Principles of learning
Publish date: 16 November 2018
Issue Number: 48
In the previous article, the benefits of carrying out a training needs analysis before diving headlong into the delivery of training was discussed. This week's article will touch on the principles of learning.
Training is a form of education designed for employees to learn and apply new skills and knowledge for the benefit of both themselves and the business. For training to be most effective, it is valuable for employees and trainers to understand the basics of adult learning principles. By neglecting these principles, the training may fail to achieve the outcomes it was designed for. The principles are:
Motivation – it is really important that adults understand the reasons and objectives of the training. Explain why and how the training will support them to accomplish personal and business goals. If appropriate, involve employees in the choice and direction of the training to improve motivation. This gives employees a sense of ownership over the training and encourages commitment.
Participation – often the design of training does not take into account the need for participation. It requires less preparation and is less demanding for a trainer to stand up and deliver material without any active participation by employees. Although it takes more effort, design training which actively involves employees in the learning process through discussion groups, workshops and role-playing.
Feedback – adults like to know how they are doing in relation to the training objectives. Understanding how they are progressing during the training helps to reduce anxiety for employees.
Organisation – the training itself must be organised and presented in such a way that the segments of material build on one another. The material should be presented in a manner where it flows logically from one aspect to the next without any gaps, inaccuracies or inconsistencies.
Repetition – research shows that frequent practice supports the adult learning process. For example, the trainer should provide the learners with exercises that enable them to practice what they have been taught during training.
Application – it is important that there is a transfer of learning. Employees should be able to apply the theories they have learnt in training to the workplace. If there is no transfer of learning from the training to the workplace, the objectives of training are unlikely to be achieved.
There are a number of different methods of ensuring a positive transfer of knowledge and skills:
- Highlight the similarities between the training and the work
- Include actual experiences in the training
- Give a variety of examples when teaching concepts and skills
- Identify important aspects of a task
- Ensure that the general principles are understood
- Design the training in a way that employees can see how it is applicable to the workplace
- Ask the employees questions and encourage them to speak about their own experiences.
A tick-box approach should not be used when it comes to training where employees are sent on training without any thought given to how they learn best. Considering the financial and time outlay, it is beneficial to employees and the business that the training is well planned and the trainer is sufficiently experienced. Effective training can only be achieved if the training is designed with adult learning principles in mind and the trainer is adept at applying them in the learning environment.