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Unit 5 Assignment: Transfer of Training
In this assignment, you have a 1-day classroom experience in which you need to help a group of engineers and software programmers learn to become project managers. After training, they will have to manage some significant projects. Discuss what you will do to ensure that the engineers and software programmers are able to transfer their project management training to the significant projects they will be assigned. The case is presented in the Noe text on page 197, question 14.
Refer to the assigned text reading.
This assignment is NOT a Worksheet. This assignment does NOT have a TD reference requirement.
You will write this in a formal business letter format. Address your letter to a group of engineers and software programmers whose director is Mr. Smith.
Use the following headers to organize your letter:
One-paragraph review of the situation and pending action.
Transfer of Training: Near/Far
Explain whether your training will be near or far transfer. Which transfer of training (TOT) theory will you use to support your near or far training as identified above? How will you apply that theory in this training event?
Transfer of Training: Adult Learning Theory
What adult learning principles would you include in your training? How would you apply those adult learning principles in your training?
Transfer of Training: Implications
What implications of the learning process would you include in your 1-day classroom experience to support transfer of training? (Implications are reviewed on pages 177–193.) Why would you use these implications of the learning process?
One-paragraph summary of your main points.
Note: If you reference, take care to use quotation marks for direct quotations. Here is an example with correct citation: According to Noe (2017), “Training and development can help a company’s competitiveness by directly increasing the company’s value through contributing to intangible assets” (p. 17).
Note: If you paraphrase, take care to use the author and year of publication. Here is an example with correct citation: Intangible assets are important for any company. One way their value can be increased is a strategic use of training and development (Noe, 2017).
Answers contain sufficient information to adequately answer the questions and contain no spelling, grammar, or APA errors. You may find resources for APA help in the Academic Writer site under Academic Tools in the left navigation of your course. Points deducted from grade for each writing, spelling, or grammar error are at your instructor’s discretion.
Textbook reading reference:
Adult Learning Theory
Adult learning theory was developed out of a need for a specific theory of how adults learn. Most educational theories, as well as formal educational institutions, have been developed exclusively to educate children and youths. Pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children, has dominated educational theory. Pedagogy gives the instructor the major responsibility for making decisions about learning content, method, and evaluation. Students are generally seen as (1) being passive recipients of directions and content and (2) bringing few experiences that may serve as resources to the learning environment.18
page 169Educational psychologists, recognizing the limitations of formal education theories, developed andragogy, the theory of adult learning. Malcolm Knowles is most frequently associated with adult learning theory. Knowles’s model is based on several assumptions:19
Adults have the need to know why they are learning something.
Adults have a need to be self-directed.
Adults bring more work-related experiences into the learning situation.
Adults enter a learning experience with a problem-centered approach to learning.
Adults are motivated to learn by both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators.
Adult learning theory is especially important to consider in developing training programs because the audience for many such programs tends to be adults, most of whom have not spent a majority of their time in a formal education setting. Table 4.2 shows implications of adult learning theory for learning.
TABLE 4.2 Implications of Adult Learning Theory for Training
Mutual planning and collaboration in instruction
Use learner experience as basis for examples and applications
Develop instruction based on the learner’s interests and competencies
Immediate application of content
Orientation to learning
Problem-centered instead of subject-centered
Consider how adult learning theory is incorporated into training programs.20 To help New York Life Insurance Company’s early career product consultants—employees who support sales agents by phone—improve their presentation skills so they can move from a support role to a sales role, the company’s learning and development team designed a year-long program that combines five months of classroom training with five months of practice, feedback, and coaching and includes an action learning project. The action learning project presents groups of career product consultants with an important business problem. As a group they decide on a solution and present it to the company’s senior leaders.21 Yapi ve Kredi Bank’s program to help managers improve their skills in motivating and coaching their employees includes classroom sessions in which trainers review case studies of common situations in coaching and provide students with online readings and videos. Senior managers review coaching and development techniques, and program participants are given coaching assignments to complete with their peers. The first-line manager course at B&W Pantex focuses on soft skills as well as human resource (HR) policies, discipline, and supervision using instructor-led training with video presentations and role playing. The course includes real-life scenarios based on actual situations that have occurred in its facilities. The program also includes on-the-job training in which trained and qualified subject-matter experts (SMEs) teach tasks and procedures. Brown-Forman, one of the largest companies in the global wine and spirits industry (its brands include Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Findlandia vodka, and Herradura tequila), created a two-and-a-half-day training program focused on helping the company’s marketing professionals build the brand. The company’s chief marketing officer visits the class to explain the page 170importance of the course’s content and why it was developed. In the course, participants work in teams to develop a brand campaign for a sample brand. This includes making presentations and completing exercises. Representatives from Brown-Forman’s creative agencies attend the program, part of which involves interacting with consumers to identify their drinking patterns and preferences. At the end of the program, participant teams present their final project to a panel of senior marketing executives who serve as judges.
Information Processing Theory
Compared to other learning theories, information processing theories give more emphasis to the internal processes that occur when training content is learned and retained. Figure 4.4 shows a model of information processing. Information processing theories propose that information or messages taken in by the learner undergo several transformations in the human brain.22 Information processing begins when a message or stimulus (which could be a sound, smell, touch, or picture) from the environment is received by receptors (i.e., ears, nose, skin, and eyes). The message is registered in the senses and stored in short-term memory, and then it is transformed or coded for storage in long-term memory. A search process occurs in memory, during which time a response to the message or stimulus is organized. The response generator organizes the learner’s response and tells the effectors (muscles) what to do. The “what to do” instruction relates to one of the five learning outcomes: verbal information, cognitive skills, motor skills, intellectual skills, or attitudes. The final link in the model is feedback from the environment. This feedback provides the learner with an evaluation of the response given. This information can come from another person or the learner’s observation of the results of his or her own action. A positive evaluation of the response provides reinforcement that the behavior is desirable and should be stored in long-term memory for use in similar situations.
FIGURE 4.4 A Model of Human Information Processing
Source: Based on R. Gagne, “Learning Processes and Instruction,” Training Research Journal, 1 (1995/96), pp. 17–28; D. Rock, “Your Brain on Learning,” Chief Learning Officer (May 2015), pp. 30–48.
Besides emphasizing the internal processes needed to capture, store, retrieve, and respond to messages, the information processing model highlights how external events influence learning. These events include:23
Changes in the intensity or frequency of the stimulus that affect attention.
Informing the learner of the objectives to establish an expectation.
Enhancing perceptual features of the material (stimulus), drawing the attention of the learner to certain features.
page 171Verbal instructions, pictures, diagrams, and maps suggesting ways to code the training content so that it can be stored in memory.
Meaningful learning context (examples, problems) creating cues that facilitate coding.
Demonstration or verbal instructions helping to organize the learner’s response, as well as facilitating the selection of the correct response.
TRANSFER OF TRAINING THEORY
Transfer of training is more likely to occur when the trainee works on tasks during training (e.g., knowledge, equipment, or processes) that are very similar, if not identical, to the work environment (near transfer). Transfer of training is more difficult when tasks during training are different from the work environment (far transfer), such as applying customer service principles to an interaction with an angry customer in front of a long line of customers at a cash register. The tasks that are used during training should relate to the training objectives.
Closed skills refer to training objectives that are linked to learning specific skills that are to be identically produced by the trainee on the job. There is only one correct way to complete a task if it requires closed skills. In contrast, open skills are linked to more general learning principles. Customer service skills are an example of open skills. There is not a single correct way to perform and the learner is given some general principles to follow. For example, a sales clerk is likely trained on general principles or processes for how to interact with an angry customer but has the freedom to choose from among those principles in an actual interaction, because the customer’s intentions and responses are not entirely predictable.24 Open skills are more difficult to train than closed skills because they require the trainee to not only acquire and recall general principles, but also to consider how they can be adapted and used to fit a wide range of circumstances, many of which cannot be practiced during training. Also, manager and peer support on the job is important for giving the trainee the opportunity to learn by seeing how experienced employees use the skills and to get feedback when the trainee has the chance to apply them. Later in this chapter, we discuss the implications of transfer of training theories for designing training. In Chapter Five, we will discuss how specific training program design features can facilitate learning and transfer of both open and closed skills.
Consider the transfer of training issues that Continental Airlines faced in preparing its pilots to fly the new 787 Dreamliner airplane.25 First, Continental flew the airplane on its U.S. routes to familiarize flight and ground crew staff with it. Continental trained approximately 24 pilots for each plane that was delivered. The 787 flight deck was similar but not identical to the 777 airplane that Continental’s pilots were currently flying. Training included use of a flight simulator of the 787 and computer-based courses. One of the most difficult tasks for pilots was becoming familiar with a display that drops down in front of them, providing important flight information. The purpose of the display is to improve visibility during difficult flying conditions. Pilots liked the display but found that it takes time to get used to it because it requires them to adjust their depth perception.
Three theories of transfer of training have implications for training design (the learning environment): the theory of identical elements, the stimulus generalization approach, and the cognitive theory of transfer.26 Table 4.3 shows each theory’s primary emphasis and the most appropriate conditions for its consideration.
TABLE 4.3 Transfer of Training Theories
Type of Transfer
Training environment is identical to work environment.
Training focuses on closed skills.
Work environment features are predictable and stable.
Example: Training to use equipment.
General principles are applicable to many different work situations.
Training focuses on open skills. Work environment is unpredictable and highly variable.
Example: Training in interpersonal skills.
Meaningful material and coding schemes enhance storage and recall of training content.
All types of training and environments.
Near and far
Theory of Identical Elements
The theory of identical elements proposes that transfer of training occurs when what is being learned in the training session is identical to the tasks the trainee has to perform on the job.27 Transfer will be maximized to the degree that the tasks, materials, equipment, and other characteristics of the learning environment are similar to those encountered in the work environment.
The use of identical elements theory is shown in the hostage training simulation used by the Baltimore Police Department. The Baltimore Police Department needed to teach police sergeants the skills to handle hostage-barricade situations in which lives are at stake—skills such as negotiating with a troubled husband holding his wife and/or children hostage. The first hour of a hostage situation is critical. The sergeant must organize resources quickly to achieve a successful end to the situation, with minimal or no injuries. Baltimore PD chose a training simulation because it provides a model of reality, a mock-up of a real situation without the danger. Multiple scenarios can be incorporated into the simulation, allowing the sergeants to practice the exact skills that they need when facing an actual hostage crisis.
The simulation begins by briefing the trainees on the hostage situation. Then they are directed to take charge of resolving the incident in the presence of an instructor who has personally been involved in similar real-life incidents. Each trainee supervises one difficult and one easy scenario. The simulation is designed to emphasize the importance of clear thinking and decision making in a situation in which time is critical. It is essential that the trainees take actions according to a set of priorities that place the greatest value on minimizing the risks to the hostages and isolating the suspects before communicating with them. The simulation scenarios include elements of many actual hostage incidents, such as forced entry, taking persons against their will, the presence of a weapon, and threats. page 173As trainees work in the simulation, their actions are evaluated by the instructor. The instructor can either provide feedback to the trainees in writing after they complete the simulation or correct mistakes as they happen.
The training simulation mirrors the exact circumstances of actual hostage situations encountered by police officers. Also, the checklist of activities and behaviors that the sergeants are provided in training is the exact checklist used in hostage situations that occur on the street. Evidence of generalization is provided by police sergeants who have successfully dealt with a bank-hostage situation by using the skills emphasized in the simulation. The Baltimore Police Department is also concerned with maintenance. At the conclusion of the simulation, officers may be able to demonstrate how to free hostages successfully. However, the incidence of hostage situations is fairly low compared to other tasks that police officers perform (e.g., issuing traffic citations or investigating burglaries). As a result, the police department is concerned that officers may forget what they learned in training and therefore have difficulties in hostage situations. To ensure that officers have opportunities to practice these infrequently used but important skills, the training department occasionally schedules mock hostage situations.28
Another application of the theory of identical elements is found in the use of simulators for training airline pilots. Pilots are trained in a simulator that looks exactly like the cockpit of a commercial aircraft. All aspects of the cockpit in the simulator (e.g., gauges, dials, and lights) are the same as in a real aircraft. In psychological terms, the learning environment has complete fidelity with the work environment. Fidelity refers to the extent to which the training environment is similar to the work environment. If skills in flying, taking off, landing, and dealing with emergency situations are learned in the simulator, they will be transferred to the work setting (commercial aircraft).
The identical elements approach also has been used to develop instruments that are designed to measure the similarity of jobs.29 Job similarity can be used as one measure of the extent to which training in the knowledge and skills required for one job prepares an employee to perform a different job.
The theory of identical elements has been applied to many training programs, particularly those that deal with the use of equipment or that involve specific procedures that must be learned. Identical elements theory is particularly relevant in making sure that near transfer occurs. Near transfer refers to trainees’ ability to apply learned capabilities exactly to the work situation.
Identical elements theory does not encourage transfer where the learning environment and the training environment are not necessarily identical. This situation arises particularly in interpersonal skills training. For example, a person’s behavior in a conflict situation is not easily predictable. Therefore, trainees must learn general principles of conflict resolution that they can apply to a wide variety of situations as circumstances dictate (e.g., an irate customer versus a customer who lacks product knowledge).
Stimulus Generalization Approach
The stimulus generalization approach suggests that transfer of training occurs when training emphasizes the most important features of a task or general principles that can be used to complete a task or solve a problem. It is important to identify the range of work situations in which these general principles can be applied. The stimulus generalization approach emphasizes far transfer. Far transfer refers to the trainee’s ability to apply learned capabilities page 174to the work environment, even though the work environment (equipment, problems, and tasks) is not identical to that of the training session.