chapter, we will do the following:

List the key components of training proposals and suggest proposal design
and structure.
Identify variables on which to evaluate training proposals.
Determine the benefits and costs of the proposed learning initiative,
including return-on-investment figures.
Recommend strategies to ensure a winning proposal presentation.

What is a Training Proposal?

Instructional program providers, whether internal or external to the organiza-
tion, must communicate their plans to decision makers. A proposal is a request
for action; its purpose is to persuade decision makers that a need exists for
action, and that the action described in the document is the best response to that
need. It must be thorough and convincing, which means that the individual pre-
paring the proposal must have solid writing skills and perhaps even sharp, crea-
tive desktop-publishing skills. Occasionally, a proposal writer is asked to pre-
sent the proposal in person to a decision-making group; in this case, effective
oral presentation skills and skill with presentation software will also be critical.
In this chapter we use the term training proposal to refer to the written plan of
a solution to a performance gap or learning need.
If you are an internal learning support professional, your training proposal
will help you compete for scarce resources within the organization. If you are
selecting an external provider, you will want to determine if the vendor can
provide the services you need in a timely manner. Either way, the goal of a
training proposal is to convince organizational decision makers that the iden-
tified need deserves priority status, and that the proposal outlines the best
solution for that need. The proposal must communicate ideas and plans with
such eloquence that it will rise to the top of the requests submitted.

274 Learning at Work

Communicating Learning Solutions

The first prerequisite in planning a proposal is to have a very clear idea of the organiza-
tions learning needs. The second prerequisite is to know who will be reading the pro-
posal. Sometimes written proposals must adhere to strict corporate guidelines. Federal
agencies, for example, often provide a boilerplate format that makes it easy for decision
makers to compare proposals. Other times, proposal writers use a format that is appro-
priate to the problem at hand, but leaves room for the individuality of the writer and/or
the providers organization to come through. You must tailor the proposals format to
the organization and to the problem.
A list of the components of common proposals is presented on the following page.
Note that the list follows the four phases of the Instructional Development Cycle
assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation. Not every training proposal will
have all of these components or follow this sequence. Many winning proposals are
briefonly three to five pages long or presented strictly as a PowerPoint presentation.
Senior executives usually want a summary view with few details, whereas middle
managers will need much more information. The larger the scope of the project and the
more expensive or strategic the solution, the more detailed the proposal needs to be.
Therefore, know your audience, your purpose, and your project before you begin, and
keep them in mind throughout the process. As you read this chapter, you might want to
refer to Appendix A (a sample long training proposal) and Appendix B (a sample short
training proposal).

Title Page
The title page should start off with a descriptive title of the proposal. Avoid picking a
name that sounds like the title of a college course, since such course titles tend to be
very general in nature. A proposal for a business writing course designed to help man-
agers prepare performance reports, for example, could be called Writing Techniques
for Preparing Performance Reports, but should not be entitled Fundamentals of
Business Writing. Put the name of the proposal writer on the title page, as well as
relevant contact information, such as address, telephone number, facsimile number, and
e-mail address.
Writing the Training Proposal 275

The Components of a Training Proposal

Title page
Table of contents
Executive summary
Description of the problem or need*
Analysis of the problem*
Target population*
Rationale and goals of the proposed initiative
Learning objectives and topics*
Evaluation strategies
Overview of the training solution program (outline)
Resources required
Capabilities of the training providers
Development schedule
Projected benefits

*These elements may be combined or merged under the subhead

indicated if a shorter proposal is desired.

Table of Contents
A table of contents is not always necessary for short proposals, but is generally pro-
vided for lengthy and/or detailed proposals to give the reader a quick overview of what
is to come and in what sequence, and serve as an easy reference to the various sections.

Executive Summary
Time is critical to everyone, so prepare a tightly written executive summary for all
proposals. A sample of an executive summary follows:
Newly hired inspection employees at the Xanadu Corporation have a much
higher product-rejection rate than established employees. The high rejection
276 Learning at Work

rate costs this corporation a considerable amount of time and money, as the
products rejected are often well within the firms acceptability range. A needs
analysis consisting of employee interviews and observations indicates that new
hires are using different acceptance standards than their experienced counter-
parts. A training program consisting of product information lecturettes, role
plays, and small group discussions is recommended to make sure new inspector
hires learn and apply the appropriate standards.

Description of the Problem

Those who will be reviewing the proposal and making decisions on its fate need to
know what the problem is that you are trying to address. A full and accurate description
begins with some background: how the proposal was initiated, who performed the
needs assessment, and what procedures were involved in the process. Then describe the
context of the business problem to be solved. One way to make this connection is to list
the names of stakeholders who initially raised the issue or who participated in the needs
assessment process. An example of this section follows:
The trademark of this business is quality. New hires are rejecting too many
acceptable products. They seem to be overly cautious in their goal to maintain
the highest quality control standards. Thus, excessive numbers of acceptable
machine tools are rejected. New hires making judgment calls tend to err on the
side of caution, rather than on the side of acceptability.

Analysis of the Problem

What is the problem to be addressed? In the analysis section, describe why the program
is neededhow the learning solution bridges the gap between an identified problem
and the learning required. Show how the learning solution solves a specific business
problem. If the needs assessment is complete, data from the results will show an
understanding of the organization, the individuals to be targeted, and the specific tasks
or concepts they are to learn. If the needs assessment has not yet been conducted, this
sectionthe analysis of the problemcould outline how the problem was discovered,
by whom, and when. In very brief terms, the writer should describe the needs assess-
ment processthe instruments that were developed, the people who were interviewed
or surveyed, and data that were collected. Provide the results of these assessment
processes to show how the proposed solution matches the learning need.
Writing the Training Proposal 277

Thus, the analysis section describes the impact of the identified performance gap on
the business. Perhaps customers need to be served more efficiently and effectively by
sales staff. Managers may need to manage more flexibly as the organization flattens.
Insurance agents may need a new, more efficient way to track prospects. Support staff
may need better customer relations skills. The warehouse crew may need new strategies
to decrease reports of back-strain problems.
In other words, use this section to address how the problem will be solved by the
program. Oftentimes, the proposal writer is the same person who conducted the needs
analysis and is proposing a solution. However, sometimes providers use data from a
request for proposal (RFP), in which case the problem has already been outlined. Either
way, describing the problem is what this section is all about. The length and compre-
hensiveness of the analysis component is situation-specific. An excerpt of a narrative of
this section follows:
Interviews were conducted with three (3) first-line supervisors in the Quality
Control Department (here their names and/or titles would be added) to explore
the perceived gap between the quality of machine parts produced and rejection
rates from newly hired employees. Observations conducted of both new and
long-time employees over a two-day period show that a higher percentage of
rejections came from the new hires than from the established group. This sug-
gests that different standards are being applied by these two groups.

Target Population
You should be very clear about who will participate in your learning initiative. As we
stated in Chapter 2, the target population is made up of those individuals in the center of
the needs assessment bulls-eye who will directly benefit from involvement in your
proposed program. Examples of target populations might include newly promoted
supervisors in a specific department, all local-area network managers, all production
managers, or even everyone in the organization. The target population section should
describe as accurately as possible the number of potential participants and their func-
tions. A sample narrative follows:
278 Learning at Work

The target population includes all supervisors in the Quality Control Depart-
ment. We recommend that all supervisors participate in this learning initiative
at the same time to make the best use of their individual and collective experi-

Rationale and Goals of the Proposed Training

Rationale and goals are the heart of the training proposal. This section should be tied
back to the analysis of the problem and the impact of the problem on the organization.
Here, the writer explains why the program is needed, its goals, and its anticipated out-
comes. This section should answer the question: What is the purpose of the proposed
learning intervention and what are the anticipated benefits to be derived from it? It
includes an overview of the course goals and objectives, the scope of its content, and
assumed qualifications of the participants to undertake the proposed training. A sample
narrative follows:
The needs assessment conducted (date/location) indicated that additional
training is needed for new hires (less than three months). These new hires have
been responsible for excessive recalls. The proposed training will focus on
establishing the best way to install and check to ensure complete compliance
with the firms existing standards. Since a number of new hires are Spanish-
speaking, trainers will be proficient in both English and Spanish.
Course goals and objectives are to conduct a review of the overall wiring
installation procedures used for the product, as well as explaining specific and
newly developed methods for update modifications. New manuals will be
developed, color-coded, and pilot-tested for this audience.

Learning Objectives and Topics

In describing the proposed learning solution, match learning objectives with program
topics. These objectives can be stated either in broad, general terms or in performance
terms. For cognitive and skill-oriented outcomes, performance objectives are preferred;
for attitudinal changes or outcomes in the affective domain, more-general learning
objectives are acceptable. Examples of objectives in a proposed learning initiative to
improve or develop computer skills follow.
Writing the Training Proposal 279

Sample Program Objectives

Skill Block 1 Document Management
Upon completion of Skill Block 1, participants will be able to complete the following
tasks with 100 percent accuracy:
Create directories.
Move and copy files from different directories.
Save files on the network.
Transfer files to distant locations.

Skill Block 2 Advanced Functions and What-lf Analysis

Upon completion of Skill Block 2, participants will be able to complete the following
tasks with 100 percent accuracy:
Use the IF and VLOOKUP functions.
Use various financial functions, including PMT, IRR, NVR, and FV.
Use data tables.
Use the scenario manager.
Use goal seek.
Create pivot tables.

Skill Block 3 Graphing Worksheet Data

Upon completion of Skill Block 3, participants will be able to complete the following
tasks with 100 percent accuracy:
Chart continuous and noncontinuous worksheet data.
Create a chart using the ChartPrep function.
Create a chart in a separate document.
Change the chart type.
Change formatting options.
Add text to a chart.
Objectives create the framework for specific topics to be covered. Learning objectives
always drive the topicsnot the other way around.
280 Learning at Work

Evaluation Strategies
A good training proposal outlines how the organization will know that the proposed
learning initiative has achieved its designed outcomes. Learning and performance pro-
fessionals, as business partners, are accountable for results, and in this section the writer
should describe how the planned learning objectives and consequent business results
are to be measured. Review the entire gamut of evaluation options described in Chapter
3participant reactions, tests, attitude questionnaires, observations, performance
reports, and the like; choose the strategy (or strategies) you will use, and describe it in
this section. Also describe any follow-up activities you will use to determine if the
training met the goals that learning set out to achieve. By presenting the goals and the
evaluation strategies sequentially, your reader can see both the starting and ending
points for the proposed learning intervention. In some instances, evaluation at the end
of the program may be appropriate, but evaluation can be continued over a period of
weeks or even months. Here is an example of what this section could look like:
Goals: To introduce new product line X to the sales staff so that learners can:
Describe the product line.
Show how the line will mesh with existing products currently in use.
Identify strengths and weaknesses of the line and individual units.
Enforce selling points and objection responses.
Detail implementation strategies and methods.

Evaluation: Effectiveness of this intervention will be measured by:

Instructors use of checklists to assess performance in role plays with members
of sales staff and supervisors/managers at the completion of the training pro-
Learners self-evaluations of three videotaped sales demonstrations during the
Instructors review of each participants performance three months and six
months after the training.
Writing the Training Proposal 281

Overview of the Training Solution

The overview broadly describes the learning solution being proposed for the identified
problem. This description should include the specific types of activities proposed,
where they will take place, and who will be involved. Describing the nature and type of
activities that will occur over a designated period of time provides the decision maker(s)
with a picture of the entire learning experience. Examples of this might include the
The two-day sales presentation skills workshop will include group presenta-
tions and role plays, and culminate with participants developing videotaped
sales presentations.
The hands-on safety training program will focus on the operation and safety
features of the new equipment, Model 43, by use of a series of simulations and
models. The program will take approximately two hours.
In two half-day sessions, we will make extensive use of role play in conflict
resolution scenarios. Scenarios will depict common stress points between peers,
as well as between staff members and supervisors.

Program Outline
A program outline should be included in every program proposal. It consists of the
topics placed in a logical order that detail the content, organization, and component
sequence of the proposed program. The outline also provides the basis for a leaders
guide. The program outline must be as complete as possible. Here is an example of a
program outline to train new air-conditioning installers:
Description of air-conditioning unit (with full and cutaway views).
Identification of major components and functions.
Overview of installation process.
Presentation of installation proceduressequential elements and steps (from
make-ready to clean up).
Description of safety considerations.
282 Learning at Work

Illustration of checkout operation.

Examples of adjustment and tuning activities.
Description of customer materials and service options.
Post-installation self-evaluation.

Resources Required
Identifying the materials needed is the next part of the proposal: the instructional
materials, the hardware and software, and the personnel. Any pre-work to be completed
by participants before the program starts should be described here. Be sure to list
handouts and other related materials that will be needed.
Instructional materials: prework, binders, leader and participant guides,
manuals, handouts, models, transparencies, flipcharts, whiteboards, reference
guides, etc.
Hardware and software: computers, application packages, video cameras,
multimedia setups, etc.
Personnel: names and/or job titles of individuals who will be required for the
assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation stages.

Capabilities of the Training Providers

This section is an essential component when the proposal is in competition for a train-
ing contract. In this section, the outside vendor describes his or her companys ability or
qualifications to produce an effective learning solution and to deliver it in a timely man-
ner. Decision makers will want to know the vendors capabilities and track record on
similar projects competed. This could include short biographies on individual staff
members or a list of satisfied clients. When the proposal writer is an internal learning
and performance department staff member, this section is probably not needed.
Knowing the capabilities of external providers is important. For example, if a video
recording will need to be developed as part of the program, what evidence exists that
the vendor can do this? How many staff members can be dedicated to this project? Does
the provider have access to special facilities or equipment (e.g., graphic designers,
special cameras, software)? As an evaluator, youll want to match the individuals
ability and experience with the needs identified earlier. A brief description may be all
Writing the Training Proposal 283

that is necessary for a short proposal; however, for a more complex, costly, or strategic
training effort, rsums should be attached. A sample qualification narrative follows:
The proposed program will be developed and delivered by an organization with
more than 30 years of extensive experience in production and quality-control
areas. With headquarters in Chicago and offices in 11 major metropolitan areas
throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, the companys 220 learning and per-
formance professionals and support staff speak multiple languages. All our
professionals are required to hold a minimum of a four-year business degree,
and most hold graduate degrees in their specialty. They are fully certified
through a rigorous development process. Satisfied clients include General
Electric, IBM, and PepsiCo.

Development Schedule
The development schedule is another necessary part of a training proposal. It is an
outline of the sequence of planning events in a step-by-step process, covering blocks of
time. Describe what needs to be done, when it will be done, how long it will take, and in
what sequence. The development schedule takes the form of a Gantt Chart, such as the
one shown in Figure 9-1.
In your development schedule, describe the stages necessary to complete specific
and separate phases of the needs assessment and design of the learning solution. This
provides an overview of the specific tasks to be done. It shows which tasks will be done
sequentially and which tasks will be done concurrently with another activity. Figure 9-1
numbers the major tasks in a sample schedule and plots them according to when they
should begin and end. Task 1, for example, is the needs assessment analysis; Task 2, the
client review, is a detailed discussion with decision makers or the target audience. (Note
the overlap with other tasks.) The task list continues, culminating in the final project
ready for pilot-testing.
284 Learning at Work

Figure 9-1. Training Development Schedule

Development Schedule (January through March)

Task Period 1 Period 2 Period 3 Period 4

1. Needs assessment, interviews, and
2. Client review
3. Validation of needs assessment data
(and possible extension)
4. Program development
5. Leaders Guide (Draft)
6. Instructor preparation for
pilot testing

Delivery Schedule
Develop a second schedule for the testing of the materials and procedures designed ear-
lier. Outline when the pilot tests will occur, when any needed revisions will be done,
and when the product should be available for rollout for the entire organization.
Figure 9-2 is a sample delivery schedule. The schedule can cover a period as short
as a few days, or it can cover a year or more, depending on the nature and strategic
importance of the project. The delivery schedule, thus, provides a time line of when
major tests and revisions will be done and when the project will be ready for full imple-
mentation. (Note: If a leaders guide was not developed earlier, it can be done as part of
delivery.) Watching how a skilled instructor uses the leaders guide in pilot-test situa-
tions is an excellent way to make sure that it provides useful teaching strategies and
suggestions for easy transition from topic to topic.
Writing the Training Proposal 285

Figure 9-2. Delivery Schedule

Delivery Schedule

Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4 Available

Jan.March Apr.June JulySept. Oct.Dec. January 1

Program Title: TFX Training

Materials- Pilot 1 Pilot 2 Pilot 3 Rollout

development revised revised revised
Leaders Guide developed/revised

The cost section of the training proposal details the expenses involved in doing what is
proposed. Because proposals are written to sell decision-makers on a proposed solution
to an identified problem, it is extremely important that costs be fully explained and
well-documented. Training proposals compete for the organizations scarce resources,
so they must provide sound estimates of costs. See Chapter 11 for worksheets that will
help you develop cost figures.

Projected Benefits
A learning initiative is designed to close a learning gap, a performance gap, or a lack of
knowledge. Rather than leave expected gains to speculation, identify the benefits accru-
ing to the organization. Many productivity benefits can be easily documented and can
help to cost-justify the expenses of the training program, but there are a number of
soft benefits that are not as easy to identify, such as enhanced morale and greater
team spirit. Typically, however, benefits fall into one of the following three categories:
Productivity improvements. (Individuals can do more.)
For example, assume that your needs assessment showed that supervisors were
having trouble getting their monthly reports in on time. Observational and
interview data showed that they were often late because they were juggling too
286 Learning at Work

many tasks at once. Your time management learning initiative, you suggest,
could save these managers at least 4 hours a week, giving them additional time
to complete this (and other) tasks. There are 100 supervisors targeted, earning
an average of $60,000/year ($5,000/month or $1,250/week or $31.25 an hour).
You could suggest that total benefits could be $625,000 ($31.25 x 4 x 100 x 50
[weeks worked in a year]). Moreover, if only half of the attendees gained such
productivity, it would still result in a benefit of $312,500 to your firm.
Quality improvements. (Individuals do what they do better, and products or
services will be enhanced.)
For example, assume you are suggesting that if the targeted group effectively
learns safety guidelines, the total number of accidents could be reduced by at
least 50 percent. Last year, there were 100 accidents, each costing the organiza-
tion an average of $2,000. So last years safety infraction costs totaled
$200,000; you might determine that the value of the learning initiative could be
50 percent of that cost figure, or $100,000.
Workplace improvements. (The workplace environment is better for individu-
als and their work, thus enhancing the overall quality of work life.)
For example, assume that the organization has been experiencing high turnover.
Data from your needs analysis suggests that the mentoring program you want
to establish could possibly cut the new-hire turnover rate by 30%. Last year, 12
new hires left, and replacing them costs $20,000 each. So if the mentoring
program helped the firm to retain even two of those employees, the total benefit
could be $40,000.
Placing realistic hard dollar figures on all the soft benefits identified is a difficult
task, one that has been referred to as creative accounting. However, doing so allows
you to create a return on investment (ROI) figure that will be very important to the indi-
vidual charged with making the go or no-go decision regarding the proposal. ROI is a
ratio that represents the anticipated value the training program is expected to offer. The
formula used for ROI is to take the projected lifetime benefits and subtract the projected
lifetime costs, and then divide this number by the projected lifetime costs. Multiplying
the results by 100 provides a percentage value that can be easily compared with other
proposals and their ROI results. The formula can be used to cost-justify one solution, or
to contrast various solutions.
Writing the Training Proposal 287

Projected Lifetime Benefits - Projected Lifetime Costs

x 100 = ROI
Projected Lifetime Costs

For example, assume that you have projected lifetime benefits of $300,000, and lifetime
costs of $100,000. Heres how you would calculate ROI:
$300,000 - $100,000
x 100 = 200%

Sometimes a proposal requires reference material that should be placed in an appendix:
statistical data, sample data collection instruments, provider rsums, reference lists,
and/or any other supporting materials that will help management make an informed
(and favorable!) decision on your behalf.

Other Proposal Designs

Keep in mind that our list of components and its sequencing represents only one model.
In certain circumstances, it might be more logical to describe the abilities of providers
at the end, allowing the proposal itself to support the providers qualifications. When it
is desirable to get the readers attention quickly, the projected benefits can then be the
first item discussed.

Proposal Presentation
The most carefully crafted proposal in the world will never gain approval unless its
presentation looks professional. This means, first of all, that the proposed learning solu-
tion has to fit the identified problem. However, it is also very important that the docu-
ment itself be mechanically perfect, grammatically correct, and physically attractive.
Layout and design features must be carefully considered, and any graphics involved
must be skillfully used. Knowing the reader and presenting a quality document con-
tributes to a positive reaction.
288 Learning at Work

Identify Your Audience

Depending on the magnitude of the proposal, readers will probably consist of middle
managers (for operational proposals) and more-senior management (for informational
or strategic training proposals). Middle managers will probably dwell on the specifics,
while people at higher levels will likely concentrate on larger issues of policy and

Present the Proposal Live

In most cases, the written proposal will probably be evaluated on the basis of the
document itself. In some cases, however, the writer might have an opportunity to pre-
sent the proposal live. In this situation, the presenter should practice so that he or she is
sure that the presentation will fit within the time allotted for it, with time for questions
and interruptions. Some presenters are allotted 30 to 45 minutes and about 15 minutes
for questions, while others are given only 5 to 10 minutes total. Most everything takes
longer than one thinks it will, so careful planning is essential. Being prompt, outlining
and developing the major issues, and highlighting key elements in the proposal will
focus attention on the primary points of the meeting. Some presentations will be more
formal than others, and this will likely depend on the experience the decision makers
and the proposal writers have had with each other. In some cases, decision makers will
ask for a presentation of one unit of instruction in order to see if the individual can
deliver instruction, or ask for a demonstration video that can be viewed at the conven-
ience of the decision-making panel members. In all cases, the proposal presenter should
be well-prepared, efficient, and precise.

In this chapter, we described the training proposalits function, content, and organi-
zation. It should be based on the needs analysis and include a rationale and description
of the learning solution to be developed, as well as an outline of its goals within the con-
text of the organization. It should clearly address the skills and knowledge gaps identi-
fied and show how the proposal will fill these gaps.
Training proposals should identify the scope of the project to be undertaken;
describe the targeted audience; and outline specific learning objectives and the major
topics to meet these objectives. Proposals should also describe the resources that will be
Writing the Training Proposal 289

needed to support the program. Proposed time frames for both development and deliv-
ery are useful, and should include the sequencing and time required.
The programs costs and benefits are very critical components. Organizational
decision-makers carefully scrutinize these financial numbers and will question how
they were determined. Putting dollar figures on benefits is difficult, but when benefit
figures and cost figures are used to measure return on investment, the results provide an
extremely powerful argument for saying yes to the proposal.
The physical documentthe proposal itselfshould be clear, concise, and attrac-
tive. Knowing what readers expect dictates the length and format of the document.
Sometimes a proposal developer will do a live presentation of the proposal; in this
instance, good oral presentation skills are critical. Materials that are well-presented ver-
bally or in writing have a competitive edge.

Think It Through
1. Of the many elements of a training proposal, which three do you consider to be the
most critical ones? Why?
2. Writing effective training proposals is both an art and a science. What are some
rules of thumb to consider when beginning the writing process?
3. Two timetables were described in this chapter: a delivery schedule and a training
development schedule. What tools exist to help the proposal writer present these
4. What is meant by return on investment (ROI)? Why are ROI figures difficult to
5. What advice do you have for the individual who is to present a proposal live to a
decision team? Offer specific suggestions for an effective presentation.
290 Learning at Work

Ideas in Action
1. Draft a sample proposal for delivering training on the following topic, with mem-
bers of your class as the learners:
Developing and writing a training proposal
Assume that your instructor will be the management decision maker. Limit your
written proposal to three (3) pages.
2. Make a brief, five-minute oral presentation to a small group of classmates on the
proposal identified above. If possible, have someone in your group videotape the
presentation. By yourself, critique the presentation. Make a list of what I did well
and what I need to improve.

Additional Resources
Nilson, Carolyn. 1989. Training Program Workbook and Kit. Englewood Cliffs, New
Jersey: Prentice Hall.
A major volume of worksheets, hints, checklists, and guides for the workplace
learning professional at every leveldesigner, instructor, manager. This how-to
workbook provides guidance for everyone in the field, and is a valuable reference
for every learning and performance professionals library.

Phillips, Jack J. 1999. Return on Investment in Training and Performance Improvement

Programs: A Step-by-Step Manual for Calculating the Financial Return on
Investment. Houston: Gulf Publishing Company.
For creative ways to develop ROI figures, check out this guide. It includes methods
and worksheets for developing both hard and soft dollar figures for ROI calcula-
tions. Phillips includes a case study where you are taken step-by-step through the
Writing the Training Proposal 291

Zemke, R., L. Standke, and P. Jones, eds. 1983. Designing and Delivering Cost-
Effective Trainingand Measuring the Results. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Training
This 11-chapter reference book contains the best articles from 250 issues of
Training magazine since 1964, featuring the best ideas on the design, development,
and evaluation of cost-effective training. While this book has been around awhile,
its contents are as current today as they were in 1983.

Web sites
This is Merriam-Websters online site, where you can access the Merriam-Webster
dictionary and thesaurus free of charge. Use these tools as you develop your training
proposals! The site also includes word games and puzzles.
This site furnishes a contrarian opinion concerning training ROI, and offers several
interesting alternatives to ROI determination.
Supporting Change in the Workplace

In this chapter, we will do the following:

Explain the role learning and performance professionals play in supporting
planned organizational change efforts.
List major factors that impact the rate of change in organizations.
Apply force-field analysis as a means to identify pressures and resistance
to change.
Appraise techniques that are helpful in facilitating group processes.
Emphasize the importance of the workplace learning professional to
operate as a full business partner.

The Importance of Planned Organizational Change

Organizations are in a continual state of change. Competitive organizations
initiate new strategies and reorganize regularly. Critical issues such as mergers
and acquisitions, global competition, new information, communication tech-
nologies, the changing demographics of the workforce, and shifting value
systems all drive organizational changes. These issues give new meaning and
urgency to continuous learning. Radical change in how work is done inevita-
bly leads to the definition of new jobs with new skill requirements, which in
turn demands new kinds of people, explained Michael Hammer at the World
Economic Forum in 1994. Noted management expert Peter Senge believes that
in the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is an
organizations ability to learn faster than its competition.1 How [organiza-
tional] development people respond to such issues will depend upon their
ability to understand the business, to understand and help manage change, and
to master educational and learning processes.2
The field of organizational development (OD) is all about helping an
organization get to where it wants to go, and learning professionals are often
called upon to play a role in OD efforts. Numerous strategies are available,
including temporary structures and methods to improve communication
processes. OD specialists call planned changes interventions.

294 Learning at Work

An individual or a team responsible for designing and implementing an innovation,

such as a new managerial process or a new technology, is referred to as the change
agent. A change agent must help translate the vision of how new ideas, new skills, and
new techniques can be translated into step-by-step plans to achieve desired goals. As a
change agent, the workplace learning professional is an important resource when
needed changes deal with modifying the skills, knowledge, and abilities of the work-
force. To adapt to new managerial processes, for example, the organizations leaders
must be willing to put aside management approaches used in the past and learn new
techniques. It is likewise important that individuals who are expected to use new tech-
nologies be skilled in their use. In this regard, the workplace learning professional
works with organizational sponsors and OD specialists to help ensure that the right peo-
ple learn the right things in the right way, at the right time and in the right priority order.
In Chapter 1, we used the terms strategic, informational, and operational to describe
the linkages of learning initiatives to organizational goals. The focus of this chapter is to
describe how the workplace learning professional uses instructional interventions to
ensure that the learning needed for targeted change takes place. Planning, therefore,
requires a keen understanding of the content you need people to know, the individual
learners, and the organization. Not surprisingly, workplace learning professionals are
usually more adept at program development and delivery (this is what they are spe-
cifically prepared to do) than they are at the special managerial skills needed to apply
new learning at work. Even the best learning solutions will not succeed if organiza-
tional and environmental factors are not considered and understood.
Thus, workplace learning professionals have an organizational role that goes far
beyond that of simply providing instruction. To help understand this role, we describe
some important thinking about systematic planned change efforts and strategies for
forming collaborative relationships within the organization. The premise is that learn-
ing and performance is a business function. Workplace learning professionals need to
consider themselves key organizational players, as well as adult learning and instruc-
tional design specialists.

Factors Influencing Planned Organizational Change

In a planned change effort, individuals, groups, and the entire organization must learn
to do what they have been doing differently. Research shows that individuals and
organizations typically progress through a number of phases in integrating new ideas
Supporting Change in the Workplace 295

knowledge, skills, and abilitiesinto their work. Various models have been developed
to describe the change process, and most are variations on the basic model: innovation
(the new idea), infusion (learning to use the innovation), and assimilation (integra-
tion/use of the new innovation). The innovation model serves as a reminder of the need
for systematic change.
Progression through the stages of the innovation model is not automatic. Therefore,
we offer some useful ways to think about the major issues related to assimilating new
ideas: the innovation itself, the individuals who are asked to use it, and the organiza-
tional culture. Understanding these components helps explain why some change efforts
are more complex than others. In this section we rely on Everett Rogerss characteris-
tics of innovations and their adopters, as well as N. Dean Meyers categories of
organizational culture, to explain the environment and the rate at which change occurs.

Characteristics of an Innovation
In his 1983 book Diffusion of Innovation, Everett Rogers explained that characteristics
of both the innovation itself and the adopter (user) influence the infusion of an innova-
tion. Rogers argued that the rate of adoption depends on the five characteristics of the
innovation itself.3 They are:
Relative advantage: the degree to which the innovation is perceived as better
than the idea it supersedes
Compatibility: the degree to which the innovation is perceived as being con-
sistent with existing values and past experiences
Complexity: the degree to which the innovation is considered easy to use and
Trialability: the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with
Observability: the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to
The higher any innovation scores on these five characteristics, the faster it will be
adopted. Likewise, the lower any innovation scores on these characteristics, the more
difficult its adoption will be.
296 Learning at Work

Rogers compared two innovations, blue jeans (quick adoption) and the metric sys-
tem (slow adoption). Describing these innovations by their characteristics, it is easy to
see why nearly everyone wears blue jeans, and why few people in the United States
completely adopted the metric system. Blue jeans offer a clear advantage over other
attire in that they are more comfortable and rugged than other pants. Blue jeans can be
worn with almost anything, so they are compatible with the way we dress. Because blue
jeans are simple to care for, they are not complex. Blue jeans are trialable because they
are inexpensive (at least until designer jeans came along). They are also observable,
since nearly everyone wears them.
The metric system, on the other hand, replaces a system that is still functional, so
the system offers little relative advantage and is not necessarily compatible with the
way we have always measured weights, distance, and volume. Learning the metric
system is complex, and requires study and practice. The metric system is also difficult
to experiment with (trialability), as it requires a major conversion effort. Finally, the
metric system does not physically change objects, only the way they are measured, so
its benefits are not easily observable.
Using these characteristics to describe organizational innovations, it is easy to see
why learning how to search the Internet caught on so quickly. There was a time when
only innovators or so-called early adopters used the Internet, but today the benefits of
its use are so readily observable, nearly everyone uses it as a research and learning tool.
Internet access is faster than going through reams of documents or physically visiting a
library. Using a search engine such as Google does not change the need for search skills
(skills are compatible), but does require us to adapt those skills. Because it is not a com-
plex skill, most people master basic searching easily. Often, they browse for enjoyment,
effectively trying out the tool before they move to using it for work purposes.
On the other hand, outcomes of learning initiatives designed to alter management
skills are not necessarily perceived as better than the current skill set (little relative
advantage). Moreover, new managerial skills may not be compatible with the way man-
agers believe people are managed or should be managed, or compatible with the exist-
ing organizational culture. Management skills are complex. Trying out new skills can
be very risky, and managerial skills are often difficult to observe. If a manager starts to
delegate closely held duties and the duties are not performed as expected, for example,
the rest of the management team might not be aware that someone else was responsible
for the poor performance.
Supporting Change in the Workplace 297

Characteristics of the Adopters

Just as the characteristics of an innovation impact its assimilation, so do characteristics
of the individuals who are to use the innovation. Understanding differences among
adopters can help you target individuals for pilot programs and help you understand
concerns of the larger targeted learning group. Some people are quick to change; others
have to be pushed. Rogerss description of the overall population, which follows,
categorizes people as to their willingness to change:4
Innovators. Innovators are risk takers. They want to learn everything and they
are the first to try something new. Innovators make up 2.5 percent of the popula-
Early Adopters. Early adopters are hedgers. They wait until the innovators
have proven that the learning is useful. Once its usefulness is shown, they are
quick to implement it. Early adopters make up 13.5 percent of the population.
Early Majority. These people seem to wait until 16 percent of their peers
exhibit the new behavior before they try it out. They make up 34 percent of the
Late Majority. People in this group are skeptics. They change their behavior
only when it is well accepted by others. They make up about 34 percent of the
Laggards. These are slowpokes. They change their behavior only when their
resistance gets them nowhere. They are set in their ways, and will change only
under duress. They make up 16 percent of the population.
You can use these categorical terms to describe yourself and people you know with
regard to how quickly they upgrade software programs, begin to use e-learning, or fol-
low current fashion. Consider how long it took bank customers to use automatic teller
machines. When ATMs were first introduced, few people would use them. It took
banks years to win their widespread acceptance. Even today there are people (laggards)
who will stand in line to talk to a teller rather than use an ATM, despite the fact that
ATMs are almost always faster.
298 Learning at Work

Characteristics of the Organization

The rate at which change is assimilated into an organization has also been described in
relationship to characteristics of the organization itself. The way an organization adopts
an innovation reflects the organizations culture as it relates to jobs, lines of authority,
responsibility, accountability, and control of the flow of information. Meyer has
researched the impact of corporate culture on change interventions.5 Following are
Meyers definitions and findings:

Traditional culture: The organizations structure is vertical (top-down decision mak-

ing) with large organizational groupings (usually departments) structured around
functions. Communication goes up and down. The central staff is powerful. Decisions
are made high up in the organization. Such organizations are often reluctant to recog-
nize the need for change. Changes are made slowly. There is active resistance to change.
The military offers a good example of a traditional culture.

Consensus-driven culture: The structure is wide, rather than vertical. Decisions are
made by a consensus of middle managers. Staff groups are large, but do not carry as
much authority as line management. A matrix organization is common. Innovations are
assigned to task forces or committees. New ideas sometimes get lost in the bureaucracy.
Risk taking is limited to senior management and committees. High-tech aerospace
industries such as Boeing exemplify a consensus-driven culture.

Profit-centered culture. The organization exhibits a cluster structuresmall, autono-

mous modules with clearly stated goals. There is a small central staff. If the innovation
is not related to business goals, they reject it, even if the return on investment is good.
Overall, the organization is favorable toward innovationspayoffs of success are high.
Payoffs could include profits and/or promotions. Consumer goods manufacturers, such
as Procter and Gamble, illustrate a profit-centered culture.

Futurist culture. The organization has a small, flat, fluid structure headed by a char-
ismatic executive, and is organized around a mission or a new idea. Decision making
occurs at the lowest possible level. It is positive toward innovations, but few are
implemented successfully; each person has his or her own pet project. These are small,
leading-edge, creative organizations. Organizations that are entrepreneurial, such as
Apple Computer in its early years, fit into this classification.
Supporting Change in the Workplace 299

Understanding the impact that culture has on acceptance or resistance to innovation

can help the learning and performance department plan interventions that better ensure
infusion. For example, a highly traditional organization may have work rules or policies
that actually work against new management practices. To simply provide learning
initiatives without taking steps to ensure that individuals will be able to use the new
skills back on the job would be a fruitless activity.6 Therefore, regardless of the type of
change and culture of the organization, try to work closely with all stakeholders in a dis-
covery process regarding the need for change and how to achieve it. This will signifi-
cantly increase the rate of the changes acceptance and the likelihood of its long-term
success. Moreover, stakeholders play a key role in the process by reinforcing and even
modeling the desired new behaviors.

Bringing Change to the Workplace

Legendary social scientist Kurt Lewin provided conceptual tools to bring change to the
workplace. His action research modelassessment, design, implementation, and
evaluationis the basis for the Instructional Design Cycle first described in Chapter 1.
Action research has at its heart the notion that we learn from our experiences, and that
problems are best solved by those who are impacted by the problem. Lewin also
described organizations as a sea of forces in motion that continually push for and resist
change. Therefore, to understand the organizations learning needs and your stake-
holders, you must identify those relevant forcesboth negative and positivethat are
at constant odds with each other. The approach Lewin developed for identifying those
elements is known as force-field analysis. The three phases of change describe how
change actually takes place. We will discuss these phases in this section of the chapter.

Force-Field Analysis
Force-field analysis is a group facilitation tool to help those who are impacted by a
problem identify ways to solve it. For example, assume that the problem is how to
implement a 360-degree performance appraisal system. Draw a T-chart. At the top,
identify the problem. On the left side, as shown in Figure 10-1, have the group identify
the driving forces, such as provides more detailed feedback. Then, on the right side,
list the restraining forces, such as will take more time. These driving and restraining
forces work against each other to reach equilibrium. Armed with a listing of these
300 Learning at Work

driving and restraining forces, our natural tendency is to increase driving pressures
(promote the advantages of the new system). However, simply proclaiming the benefits
of the process will rarely result in people buying into the change. Rather, the best
approach is to work with the group to develop interventions to reduce the restraining
forces. In this particular example, coming up with ways to give evaluators extra time to
provide feedback would be appropriate.
Identifying the driving and restraining forces is the first step to any planned change
effort. Of course, once the forces are identified, they are themselves apt to change as
new drivers and restraints emerge. Because of this flux, the concept of a workplace in
equilibrium is at best a very temporary phenomenon. Force-field analysis provides only
a snapshot of an organization at one given point in time.

Figure 10-1. Forces Driving and Resisting Changes in Organizations

Problem: Implement the 360-degree Performance Appraisal System

Driving Forces Restraining Forces

Will take more time

Provides more feedback

Gets more people involved in the Individuals' fear of subjective results


Has been successfully used in other Our HR department has never done this
Supporting Change in the Workplace 301

The Three Phases of Change

While identifying the pressures for change is important, we know that individuals
change their behavior only when they are ready to change, and they go through specific
phases. Lewin suggested three phases: unfreezing, changing (or moving), and refreez-
ing. As Figure 10-2 shows, unfreezing is the phase where a readiness for learning is
created. Changing is the period where new skills are actually acquired, and refreezing is
the time when new skills are assimilated into the way work is done.
Figure 10-2. Lewins Three Phases of Change

Phase I: Unfreezing Phase II: Changing Phase III: Refreezing

Creating a felt need for Changing people Reinforcing outcomes;
change; minimizing (individuals and groups); evaluating results;
resistance to change tasks; structure; technology making constructive

In each of these phases, specific learning interventions are called for. Figure 10-3
shows interventions that are suitable for use at the unfreezing, changing, and refreezing
phases. Depending upon the situation, the intervention listed can serve double- or
triple-duty; a book, for example, can provide an incentive to learn or the learning itself,
or reinforce learning that has already occurred. Instructional interventions (the change
phase) can have definite start and stop dates, but your support interventions need to be
ongoing if you want to be sure the innovation is assimilated into the organization. It is
not always easy to determine where the unfreezing stops and the change begins or when
the change phase stops and refreezing begins.
302 Learning at Work

Figure 10-3. Interventions to Support Planned Change by Phase

Phase Interventions
Unfreezing Promotional pieces
Books, brochures, and journals
Changing Instructional interventions:
Print-based materials
Audio/video/multimedia tools
Computer-based instruction
Web-based training
Classroom-based activities (e.g., lectures, role plays)
On-line help
Help desks and coaching
Manuals and job aids
Refreezing Seminars, conferences
Books and journals
User groups
Employee councils

Unfreezing Interventions
At the unfreezing phase, the change agent establishes and defines the problem and
assesses the clients needs, ability, and readiness to change. Attempts are made to
change attitudes and mindsets by reducing the negative restraining forces with new
information. The need for the change can come from within the organization itself or be
caused by environmental forces. The learner must see the need for change. Unfreezing
interventions get people ready and willing to learn before actual instruction (changing)
takes place. At this stage, the change agent provides information that explains why the
status quo needs to be reconsidered, and introduces the client to new opportunities to
improve work, such as adopting innovative technologies.
Many different ways to disseminate information exist, ranging from simple news-
letter items or descriptive brochures to corporate television spots. When innovations are
completely new, provide demonstrations in non-threatening ways. The goal of dis-
seminating information is to give people an opportunity to begin considering that there
might be a better way to do something.
Supporting Change in the Workplace 303

Again, in any change effort, stakeholder participation in the needs assessment and
design stages actually serves as a means to ensure acceptance of the program at a later
date. This is because people who were consulted or even just kept aware of the develop-
ment of a learning/change effort tend to be receptive to its implementation. Moreover,
awareness and participation can help promote the change, and organizational support is
critical for true assimilation.

Changing Interventions
Interventions at the change phase are basically approaches that get employees to actu-
ally use an innovation or new idea in order to carry out existing work more efficiently or
effectively. They go well beyond mere instruction. To learn new skills or knowledge
fully, employees should have access to ongoing support, such as job aids, coaching, and
performance support tools. During this phase, the employee actually learns to change
his or her behavior. Therefore, it is the workplace learning professionals role to design,
develop, and implement an instructional intervention, classroom-based or self-paced,
and to develop ways to provide support at the time it is needed.
In developing instructional plans, use the needs assessment data and ongoing
evaluation data, and share plans with all interested parties along the way. This way,
learning initiatives that specify exactly what is to be done, when, and by whom do not
come as a surprise. Participation in planning also means discussing scheduling and
introducing the learning initiative an appropriate time.
An important consideration during the change phase is the reality that job per-
formance may slide with new learning until the individual is able to take full advantage
of the new way of working. Behavior changes are seldom easy; success in the class-
room does not always translate into the assimilation of new skills on the job. However,
workplace learning professionals can work with managers and take joint responsibility
for assimilation. Such partnering (discussed later) helps ensure desired outcomes.

Refreezing Interventions
Refreezing interventions allow learners to take better advantage of new skills. What
was learned is assimilated into the organization and stabilized as the new and only way
to work. Learners often leave the classroom with new enthusiasm and excitement about
what they are learning. However, no good idea succeeds simply on its own merit; take
304 Learning at Work

care to reinforce what was learned, and makes sure that employees have an opportunity
to practice and develop their new skills.
Again, assume that the innovation is a 360-degree performance appraisal system,
which will provide feedback to employees from their supervisor, their peers, their sub-
ordinates, and in some instances, their customers or suppliers. To prepare people for
this new concept/practice, you can distribute books and journal articles describing the
system and its use in other institutions (unfreezing, changing) prior to classroom experi-
ences. Once the system is actually used, you can invite employees to attend special
seminars where everyone shares experiences and offers suggestions (Heres what Ive
done!) to others who are going to use the system. You can also organize special discus-
sion groups (computer conferences, listservs, bag lunches) to discuss the application of
the performance review process (refreezing). Applying what was learned in the organ-
izational context is itself a learning experience. And what better teachers are there than
the individuals who are actually using the innovation?
The refreezing phase lasts only as long as it takes to realize that change is needed
again. Evaluation asks if the innovation did what we expected it to do. One way to
determine the success of an innovation is to compare productivity numbers for costs,
profits, quality, and quantity before and after the changing stage. Then the cycle starts
all over: The solution just implemented becomes the target of the next inquiry into
whether or not we are doing the right things. You should not only provide a solution to
a specific organizational need, but also learn from mistakes and successes at all stages.
This way, you will be better prepared to address future problems.

Forming Collaborative Relationships

Your relationship with the target audience will depend on the philosophy of your
department, the needs of your organization, and your own personal style. The work-
place learning professionals organizational role has traditionally been that of a live
instructor or trainer. This role has subsequently evolved into that of an internal con-
sultant who is a learning and performance specialist possessing skills in problem
assessment, instructional design, implementation, and evaluation.
As a consultant, you provide advice or services and are the conveyer of best prac-
tices. To consult is to advise; consultants are expected to bring new ideas or best inter-
ventions to the problem-solving table, and it is the consultants responsibility to keep
Supporting Change in the Workplace 305

up-to-date on the organization, specific content areas, and problem-solving approaches.

A consultant needs to know up front what clients expect, and must be aware of specific
anticipated results.
To perform your role as a consultant, you must often be a group process facilitator,
helping groups throughout the organization define problems and develop solutions.
Your organizational role should evolve to that of a full business partner who is credible,
knowledgeable, and results-focused, who can add value to the organization. This sec-
tion discusses skills related to leading group communication and problem solving.

The Workplace Learning Professional as

Group Process Facilitator
Todays workplace learning professionals work with the most-informed people
policy managers, line managers, organizational development specialists, and the target
population itselfto define needs in terms that everyone understands and solutions that
everyone buys into. People must feel a need for change (unfreeze) before they will learn
new ways to work; if you are skilled in facilitating group communication and decision-
making, you will be able to help your target group be motivated to learn to do new
All business relationships require process facilitation, whether the relationship
involves interpersonal relations, long-term teamwork, or organization-wide change
efforts. The techniques vary, but process facilitation is basically about clarifying pur-
poses and goals, and building trust. It is an art as well as a science.
Two heads are better than one, and Many hands make light work are maxims
that illustrate the value of group problem solving. Arthur VanGundy identified and
classified more than 100 different structured problem-solving techniques that can be
used to ensure that all possible solutions are on the table and that there is no group-
thinkthe tendency for some groups to agree just to agree. Structured problem-solving
techniques can assist the facilitator at all stages of problem solving. Some techniques
help groups orient themselves to the problem at hand, while others help the group
define a problem so that all agree on what the problem is. Still other techniques are used
to help a group develop alternative solutions and assess the viability of options. In this
discussion, well present a sampling of frequently used techniques that support problem
analysis and definition, decision making, and evaluation.
306 Learning at Work

Analyzing and Defining Problems

There are many ways to identify organizational problems and opportunities. A line
manager can identify workforce performance problems. Workers can identify new soft-
ware application skills they believe will help them with their individual or group pro-
ductivity. The organization can change the way inquiries or shortages are handled. The
Information Systems manager can put interactive video teleconferencing systems in the
branch offices. Any number of individuals and operating units might want help from
the learning and performance department at any one given time.
Good workplace learning professionals focus heavily on ongoing needs analysis to
ensure that the right people learn the right things at the right time and in the right
priority order. Less skilled professionals jump into solutions before they determine
whether or not there is a problem that needs a solution.
The physical tools of the trade for structured problem solving in teams are flip-
charts, whiteboards, and increasingly, computer-based group process tool kits. The first
objective of the facilitator is to establish and manage the meeting process. This does not
mean ignoring the content of a meeting; you must first understand the issue or problem,
create an agenda, make sure you have relevant information, and give priority items the
most consideration. Structured techniques can help ensure that everyone has an oppor-
tunity to participate and that you have consensus. A well-articulated organizational
need or problem definition, agreed upon by those concerned, is the first step in develop-
ing a useful solution. An overview of four techniques that can support problem analysis
and definition follows.

Brainstorming. Brainstorming is a method of idea generation where everyone is

encouraged to contribute ideas (usually orally) without regard to criticism. The concept
is to produce as many ideas, one stemming from another, in a no-holds-barred
environment. In some instances, a facilitator records ideas on flipcharts. In other
instances, brainstorming sessions are audio recorded and later transcribed to ensure that
no ideas are lost. Large Post-it notes are also often used, one idea per note, to capture
ideas, which allows for ease of grouping the ideas once captured. This is a very popular
and effective method to generate ideas and involve everyone.
Supporting Change in the Workplace 307

Storybook Technique. The storybook technique goes like this: A facilitator presents a
problem, and participants verbally generate solution categories. The facilitator asks
idea-prompting questions about each category, and participants write their responses
down on cards. With the agreed-upon categories as headings pinned to a corkboard, the
facilitator then uses thumbtacks to post the cards under the appropriate category. After
an appropriate number of rounds, the group ranks ideas under each of the categories.
Again, Post-it notes offer an alternative tool to the corkboard.

Nominal Group Technique. The nominal group technique is a silent generation of

ideas. In a round-robin fashion where everyone gets a turn, each participant offers one
idea, until all ideas are recorded and exhausted. Then, the ideas are discussed, clarified,
and voted upon.

Charting. Any number of techniques can graphically depict processes. You can use
flow charts to break down processes into discrete steps and identify bottlenecks or loca-
tions for productivity improvement that would not be otherwise apparent. You can use
histograms, or bar charts and pie charts to show how often or to what degree something
happens (a picture is worth a thousand words). Graphically charting data can help a
group focus on the problem at hand.

Computer Support for Group Processes

Figure 10-4 shows how one software vendor, GroupSystems, tapped the power of
computers and networks to support group processes. Of special interest is the systems
ability to support dispersed groups. Increasingly, group work involves interaction with
people who are not in the same place at the same time. Elements of GroupSystems
include electronic brainstorming, rank order voting, topic commenter, policy formation,
and survey tools.
308 Learning at Work

Figure 10-4. Sampling of computer-based tools that augment group process

(Courtesy of GroupSystems, 2006,

Electronic Participants contribute simultaneously and anonymously to a brainstorming

Brainstorming discussion that can later be used as is or sorted by keywords. Comments
can be imported into other tools, where they can be categorized and
Rank-Order Vote Participants can be polled in seven quantifiable ways: rank order, multiple
choice, agree/disagree, yes/no, true/false, a ten-point scale, and allocation.
Results tabulated electronically can be displayed graphically or in text so
participants can stack rank ideas in order of preference and then view the
entire teams opinions and the degree of consensus. Uses intuitive graphs.
Topic Commenter Participants use multiple windows that resemble file folders. They open each
window, write relevant comments privately, and then submit them to the group
for review.
Policy Formation Groups can develop and edit a statement through an iterative process of
review and revision.
Survey Tool A prepared questionnaire to be distributed to participant workstations.
Collected data can be compiled into a single report.

Selecting the Best Solution

The best solution is the one agreed upon by all those who will be impacted by it. Try to
involve as many stakeholders as possible, and make sure that the pros and cons of each
proposed solution is fully understood by all concerned. Use a formal procedure to
ensure that minority opinions are heard and that the power or influence of one individ-
ual does not sway or dominate. The same techniques for idea generation (such as brain-
storming and the nominal group technique) can be used. Other systems of voting and
analysis are useful, such as determining how far apart group members are in discussing
specific aspects of solutions they like/dislike.
Do not rush for closure. When groups cannot agree, postpone making decisions or
obtain more data that will help the group come to a decision together. Make it clear that
each group member will be equally responsible for the decision.
Supporting Change in the Workplace 309

Evaluating Results
Decision-making groups should not disband after they have made the decision. The life
of a decision-making group extends into the evaluation phase as well. Evaluation means
looking back at the original problem and determining whether or not the solution solved
the problem as measured by the agreed-upon criteria for success. If not, closure has not
been achieved.

The Learning and Performance Professional

as Business Partner
As a workplace learning professional, you are a business partner when you work with
clients, rather than for clients, to improve workplace performance. As a partner, you
bring a unique set of skills to the tableknowledge of workplace demographics,
organizational culture, assessment and evaluation, instructional design, and teaching
and learning theory and instructional techniques. You, the line manager, and the OD
specialist are accountable for the introduction of new behaviors (as a result of learning)
into the organization. In this role, you are part of a management team, helping make
decisions that positively impact the organization in the larger sense.
As we discussed in Chapter 1, many organizations are promoting the idea of a chief
learning officer or chief knowledge officer, the learning and performance equivalent of
an executive in finance or marketing. In fact, knowledge management has been referred
to as learnings new umbrella.7 There is a wealth of information in organizations that
needs to be harnessedknowledge scattered all across the firm. As James Quinn said,
Knowledge doesnt happen in a vacuum. Its all about relationships and trust
peoples willingness to share what they know for the greater good of a group. 8
Developing such trust requires planned change, as organizations must develop an
environment that supports and rewards those who share what they know.

The learning and performance change agent is a mix of instructor, instructional
designer, process facilitator, and business partner. In these roles, you often learn what
works and what does not work through trial and error. Today, organizations are moving
away from simply solving problems toward helping create the future. By involving as
many stakeholders as possible in creating this future, we help everyone learn.
310 Learning at Work

To ensure that organizational learning takes place, change agents must think care-
fully about how innovations fit into and with organizational goals. Once a decision is
made, they must work with key players to make sure that needed resources are available
that will fully implement the innovation. They know that major innovations are usually
best managed as an incremental, goal-oriented, interactive learning process, depending
upon the characteristics of the innovation, the adopters, and the organization itself.
As a successful change agent, you attack a problem from several angles simul-
taneously. You use multiple instructional interventions to address learning needs at
each phase of the planned change effort. Moreover, as the organization learns to use and
assimilate the innovation involved, you are able to take advantage of this new organiza-
tional learning.
The need for group or team participation in problem identification, solution devel-
opment, and implementation cannot be too strongly reinforced. Moreover, when
changes are large-scale, time needs to be built in for line managers to get involved with
their employees learning initiatives so that new skills are not a threat. The manager
also learns with the targeted group how best to assimilate the skills into work. It may
also be useful to develop additional instruction for managers if employee learning
changes their roles.
Previous chapters described specific job skills related to designing and supporting
individual and organizational learning. In this chapter, we go full circle back to Chapter
1, reminding you that the overall goal is learning, and that you have an organizational
role that goes far beyond that of simply being the provider of instruction. Making sure
that learning takes placethat new skills are assimilated into an organizationrequires
a new skill set. The learning and performance professional must be a change agent,
working with others in the organization to help ensure that what employees have
learned is actually applied in their jobs.
Everett Rogers described characteristics of innovations, explaining that the higher
an innovation is scored on each of five adoption factors, the more readily it will be
accepted: its relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and
observability. Rogers described adopters based on their response to the innovation
going from the most receptive (innovators) to the least acceptive (laggards). The ulti-
mate goal of learning is its application in the workplace, and individuals react to change
at different rates. In addition, organizational culture is a determinant of the rate of
change. Knowing that an organization is traditional, consensus-driven, profit-centered,
Supporting Change in the Workplace 311

or futuristic may help you determine change interventions appropriate for your organi-
Kurt Lewin explained that an organization is a sea of forces in motion. Force-field
analysis provides a means to identify those forces. Lewin also suggested that planned
change efforts go through three phases: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. At the
unfreezing phase, specific interventions can be used to create a felt need for change.
These interventions include brochures, informational pieces, and demonstrations. At
the changing phase, learners learn new ways to work. In this phase, instruction takes
place. At the refreezing phase, you work to reinforce outcomes, ensuring that the
innovation is assimilated into the organization. Learning initiatives that support refreez-
ing of the innovation include coaching and hotlines, books and journals, seminars, user
groups, and management councils.
In supporting planned change efforts, the workplace learning professional forms
collaborative relationships within the organization. You can be viewed as a specialist
with instructional design expertise, and as a facilitator who is skilled at helping groups
solve problems. Solving problems means leading a group to come to agreement on the
definition of the problem, generating ideas for problem solving, selecting the best
solution option, and (eventually) evaluating results. A sampling of facilitation tools
brainstorming, the storybook technique, the nominal group technique, and charting
were described. You are most visibly viewed as a change agent when you are seen as a
fully functioning member of a management team, with shared responsibilities for
learning outcomes: a true business partner.
We concluded this chapter with some guidelines for you to consider as you change
from a provider of instructional services to a fully functioning member of the manage-
ment team. To quote Peter Senge a final time: If any one idea about leadership has
inspired organizations for thousands of years, its the capacity to hold a shared picture
of the future we seek to create.9

Think It Through
1. What is the workplace learning professionals role in supporting planned organ-
izational change?
2. Using Rogerss characteristics of innovators, categorize your own position. Offer
specific examples of times where you have shown each of these characteristics.
312 Learning at Work

3. Recall an occasion when someone tried to force some help on you. How did you
feel? How did you react? What did you learn from this exercise that you can apply
to the delivery of learning initiatives?
4. Think about the last time a group you were in made a decision. Did everyone have a
chance to share their ideas, or did one or two individuals dominate the group? What
did you learn from your experience?
5. Why is the workplace learning professional a mix of instructor, group process
facilitator, and business partner? Do you have the competencies required for each
role? If not, which skills do you need to develop? How will you go about develop-
ing them?

Ideas in Action
1. Reread the example in Chapter 8 about the PHH Vehicle Management Services.
Using force-field analysis, identify the drivers and resisters to changing the way
training was done in that organization. Then, identify the interventions employed,
and categorize them as unfreezing, changing, or refreezing. What did you learn
from this exercise? Ask a learning and performance director for examples of two
successful and two unsuccessful interventions. Using characteristics of the
innovation, the adopters, the organization itself, and/or the three phases of planned
change, analyze why the intervention worked or did not work.
2. As a group project, search the Internet for information regarding the contributions
of Kurt Lewin to the field of modern social psychology. One link to get you started
on your search is leaders/lewin.htm. Write a
brief report on his contributions and share it with others in your group.

Additional Resources
Galagan, Patricia A. and Jennifer J. Salopek. 2000. Learnings New Guard, in
Learning and Development. Vol. 54, No. 5 (May); pp. 34-56.
The authors discuss new roles for trainees, presented as a series of short profiles of
business professionals at work in a wide variety of settings that demand and support
learning. A common thread is a focus on business results and self-assessment.
Supporting Change in the Workplace 313

OHara-Devereaux, Mary, and Robert Johansen. 1994. Global Work: Bridging

Distance, Culture, and Time. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
The authors identify key competencies that managers need if they want to succeed
in a global workplace, and include a model of team-building for face-to-face or
electronic meetings. A must for anyone interested in the global workplace and com-
munication technologies.

VanGundy, Arthur B. Jr. 1988. Techniques of Structured Problem Solving, 2nd ed.
New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
VanGundy explains, demonstrates, and evaluates 105 tested problem-solving
techniques. Flow charts and guidelines help you understand which one is best for
addressing a particular problem. This book is a classic reference book for any
group-process facilitator.

Weisbord, Marvin R. 2004. Productive Workplaces Revisited. San Francisco:

Weisbord offers an excellent summary of management and organizational develop-
ment theory not to be missed!

Chapter 10 Notes
1. Hammer, Michael. 1994. Reengineering: The Mistakes and Misunderstandings. A presentation
for the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland in JanuaryFebruary, 1994. Cited in
Peter Senges The Fifth Discipline.

2. Senge, Peter. The Fifth Discipline. New York: Currency Doubleday (paperback edition, 1994). p. 6,

3. Rogers, Everett. 1983. Diffusion of Innovations. 3rd ed. New York: Free Press. p. 11.

4. Ibid, pp. 248251.

5. GamePlan, a microcomputer-based simulation and guidebook.

6. Ibid, p. 233.
314 Learning at Work

7. Masie, Elliott. Knowledge Management: Learnings New Umbrella, at http://www.

articles/knowl.htm (spring 2000).

8. Quinn, James Brian. 1985. Managing Innovation: Controlled Chaos. Harvard Business Review.
MayJune 1985, pp. 7384.

9. Senge, op. cit., p. 9

Administering Workplace Learning Programs

In this chapter, we will do the following:

List the steps in the program administration sequence.
Discuss the importance of proper administration to program effec-
Weigh the pros and cons of developing and distributing course catalogs.
Discuss ways in which administration software and the Internet/Intranet
can support administration tasks.
Offer examples of prework activities that must be implemented and
monitored by learning and performance department administrators.
Develop checklists to support the successful rollout of learning programs.
Configure a classroom and its equipment to support a particular learning
Compare and contrast centralized vs. decentralized approaches to devel-
oping budgets.
Develop a costing worksheet.
Identify reports useful to the organization.

The Importance of Administrative Support

The administrative support of planned learning initiatives, while not the most
glamorous of responsibilities, is nevertheless crucial to success. If program
administration is not done properly, the most elegant design and most com-
pelling delivery will, at best, be only marginally successful and will more
than likely be simply wasted.
Good administrative support provides for learner needs, such as the fol-
Informative and easy-to-access program descriptions.
Customer-focused registration procedures.

316 Learning at Work

Well-organized and appealingly presented participant materials that are avail-

able when and where they are needed.
High-quality visuals and copies.
Properly prepared physical facilities.
All required equipment in good working order.
These kinds of logistical details are the foundation on which program imple-
mentation rests. They provide a sort of infrastructure, a necessary condition that
enables participants to attend to program content and allows instructors to focus on
smooth, crisp delivery of that content.

The Program Administration Sequence

The administration of instructor-led or self-paced learning programs involves a num-
ber of tasks, reduced here to seven steps. You can modify the sequence, tailor the
steps, combine or add steps, or outline them differently. You can also restructure the
steps to meet the specific needs of a particular initiative. No matter how they are
defined or structured, however, the support issues we discuss in this sectioncalled
here the program administration sequencemust be properly handled if the learn-
ing initiative is to be successful. Some of these administrative tasks can be done con-
currently, rather than in a linear sequence. Indeed, efficient, effective, and responsive
program administration often requires multitasking.
This program administration sequence consists of the following steps:
1. Inform interested parties of program availability.
2. Register participants.
3. Distribute and process prework.
4. Prepare instructional materials.
5. Prepare the physical facilitiessite and equipment.
6. Support the actual delivery of instruction.
7. Support evaluation.
These administrative responsibilities are typically carried out by support staff
working in the learning and performance department. A small department might have
an administrative assistant or two and perhaps a few part-time employees. A larger
department might have an operations or support team with its own division of labor.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 317

One person, ideally with a backup, generally serves as registrar, handling all the reg-
istration tasks.
Other support requirements are dealt with in two basic ways: You can assign an
individual to a specific program to take care of all the logistical needs of that program.
Alternatively, you can have a central support group working as a team that shares and
rotates responsibilities. These two approaches offer the classic trade-offs of individu-
alized, in-depth knowledge of product and programs vs. the efficiencies of leveraging
expertise centrally. There is clearly no hard and fast rule to follow in how to choose
between these basic options for organizing and managing learning support resources.
In fact, support work can be deliberately alternated between the two approaches over
time just for the sake of variety or for cross-training.
No matter how support work is organized, however, three key realities flow from
our experience:
Repetitive administrative tasks can easily become routine and even boring,
and thus susceptible to error. Take care to build in reasonable variety for
those carrying out such tasks.
It is critical to seize the routine nature of logistical work and turn it into a
strength. Support must be provided and controlled in a highly disciplined,
systematic way, checked and double-checked by routine procedures. It is the
kind of responsibility that should be managed by checklists, buddy systems,
and any other means of verifying accuracy in routine, repetitive work.
In a department made up of professional and clerical staff, a hierarchy of
roles/status almost invariably emerges. Predictable and legitimate as this may
be, given the nature and purpose of the department, it is also important for
both groups in this situation to keep in mind the contribution each makes to
the departments success. It is particularly important for professionals to rec-
ognize the critical role played by clerical support members and to try not to
take them for granted.
Each of the seven steps in the sequence will be explained in this section, along
with tools typically used in program administration. A discussion of finances will
conclude the chapter.
318 Learning at Work

Step 1: Inform interested parties of program availability. Potential participants,

their managers, the organizations Human Resource professionalsindeed, the
organization as a wholeneed to know of the programs that are available. Interested
parties need a description of each program with enough detail to enable them to
understand its learning objectives, its target audience, its fit within a larger curricu-
lum, prerequisites and prework, length, and costs. Also of importance is information
on how to access the program: where and when it will be offered, registration
requirements, and its cancellation policy. Some of these things will be the same from
program to program and need not be repeated as part of each programs description.

Catalogs and Schedules

Your learning and performance department might want to distribute a catalog of pro-
grams that contains descriptive information on their content in some sort of logical
order: grouped by subject matter, by location, or by offering department. A catalogs
length can range from a few to many pages, depending on the size of the organization
and the number of programs it supports. Producing a catalog of significant size
particularly one that will be shared by more than one departmentis a major task
typically done only annually or infrequently.
You will need to draw up a schedule of offerings containing the basic administra-
tive information necessary to register for the programs (dates, locations, and times).
Note the difference between the course catalog and program schedule:
The purpose of the catalog is to help people select the right program.
The purpose of the schedule is to let people know when the program will be
held. The schedule may, of course, be for the organization as a whole, or may
be for a single department, a particular site, or any organizational component
that makes sense.
The two documentscatalog and scheduleare often combined into a single
publication that contains both descriptive and administrative information. The deci-
sion to produce them separately or combined depends on size and resources. A single
catalog combining program descriptions and schedules requires more frequent updat-
ing every time the schedule runs out, which is fine if the catalog is small and updating
it is not too onerous. Splitting the catalog and the schedule, on the other hand, lets you
make scheduling changes regarding time or location when your program descriptions
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 319

remain the same. In either case, commercially available software is available to help
you organize and publish your catalog/schedule. Figures 11-lA and 11-lB show
sample pages from catalogs published by a business organization.

Figure 11-1A. Sample program description from an organizations catalog

Program Title
Business Writing Skills
To help participants write memos, letters, and reports that are clear, direct, and easy to read.
Using case studies and exercises, this program focuses on guidelines for making business
writing more persuasive and dynamic. Participants have opportunities to practice and cri-
tique business correspondence. Topics include the following:
How to make your writing easier for others to read, understand, and act on
How to organize your ideas
How to select appropriate language and tone
How to edit and proofread text
Two days
Target Audience
Professionals within the organization
Participants should be proficient in English vocabulary, grammar,
and syntax
Program Dates (2-day program)
March 3 4
April 28 29
June 16 17
September 19 20
October 24 25
December 8 9
Contact Person
Registrar, Corporate Education

320 Learning at Work

Figure 11-1B. Sample program description from a banks training catalog

Program title
Performance Management at Chase
To develop skills in managing the performance of staff to achieve business goals consistent
with the Chase vision.
With a focus on business results and company values, participants learn and use communi-
cation skills in the areas of performance planning, coaching, performance appraisals, devel-
opment planning, and career coaching. Methods include management techniques, feedback
from staff, manager, and self; extensive skill practice using own situations; small-group
activities, and videotaping. The program is conducted in three parts offered over time. In
order to stay with the same group of people, participants should pick a cluster of dates for
Parts One, Two, and Three from the schedule below. If scheduling conflicts arise, other
dates may be substituted. Participants should pick their preferred cluster and register for all
three parts upon initial registration. Part One must be completed before attending Part Two
and/or Three. Content of the three parts follows:
Part One: Overview, Communication Skills, Performance Planning/ Objective Setting
Part Two: Development Planning, Coaching, Career Discussions
Part Three: Performance Appraisal; Recognition and Rewards
In addition, there will be two four-day offerings of the program in its entirety.
Instructor-led; feedback instrument
Parts One and Two: one and one-half days each; Part Three: one day, if taken in cluster for-
mat; program is four days if taken in its entirety.
Target audience
Those who have direct performance-management responsibilities for others.
Must complete Part One before attending Parts Two and/or Three. Must have directly man-
aged at least one person for at least six months prior to attending Part One.

Administering Workplace Learning Programs 321

Figure 11-1B. Sample program description from a banks training catalog


Offering dates
Cluster Part One Part Two Part Three Entire Program
A Feb 2425 April 2122 June 10 April 1922
B March 1011 April 2122 June 10 November 14
C March 1011 May 2324 July 11
D May 56 June 1314 Sept 30
E June 23 July 1415 October 27
F June 2728 Sept 1213 November 4
G July 1112 Sept 2223 November 17
H Sept 89 Oct 2425 December 8
I Oct 2021 Nov 1415
J Nov 12
Contact person
Registrar, Corporate Education

Consider putting the catalog and schedule on the Internet or on an internal com-
pany network to simplify things. In fact, the learning and performance department
might want to get out of the distribution business altogether. Once on the Internet or
Intranet, the catalog and schedule can be accessed by anyone with authorization. This
single network location becomes the only place where you need to update training
information. Using a network for this kind of information publishing is but one exam-
ple of the way technology can help an organization address its learning support needs.

The Risks Involved in Publishing a Catalog

You must be vigilant in not allowing a catalog or schedule to substitute for needs
analysis. Your clients who conclude that they or their staffs need to learn something
will automatically reach for your catalog to see what program they should attend or
send people to. This is not entirely unreasonable, since the catalog presumably con-
tains quality programs known to be needed and programs already approved by the
organization. It is, in fact, one of the dangers of publishing a catalog: It is all too easy
for people to unthinkingly confine their consideration to program offerings listed in a
322 Learning at Work

catalog. You should instead help clients think through what the problem really is. Will
having their employees learn x actually fix the problem? Or is the problem really a
performance need that learning to do x will not address? Only if the pre-developed
program will actually solve the problem at hand should you help your client choose a
program (although the program might not be among those already scheduled and in
the catalog).

Other Ways of Publishing Learning and Performance

Department and Course Information
While catalogs and schedules can be provided in either paper or electronic form, or
both, as an astute professional, you will want to ensure that programs and
times/locations are publicized in other ways that make good sense in the organiza-
tions culture. Part of the task is simply advertising and marketing. Internal flyers,
desk drops, articles, or interviews published in the organizations internal newspaper
are good ways to get the word out. Bulletin boards (physical and electronic) are
another means of letting clients know about program offerings, as well as when/where
they are offered and how to register. A cautionary note: Bulletin boards must be kept
up-to-date. Events that have already gone by should be removed systematically and
replaced with new material. Failure to do so makes more than the bulletin board look
Sign-on news flashes, often a feature of electronic networks, are another method
of furnishing information. Live presentations at client department staff meetings or
other employee gatherings are good ways to discuss programs in depth, handle ques-
tions, and even surface issues and learning requirements that need to be addressed.
Sometimes the learning and performance department can take part in other employee
events (benefits or development fairs, for example). Still another possibility might be
to periodically set up a booth or desk at the entrance to the employee cafeteria or
lounge or in a buildings main lobby. Finally, if the organization uses business televi-
sion to keep employees informed, this medium can be used to broadcast information
about programs and schedules.
The ways of providing people with information are many. The point is to use the
methods that make sense, to do so in a systematic way, and to be certain to use them
in a manner that supports the learning and performance departments mission: helping
the right people learn the right things. The primary emphasis should be on enabling
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 323

both employees and the organization to achieve legitimate business goals. Getting
people into your programs is a worthy and even necessary administrative task, but it is
not an end in itself. In fact, doing so can be problematic if it is not kept in proper per-
spective. If a learning and performance department often finds itself in the position of
having to drum up participation in its programs or else cancel them for lack of it, there
is something more fundamentally wrong than faulty internal advertising and informa-
tion processes. Having to beat the bushes for participants is usually a sign that the
program offered is not the right program, is not correctly targeted, or is not properly
positioned within the organization. Doing a better job of advertising will not address
these larger, more important problems.
Finally, the members of the learning and performance department, particularly the
support staff, must learn to handle information inquiries properly. Telephone calls,
faxes, e-mail, and even lunchroom or water cooler encounters are usually the depart-
ments front-line contacts with its internal customers. It is important that the individu-
als who answer inquiries be familiar with the programs the department offers and
knowledgeable about program policies and procedures, especially registration, so they
can quickly give callers the information they seek or refer them to the proper source.

Step 2: Register participants. Once people know what programs they wish to take
and how to register for them, the next step is to handle their registration. This means
that you:
Register or wait-list participants for the programs they desire.
Send confirmation letters and notify people of their enrollment status on an
ongoing basis.
Send reminder/prework letters as tickler dates arrive.
Handle cancellations.
Create class rosters.
Prepare management reports before and after actual offerings.
Maintain a database of training accomplished and/or provide links to the
organizations employee database.
324 Learning at Work

Software Registration Systems

You can use powerful registration systems to assist you in registering program par-
ticipants. You have the same three choices faced by any organizational unit that
wishes to automate part of its work: design the system in-house; purchase a system
that is already on the market; or purchase a system and modify it. Designing a regis-
tration program from scratch can be time-consuming and expensive, but if it is
designed correctly, the result can be a perfect fit with organizational needs, and there
may well be situations where this approach is necessary. On the other hand, there are
a plethora of off-the-shelf registration systems available for purchase at a relatively
modest cost. These systems quite successfully handle standard registration needsso
well, in fact, that it is wise to proceed cautiously if you are leaning in the direction of
developing an in-house, custom-built system.
Purchased software typically comes with vendor support, including some form of
training in the systems use. Purchased systems can, of course, also be modified to fit
particular needs; the organization can purchase the source code and then have its own
systems professionals make the changes necessary to modify the package for internal
use. Such modifications with the collaboration of the software vendor, sometimes
even on a shared-cost basis, can be cost-effective and efficient. Anyone considering
the modification of a purchased system should pay particularly careful attention to the
issue of post-modification support.
Four training registration packages advertised in a recent issue of the magazine
T+D are listed here as examples of the kinds of registration software available on the
open market:
element k (800) 434-3466.
MicroTek (800) 207-9620
SumTotal Systems (650) 934-9500
Registration systems, whether purchased off the shelf or custom-written, must support
all the registration steps: participant sign-up, confirmation, wait-list letters, cancella-
tions, program rosters, room assignments, and participant transcripts.

The Registration Form. A paper form of some sort is typically the trigger for the start
of the registration process. Figure 11-2 on the following page is one example of a
detailed form.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 325

Figure 11-2. Sample Registration Form

Course Title: Course Date/Reference:

(Ref. # for Self-Guided Learning Resources)
Registrant Last Name: Corporate Title:
Registrant First Name: Job Function:
Employee ID #: Department Phone #:
Department: Personal Extension:
Expense Code: Location: Fax #:

Circle the number next to the business or function in which you work:

Ethnic Code*
1. Business Development 12. Global Asia/Pacific 1 Black
2. Capital Markets 13. Global Corporate Finance 2 American Indian
3. Case InfoServe International 14. Global Europe, Middle East and Africa 3 Asian
4. Chief Financial Officer 15. Global Latin America 4 Hispanic
5. Consumer Financial Services 16. Global Private Banking 5 White
6. Corporate Communications 17. Global Risk Management 6 Other
7. Corporate Compliance 18. Global United States *For Corp. HR
8. Corporate Human Resources 19. Global United States Affirmative Action
9. Corporate O and S 20. Legal
10. Economics 21. Regional Banking Gender Code
11. Customer Planning and 22. Other F Female
Development Office M Male

Do you have a development plan? If yes, is this course on the plan?

Yes R No R Yes R No R

Do you require any special accommodations?

Yes R No R If yes, please specify: _____________________________________
Before submitting your registration form, please obtain signatures from both your manager/supervisor
and HR representative (not required for self-guided learning).

Employee signature: Date:

Required approvals:
Name (print): Name (print):
Signature: Signature:
Date: Phone: Date: Phone:
Location: Location:

Note: You are not confirmed for a program until you receive a confirmation letter.
326 Learning at Work

One administrative person in the department should be given responsibility for

registration and its associated tasks, particularly if registrations are handled electroni-
cally. The software is fairly straightforward, but there is nonetheless a learning curve.
The registrar should have a cross-trained backup, but the lead person should handle all
inquiries concerning registrations, wait lists, cancellations, and registrant status. The
department must make sure that the registrar has the information and procedures to
deal with the potentially large number of inquiries, but it is important that others in the
department also know how to handle such inquiries.

Wait Lists and Cancellations. A key registration responsibility is deciding how to

deal with a participant who wishes to withdraw from a program. Responding to this
kind of request involves issues like wait lists and substitutions, the timing of the can-
cellation (what if its too late to get a substitute?), program costs and charges, prework
returns and/or costs, and minimums established for the number of participants neces-
sary to run the course. The question of whether or not the program is mandatory can
enter the picture as well; it is one thing for an employee to cancel out of a business-
writing class, but quite another for a newly promoted supervisor to want to withdraw
from an orientation to management. The registrar will have to keep track of who has
attended the mandatory program and who has not, and will probably be required to
report the status of registrations and cancellations.

Step 3. Distribute and process prework. Many face-to-face learning initiatives

require participants to do some work in advance. These requirements range from the
simple to the complex. Examples of simple prework assignments include writing a
memo on a designated or a self-selected topic for a writing class; an assignment to
read an article, a case study, or an organizational policy; or an assignment to answer a
set of questions concerning the material participants have read for the class. Adminis-
trative staff members must also make sure that copyright laws are followed and copy
permissions are obtained where necessary.

Advance Submission of Prework. More complex prework requirements involve ask-

ing participants not only to do something in preparation for a program, but also to
submit it before the program begins, such as writing a sample memo on some topic
and sending it to the learning and performance department in advance so the instructor
can review it and make suggestions ahead of time. Any prework that must be submit-
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 327

ted prior to the class increases the administrative burden significantly because partici-
pants must be informed of what they need to do, by when, and be provided with the
wherewithal for doing it.
The administrative staff tracks participant compliance with requirements, estab-
lishes deadlines for the prework submissions, keeps track of who has submitted the
prework and who hasnt (and remind the delinquents once or twice), and makes sure
any prework is processed. This processing depends, of course, on what the prework is.
It may involve, at a minimum, giving the prework submissions to the instructor (e.g.,
the writing sample mentioned earlier), perhaps even aggregating or summarizing par-
ticipant submissions, or getting the prework submissions to a vendor on time for proc-
essing (e.g., a negotiations style survey).

Feedback on Participants. An increasingly common prework task is to ask program

participants to obtain feedback from anyone whose input can help them on issues that
the organization deems important, such as their managerial style, their ability to work
in a team, and even their own career aspirations within the organization. Feedback can
also be gathered on project or performance management and other general or special-
ized management skills such as communication or sales skills. Many learning initia-
tives have components built around feedback from others regarding how well that per-
son carries out a task or meets specific responsibilities.
Asking participants to get feedback from others imposes significant demands on
administrative personnel, however:
Program participants must be supplied with the instructions and the materials
needed to ask others for the feedback the program requires (paper feedback
forms, disks, or Web site addresses, and instructions on what to do with the
The learning and performance departments support staff must be prepared to
handle questions about these data-gathering processes and deal with glitches
(e.g., I cant download this form).
The staff must also be prepared to deal with submission deadlines, late or lost
data, participant additions to or changes in feedback sources, and what to do
if a participant cancels out of a feedback-based course at the last minute.
328 Learning at Work

These kinds of complexities have to be addressed during the planning stage. It is

crucial that support staff members work closely with the departments instructors
(usually one instructor who is designated as the program manager) to establish that the
support documentation and processes for feedback-based programs are accurate, com-
plete, and up-to-date.
The actual processing of feedbackentering the data, crunching the numbers, and
producing the feedback reports that will be used in the programis a significant task
all by itself. The job is often outsourced for reasons of confidentiality; if so, the
learning and performance department must be in close contact with any external proc-
essor of the feedback to confirm that all is going smoothly. All the required input must
be received by the due date, and feedback reports for the program must be received on

The Confidentiality of Feedback Data. No matter where the feedback data are proc-
essed, in-house or out, we cannot overemphasize the importance of confidentiality. Do
not leave such data lying around on desks or worktables, discuss it over coffee, or
make remarks about it. It must only be shared with people who have been scrupu-
lously identified (it is usually shared only with the recipient). Take great care, to the
point of obsessiveness, about the confidentiality of feedback, because maintaining
confidentiality is regarded as a mark of true professionalism. If you lose trust inside
the organization, it will be extremely difficult to win it back, making feedback vir-
tually impossible to obtain in the future.

A Sample Prework Checklist

Figure 11-3 on the following page shows a checklist used for the complex prework
necessary for a management-development program designed for senior managers in
which 360-degree feedback is required. We offer it here to show the level of detail
necessary for competent administrative support of a program. (Note that the list is
incomplete, dealing as it does only with the prework aspects of the program.)
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 329

Figure 11-3. Prework Checklist for a Management Training Program

Prework Administration Checklist

There are three phases for the prework: confirmation, prework, and feedback tracking.

Phase 1. Confirmation Memo

Send a confirmation memo to each participant ten weeks prior to the program
date for U.S. delivery, and twelve weeks ahead for international delivery. (See the
sample memo in our master file.) Reiterate program dates and times. Include a list
of participants and a copy of our cancellation policy. Send a copy of the memo to
each participants manager.

Phase II. Prework Package

Send the following to each participant eight weeks prior to program date. Follow
directions provided with items:
A. Blue program folder with two pockets; Prework Memo clipped to outside of
folder. (Sample memo in master file.)
1. In the left pocket, place the Participant Instructions memo. (Sample
memo in master file.)
2. In the right pocket, place the pre-program workbook.
3. Three-hole-punch, and include copies of the following materials in the
right pocket:
a. The New Manager
b. Dealing with Turbulence
B. Also in the right pocket, place directions for reporting self-generated data, as
well as how to collect other feedback data. Include a mailer that the partici-
pant can use to return the self- questionnaire.
C. Send out Pre-Program Discussion Memo to participants managers. (See
the sample on file. Note that there are two versions, one for men, one for
women so the pronouns are correct.) The memo tells managers about the
program requirement of a discussion with participants on their staff. Call the
manager to confirm receipt of the memo. Advise that the participant will
schedule the meeting, and explain the purpose of the discussion. (Read pre-
program workbook for information, and be prepared to discuss the programs
feedback features.)

330 Learning at Work

Figure 11-3. Prework Checklist for a Management Training Program (concluded)

Phase III. Feedback Tracking

At least three weeks before the program:
A. Verify that each participant received feedback from at least four people. Call
those who are lacking the requisite number on due date. Make clear that par-
ticipants may not attend class if insufficient feedback is received and cancel-
lation charges will apply. Starting three weeks before program, inform
Program Manager of status of report generation every other day.
B. Be prepared to talk with participants and their feedback sources concerning
questions and problems with disks and/or the feedback process. Be sure to
read feedback instruction sheets so you can be helpful. Consider preparing a
feedback report.
C. Two days before program: Verify final participant list with Registrar, based
upon feedback on hand. Obtain class roster and give copy to Program Man-
ager and instructor(s). Let the Program Manager know if any participant
hasnt reported back.

Step 4: Prepare instructional materials. Make sure materials are prepared in

advance, ready for use when the program begins. The phrase Instructional materials
refers to all the items that will be used in the program, whether for instruction or as
materials to be given to program participants. Getting these items ready in advance
means different things, depending on whether or not the materials in question are pur-
chased or have been created internally. Using commercially published workbooks or
reference books (often the case in both live and mediated instruction, especially the
latter) means making sure that enough copies are on hand. Items that have been
developed in-house, on the other hand, must be created. If a program of live instruc-
tion calls for PowerPoint visuals, overhead transparencies, or prepared flipcharts,
create and arrange them in the proper sequence, as specified in the leaders guide.
Handouts must be photocopied, participant binders must be stuffed, instructions for
role plays and simulation exercises must be readied in sufficient number, and so on.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 331

The Use of Checklists

The preparation of all these materials goes much easier if you use checklists. Figure
11-4 shows a sample checklist for the preparation of material for a live-instruction
course. One person can use such a list to prepare the materials, and a second can use
the same list to double-check for full and accurate completion of all items. Many pro-
gram administrators use a cardboard file box designed to hold hanging file folders.
One hanging folder is placed in the box for each item the course calls for and then
filed in the correct sequence, day by day, over the programs entire length. The box is
then delivered to the classroom as part of the program setup.
The checklist is a perfect vehicle for communicating to another department what
is administratively necessary to run this particular program. Clearly identify each item
on the checklist and safely archive master copies of its contents.

Figure 11-4. Program Administration

Packing and Materials Checklist

R BindersOne per participant, plus 4
R (See Binder Assembly List, if necessary)
R ACUMEN feedback envelopes (4 per person, sorted into alphabetical sets)
R Self
R Individual vs. group
R Feedback on Practices AF
R Feedback on Practices GN
R Handouts: Day 1 (NOTE: All handouts are three-hole-punched.)
R Extra prework articles
R Extra pre-program workbooks (5)
R Participants list (from ops coordinator30)
R Maximizing Profitability exercise sheets
R 4-member team (30)
R 5-member team (30)
R 6-member team (30)
R Blank ACUMEN targets (30)

332 Learning at Work

Figure 11-4. Program Administration (continued)

R Handouts: Day 2 (NOTE: All handouts are three-hole-punched.)

R Managing Individual Performance role play instructions for:
R R.I. (2pp, 2-sided) (6)
R P.F. (3pp, 2-sided, stapled) (6)
R T.T. (2pp, 2-sided) (6)
R S.P. (2pp, 2-sided) (6)
R N.O. (2pp, 2-sided) (6)
NOTE: Initials represent role-play characters.
R Managing Individual Performance observer forms (30)
R Managing Individual Performance feedback forms (5 per person130)
R Managing Business Performance case (1 of 2 needed)
R For N.Y. and domestic: Big Shoulders (39pp booklet30) OR
R For London/HK/TKO: Star Wars (20pp booklet30)
R Handouts: Day 3 (NOTE: All handouts are three-hole-punched.)
R Managing Business Performance team assignments (1pp30)
R Managing Business Performance team rating sheets (1pp30)
R Handouts: Day 4 (NOTE: All handouts are three-hole-punched)
R Managing Across the Organization individual assessment forms (2pp, 2-sided;
6 per person150)
R Program Evaluation forms (2pp, 2-sided; Change dates and instructors150)
R Materials
R History slides (14, in carousel)
R S-Curve overheads (set of 11 in labeled Tyvek)
R ACUMEN overheads (set of 10 in labeled Tyvek)
R Flipcharts, 1 pad
R Day 1 #s 1.11.16
(NOTE: Instructors create other flipchart pages during class)
R Videotapes include these titles:
ACUMEN Illustrations
Nine to Five
Broadcast News
Managing Individual Performance
King (I Have a Dream)
L.A. Law
Its a Wonderful Life

Administering Workplace Learning Programs 333

Figure 11-4. Program Administration (continued)

R Name tags for role plays (sets of 5R.I., P.F., T.T., S.P., and N.O.)
R 6 wood slabs (1 x 12 x 12, clear pine)
R Safety glasses (3)
R Prizes for winning team (Gotham T-Shirts; 6L and 6XL)
R Name tags for Day 3 Cocktail Party (real names, typed tagsCDC)
R Parting gift (in N.Y., deliver on Day 4; other locations, ship with program
R Large Tyvek envelopes with mailing labels (to mail participants binders, etc., if
R blank videotape, one per team (4)
R Instructors Kit
R 5 rolls 1 masking tape
R 6 sets of 5 magic markers (red, blue, purple, green, black)
R Pens/pencils (sharpened)
R Post-it Notes5 tiny (1 x 1) and 5 small (2 x 3)
R Stapler
R Scissors
R Extra peel-off name tags

R Slide projector (Day 1)
R Overhead projector (Days 1 and 3)
R Video monitor
R Videotapes
R Video camera and playback (one per team) in each breakout room (Day 3)
R Flipchart stands and pads (4 in main classroom, 1 in each breakout room)

R Planning Guide (40pp booklet, saddle-stitch, three-hole-punchedinside front cover)
R Cover sheet
R Day 1 Tab
R Program Agenda (1pp)
R S-Curve Growth Model (11pp, 2-sided, stapled upper left)
R Article: Bringing Spirit Back to the Workplace by W. Matthew Jeuchter
(5pp, 2-sided, stapled)

334 Learning at Work

Figure 11-4. Program Administration (concluded)

R ACUMEN Clockstyle Descriptors (1pp)

R Handbook for using ACUMEN (57pp booklet, saddle-stitched)
R Ideal Manager profile (Blank ACUMEN target)
R Managing Individual Performance team role play
R Team instructions (6pp, 2-sided, stapled)
R Instructions for B. Smith, Observer (7pp, 2-sided, stapled)
R Day 2 Tab
R Managing Individual Performance Improvement Model (1pp)
R Managing Individual Performance Reference Guide (7pp booklet, saddle-
R Managing Practices placemat (2pp, 2-sided, card stock, 4-color)
R Day 3 Tab
R Performance Analysis form (2pp, 2-sided)
R Managing Business Performance Model (1pp)
R Managing Business Performance Tools and Techniques (19pp booklet, saddle-
stitched, three-hole punched)
R Managing Business Performance team exercise (1pp)
R Managing Across the Organization case: A Rock and a Hard Place (13pp
booklet, saddle-stitched)
R Day 4 Tab
R Managing Across the Organization team exercise (2pp, one-sided, stapled)
R Bibliography (13pp, two-sided, stapled)

Backups and Archives. Providing adequate backup for program materials is an

important administrative responsibility. The administrator should be working from not
only a checklist, but also from master copies of all the items that appear on the list.
These working masters are part of the programs documentation and are needed to
make the copies of material each time a program is run. The working masters should
themselves be duplicates of a set of materials kept in an archive as ultimate backup
copies of all materials. Both the working and archive masters should consist of clean
and complete copies of all items on the program checklist, whether they are in-house
creations or are commercially purchased. Electronic copies of in-house material
should, of course, also be backed up and archived. This is sometimes even possible
with commercially purchased material, an issue to be negotiated with the vendor of
the material.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 335

Take care of the master copies, as they serve as a base for the production of high-
quality program materialsclean, crisp copies, fully legible, appealingly packaged,
and pleasing to the eye. This tells participants that you respect them and their desire to
learn. (Consider the effect of smudged, skewed pages in a participant binder, or the
impact of sloppy visuals). Masters and backup copies are your contingency in the
event of a disaster. Good program administrators make sure they can always recover
from any loss of materials in the mail or due to disaster or ordinary human error. (A
runaway sprinkler system in a building can wreak havoc on a supply rooms contents.)
Once program materials are ready, you have another logistical responsibility: to
make sure the materials get to the physical location of the program and are returned at
its end. The materials must then be checked and restored to inventory, if possible, or
reordered or remade as needed. Replenish supplies when materials are returned at
program-end, rather than waiting until the start date of a new program approaches.
This is not essential, but it prevents supplies from being part of the last-minute crunch
at program-start.

Preparing Program Materials

Materials vary enormously from program to program. The administrator is responsible
for supplying them as called for in the leaders guide, on time and with a high-quality
appearance. Creating the master copies is a design and development task, not an
administrative task. In this section, we will look at a few of the most commonly used
materials from the perspective of the administrator who must prepare them.
Visuals. Visuals needed for the instructor should be included with the
leaders guide. Typically, slides are created with presentation software such
as PowerPoint. At other times, an instructor might rely on overhead transpar-
encies. If you opt for transparencies, you should make them on clear or
colored transparency sheets; they can be created as overlays or mounted on
cardboard frames for the overhead projector. Frames give the slide a finished
look, make them a bit easier to handle, and provide a convenient space for
speaking notes. Unframed overheads, on the other hand, are much easier to
pack for travelthey can be three-hole-punched for placing in a binder or can
be slipped into clear plastic sleeves that come pre-punched. Of course,
PowerPoint slides are even easier to transport; they can be carried in a lap-
336 Learning at Work

tops hard drive or on a flash drive that will fit in a shirt pocket. PowerPoint
slides are much easier to change than transparencies.
Flipcharts. You can draw flipchart pages by hand directly on a flipchart pad
or you can create them by using special copiers. You can also laminate them
to give the instructor a washable writing surface.
Participant binders. Three-ring binders containing all the material partici-
pants will need for the program are standard. Custom binders with printed
logos are nice, but more generic binders with clear slipcovers on the front and
the spine are more common. Very often a learning and performance depart-
ment will want to give all its programs (or a particular curriculum within its
offerings) a special look for identification and marketing purposes. The
availability of desktop publishing and presentation software provides power-
ful and exciting visual opportunities for logos and print design. The partici-
pant binder is typically divided by tabs for each day or section of the pro-
gram. It should contain the program evaluation form in a prominent place so
participants can fill it out before leaving. Oftentimes, all participant materials
are placed in the participant binder, reducing handouts to a bare minimum or
eliminating them altogether. This simplifies both program support and
Giveaways. Instructional programs often include some memento of the pro-
gram that reinforces and supports the skills/knowledge it has delivered. A
handy pocket calculator, perhaps with an appropriate slogan or logo, can be
used for a program on budget procedures. A clear plastic paperweight with a
computer chip embedded in it might remind people of a technology program.
Canvas carrying bags, writing pad folders, photographs or certificates, pens
the possibilities are limited only by the imagination and creativity of the pro-
grams designers and the funds at their disposal. Program administrators must
make certain that there are enough giveaways available when needed.
Consumable supplies. Be sure to have paper, pads, pens and pencils, erasers,
colored markers, paper clips, rubber bands, Post-it Notes, and other necessary
supplies for specific exercises or games within the program, as well as gen-
eral instructional supplies. Put consumable supplies on your administrative
checklist and be sure you have enough on hand.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 337

One final note about program supplies: Consider bulk purchasing to keep the
overall program costs as low as possible, especially generic materials. Every effort
should be made during program design to specify materials and tools that are generi-
cally available.

Step 5: Prepare the physical facilities. Appropriate, comfortable physical facilities

and working equipment are all important considerations. People learn best in settings
that are conducive to the task. Learners should be able to concentrate on program
content without being distracted by a lack of ventilation, missing chairs, or malfunc-
tioning projectors. Instructional activities such as lectures, role plays, or small-group
work dictate appropriate room arrangements and seating. Careful attention to these
sorts of details results in comfortable facilities and equipment that will perform as
expected. The administrative task here is to ensure that the physical facilities are set
up as called for in the leaders guide and in the facility layout plan and equipment list
(both of which should be placed in the leaders guide).

Kicking the Tires. The program administrator should not only see to it that the
equipment is provided as called for, but also that it is in good working order. On the
programs first day, the administrator should test the projectors and the computers,
check that the right pads are on the flipchart easels, and make sure the magic markers
actually write. He or she should verify that the correct handouts, visuals, and films are
in the room and that the proper binders are placed at participants seats. He or she
must also check the name tags and table tents, if supplied, and check the ventilation
and the lighting. All of these stepsthe training version of kicking the tires on a used
carare something all experienced instructors and administrators follow. It may well
be that the administrator will leave them entirely to the instructor; just be sure
everything is checked on the spot and in detail, so that participants can learn as
effortlessly as possible and the instructor can instruct as planned.

Principles and Issues. Facility plans are offered here for common program formats
and delivery approaches. Decisions about facilities are part of program design and
development. Place a layout similar to one of these examples in the leaders guide.
Review the facility choices and ask yourself these questions:
338 Learning at Work

Tables or no tables? A table is useful for reading or writing, but it can act as a
barrier between the instructor and participants and/or among the participants
themselves. Consider how you feel in a group where tables (or desks) are
availableand when they are not.
Should the instructor sit or stand? Is a lectern needed? Should the instructor
be in front of the group, or behind it? Is the instructor part of the group, or its
leader? Can everyone see the instructor? Can everyone see the audiovisual
How will you provide for break-out groups? Large groups often need to break
into small discussion or task groups. Depending upon the size of the main
facility, these small groups can meet in specified corners or move as a group
to another nearby room to perform a task.
Who sits where? Make sure that participants know that they are expected and
welcome by providing name tags and/or tent cards as name-plates. This I.D.
material can be preprinted or left blank for participants to fill in with markers.
Name tags and tent cards are particularly valuable when participants do not
know each other, and are usually a great help to the program facilitator. They
ease introductions, help break the ice, and make it easier to mingle. Tent cards
can be used for table assignments only (thus allowing participants to pick
their own seats), or they can be pre-placed at specified seats to manage who
sits where and with whom.

Room Arrangements for Lectures

By definition, learners in a lecture setting have little involvement with each other.
Contact with the instructor is often limited to a question-and-answer period. It is
important that learners be able to see and hear the instructor; flipcharts, overhead
projectors, DVD players, and other equipment should likewise be easily accessed.
There are many different seating arrangements to choose from. Figure 11-5A shows
sample seating arrangements for lectures for different size groups and various support
technologies. Figure 11-5B shows a sample seating arrangement for panel discussions.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 339

Figure 11-5A. Seating options for lecture groups

Ov rt Fli
rt a pc
c ha Sc erhe p ch Overhead Screen ha
p re ad
en Fli rt

t Fli
h ar Overhead Screen pc
pc ha
Fli rt


Figure 11-5B. Seating options for panel discussions

340 Learning at Work

Room Arrangements for Small-Group Work

Small-group work can be used to break up lecture periods or as the primary instruc-
tional method. In small groups, instructor contact will vary, depending upon the task
at hand. As Figure 11-6 shows, the instructor takes a strong leadership role in some
situations, thus needing easy access to his or her support tools. In other instances, the
instructor becomes part of the group, and line of sight is not an important issue.

Figure 11-6. Seating options for small-group work

Work Table Work Table







Work Table
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 341

Room Arrangements for Problem-Solving Sessions

Problem-solving sessions require high involvement on the part of participants. Place-
ment of tables and chairs will vary, depending in part on who will be doing the facili-
tationan external facilitator or a team member. Figure 11-7 shows seating arrange-
ments illustrating these points.

FIGURE 11-7. Seating options for problem-solving sessions

Work Table


Work Table Flipchart

342 Learning at Work

Room Arrangements When Computers Are Used

When participants each use a computer either as the basis of what they are learning or
as the basis for group processes, be sure to provide sufficient space for the equipment.
Figure 11-8 illustrates arrangement options. When designing computer training
rooms, consider whether or not the instructor needs to see participant computer
screens. If the session is part of a course on desktop publishing, the instructor will
want a full view, but if the group is using a group-support system, an instructors
ability to see individual screens might compromise participant anonymity.

Figure 11-8. Seating arrangements when computers are being used




A Facilities Checklist. One way to be sure that facilities are set up correctly is to
develop a checklist such as the one in Figure 11-9. Checklists serve as reminder lists
as well as completion check-off sheets.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 343

Figure 11-9. Sample facility and equipment checklist

Client: Contact:
Program title: Date:
Number of participants: Number of instructors:
Facilities Checklist

R Main Conference Room

R Lounge(s)
R Breakout room(s)
(BR 123) to accommodate _____ teams of _____ people each
R Instructor office
R Telephone in instructor office
R Wall clock in main conference room

Equipment Checklist
Conference Breakout Breakout Breakout
Room Room #1 Room #2 Room #3
R Flipchart easel ________ ________ ________ ________
R Flipchart paper: ________ ________ ________ ________
Blank ________ ________ ________ ________
Grid ________ ________ ________ ________

R VCR ________ ________ ________ ________

R DVD player ________ ________ ________ ________
R Camera ________ ________ ________ ________
R Table/floor microphone ________ ________ ________ ________
R Lavaliere microphone ________ ________ ________ ________

R Blank videotape cassette ________ ________ ________ ________

(90 minutes)

344 Learning at Work

Figure 11-9. Sample facility and equipment checklist (continued)

Main Breakout Breakout Breakout

Conference Room #1 Room #2 Room #3
R Audiotape recorder ________ ________ ________ ________
R Blank audiotapes (90
min.) ________ ________ ________ ________
R 35 mm slide projector
and screen ________ ________ ________ ________
R Remote control ________ ________ ________ ________

R Overhead projector and

screen ________ ________ ________ ________
R Blank transparencies ________ ________ ________ ________
R Transparency markers ________ ________ ________ ________
R Computer ________ ________ ________ ________
R Data projection device ________ ________ ________ ________
R Printer ________ ________ ________ ________

Standard Materials Number

R Pens/pencils
R Writing pads
R Participant binders
R Participant registration forms
R Felt tip markers
R Masking tape
R Pencil sharpener
R Stapler/staples
R Post-it Notes
R Thumb tacks
R Paper clips
R Scissors
R Rubber cement
R Ruler
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 345

Figure 11-9. Sample facility and equipment checklist (concluded)

Special Materials
R Prepared flipcharts
R Timer
R Instructional game files
R Shoelaces (# )
R Popsicle sticks, bunches (# ) ___________________________________
R Videotape(s) titles: ___________________________________
R Case(s) titles: ___________________________________

Room set-up diagram (provide separate sheet)

Step 6: Support the actual delivery of instruction. Logistical responsibilities are

usually completed as soon as a program gets underway. There are times, however,
when you will need to provide a certain amount of light but ongoing support.
With mediated or self-paced learning materials, the administrator makes sure all
the study materials are available on schedulethe text. the DVD, the next workbook,
or the next reading assignment. Indeed, it is often an administrator who schedules
self-study facilities, equipment, and materials. Additionally, individuals who are
working in a self-paced program sometimes need an administrators assistance to
operate a handheld video, set up a movie, or provide specific materials just at the right
With live instruction, administrators often arrange for refreshments. This is usu-
ally not a requirement for mediated or self-paced instructional programs, but most live
programs offer participants coffee and pastry, refreshments at breaks, a light lunch,
and perhaps even a cocktail hour or formal dinner on an evening or two. This will
vary from program to program and organization to organization. Many organizations
have a cafeteria or food service of some kind that can at least provide the basics. Once
again, make sure adequate planning is done, and that what has been planned is imple-
mented efficiently.
346 Learning at Work

Step 7: Support evaluation. Weve gone over a wide variety of tools and techniques
for conducting evaluations of instruction and ensuring that those who can benefit from
evaluation data have access to it. Some administration is necessary during evaluation,
as well.
If program participants are being asked for their reactions to a program they have
just completed, the administrator must be sure the appropriate evaluation form is put
into the participant binder. The form itself, if it is program-specific, will have been
created along with other program materials. Sometimes a learning and performance
department will want participant evaluations summarized in a report. The same can be
said of follow-up evaluations collected from program graduates after they have
returned to their jobs and have had some time to use the knowledge or skills acquired
in instruction. Figure 11-10, beginning on the following page, demonstrates how
numerical evaluation ratings are compiled, as well as how participant comments are
reported verbatim.
You cannot use summaries of reaction data as hard, statistical data because they
are not scientifically valid. The ratings reflect participant reactions, and are only as
objectively valid as those reactions. On the other hand, compiling program evalua-
tions is a good way to identify consistently negative participant reactions with regard
to either program design or instructor delivery. A pattern of such negative findings
may well indicate areas where learning and performance department managers need to
make some changes. When feedback data are exceptionally helpful, consider sending
a memo to participants, thanking them for their feedback and explaining the changes
you made in the program because of their feedback.
Reports of other program evaluations deal with learning outcomes, job behavior,
organizational results, and learning and performance department process, and are
typically conducted by professionals in the learning and performance department.
Reports of this nature are more complex and more formal. Review the discussion on
this topic in Chapter 3. Youll want the support of administrative staff to help you
collect, compile, analyze, and report evaluation data of all types.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 347

Figure 11-10. Evaluation Summary Sheet


Note: Twelve individuals participated in this program that was delivered by two
different instructors. Items 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7 summarize overall program reaction as
stated on the reaction questionnaire; items 3 and 4 summarize participants' reactions
to individual instructors.

1. Please rate each of the following items as part of your reaction to the session. If rank is
less than average, please comment on the back of the form.

Poor Adequate Average Good Excellent

Program content (concepts, facts, skills, 7 5

Applicability to your job, responsibilities, and 10 2
Enough examples and chances to practice, 2 9 1
in order to be able to apply new skills or
Use of activities and materials so that 1 9 2
learning is easy and enjoyable
Opportunity for discussion with other 3 5 4
participants (to exchange experiences and
Length of the program relative to its 1 3 7 1
objectives and the needs of the group
Appropriateness of pre-session information, 9 3
materials, directions. Did you know what to

348 Learning at Work

Figure 11-10. Evaluation Summary Sheet (continued)

2. Which part of the program was of most value to you? Why?

Qualitative responses with regard to feedback:

The feedback gave insight into what I do and what my subordinates expect.
Lots of interesting comments and solutions were thrown out.
I learned what staff expects and how to find areas to improve.
I am not able to start to refocus and address relevant issues.
Now, I understand my perceived weaknesses so that I can identify areas for
The data discussion was useful to analyze our skill.
Feedback was important, as it gave me a chance to look into myself and
understand what my people think about me.

Qualitative responses to the use of the role plays:

The role play activity helped me to better understand the organizational issues.
Role plays stimulate interaction and prompt new practice.
The various role plays were interesting, provocative, and relevant.
Case study and role play are valuable because I understand better.
The role plays gave me a chance to see how others use different approaches.
I appreciated the group discussion about our observations of each other, because
everyone listened with really open minds.

3. Which part of the program was of the least value to you? Why?

Case Studies: Gotham/Star Wars Too hypothetical; comments from participants are
easier said than done
Managing Individual Performance: Too little time
Skill Model/Visioning: No clear objective/instruction

Administering Workplace Learning Programs 349

Figure 11-10. Sample Participant Feedback Evaluation (continued)

Managing Business Performance: Although I found it very interesting, Im on the

Ops & Sys side and dont really manage a business for revenue generation. On
the other hand, I do manage a unit within expense targets and productivity levels.
Growth Model by different phases: A simplistic way to make complicated comparisons.
Team exercise to act out solutions for Chapman case: Dont see the value in it.
History and goals: When we discussed our history and goals, the time was too short
(understandable) and it was difficult to put across your thoughts, visions, and ideas
with a person whom you met just three days back
Managing co-workers: We were a well-known team with the same goals and customer

4a. Please use the following scale to comment on each instructors ability to lead the

1 = Needs Improvement 2 = Adequate 3 = Good 4 = Excellent

Instructor #1

Item 1 2 3 4 Avg.

(A) Organization/preparation of subject matter 2 2 8 3.50

(B) Presentation of subject matter 1 1 2 8 3.42

(C) Clarity of instructions 1 5 6 3.33

(D) Ability to control time 4 8 3.67

(E) Ability to link content to your business 1 9 2 3.00

(F) Ability to stimulate productive discussion 7 5 3.42

(G) Ability to create a productive learning 1 2 5 6 3.42


350 Learning at Work

Figure 11-10. Sample Participant Feedback Evaluation (continued)

Instructor #2

Item 1 2 3 4 Avg.

(A) Organization/preparation of subject matter 3 9 3.75

(B) Presentation of subject matter 3 9 3.75

(C) Clarity of instructions 4 8 3.67

(D) Ability to control time 3 10 3.77

(E) Ability to link content to your business 9 3 3.25

(F) Ability to stimulate productive discussion 6 6 3.50

(G) Ability to create a productive learning 5 7 3.58


4b. Please add your comments on the instructors ability to lead the program.
I was skeptical coming in, and enlightened going out! Both instructors did well in
helping me overcome my skepticism.
Generally, both instructors are very experienced.
Both the instructors led the program well and as a team.
They are really professional on managing this seminar. Really, thanks for the things
Ive learned during this seminar.
I learned a lot about the good way to facilitate/lead a meeting or class from the two
Both instructors are excellent facilitators.
No comment.

Administering Workplace Learning Programs 351

Figure 11-10. Sample Participant Feedback Evaluation (concluded)

1 2 3 4 Avg.

5. How would you rate the overall reaction to the 8 4 3.33


6. How would you rate your level of skill or


a. Before the program 10 2 2.17

b. After the program 10 2 3.17

7. Other Comments:
This program was a very good learning experience, especially productive for the
group discussion.
It was an excellent experience. A great and rewarding experience.
Each country has different cultures and objectives. Due to the limited time, I think
these differences in managing people/business are not well instructed.
Somewhat insufficient time period for the class.
Can the program be shortened to 3 days? It lasts too long; 4 days is too long.
I need to modify to cope with the new vision. Unfortunately, I am very tied up by my
office work and have not had much time to prepare for the case studies. Prefer to
attend the course out of town and with more participants from my line of business, to
share more-relevant experience.

Creating a Budget
Controlling a departmental budget is a major administrative responsibility. The budget
must cover all the phases of the Instructional Development Cycle, with funds
requested to carry out the cycle in a particular budget year. The actual budgetthe
funds granted in response to this requestreflects the organizations appetite for your
departments services and how much of its resources it is prepared to allocate. It is
very important that you work hard and continuously to position your departments
services in the minds of your internal customers as support for learning, and the
352 Learning at Work

management resource that helps employees learn what the organization needs them to
learn, and helps them to perform faster, cheaper, easier, and better.
When budget cutbacks occur, the learning and performance department is often
the first department to get cut. Cuts to the departmental budget are frequently fol-
lowed by another phenomenon, however. Later on, when the organization needs
people to learn something and there is a clear need for learning initiatives, the dollars
for it will somehow be found. They might come out of the supplies budget, contin-
gency funds, or even a managers discretionary funds, but the dollars will be found!
The unmistakable lesson in this is that when people see a clear need for learning ser-
vices, the services will be funded. Needless to say, the time for learning and perform-
ance managers to argue that their job is to enable and maximize learning is not when
the axe falls! The point should be made constantly when there is no crisis. Above all,
back it up with documentation and numbers that make the argument more strongly
than any words can.

Centralized and Decentralized Approaches

Organizations generally allocate funds for learning services in two different ways.
Sometimes all the dollars are placed in a central budget, to be dispersed in the most
efficient way possible by learning and performance department managers for the
organization as a whole. Sometimes an organization decentralizes its learning and per-
formance funds. In this case, the department is allocated enough money to run itself,
pay its people and its overhead, and buy supplies, services, and space. The money
necessary to pay for actual programs is put in the budgets of line departments, which
then pay for programs as needed. In this latter scenario, the learning and performance
department typically charges internally for its service, a process called a chargeback.
The chargeback can be simply a proportionate per-participant share of the cost of run-
ning a particular program, or it can be a fixed cost the learning and performance
department establishes as a type of tuition.
The centralized approach to the budget is generally more efficient in terms of pro-
gram planning, rollout, and resource planning/usage, and is certainly the approach to
be used when the learning and performance department is organized as a teaching
faculty. The focus of the decentralized approach is on effectiveness, rather than on
efficiency. It has the advantage of putting the money where the learning need is. This
helps ensure that what the learning and performance department does is what the line
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 353

departments need. They, after all, have the money! In the decentralized approach, the
learning and performance department tends to be organized as a staff of internal con-
sultants, performance analysts, and brokers.

Strategic Funding. In either case, especially in the decentralized approach where a

short-term focus can all too easily prevail, the learning and performance department
managers should set aside money for strategic learning initiatives. (See Chapter 1 for
a full discussion of strategic learning). There are things people need to learn that offer
no immediate, short-term payback: entry-level training to feed the talent pipeline, ori-
entation to the organizations culture, information about other departments and pro-
jects, and the learning necessary for infrastructural programs that lay the groundwork
for future organizational growth (e.g., new buildings, new technologies, new prod-
ucts). This kind of learning is most effectively funded by a budget under the control of
senior managers who appreciate the need for and value of strategic initiatives. The
learning demanded by these kinds of organizational requirements will be supported by
a strategic perspective, not the short-term, business results-oriented focus of opera-
tional line management. Thus, budget authority for strategic learning initiatives should
be lodged with strategic management.

Budget Categories
No hard and fast rules concerning proper budget categories exist. Organizations define
and set up their own categories in a wide variety of ways. Every organization has its
own terminology for budgeted items and its own way of categorizing items, and the
categories themselves can change over time. However, the list that follows is a repre-
sentative sample of the types of expenses a learning and performance department
manager usually needs to include in the departments budget.

Typical Budget Categories

1. Salaries. This budget category is often subdivided into professional staff and
clerical support staff. Sometimes managers are split out from the whole, also.
Full-time and part-time workers are listed separately. Funds for temporary
workers can be included here or put in the consultant category.
354 Learning at Work

2. Benefits. Paid vacation, health insurance, and life insurance provided to

employees is typically a percentage of salary determined by the organiza-
tions financial controllers or its benefits staff.
3. Staff Development. Money is also often added for professional development
deemed necessary by management that will not fall under individual devel-
opment. Funding for the instruction that will be necessary to put new desktop
software into all the departments workstations would have to be budgeted,
for example, because everyone will need to switch from old software to new.
This category also includes memberships in professional associations, sub-
scriptions to professional journals, and attendance at conferences.
4. Recruiting. Agency fees and any other costs associated with hiring new
people. Travel for candidates or recruiters, as well as recruiting brochures and
other marketing materials fall into this category, also.
5. Consultants. Fees paid to consultants for work in the department, plus their
applicable travel expenses. These costs are often put into subcategories that
reflect the purpose for which consultants are hired: instructional design,
delivery, evaluation, a specific project or program, etc.
6. Furniture and Equipment. The cost of adding, replacing, repairing, or rent-
ing furniture or equipment for use in the learning and performance depart-
ment or its programs falls into this budget category. When an organization
has rules and procedures regarding what is and what is not to be considered a
capital expense (e.g., a large-scale, sophisticated copier), the annual deprecia-
tion for it is often included here. Computers are included here as well. Soft-
ware is sometimes here, sometimes in a separate category. Hardware and
software also can be treated as capital expenditures.
7. Occupancy. The cost of the building space occupied by the learning and per-
formance department, as well as expenses for heat, light, and ventilation, are
nondiscretionary items.
8. Marketing. The cost to market the learning and performance department and
its programs falls into this category. An example is a brochure used for a
desk drop or given out as part of new-hire orientation.
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 355

9. Communication. The cost of telephones (equipment, repairs, calls) as well as

costs for fax equipment and supplies, e-mail, memberships in public networks
or news wires, and other related usage charges are put into this category.
10. Office Supplies. The department needs supplies for members to function.
Supplies for programs and supplies for staff are often divided into separate
11. Postage. Expenses related to the departments outgoing mail, including
express-courier costs and the shipping of program materials, belong in their
own category.
12. Travel. Travel expenses incurred by department members in the conduct of
business belong in their own category.
13. Entertainment. The costs involved in providing food and refreshment for
program attendees, hosting guests of the department, or perhaps interviewing
job candidates or potential consultants are considered entertainment costs.
Once budgeted funds are allocated to the appropriate categories, the learning and
performance department uses these same categories to track spending across the year.
A spreadsheet report is typically generated each month that lists the categories and
shows the annual budget amount for each, the spending in the category done in the
current month, plus the year-to-date aggregate and the balance left for the remainder
of the year. Final columns in the spreadsheet are often a calculation of whether the
year-to-date figures are over or under what was budgeted, plus a forecast of what the
final spending in the category will be. All organizations have policies, methods, for-
mats, and forms established for tracking and reporting financial data. The learning and
performance department manager should simply follow the organizations lead in
these areas. Reported financial information is a tool for the customary management
decisions: slow down spending or speed it up, reallocate funds from one category to
another, analyze the reasons for the spending level in a category of particular interest.
Most organizations, for example, keep a very watchful eye on consultant costs.
356 Learning at Work

Estimating Costs
One final budget task is to estimate the cost of each specific program. Figure 11-11
shows a blank program cost estimation spreadsheet. Note that the categories of pro-
gram expense provided here form a generic template. Not all costs are necessarily
used for every program. Note also how the estimation sheet aggregates expenses in
the larger categories of variable, fixed, and total costs, and provides an estimate of
cost per offering on the work sheet. Actual dollar figures must be plugged into this
work sheet. The data on the costing spreadsheet will also vary, depending on program

Figure 11-11. A Sample Program Costing Worksheet

Length in days: __________
Number of sessions: __________
Number of participants desired per session: ___________
Number of participants expected in the year: __________

Total Estimated
Item Cost Number for Year Costs for Year
Consultant fee $
Instructor fee $
T&E costs $
Video assistant $
Other $
Total Consultant Costs $

Binder/Repro $ $
Giveaways $ $
Vendor package $ $
Videotapes $ $
Other $ $
Total Supplies

Postage/Shipping $ $
Follow-up/reinforcement $ $
Evaluation $ $
Other $ $
Contingency $ $
Total Miscellaneous Costs $
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 357

Figure 11-11. A Sample Program Costing Worksheet (concluded)


Video/Film $
Software $
License $
New Binders/Packaging $
Other $
Total Fixed Costs $



Total number of participants expected this year: __________

COST PER PERSON (Total estimated costs $

divided by the number of participants)


Note finally that this template does not include learner salaries as part of the cost
of a program. Some organizations add participant salaries to program costs, arguing
that including their salaries gives a true and complete picture of what the program
actually costs. Other organizations ignore learner salaries on the grounds that they
would be paid anyway, whether they are in a training program or not, and thus their
pay should not be viewed as a true cost. The important thing is that a cost estimation
worksheet reflects the particular organizations decisions on costing issues. The work-
sheet then can put structure and consistency into the establishment of costs for budget
requests. The cost estimations will be more accurate with time and experience, and
they will clearly benefit from the structure of a common cost estimation template.

Learning and Performance Department Reports

On some regular basis, usually monthly, learning and performance departments report
their program activity. In the report, list the programs delivered, perhaps in appropri-
ate categories, with total numbers shown for each category and for the department as a
358 Learning at Work

whole. The report typically details the number of programs and participants for each
program and category listed. Cancellations and costs are also sometimes included.
Figure 11-12 shows a sample of a one-month activity report against the years plan as
a whole, including program activity where none was planned. The report also shows
the current estimate for program activity through the end of the year (e.g., current year

Figure 11-12. Learning and Performance Department Activity Report (as of September 30)

This Years Year-to-Date Current Year

Plans 9/30 Forecast 12/31
# of # of # of # of # of # of
Programs Participants Programs Participants Programs Participants

1. Presentation skills 22 176 17 121 23 169

2. Instructional skills 6 48 8 66 9 80
3. Writing skills 4 96 5 95 7 131
4. Managing personal growth 6 144 4 81 6 114
5. Negotiation skills 6 108 5 80 7 112
6. Influence skills 6 96 5 75 8 127
7. Responsible decision making 0 0 3 48 3 48
8. Equity at work 6 100 6 99 6 99
56 668 53 665 69 880
Projected Programs Actual Number of End-of-Year
and Participants Programs (year-to-date) Forecasts

This kind of report is a tracking tool that allows managers to look at instructional
efforts against plans and against the expected future. Are programs going as planned?
If not, why not? The report can be used to map activities against priorities and adjust
resources accordingly. It permits a manager to calculate ratios like cost-per-program
day or participants-per-staff member. These kinds of ratios serve as useful measures
of efficiency and productivity, especially when measured consistently against data
from previous calendar periods.
It is important to remember that these reports have to do with activities, not
results. While activity must be tracked and controlled, the real issue is always the
impact of the programs on the organization. How has the learning initiative affected
the organizations operation? Has it helped people do their jobs better and grow their
careers? Has it helped move the organization in planned or desired directions?
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 359

Another category of useful reports is the individual transcript. Individuals should

have a running record of the programs they have completed. An individual and his/her
supervisor can use such information for career planning and tracking.
The production of a transcript is a simple matter for registration systems. Such
systems can also provide records for input to a central employee file. When the
organization has more than a single learning and performance division, the matter of
centralizing data must be given careful thought. The issue is one of values and priori-
tiesa cultural and organizational decision, not a technical one. Does the organiza-
tion want data to be kept centrally? The benefit of doing so is that information about
an individuals participation in learning programs is readily available. The increased
interest in knowledge management and corporate universities highlight the value of
capturing data about skills and knowledge all across the organization.
If data are left decentralized, it will be harder to get an organization-wide picture
of what the business and its employees are doing with regard to planned instructional
efforts. However, some organizations decide that it is simply not worth the collective
effort necessary to create and maintain a centralized database on an ongoing basis.
Another dimension of reports has to do with business results. Have sales gone up
as a result of what the sales force learned? Is the product-development process faster
or more efficient, now that we are using automated design tools and people know how
to use them? Has the number of customer complaints dropped since the staff com-
pleted the program in customer service?
These are ultimately the kinds of questions to which learning and performance
department managers will want to respond. Make sure that these outcomes are speci-
fied up front, at the planning and design stages, and look for these kinds of results
only where you understand the factors that can contribute to an increase in sales or a
decrease in defects. While a results-orientation is the ultimate bottom line, be sure
claims are realistic. Reports concerning business results based on learning programs
are best done by gathering impact data from participants and their managers a month
or two after program completion. These reports are not usually statistical worksheets
of numbers in columns; they are the thoughtful gathering and analysis of best judg-
ments from learners, their managers, and their clients concerning the effect of partici-
pants learning to do something new or do something better. (See Chapter 3 for a fuller
discussion of follow-up evaluation strategies.)
360 Learning at Work

The administration of a learning initiative, referred to here as a program, is an impor-
tant responsibility and is essential to its success. Use the set of steps outlined in this
chapter to make sure that the administrative side of the learning and performance
department is handled efficiently and effectively. Registration and all that is involved
with it is part of the program administrators responsibility (wait lists, cancellations,
participant communication, and the use of registration software systems).
Learning program prework, which comes in a wide variety of types and differing
levels of complexity, requires intense, detailed attention. The program administrator
must also prepare instructional materials, prepare the physical facilities, and provide
necessary support as instruction is actually delivered. The final step in the administra-
tive sequence is to handle program evaluation. Use checklists to manage the level of
detail necessary for most administrative tasks.
The budget, an important administrative issue, is typically the responsibility of the
learning and performance department manager. Tracking and reporting are tasks taken
on by support personnel. Budgeting can be centralized or decentralized, but represen-
tative budget categories must be worked out by the administrator. Reports such as
participant transcripts can provide information that is useful to many departments
within the organization.

Think It Through
1. What experiences have you had where physical surroundings played a major part
in the success or failure of the experience itself (e.g., a party, a job, a restaurant
dinner, a class)? How did the physical facilities impact the outcome?
2. What benefits to the learner does good program administration provide?
3. Describe how the logistical needs of self-paced instruction differ from live
instruction. Which is generally more complex? Why?
4. Why do you think people involved in program design and development should
give thought to its administration? What sort of implications for design are there
in the logistical support that will realistically be available once a program begins
to roll out?
Administering Workplace Learning Programs 361

5. Give some thought to the benefits of using a centralized budget vs. decentralized
budget. What do you see as the major difference between the two approaches?
Which appeals to you? Why?

Ideas in Action
1. Identify an administrator in a learning and performance department and invite him
or her to speak to your class concerning the work that goes into the logistical
support of programs. Ask to see reports the administrator is responsible for
preparing, and discuss how these reports are used.
2. Consider the impact the following have on your classes in school: janitorial or
cleaning services, food service, security, and housing. Talk with a teacher of your
choice, and ask that teacher to tell you of any experience he or she has had in
which administrative services affected their teaching, for good or ill. Prepare a
report on your discussion for class. Draw an analogy with the support services
discussed in this chapter that is typically made available to a learning and
performance department.
3. Research current literature to identify the computer software available to automate
registration. Contact a sample of the vendors of this software to obtain
demonstration packages, and share them with the class.
4. Identify in the literature any other administrative software that appears interesting,
and prepare a report on its benefits for class discussion. (Do not include authoring
or presentation softwareconfine your focus to software that an administrator
would use.)

Additional Resources
Greer, Michael. 2000. The Managers Pocket Guide to Project Management.
Amherst, Massachusetts: HRD Press.
This inexpensive paperback book includes a set of useful worksheets, guidelines,
and checklists for project management tasks.
362 Learning at Work

Nilson, Carolyn. 1989. Training Workbook and Kit. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
Prentice Hall.
An excellent source of generic forms and checklists, with intelligent discussions
of the procedures that go with them. A bit dated, but a first-rate source book.

Chapter 11 Note
1. The term administration in this chapter refers to the routine back-office work done in support of
learning programs, distinguished from front-end delivery, the actual instruction. As used here,
administration does not meanas it often does in academic circlesthe leadership or executive
management of an institution.
Rom Zemke on Professional Competencies

Ron Zemke, a former senior editor for Training Magazine and a principal in Perform-
ance Research Associates in Bloomington, Minnesota, was among a select few out-
standing writers and speakers focusing on corporate learning, issues, and events. Ron
passed away in late 2004; however, his many publications, wry humor, and great pro-
fessionalism continue to inspire. Rons contribution to Voices in the previous edi-
tion of this text is as noteworthy today as it was then, and it is with great respect that
we reprint his earlier thoughts (with permission from Training magazine) to appear in
this edition.

Learning Ron, thanks for agreeing to this interview and sharing your experiences
at Work with us. What experience have you had in creating and evaluating
training proposals?
Ron Zemke Early on in my career, Michael, I ran a training department and we did
(ZEMKE): all that. Now, as a consultant, I write proposals all the timeand we
administer them when we are successful bidders. Proposal development
is just a step in the business process.
A good proposal should be 20 percent about you, 30 percent about
the clients problem/request/need/opportunity, and 50 percent about
what will be done, how it will be done, and what the responsibilities are
on both sides of the table, and a specification of deliverables.
LAW: What business benefits have you seen when a trainer works to support
organizational change efforts?
ZEMKE: I see training as one change strategyor a tactical part of a change
strategy. Training professionals themselves as change agents is a bit
of a nonsequitor. It is the information and skills delivered and acted on

364 Learning at Work

that bring about change. The training professional as an agent of that

process is fulfilling an important and critical function. His or her job is
to create enthusiasm for and understanding of what must take place for
the organization to be successful in the days, weeks, and months ahead,
as well as deliver information and train people in new skills.
LAW: What troubles have you seen people get themselves into in trying to
actually conduct training?
ZEMKE: The list is a long one. Lecturing rather than facilitating, being too domi-
neering or too passive; not being prepared to deal with day-to-day
issues, not knowing the information, or not having personal mastery of
the skills involved. Using learning as a platform for ones own ego or
the practice of rhetoric rather than the passing along of knowledge or
skill. Not understanding the difference between problem-oriented
instruction and a survey course. Im continually amazed at the creativity
people bring to getting it wrong.
LAW: So, to help us get it right, what do you suggest?
ZEMKE: There is great unrest around the role of Internet and computer-based
instruction among those who see the value of instructor-led learning.
Enthusiastic advocates of the former tout these newthough they are
not really that newmedia and make it seem that the classroom
instruction is a dinosaur headed for extinction. It is a fear that has sur-
faced regularly and periodically since the invention of the first teaching
machines in the 1930s. In fact, the advent of radio and later television
were both forecast as media that would end classroom instr