Today, that view has changed. Companies that use innovative training and development practices are likely to report better financial performance than their competitors that do not


Traditionally, training and development were not viewed as activities that could help companies create “value” and successfully deal with competitive challenges. Today, that view has changed. Companies that use innovative training and development practices are likely to report better financial performance than their competitors that do not. Training and development also help a company develop the human capital needed to meet competitive challenges. Many companies now recognize that learning through training, development, and knowledge management helps employees strengthen or increase their skills in order to improve or make new products, generate new and innovative ideas, and provide high-quality customer service. Also, development activities and career management are needed to prepare employees for managerial and leadership positions and to attract, motivate, and retain talented employees at all levels and in all jobs. An emphasis on learning through training, development, and knowledge management is no longer in the category of “nice to do”—they are a “must do” if companies want to gain a competitive advantage and meet employees’ expectations.

Businesses today must compete in the global marketplace, and the diversity of the workforce continues to increase. As a result, companies need to train employees to work with persons from different cultures, both within the United States and abroad. Technologies, such as social media, and tablet computers, such as the iPad, reduce the costs associated with bringing employees to a central location for training. At the same time, the challenge is ensuring that these training methods include the necessary conditions (practice, feedback, self-pacing, etc.) for learning to occur. Through the blended learning approach, companies are seeking the best balance between private, self-paced, technology-based training (such as online learning), and methods that allow interpersonal interaction among trainees (such as classroom instruction or active learning). Employees from the millennial generation are well versed in informal learning, especially through collaboration facilitated by social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Also, their gaming experiences lead them to expect that learning experiences will be fun, multidimensional, challenging, and provide immediate feedback and rewards.

The role of training has broadened beyond training program design. Effective instructional design remains important, but training managers, human resource experts, and trainers are increasingly being asked to create systems to motivate employees to learn, not only in programs but informally on the job; create knowledge; and share that knowledge with other employees in the company. Training has moved from an emphasis on a one-time event to the creation of conditions for learning that can occur through collaboration, online learning, traditional classroom training, or a combination of these methods. There is increased recognition that learning occurs informally, outside the boundaries of a formal training course.

Also, the employee-employer relationship has changed. Due to rapidly changing business environments and competition that can quickly cause profits to shrink and skill needs to change, companies are reluctant to provide job security to employees. At the same time, many employees are job hopping to find more challenging and interesting work or to maximize the value that they can get for their skills in the job market, and not making


a long-term commitment to any company. As a result, both employees and companies are concerned with developing future skills and managing careers. Companies want a workforce that is motivated and productive, has up-to-date skills, and can quickly learn new skills to meet changing customer and marketplace needs. Despite the prevalence of job hopping, companies want to provide a work environment and training and development opportunities that will them the employer of choice for talented employees. Employees want to develop skills that not only are useful for their current jobs, but also are congruent with their personal interests and values. Given the increasing time demands of work, employees are also interested in maintaining balance between work and non work interests.

The chapter coverage of Employee Training and Development reflects the traditional as well as the broadening role of training and development in organizations. Chapter One, “Introduction to Employee Training and Development,” covers the role of training and development in companies. Chapter Two, “Strategic Training,” discusses how training practices and the organization of the training function can support business goals. Because companies are interested in reducing costs, the amount of resources allocated to training is likely to be determined by the extent that training and development activities help the company reach business goals. Topics related to designing training programs are covered in Chapters Three through Six. Chapter Three, “Needs Assessment,” discusses how to identify when training is appropriate. Chapter Four, “Learning and Transfer of Training,” addresses the learning process and characteristics of a learning environment. The chapter also emphasizes what should be done in the design of training and the work environment to ensure that training is used on the job. Chapter Five, “Program Design,” provides practical suggestions regarding what can be done to facilitate learning and transfer of training before, during, and after a course or program. The role of knowledge management in facilitating learning and transfer of training is also discussed. Chapter Six, “Training Evaluation,” discusses how to evaluate training programs. Here, the student is introduced to the concepts of identifying cost-effective training, evaluating the return on investment of training and learning, and determining if training outcomes related to learning, behavior, or performance have been reached. Chapters Seven and Eight cover training methods. Chapter Seven, “Traditional Training Methods,” discusses presentational methods (e.g., lecture), hands-on methods (e.g., on-the-job training and behavior modeling), and group methods (e.g., adventure learning). Chapter Eight, “Technology-Based Training Methods,” introduces new technologies that are being used in training. These technology-based training methods include e-learning, mobile learning, social media, simulations, serious games, massive open online courses (MOOCs), virtual worlds, and blended learning. Chapters Seven and Eight both conclude by comparing training methods on the basis of costs, benefits, and learning characteristics.

Chapter Nine, “Employee Development and Career Management,” introduces developmental methods (assessment, relationships, job experiences, and formal courses). In addition, the use of development plans to help employees succeed in their self-directed or protean careers is highlighted. Topics such as succession planning and on boarding are discussed. Chapter Ten, “Social Responsibility: Legal Issues, Managing Diversity, and Career Challenges,” emphasizes the role that training plays in helping companies improve the communities where they are located by increasing the skill level of the workforce, helping provide jobs, and taking actions to help all employees grow and develop, regardless of their personal characteristics or career challenges. The chapter also discusses compliance with laws that affect training and development, training partnerships,


managing diversity, cross-cultural preparation, and how companies can help employees deal with career challenges such as balancing work and life, coping with career breaks such as taking time off for family or required military service, job loss, and retirement. Finally, Chapter Eleven, “The Future of Training and Development,” looks at how training and development might be different ten or twenty years from now.

Employee Training and Development is based on my more than twenty-five years of teaching training and development courses to both graduate and undergraduate students. From this experience, I have realized that managers, consultants, trainers, and faculty working in a variety of disciplines (including education, psychology, business, and industrial relations) have contributed to the research and practice of training and development. As a result, the book is based on research conducted in several disciplines, while offering a practical perspective. The book is appropriate for students in a number of programs. It suits both undergraduate and master’s-level training courses in a variety of disciplines.


This book has several distinctive features. First, my teaching experience has taught me that students become frustrated if they do not see research and theory in practice. As a result, one distinctive feature of the book is that each chapter begins with a real-life vignette of a company practice that relates to the material covered in the chapter. Many examples of company practices are provided throughout the chapters. Each chapter ends with a real-life case and related questions that give students the opportunity to apply the chapter’s content to an actual training or development issue.

A second distinctive feature of the book is its topical coverage. The chapters included in Part Two, “Designing Training,” relate to training design (needs assessment, training methods, learning and transfer of training, and program design and evaluation). Instructional design is still the “meat and potatoes” of training. Part Three, “Training and Development Methods,” covers the more exciting part of training and development—that is, training and development methods. But as the role of managers and trainers broadens, they are increasingly involved in helping all employees grow, develop, and cope with career challenges, as well as preparing high-potential employees for leadership positions. For example, managers and trainers need to understand generational differences in employees’ career needs, career paths, cross-cultural training, diversity, outplacement, and succession planning—topics that fall outside the realm of instructional design. These topics are covered in Part Four, “Social Responsibility and the Future.”

The book begins with a discussion of the context for training and development. Part One includes chapters that cover the economic and workplace factors that are influencing trends in the training profession. One of these trends is that companies are emphasizing learning through formal training and development, knowledge management, and informal learning. In addition, these chapters discuss the need for training, development, and learning to become strategic (i.e., to contribute to business strategy and organizational goals). Why? In successful, effective training, all aspects of training—including training objectives, methods, evaluation, and even who conducts the training—relate to the business strategy. More and more companies are demanding that the training function and training practices support business goals; otherwise, training may be outsourced or face funding cuts. Although students in business schools are exposed to strategic thinking, students in psychology and education who go on to become trainers need to understand the strategic perspective and how it relates to the organization of the training function and the type of training conducted.

Not only has technology changed the way we live and the way work is performed, but it also has influenced training practice. As a result, one chapter of the book is devoted entirely to the use of technologies for training delivery and instruction, such as online learning, social media, mobile learning, gamification, and virtual worlds.

The book reflects the latest “hot topics” in the area of training and development. Some of the new topics discussed in the book are “flipped classroom,” adaptive training, big data and workforce analytics, learning management systems, competencies, knowledge management, massive open online courses (MOOCs), mobile learning (using smartphones), reverse mentoring iPads and other tablet computers, social media such as blogs, wikis, and social networks, and virtual worlds (such as Second Life) for training. Each chapter contains the most recent academic research findings and company practices.


Employee Training and Development provides several features to aid learning:

Each chapter lists objectives that highlight what the student is expected to learn in that chapter.

In-text examples and chapter openers feature companies from all industries, including service, manufacturing, retail, and nonprofit organizations.

Discussion questions at the end of each chapter help students learn the concepts presented in the chapter and understand potential applications of the material.

Important terms and concepts used in training and development are boldfaced in each chapter. Key terms are identified at the end of each chapter. These key terms are important to help the student understand the language of training.

Application assignments are useful for the students to put chapter content into practice. Most chapters include assignments that require the student to use the World Wide Web.

Cases at the end of each chapter and at the end of each of the four parts of the book help students apply what they have learned to training and development issues faced by actual companies.

Name and subject indexes at the end of the book help in finding key people and topics.


I want to personally thank all of you who have adopted this book! Based on the comments of the reviewers of the fifth edition and training research and practice, I have made several improvements. Some important changes in the sixth edition of Employee Training and Development stand out:

Each chapter has been updated to include the most recent research findings and new best company practices. New examples have been added in each chapter’s text.

All the chapter opening vignettes are new. For example, the opening vignette for Chapter Eight highlights how Nissan is using e-learning that includes a virtual classroom, social collaboration, and virtual learning lab for skills practice to its geographically dispersed workforce.


This edition offers new and expanded coverage of topics related to learning, program design, training methods, evaluation, development, and the future of training. From the learning and program design perspective expanded and new coverage is provided on the 70-20-10 learning model, adaptive training, the importance of stakeholder involvement in needs assessment and program design, the use of boosters, reflection, and discussion to enhance learning, how to design training from a project management perspective, and the use of incentives and badges to motivate and reinforce learning. The use of new and increasingly popular training delivery and instructional methods, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), the flipped classroom, serious games and gamification, and mobile learning, is discussed. From a development and career perspective, this edition provides new and expanded coverage of career paths that are more common today, including horizontal and cross-functional career paths, reverse mentoring, stretch assignments, and using succession planning to develop bench strength. In training evaluation, the fundamentals remain important but there is also an increased interest in and use of big data and workforce analytics to show how learning, training, and development contribute to talent management and the company’s “bottom line.” As a result, in the evaluation chapter we discuss big data and how companies are using it to answer important questions. Finally, new technologies have the potential to radically alter how and when we learn and substitute performance support for learning. As a result, in the last chapter of the book, we discuss the implications of wearables, artificial intelligence, Tin Can API, and neuroscience research for the future of training and development. The implications of the needs and learning preferences of the multigenerational workforce, especially the millennials, for training and development are discussed throughout the book (e.g., reverse mentoring, increased use of games and social collaboration for learning).

Each chapter ends with application assignments, including new program design and updated web-based exercises. These assignments are also found on the book’s website.

Each chapter concludes with new or updated brief cases that illustrate a training, development, or learning issue faced by a company. The case questions ask students to consider issues and make recommendations based on the chapter content.

To help students better understand the connections between topics, the book is organized into four different parts. Part One focuses on the context for training and development and includes a chapter devoted to strategic training. Part Two includes coverage related to the fundamentals of designing training programs. Chapters in Part Two focus on needs assessment, learning theories and transfer of training, program design, and training evaluation. Part Three focuses on training and development methods and includes chapters devoted to traditional training methods, e-learning, and the use of new training technologies such as social media and mobile learning. The chapters in Part Four cover employee development and career management and the role of training and learning in helping companies increase their social responsibility. This includes following laws and regulations that relate to training, as well as managing diversity and helping employees cope with career challenges such as balancing work and life, career breaks, identifying and moving along a career path, preparing for retirement, and coping with job loss. Finally, this part provides a look at the future of training and development.



McGraw-Hill Connect®:

Continually evolving, McGraw-Hill Connect® has been redesigned to provide the only true adaptive learning experience delivered within a simple and easy-to-navigate environment, placing students at the very center.

Performance Analytics—Now available for both instructors and students, easy-to-decipher data illuminates course performance. Students always know how they’re doing in class, while instructors can view student and section performance at a glance.

Mobile—Available on tablets, students can now access assignments, quizzes, and results on the go, while instructors can assess student and section performance anytime, anywhere.

Personalized Learning—Squeezing the most out of study time, the adaptive engine within Connect creates a highly personalized learning path for each student by identifying areas of weakness and providing learning resources to assist in the moment of need. This seamless integration of reading, practice, and assessment ensures that the focus is on the most important content for that individual.


LearnSmart, the most widely used adaptive learning resource, is proven to improve grades. By focusing each student on the most important information they need to learn, LearnSmart personalizes the learning experience so they can study as efficiently as possible.


An extension of LearnSmart, SmartBook is an adaptive eBook that helps students focus their study time more effectively. As students read, SmartBook assesses comprehension and dynamically highlights where they need to study more.

Instructor Library

The Connect Management Instructor Library is your repository for additional resources to improve student engagement in and out of class. You can select and use any asset that enhances your lecture.

The Connect Instructor Library includes:

Instructor Manual

PowerPoint files

Test Bank

Manager’s Hot Seat: Now instructors can put students in the hot seat with access to an interactive program. Students watch real managers apply their years of experience when confronting unscripted issues. As the scenario unfolds, questions about how the manager is handling the situation pop up, forcing the student to make decisions along with the manager. At the end of the scenario, students watch a post-interview with the manager, view how their responses matched up to the manager’s decisions. The Manager’s Hot Seat videos are now available as assignments in Connect.


Chapter Four

Learning and Transfer of Training


After reading this chapter, you should be able to

Discuss the five types of learner outcomes.

Explain the implications of learning theory for instructional design.

Incorporate adult learning theory into the design of a training program.

Describe how learners receive, process, store, retrieve, and act upon information.

Discuss the internal conditions (within the learner) and external conditions (learning environment) necessary for the trainee to learn each type of capability.

Discuss the implications of open and closed skills and near and far transfer for designing training programs.

Explain the features of instruction and the work environment that are necessary for learning and transfer of training.

Energizing Training Means Better Learning and Transfer of Training

Boring lectures, lack of meaningful content in e-learning, training that doesn’t give employees the opportunity to practice and receive feedback—all demotivate trainees and make it difficult for them to learn and use what they learned on the job. However, many companies are using innovative instructional methods to make training more interesting and to help trainees learn and apply it to their work.

At PNC Financial Services Group, PNC University provided web-based training to all its employees to aid in the conversion to a new HR system. The training was customized to the employee role and organization within the company to ensure that it was relevant and meaningful. An online help feature allowed employees to use their preferred method of learning through one of four approaches: “See it!” “Try it!” “Do it!”or “Print it!” “See it!” provided a short instructional video showing how a task is completed. “Try it!” let employees practice entering transactions


with coaching, in a simulated version of the system. “Do it!” allowed employees to enter transactions in the live system with a Help coaching tool, going through the task step by step. “Print it!” allowed employees to print step-by-step procedures for completing transactions.

Feedback about a learning program at Mindtree Limited, a global information technology solutions company, suggested that trainees were not transferring learning to the job. The program was redesigned to ensure that employees would learn skills such as analyzing the impact of change and how to successfully integrate, review, and resolve coding problems. The new program includes four phases, each with clear objectives and expected outcomes. Trainees are actively involved in learning through the use of project simulations in which they work in teams, under the supervision of a more experienced technical employee, to fix defects, address change requests, and implement new features. Trainees are evaluated and provided feedback throughout the program on their analysis, design, coding, and documentation skills, turnaround time, and collaboration skills.

Nemours Foundation, a children’s health system, emphasizes family-centered care. Nemours partners with parents and children to help deliver care in both inpatient and outpatient settings, design facilities, educate staff, and develop and evaluate policies and programs. Nemours provides high-quality educational opportunities for associates: continuing medical education for physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals through internships, residency programs, fellowship training, and graduate medical education. Its pediatric emergency medical skills course for first-year fellows involves role-playing. The role-playing scenarios often involve patient and family interactions. These can be difficult because they can be emotionally complex such as when difficult news must be provided to patients’ families. Experienced clinicians observe and mentor the fellows and provide feedback on their communications and interpersonal skills.

Sources: Based on M. Weinstein, “PNC invests in excellence,” training, January/February 2011: 48–50; “Mindtree Limited,” T+D (October 2014): 46; “Nemours,” T+D (October 2013): 41.


Although they use different methods, the purpose of the training at the four companies just described is to help employees learn so they can perform their jobs successfully. Regardless of the training method, certain conditions must be present for learning to occur and employees to use what they learned on their jobs. These include (1) providing opportunities for trainees to practice and receive feedback, i.e., information about how well people are meeting the training objectives, (2) offering meaningful training content, (3) identifying any prerequisites that trainees need to complete the program successfully, (4) allowing trainees to learn through observation and experience, and (5) ensuring that the work environment, including managers and peers, support learning and use of skills on the job. For example, feedback from trainers and mentors is provided at Mindtree Limited and Nemours. The meaningfulness of what is being learned is enhanced at both Mindtree Limited and Nemours by having learners work in situations (role plays and projects) that are identical to those they may encounter on the job. Recognizing that employees may


have preferences regarding how they want to learn, PNC allowed employees to choose how they wanted to learn about the new HR system.

As you may have recognized by now, this chapter emphasizes not only what has to occur during training sessions for learning to occur, but also how to ensure that trainees use what they have learned in their jobs. That is, this chapter discusses both learning and transfer of training. Learning refers to a relatively permanent change in human capabilities that can include knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and competencies that are not the result of growth processes.1 A key part of learning is that trainees commit to memory (i.e., remember) what they have learned and can recall it. Transfer of training refers to trainees effectively and continually applying what they have learned in training to their jobs.2 As the organizations in the chapter opener illustrate, trainee characteristics, the design of the training program (or what occurs during training), and the work environment influence whether trainees learn and use or apply what they have learned to their jobs. Figure 4.1 presents a model of learning and transfer of training. As the model shows, transfer of training includes both the generalization of training to the job and maintenance of learned material. Generalization refers to a trainee’s ability to apply what they learned to on-the job work problems and situations that are similar but not necessarily identical to those problems and situations encountered in the learning environment, i.e., the training program. Maintenance refers to the process of trainees continuing to use what they learned over time.

It is important to realize that for training to be effective, both learning and transfer of training are needed. Trainees can fail or incorrectly apply training content (what was emphasized in training) to their jobs, either because the training was not conducive to learning, the work environment provides them with the opportunity to use training content or supports its correct use, or both. Also, it is a mistake to consider transfer of training as something to be concerned about after training because it deals with the use of training content on the job. Instead, transfer of training should be considered during the design or purchase of training. If you wait until after training to consider transfer of training, it is likely too late. Trainees’ perceptions of the work environment and its support for training have likely influenced their motivation to learn and what, if anything, they have learned (recall the discussion of motivation to learn in Chapter Three, “Needs Assessment”).

This chapter coverage is based on the model shown in Figure 4.1. First, we discuss learning. We begin by identifying what is to be learned—that is, to identify learning outcomes. Learning outcomes should be related to what is required to perform the job successfully. As the chapter opener illustrates, this may include selling products, providing services, working with operating systems, or developing and fixing software. As a student, you are familiar with one type of learning outcome: intellectual skills. We also discuss how trainees’ learning style may influence the way they prefer to learn. The influence of other trainee characteristics, such as basic skills, cognitive ability, self-efficacy, age and generation, and interests on motivation to learn and learning, was discussed in Chapter Three.

FIGURE 4.1 A Model of Learning and Transfer of Training

Next, we consider training design. Training design includes consideration of how to create a learning environment to help the trainee acquire the learning outcomes. We discuss various learning and transfer of training theories. Last, we look at how these theories are used to create a learning environment and supportive work environment designed to help the trainee learn the desired outcomes and apply them on the job.


Understanding learning outcomes is crucial because they influence the characteristics of the training environment that are necessary for learning to occur. For example, if trainees are to master motor skills such as climbing a pole, they must have opportunities to practice climbing and receive feedback about their climbing skills. Learning outcomes are presented in Table 4.1.

TABLE 4.1 Learning Outcomes

Type of Learning Outcome

Description of Capability


Verbal information

State, tell, or describe previously stored information.

State three reasons for following company safety procedures.

Intellectual skills

Apply generalizable concepts and rules to solve problems and generate novel products.

Design and code a computer program that meets customer requirements.

Motor skills

Execute a physical action with precision and timing.

Shoot a gun and consistently hit a small moving target.


Choose a personal course of action.

Choose to respond to all incoming mail within 24 hours.

Cognitive strategies

Manage one’s own thinking and learning processes.

Use three different strategies selectively to diagnose engine malfunctions.

Source: Based on R. Gagne and K. Medsker, The Conditions of Learning (New York: Harcourt-Brace, 1996) ; K. Kapp, “Matching the Right Design Strategy to the Right Content”, T+D (July 2011): 48–52.

Verbal information includes names or labels, facts, and bodies of knowledge. Verbal information includes specialized knowledge that employees need in their jobs. For example, a manager must know the names of different types of equipment as well as the body of knowledge related to Total Quality Management (TQM).


Intellectual skills include concepts and rules, which are critical to solve problems, serve customers, and create products. For example, a manager must know the steps in the performance appraisal process (e.g., gather data, summarize data, or prepare for an appraisal interview with an employee) in order to conduct an employee appraisal.

Motor skills include coordination of physical movements. For example, a telephone repair person must have the coordination and dexterity required to climb ladders and telephone poles.

Attitudes are a combination of beliefs and feelings that predispose a person to behave a certain way. Attitudes include a cognitive component (beliefs), an affective component (feeling), and an intentional component (the way a person intends to behave with regard to the focus of the attitude). Important work-related attitudes include job satisfaction, commitment to the organization, and job involvement. Suppose you say that an employee has a “positive attitude” toward her work. This means the person likes her job (the affective component). She may like her job because it is challenging and provides an opportunity to meet people (the cognitive component). Because she likes her job, she intends to stay with the company and do her best at work (the intentional component). Training programs may be used to develop or change attitudes because attitudes have been shown to be related to physical and mental withdrawal from work, turnover, and behaviors that affect the well-being of the company (e.g., helping new employees).

Cognitive strategies regulate the processes of learning. They relate to the learner’s decision regarding what information to attend to (i.e., pay attention to), how to remember, and how to solve problems. For example, a physicist recalls the colors of the light spectrum through remembering the name “Roy G. Biv” (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

As this chapter points out, each learning outcome requires a different set of conditions for learning to occur. Before this chapter investigates the learning process in detail, it looks at the theories that help explain how people learn.


Each theory about how people learn relates to different aspects of the learning process. Many of the theories also relate to trainees’ motivation to learn, which was discussed in Chapter Three. The application of these theories for instruction and program design are discussed later in this chapter and in Chapter Five, “Program Design.”

Reinforcement Theory

Reinforcement theory emphasizes that people are motivated to perform or avoid certain behaviors because of past outcomes that have resulted from those behaviors.3 There are several processes in reinforcement theory. Positive reinforcement is a pleasurable outcome resulting from a behavior. Negative reinforcement is the removal of an unpleasant outcome. For example, consider a machine that makes screeching and grinding noises unless the operator holds levers in a certain position. The operator will learn to hold the levers in that position to avoid the noises. The process of withdrawing positive or negative reinforcers to eliminate a behavior is known as extinction. Punishment is presenting an unpleasant outcome after a behavior, leading to a decrease in that behavior. For example, if a manager


yells at employees when they are late, they may avoid the yelling by being on time (but they may also call in sick, quit, or fool the boss into not noticing when they arrive late).

From a training perspective, reinforcement theory suggests that for learners to acquire knowledge, change behavior, or modify skills, the trainer needs to identify what outcomes the learner finds most positive (and negative). Trainers then need to link these outcomes to learners’ acquiring knowledge or skills or changing behaviors. As was mentioned in Chapter Three, learners can obtain several types of benefits from participating in training programs. The benefits may include learning an easier or more interesting way to perform their job (job-related), meeting other employees who can serve as resources when problems occur (personal), or increasing opportunities to consider new positions in the company (career-related). According to reinforcement theory, trainers can withhold or provide these benefits to learners who master program content. The effectiveness of learning depends on the pattern or schedule for providing these reinforcers or benefits. Similarly, managers can provide these benefits to help ensure transfer of training.

Behavior modification is a training method that is primarily based on reinforcement theory. For example, a training program in a bakery focused on eliminating unsafe behaviors such as climbing over conveyor belts (rather than walking around them) and sticking hands into equipment to dislodge jammed materials without turning off the equipment.4 Employees were shown slides depicting safe and unsafe work behaviors. After viewing the slides, employees were shown a graph of the number of times that safe behaviors were observed during past weeks. Employees were encouraged to increase the number of safe behaviors they demonstrated on the job. They were given several reasons for doing so: for their own protection, to decrease costs for the company, and to help their plant get out of last place in the safety rankings of the company’s plants. Immediately after the training, safety reminders were posted in employees’ work areas. Data about the number of safe behaviors performed by employees continued to be collected and displayed on the graph in the work area following the training. Employees’ supervisors were also instructed to recognize workers whenever they saw them performing a safe work behavior. In this example, the data of safe behavior posted in the work areas and supervisors’ recognition of safe work behavior represent positive reinforcers.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory emphasizes that people learn by observing other persons (models) whom they believe are credible and knowledgeable.5 Social learning theory also recognizes that behavior that is reinforced or rewarded tends to be repeated. The models’ behavior or skill that is rewarded is adopted by the observer. According to social learning theory, learning new skills or behaviors comes from (1) directly experiencing the consequences of using that behavior or skill, or (2) the process of observing others and seeing the consequences of their behavior.6

According to social learning theory, learning also is influenced by a person’s self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is a person’s judgment about whether he or she can successfully learn knowledge and skills. Chapter Three emphasizes self-efficacy as an important factor to consider in the person analysis phase of needs assessment. Why? Self-efficacy is one determinant of readiness to learn. A trainee with high self-efficacy will make efforts to learn in a training program and will be most likely to persist in learning even if an environment is not conducive to learning (e.g., a noisy training room). In contrast, a person with low self-efficacy will have self-doubts about mastering the content of a training program and is more likely to withdraw psychologically and/or physically (e.g., daydream or fail to attend the program). These persons believe that they are unable to learn, and regardless of their effort level, they will be unable to learn.

A person’s self-efficacy can be increased using several methods: verbal persuasion, logical verification, observation of others (modeling), and past accomplishments.7 Verbal persuasion means offering words of encouragement to convince others they can learn. Logical verification involves perceiving a relationship between a new task and a task already mastered. Trainers and managers can remind employees when they encounter learning difficulties that they have been successful at learning similar tasks. Modeling involves having employees who already have mastered the learning outcomes demonstrate them for trainees. As a result, employees are likely to be motivated by the confidence and success of their peers. Past accomplishments refers to allowing employees to build a history of successful accomplishments. Managers can place employees in situations where they are likely to succeed and provide training so that employees know what to do and how to do it.

Social learning theory suggests that four processes are involved in learning: attention, retention, motor reproduction, and motivational processes (see Figure 4.2).

FIGURE 4.2 Processes of Social Learning Theory

Sources: Based on A. Bandura, Social Foundations of Thoughts and Actions (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986); P. Taylor, D. Russ-Eft, and D. Chan, “A meta-analytic review of behavior modeling training,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 90 (2005): 692–709.

Attention suggests that persons cannot learn by observation unless they are aware of the important aspects of a model’s performance. Attention is influenced by characteristics of the model and the learner. Learners must be aware of the skills or behavior they are supposed to observe. The model must be clearly identified and credible. The learner must have the physical capability (sensory capability) to observe the model. Also, a learner who has successfully learned other skills or behavior by observing the model is more likely to attend to the model.

Learners must remember the behaviors or skills that they observe. This is the role of retention. Learners have to code the observed behavior and skills in memory in an organized manner so they can recall them for the appropriate situation. Behaviors or skills can be coded as visual images (symbols) or verbal statements.

Motor reproduction involves trying out the observed behaviors to see if they result in the same reinforcement that the model received. The ability to reproduce the behaviors


or skills depends on the extent to which the learner can recall the skills or behavior. The learner must also have the physical capability to perform the behavior or exhibit the skill. For example, a firefighter can learn the behaviors necessary to carry a person away from a dangerous situation, but he may be unable to demonstrate the behavior because he lacks upper body strength. Note that performance of behavior is usually not perfect on the first attempt. Learners must have the opportunity to practice and receive feedback to modify their behavior to be similar to the model behavior.

Learners are more likely to adopt a modeled behavior if it results in positive outcomes. Social learning theory emphasizes that behaviors that are reinforced (a motivational process) will be repeated in the future. For example, a major source of conflict and stress for managers often relates to the performance appraisal interview. A manager may, through observing successful managers, learn behaviors that allow employees to be more participative in a performance appraisal interview (e.g., give employees the opportunity to voice their concerns). If the manager uses this behavior in the performance appraisal interview and the behavior is rewarded by employees (e.g., they make comments such as, “I really felt the feedback meeting was the best we have ever had”) or the new behavior leads to reduced conflicts with employees (e.g., negative reinforcement), the manager will more likely use this behavior in subsequent appraisal interviews.

As you will see in the discussion of training methods in Chapters Seven, “Traditional Training Methods,” and Eight, “Technology-Based Training Methods,” social learning theory is the primary basis for behavior modeling training and has influenced how models are used in videos, which can be part of face-to-face, online, or mobile training programs. For example, in the training program developed by Zenger Miller called “Getting Your Ideas Across,” trainees are first presented with five key behaviors for getting their ideas across: (1) state the point and purpose of the message, (2) present points to aid understanding, (3) check the audience for reactions and understanding, (4) handle reactions from the audience to what was presented, and (5) summarize the main point. The trainer provides a rationale for each key behavior. Next, trainees view a video of a business meeting in which a manager is having difficulty getting subordinates to accept his ideas regarding how to manage an impending office move. The manager, who is the model, is ineffective in getting his ideas across to his subordinates. As a result, the video shows that the subordinates are dissatisfied with the manager and his ideas. The video is turned off and the trainer leads the trainees in a discussion of what the manager did wrong in trying to get his ideas across. Trainees again view the video. But this time the manager, in the same situation, is shown using the key behaviors. As a result, subordinates react quite positively to their boss (the model). Following this video segment, the trainer leads a discussion of how the model used the key behaviors to get his ideas across.

After observing the model and discussing the key behaviors, each trainee is paired with another trainee for practice. Each group is given a situation and a message to communicate. The trainees take turns trying to get their ideas across to each other using the key behaviors. Each trainee is expected to provide feedback regarding the partner’s use of the key behaviors. The trainer also observes and provides feedback to each group. Before leaving training, the trainees are given a pocket-size card with the key behaviors, which they take back with them to their jobs. Also, they complete a planning guide in which they describe a situation where they want to use the key behaviors and how they plan to use them.


Goal Theories

Goal Setting Theory

Goal setting theory assumes that behavior results from a person’s conscious goals and intentions.8 Goals influence a person’s behavior by directing energy and attention, sustaining effort over time, and motivating the person to develop strategies for goal attainment.9 Research suggests that specific, challenging goals result in better performance than vague, unchallenging goals.10 Goals have been shown to lead to high performance only if people are committed to the goal. Employees are less likely to be committed to a goal if they believe that it is too difficult.

An example of how goal setting theory influences training methods is seen in a program designed to improve pizza deliverers’ driving practices.11 The majority of pizza deliverers are young (ages 18–24) and inexperienced drivers, who are compensated based on the number of pizzas they can deliver. This creates a situation in which deliverers are rewarded for fast but unsafe driving practices—for example, not wearing a safety belt, failing to use turn signals, and not coming to complete stops at intersections. These unsafe practices have resulted in a high driving accident rate.

Prior to goal setting, pizza deliverers were observed by their managers leaving the store and then returning from deliveries. The managers observed the number of complete stops at intersections over a one-week period. In the training session, managers and trainers presented the deliverers with a series of questions for discussion. Here are examples: In what situations should you come to a complete stop? What are the reasons for coming to a complete stop? What are the reasons for not coming to a complete stop?

After the discussion, pizza deliverers were asked to agree on the need to come to a complete stop at intersections. Following the deliverers’ agreement, the managers shared the data they collected regarding the number of complete stops at intersections they had observed the previous week. (Complete stops were made 55 percent of the time.) The trainer asked the pizza deliverers to set a goal for complete stopping over the next month. They decided on a goal of 75 percent complete stops.

After the goal setting session, managers at each store continued observing their drivers’ intersection stops. The following month in the work area, a poster showed the percentages of complete stops for every four-day period. The current percentage of total complete stops was also displayed.

Goal setting theory also is used in training program design. Goal setting theory suggests that learning can be facilitated by providing trainees with specific challenging goals and objectives. Specifically, the influence of goal setting theory can be seen in the development of training lesson plans. Lesson plans begin with specific goals providing information regarding the expected action that the learner will demonstrate, conditions under which learning will occur, and the level of performance that will be judged acceptable. Goals can also be part of action plans or application assignments that are used to motivate trainees to transfer training.

Goal Orientation

Goal orientation refers to the goals held by a trainee in a learning situation. Goal orientation can include a learning orientation or a performance orientation. Learning orientation relates to trying to increase ability or competence in a task. People with a learning orientation believe that training success is defined as showing improvement and making progress, prefer trainers who are more interested in how trainees are learning than in how they are performing, and view errors and mistakes as part of the learning process. Performance orientation refers to learners who focus on task performance and how they compare to others. Persons with a performance orientation define success as high performance relative to others, value high ability more than learning, and find that errors and mistakes cause anxiety and want to avoid them.

Goal orientation is believed to affect the amount of effort that a trainee will expend in learning (motivation to learn). Learners with a high learning orientation will direct greater attention to the task and learn for the sake of learning, as opposed to learners with a performance orientation. Learners with a performance orientation will direct more attention to performing well and less effort to learning. Research has shown that trainees with a learning orientation exert greater effort to learn and use more complex learning strategies than do trainees with a performance orientation.12 There are several ways to create a learning orientation in trainees.13 These include setting goals around learning and experimenting with new ways of having trainees perform trained tasks rather than emphasizing trained-task performance, deemphasizing competition among trainees, creating a community of learning (discussed later in the chapter), and allowing trainees to make errors and to experiment with new knowledge, skills, and behaviors during training.

Need Theories

Need theories help explain the value that a person places on certain outcomes. A need is a deficiency that a person is experiencing at any point in time. A need motivates a person to behave in a manner that satisfies the deficiency. Abraham Maslow’s and Clayton Alderfer’s need theories focused on physiological needs, relatedness needs (needs to interact with other persons), and growth needs (self-esteem and self-actualization).14 Both Maslow and Alderfer believed that persons start by trying to satisfy needs at the lowest level, then progress up the hierarchy as lower-level needs are satisfied. That is, if physiological needs are not met, a person’s behavior will focus on satisfying these needs before relatedness or growth needs receive attention. The major difference between Alderfer’s and Maslow’s hierarchies of needs is that Alderfer allows the possibility that if higher-level needs are not satisfied, employees will refocus on lower-level needs.

David McClelland’s need theory focused primarily on needs for achievement, affiliation, and power.15 According to McClelland, these needs can be learned. The need for achievement relates to a concern for attaining and maintaining self-set standards of excellence. The need for affiliation involves concern for building and maintaining relationships with other people and for being accepted by others. The need for power is a concern for obtaining responsibility, influence, and reputation.

Need theories suggest that to motivate learning, trainers should identify trainees’ needs and communicate how training program content relates to fulfilling these needs. Also, if certain basic needs of trainees (e.g., physiological and safety needs) are not met, they are unlikely to be motivated to learn. For example, consider a word processing training class for secretaries in a downsizing company. It is doubtful that even the best-designed training class will result in learning if employees believe that their job security is threatened (unmet need for security) by the company’s downsizing strategy. Also, it is unlikely the secretaries will be motivated to learn if they believe that word processing skills emphasized


in the program will not help them keep their current employment or increase their chances of finding another job inside (or even outside) the company.

Another implication of need theory relates to providing employees with a choice of training programs to attend. As Chapter Three mentioned, giving employees a choice of which training course to attend can increase their motivation to learn. This occurs because trainees are able to choose programs that best match their needs.

Expectancy Theory

Expectancy theory suggests that a person’s behavior is based on three factors: expectancy, instrumentality, and valence.16 Beliefs about the link between trying to perform a behavior and actually performing well are called expectancies. Expectancy is similar to self-efficacy. In expectancy theory, a belief that performing a given behavior (e.g., attending a training program) is associated with a particular outcome (e.g., being able to better perform your job) is called instrumentality. Valence is the value that a person places on an outcome (e.g., how important it is to perform better on the job).

According to expectancy theory, various choices of behavior are evaluated according to their expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. Figure 4.3 shows how behavior is determined based on finding the mathematical product of expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. People choose the behavior with the highest value.

FIGURE 4.3 Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Expectancy Theory

From a training perspective, expectancy theory suggests that learning is most likely to occur when employees believe that they can learn the content of the program (expectancy). Also, learning and transfer of training are enhanced when they are linked to outcomes such as better job performance, a salary increase, or peer recognition (instrumentality), and when employees value these outcomes (valence).

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.17


Educational 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:18

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. Consider how adult learning theory is incorporated into training programs.19 Yapi ve Kredi Bank’s program to help managers improve their skills in motivating and coaching their employees includes classroom sessions in which trainers reviewed common case studies of common situations in coaching and provided students with online readings and videos. Senior managers reviewed coaching and development techniques, and program participants were given coaching assignments with their peers to complete. 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 importance of its content and why the course 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.

TABLE 4.2 Implications of Adult Learning Theory for Training

Design Issue



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

Time perspective

Immediate application of content

Orientation to learning

Problem-centered instead of subject-centered


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.20 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): 17–28 ; D. Rock, “Your Brain on Learning”, Chief Learning Officer (May 2015): 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:21

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.

Verbal 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 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, i.e., far transfer, such as applying customer service principles to interaction with an angry customer in front of a long line of customers at a cash register. The tasks that are used during training 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 their 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. For example, customer service skills are examples 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 process for how to interact with an angry customer but has the freedom to choose how to interact with them because their intentions and responses are not entirely predictable.22 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 they have 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 currently faces in preparing its pilots to fly the new 787 Dreamliner airplane.23 First, Continental will fly the airplane on its U.S. routes to familiarize flight and ground crew staff with it. Continental plans to train approximately twenty-four pilots for each plane that is delivered. The 787 flight deck is similar but not identical to the 777 airplane that Continental’s pilots are currently flying. Training includes use of a flight simulator of the 787 and computer-based courses. One of the most difficult tasks for pilots is to become 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 like the display but find 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.24 Table 4.3 shows each theory’s primary emphasis and the conditions that it is most appropriate to consider.

TABLE 4.3 Transfer of Training Theories



Appropriate Conditions

Type of Transfer

Identical elements

Training environment is identical to work environment.

Training focuses on closed skills.

Work environment features are predictable and stable.

Example: Training to use equipment.


Stimulus generalization

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.


Cognitive theory

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 what the trainee has to perform on the


job.25 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. A simulation was chosen 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 will need when facing a hostage crisis.

The simulation begins by having the trainees briefed 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. As trainees work in the simulation, their actions are evaluated by the instructor. The instructor provides feedback to the trainees in writing after they complete the simulation, or the instructor can 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.26

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 has also been used to develop instruments that are designed to measure the similarity of jobs.27 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 the way to understand the transfer of training issue is to construct training so that the most important features or general principles are emphasized. It is also 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 to the work environment, even though the work environment (equipment, problems, and tasks) is not identical to that of the training session.

The stimulus generalization approach can be seen in the design of some skill training programs, which are based on social learning theory. Recall from the discussion of social learning theory that modeling, practice, feedback, and reinforcement play key roles in learning. One step in developing effective interpersonal skill training programs is to identify key behaviors that are needed to be successful in a situation. Key behaviors refer to behaviors that can be used successfully in a wide variety of situations. The model demonstrates these key behaviors in a video, and trainees have opportunities to practice them. The key behaviors are believed to be applicable to a wide variety of situations. In fact, the practice sessions in this type of training requires the trainee to use the behaviors in a variety of situations that are not identical.

Cognitive Theory of Transfer

The cognitive theory of transfer is based on the information processing theory of learning discussed earlier in the chapter. Recall that the storage and retrieval of information are key aspects of this model of learning. According to the cognitive theory of transfer, the likelihood of transfer depends on the trainees’ ability to retrieve learned capabilities. This theory suggests that the likelihood of transfer is increased by providing trainees with meaningful material that enhances the chances that they will link what they encounter in the work environment to the learned capability. Also important is providing the trainee with cognitive strategies for coding the learned capabilities in memory so that they are easily retrievable.

The influence of cognitive theory is seen in training design that encourages trainees, as part of the program, to consider potential applications of the training content to their jobs. Many training programs include having trainees identify a work problem or situation and discuss the potential application of training content.


Now that you have reviewed the learning and transfer of training theories, you are ready to address three questions: What are the physical and mental processes involved in learning? How does learning and transfer occur? Do trainees have different learning styles?

Mental and Physical Processes

Table 4.4 shows the learning processes, which include expectancy, perception, working storage, semantic encoding, long-term storage, retrieval, generalizing, and gratification.28 Table 4.4 emphasizes that learning depends on the learner’s cognitive processes, including attending to what is to be learned (learning content), organizing the learning content into a mental representation, and relating the learning content to existing knowledge from long-term memory.29 Expectancy refers to the mental state that the learner brings to the instructional process. This includes factors such as readiness for training (motivation to learn, basic skills) as well as an understanding of the purpose of the instruction and the likely benefits that may result from learning and using the learned capabilities on the job. Perception refers to the ability to organize the message from the environment so that it can be processed and acted upon. Both working storage and semantic encoding relate to short-term memory. In working storage, rehearsal and repetition of information occur, allowing material to be coded for memory.

TABLE 4.4 The Relationship Among Learning Processes, Instructional Events, and Forms of Instruction

Processes of Learning

1. Expectancy

2.Perception 3. Working storage

4. Semantic encoding

5. Long-term storage

6. Retrieval

7. Generalizing

8. Gratifying

External Instructional Events

1. Informing the learner of the lesson objective 2. Presenting stimuli with distinctive features

3. Limiting the amount to be learned 4. Providing learning guidance 5. Elaborating the amount to be learned

6. Providing cues that are used in recall 7. Enhancing retention and learning transfer

8. Providing feedback about performance correctness

Forms of Instruction

1a. Demonstrate the expected performance.

1b. Indicate the kind of verbal question to be answered.

2a. Emphasize the features of the subject to be perceived.

2b. Use formatting and figures in text to emphasize features.

3a. Arrange lengthier material in chunks.

3b. Provide a visual image of material to be learned.

3c. Provide practice and overlearning to aid the attainment of automaticity.

4a. Provide verbal cues to the proper combining sequence.

4b. Provide verbal links to a larger meaningful context.

4c. Use diagrams and models to show relationships among concepts.

5a. Vary the context and setting for presentation and recall of material.

5b. Relate newly learned material to previously learned information.

5c. Provide a variety of contexts and situations during practice.

6a. Suggest cues that elicit the recall of material.

6b. Use familiar sounds or rhymes as cues.

7a. Design the learning situation to share elements with the situation to which learning applies.

7b. Provide verbal links to additional complexes of information.

8a. Provide feedback on degree of accuracy and timing of performance.

8b. Confirm whether original expectancies were met.

Source: Based on R. Gagne, “Learning processes and instruction,” Training Research Journal, 1 (1995/96): 17–28; D. Rock, “Your Brain on Learning”, Chief Learning Officer (May 2015): 30–48; A. Beninghof, “Pathways to Retention”, T+D (June 2015): 21–22; M. Torrance, “Nine Moments of Learning”, T+D (September 2014): 76–77.

Working storage is limited by the amount of material that can be processed at any one time. Research suggests that not more than five messages can be prepared for storage at the same time. Semantic encoding refers to the actual coding process of incoming messages.

Different learning strategies influence how training content is coded. Learning strategies include rehearsal, organizing, and elaboration.30 Rehearsal, the simplest learning strategy, focuses on learning through repetition (memorization). Organizing requires the learner to find similarities and themes in the training material. Elaboration requires the trainee to relate the training material to other, more familiar knowledge, skills, or behaviors. Trainees use a combination of these strategies to learn. The “best” strategy depends on the learning outcome. For knowledge outcomes, rehearsal and organization are most


appropriate. For skill application, elaboration is necessary. After messages have been attended to, rehearsed, and coded, they are ready for storage in long-term memory.

To use learned material (e.g., cognitive skills or verbal information), it must be retrieved. Retrieval involves identifying learned material in long-term memory and using it to influence performance. An important part of the learning process is not only being able to reproduce exactly what was learned, but also being able to adapt the learning for use in similar but not identical situations. This is known as generalizing. Finally, gratifying refers to the feedback that the learner receives as a result of using learning content. Feedback is necessary to allow the learner to adapt responses so they are more appropriate. Feedback also provides information about the incentives or reinforcers that may result from performance.

The Learning Cycle

Learning can be considered a dynamic cycle that involves four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.31 First, a trainee encounters a concrete experience (e.g., a work problem). This is followed by thinking (reflective observation) about the problem, which leads to generation of ideas of how to solve the problem (abstract conceptualization) and finally to implementation of the ideas directly to the problem (active experimentation). Implementing the ideas provides feedback as to their effectiveness, so the learner can see the results and start the learning process over again. Trainees continually develop concepts, translate them into ideas, implement them, and adapt them as a result of their personal observations about their experiences.

Researchers have developed questionnaires to measure trainees’ weak and strong points in the learning cycle. Some people have a tendency to overemphasize or underemphasize one stage of the learning cycle, or to avoid certain stages altogether. The key to effective learning is to be competent in each of the four stages. Four fundamental learning styles are believed to exist. These learning styles combine elements of each of the four stages of the learning cycle.

Table 4.5 shows the characteristics and dominant learning stage of individuals in each style, called Divergers, Assimilators, Convergers, and Accommodators.32 Keep in mind that researchers disagree about whether we have learning styles and preferences and they can be measured several different ways.33

TABLE 4.5 Learning Styles

Learning Style Type

Dominant Learning Abilities

Learning Characteristics


Concrete experience

Reflective observation

Is good at generating ideas, seeing a situation from multiple perspectives, and being aware of meaning and value

Tends to be interested in people, culture, and the arts


Abstract conceptualization

Reflective observation

Is good at inductive reasoning, creating theoretical models, and combining disparate observations into an integrated explanation

Tends to be less concerned with people than with ideas and abstract concepts


Abstract conceptualization

Active experimentation

Is good at decisiveness, practical application of ideas, and hypothetical deductive reasoning

Prefers dealing with technical tasks rather than interpersonal issues


Concrete experience

Active experimentation

Is good at implementing decisions, carrying out plans, and getting involved in new experiences

Tends to be at ease with people but may be seen as impatient or pushy

Source: Based on D. Kolb, Learning Style Inventory, Version 3.1 (Boston, MA: Hay/McBer Training Resources Group, 2005).

In trying to match instruction to learning preferences, it is important that instructional or training strategies should be determined first by what is being taught or the learning outcomes. Then, learning styles should be considered to adjust the training or instructional strategy.34

For example, AmeriCredit, an auto finance company located in Fort Worth, Texas, is trying to modify training to better match its employees’ learning styles.35 The company has created a database to identify and track each employee’s learning style. Also, employees’ learning styles are being considered in course design. In a new e-learning class, employees who prefer learning by action will receive information in bullet points and will complete activities that help them learn. Employees who prefer thought and reasoning will receive more conceptual material during the course and be involved in fewer experiences. The company plans to compare the new e-learning class that takes into account learning styles with one that does not, so it can determine whether the adaptation to learning styles makes a difference in trainee satisfaction and learning.

Implications of the Learning Process and Transfer of Training for Instruction

Instruction refers to the trainer’s manipulation of the environment in order to help trainees learn.36 The right side of Table 4.4 shows the forms of instruction that support learning. To provide trainees with the best chance to learn, it is important to ensure that these forms of instruction are included in training. Table 4.6 summarizes the features of good instruction that facilitate the learning process. The features of a positive learning environment and transfer of training need to be designed into training courses, programs, or specific training methods that might be used, whether in the form of lectures, e-learning, or on-the-job training. Here, as well as later in the chapter, we discuss these features.

TABLE 4.6 Features of Instruction and the Work Environment That Facilitate Learning and Transfer of Training


Meaningful content

Opportunities to practice

Methods for committing training content to memory


Observation, experience, and social interaction

Proper coordination and arrangement of the training program

Encourage trainee responsibility and self-management

Ensure that the work environment supports learning and transfer

Employees Need to Know the Objectives

Employees learn best when they understand the objective of the training program. The objective refers to the purpose and expected outcome of training activities. There may be objectives for each training session, as well as overall objectives for the program. Recall the discussion of goal setting theory earlier in the chapter. Because objectives can serve as goals, trainees need to understand, accept, and be committed to achieving the training objectives for learning to occur. Training objectives based on the training needs analysis help employees understand why they need training and what they need to learn. Objectives are also useful for identifying the types of training outcomes that should be measured to evaluate a training program’s effectiveness.

A training objective has three components:37

A statement of what the employee is expected to do (performance or outcome)

A statement of the quality or level of performance that is acceptable (criterion)

A statement of the conditions under which the trainee is expected to perform the desired outcome (conditions)

The objective should not describe performance that cannot be observed, such as “understand” or “know.” Table 4.7 shows verbs that can be used for cognitive, affective, and psychomotor (physical abilities and skills) outcomes. For example, a training objective for a customer-service training program for retail salespeople might be “After training, the employee will be able to express concern [performance] to all irate customers by offering a brief, sincere (fewer than 10-word) apology, in a professional manner, [criteria] no matter how upset the customer is [conditions].” Table 4.8 shows the characteristics of good training objectives.

TABLE 4.7 Examples of Performance or Outcomes for Objectives



Knowledge (recall of information)

Arrange, define, label, list, recall, repeat

Comprehension (interpret in own words)

Classify, discuss, explain, review, translate

Application (apply to new situation)

Apply, choose, demonstrate, illustrate, prepare

Analysis (break down into parts and show relationships)

Analyze, categorize, compare, diagram, test

Synthesis (bring together to form a whole)

Arrange, collect, assemble, propose, set up

Evaluation (judgments based on criteria)

Appraise, attack, argue, choose, compare

Receiving (pay attention)

Listen to, perceive, be alert to

Responding (minimal participation)

Reply, answer, approve, obey

Valuing (preferences)

Attain, assume, support, participate

Organization (development of values)

Judge, decide, identify with, select

Characterization (total philosophy of life)

Believe, practice, carry out

Reflexes (involuntary movement)

Stiffen, extend, flex

Fundamental movements (simple movements)

Crawl, walk, run, reach

Perception (response to stimuli)

Turn, bend, balance, crawl

Physical abilities (psychomotor movements)

Move heavy objects; make quick motions

Skilled movements (advanced learned movements)

Play an instrument; use a hand tool

Sources: Based on H. Sredl and W. Rothwell, “Setting Instructional Objectives,” Chapter 16 in The ASTD Reference Guide to Professional Training Roles and Competencies, Vol. II (New York: Random House, 1987); R. Mager, Preparing Instructional Objectives, 3d ed. (Atlanta: Center for Effective Performance, 1997).


TABLE 4.8 Characteristics of Good Training Objectives

Provide a clear idea of what the trainee is expected to be able to do at the end of training.

Include standards of performance that can be measured or evaluated.

State the specific resources (e.g., tools and equipment) that the trainee needs to perform the action or behavior specified.

Describe the conditions under which performance of the objective is expected to occur (e.g., the physical work environment, such as at night or in high temperatures; mental stresses, such as angry customers; or equipment failure, such as malfunctioning computer equipment).

Some of the most common problems with objectives include that they are unclear, incomplete, or unspecific.38 Table 4.9 provides some example of learning objectives. As you review each objective, identify if it includes each of the three components (performance, criteria, condition). Are these good objectives? How can they be improved?

TABLE 4.9 Examples of Learning Objectives

Develop a diverse multifunctional team that can compete in a challenging environment to produce outcomes that will enhance results.

Use conflict management skills when faced with a conflict.

Smile at all customers, even when exhausted, unless the customer is irate.

Reduce product defects from 10% to 7%.

List all of the nodes of a DC-3 multi-switch correctly, without using a reference manual.

Use the software 100% accurately, given access to the quick reference guide.

Employees Need Meaningful Training Content

Employees are most likely to learn when the training is linked to their current job experiences and tasks—that is, when it is meaningful to them.39 To enhance the meaningfulness of training content, the message should be presented using concepts, terms, and examples familiar to trainees. Also, the training context should mirror the work environment. The training context refers to the physical, intellectual, and emotional environment in which training occurs. For example, in a retail salesperson customer-service program, the meaningfulness of the material will be increased by using scenarios of unhappy customers actually encountered by salespersons in stores. Some useful techniques for convincing trainees that the training program content is meaningful include:40

Telling stories about others’ success in applying training content, especially former trainees

Relating training content to what trainees already know about their jobs

Showing how training relates to company goals and strategy

Showing how trainees can use training content ideas at work

Discussing examples or cases that remind trainees of the good and poor work they have seen

Repeating the application of ideas in different contexts

Presenting evidence that what they will learn during training is what high-performing employees use in their jobs


Showing how the conditions that trainees face in training are similar to those on the job

Providing practice or application activities that can be used on the job

Providing hard copies or electronic access to well-organized materials so trainees can refer to them on the job or use them to teach others

Allowing trainees to choose their practice strategy and how they want training content presented (e.g., verbally, visually, problem-based, or a combination of approaches)

Employees Need Opportunities to Practice

Practice refers to the physical or mental rehearsal of a task, knowledge, or skill to achieve proficiency in performing the task or skill or demonstrating the knowledge. Practice involves having the employee demonstrate the learned capability (e.g., cognitive strategy, verbal information) emphasized in the training objectives under conditions and performance standards specified by the objectives. For practice to be effective, it needs to involve the trainee actively, include overlearning (repeated practice), take the appropriate amount of time, and include the appropriate unit of learning (amount of material). Practice also needs to be relevant to the training objectives. It is best to include a combination of examples and practice, rather than all practice.41 This helps avoid overloading trainees’ memory so they can engage in the cognitive processes needed for learning to occur (selecting, organizing, and integrating content). Viewing examples helps learners develop a new mental model of skills, which they can then use in practice. Some examples of ways to practice include case studies, simulations, role-plays, games, and oral and written questions.

Pre-practice Conditions

Trainers need to focus not just on training content, but also on how to enable trainees to process information in a way that will facilitate learning and the use of training on the job. There are several steps that trainers can take within the training course prior to practice to enhance trainees’ motivation to learn and facilitate retention of training content. Before practice, trainers can42

Provide information about the process or strategy that will result in the greatest learning. For example, let trainees in a customer service class know about the types of calls they will receive (irate customer, request for information on a product, challenge of a bill), how to recognize such calls, and how to complete the calls.

Encourage trainees to develop a strategy (metacognition) to reflect on their own learning process. Metacognition refers to individual control over one’s thinking. Two ways that individuals engage in metacognition are monitoring and control.43 Research shows that metacognition, including self-regulation, promotes learning.44 Self-regulation refers to the learner’s involvement with the training material and assessing their progress toward learning. Learners who engage in self-regulation likely learn more effectively because they are able to monitor their progress, identify areas needing improvement, and adjust their learning. Self-regulation may be especially important for online training courses, in which learners have control over the learning experience such that they can decide to drop out of courses and decide how much effort, if any, they want to exert to learn the training content. Table 4.10 shows how trainers can encourage self-regulation.

Provide advance organizers—outlines, texts, diagrams, and graphs that help trainees organize the information that will be presented and practiced.

Help trainees set challenging mastery or learning goals.

Create realistic expectations for trainees by communicating what will occur in training.

When training employees in teams, communicate performance expectations and clarify the roles and responsibilities of team members.

TABLE 4.10 Examples of Questions That Encourage Self-Regulation

Am I concentrating on the training material?

Do I understand the key points?

Am I setting goals to help me remember the material after I finish the course?

Are the study tactics I have been using effective for learning the training material?

Would I do better on the test if I studied more?

Have I spent enough time reviewing to remember the information after I finish the course?

Source: From T. Sitzmann, “Self-regulating online course engagement,” T+D (March 2010): 26.

Practice Involves Experience

Learning will not occur if employees practice only by talking about what they are expected to do. For example, using the objective for the customer service course previously discussed, practice would involve having trainees participate in role-playing with unhappy customers (customers upset with poor service, poor merchandise, or unsatisfactory exchange policies). Training should involve an active learning approach in which trainees must explore and experiment to determine the rules, principles, and strategies for effective performance.45 Trainees need to continue to practice even if they have been able to perform the objective several times (known as overlearning). Overlearning helps the trainee become more comfortable using new knowledge and skills and increases the length of time the trainee will retain the knowledge, skill, or behavior.

Conventional wisdom is that we all learn the most from our errors. However, most people feel that errors are frustrating and lead to anger and despair. Research suggests that from a training perspective, errors can be useful.46 Error management training refers to giving trainees opportunities to make errors during training. In error management training, trainees are instructed that errors can help learning, and they are encouraged to make errors and learn from them. Trainees may actually commit more errors and may take longer to complete training that incorporates error management training. However, error management training helps improve employee use of learned skills on the job, i.e., transfer of training.

Error management training is effective because it provides the opportunity for trainees to engage in metacognition (i.e., to plan how to use training content, to monitor use of training content, and to evaluate how training content was used). This results in a deeper level of cognitive processing, leading to better memory and recall of training. Trainers should consider using error management training in the training program along with traditional approaches by giving trainees the opportunity to make errors when they work alone on difficult problems and tasks while encouraging them to use errors as a way to learn.

It is important to note that allowing trainees simply to make errors does not help learning. For errors to have a positive influence on learning, trainees need to be taught to use errors as a chance to learn. Error management training may be particularly useful whenever the training content to be learned cannot be completely covered during a training session. As a result, trainees have to discover on their own what to do when confronted with new tasks or problems.

Massed versus Spaced Practice

The frequency of practice has been shown to influence learning, depending on the type of task being trained.47 Massed practice conditions are those in which individuals practice a task continuously, without resting. Massed practice also involves having trainees complete practice exercises at one time within a lesson or class rather than distributing the exercises within the lesson. In spaced practice conditions, individuals are given rest intervals within practice sessions. Spaced practice is superior to massed practice in general. However, the difference in effectiveness of massed versus spaced practice varies by the characteristics of the task. Task characteristics include overall task complexity, mental requirements, and physical requirements. Overall task complexity refers to the degree to which a task requires a number of distinct behaviors, the number of choices involved in performing the task, and the degree of uncertainty in performing the task. Mental requirements refers to the degree to which the task requires the subject to use or demonstrate mental skills or cognitive skills or abilities to perform the task. Physical requirements refers to the degree to which the task requires the person to use or demonstrate physical skills and abilities to perform and complete the task. Table 4.11 shows how tasks can differ.

TABLE 4.11 Mental and Physical Requirements and Overall Complexity for Tasks

Mental Requirements Overall Complexity Physical Requirements

Low Low High

High Average Low

Low High High

High High High


Rotary pursuit, typing, ball toss, ladder climb, peg reversal, bilateral transfer, crank turning

Free recall task, video games, foreign language, slide-bar task, voice recognition, classroom lecture, sound localization, word processing, stoop task, verbal discrimination, maze learning, connecting numbers, upside-down alphabet printing, distance learning, web training

Gymnastic skills, balancing task

Air traffic controller simulation, milk pasteurization simulation, airplane control simulation, hand movement memorization, puzzle box task, music memorization and performance

Source: J. Donovan and D. Radosevich, “A meta-analytic review of the distribution of practice effect: Now you see it, now you don’t,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 84 (1999): 795–805.

For more complex tasks (including those that are representative of training settings, such as web-based instruction, lecture, and distance learning), relatively long rest periods appear to be beneficial for task learning.

After practice, trainees need specific feedback to enhance learning. This includes feedback from the task or job itself, trainers, managers, and peers.

Source: J. Donovan and D. Radosevich, “A meta-analytic review of the distribution of practice effect: Now you see it, now you don’t,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 84 (1999): 795–805.

For more complex tasks (including those that are representative of training settings, such as web-based instruction, lecture, and distance learning), relatively long rest periods appear to be beneficial for task learning.

After practice, trainees need specific feedback to enhance learning. This includes feedback from the task or job itself, trainers, managers, and peers.


Whole versus Part Practice

A final issue related to practice is how much of the training should be practiced at one time. One option is that all tasks or objectives should be practiced at the same time (whole practice). Another option is that an objective or task should be practiced individually as soon as each is introduced in the training program (part practice). It is probably best to employ both whole and part practice in a training session. Trainees should have the opportunity to practice individual skills or behaviors. If the skills or behaviors introduced in training are related to one another, the trainee should demonstrate all of them in a practice session after they have been practiced individually.

For example, one objective of the customer service training for retail salespeople is learning how to deal with an unhappy customer. Salespeople are likely to have to learn three key behaviors: (1) greeting disgruntled customers, (2) understanding their complaints, and then (3) identifying and taking appropriate action. Practice sessions should be held for each of the three behaviors (part practice). Then another practice session should be held so that trainees can practice all three skills together (whole practice). If trainees are only given the opportunity to practice the behaviors individually, it is unlikely that they will be able to deal with an unhappy customer.

Effective Practice Conditions

For practice to be relevant to the training objectives, several conditions must be met.48 Practice must involve the actions emphasized in the training objectives, be completed under the conditions specified in the training objectives, help trainees perform to meet the criteria or standard that was set, provide some means to evaluate the extent to which trainees’ performance meets the standards, and allow trainees to correct their mistakes.

Practice must be related to the training objectives. The trainer should identify what trainees will be doing when practicing the objectives (performance), the criteria for attainment of the objective, and the conditions under which they may perform. These conditions should be present in the practice session. Next, the trainer needs to consider the adequacy of the trainees’ performance. That is, how will trainees know whether their performance meets performance standards? Will they see a model of desired performance? Will they be provided with a checklist or description of desired performance? Can the trainees decide if their performance meets standards, or will the trainer or a piece of equipment compare their performance with standards?

The trainer must also decide—if trainees’ performance does not meet standards—whether trainees will be able to understand what is wrong and how to fix it. That is, trainers need to consider whether trainees will be able to diagnose their performance and take corrective action, or if they will need help from the trainer or a fellow trainee.

Employees Need to Commit Training Content to Memory

Memory works by processing stimuli we perceive through our senses into short-term memory. If the information is determined to be “important,” it moves to long-term memory, where new interconnections are made between neurons or electrical connections in the brain. There are several ways that trainers can help employees store knowledge, skills, behavior, and other training in long-term memory.49 One way is to make trainees aware of how they are creating, processing, and accessing memory. It is important for trainees to understand how they learn. A presentation of learning styles (discussed earlier in this chapter) can be a useful way to determine how trainees prefer to learn.


To create long-term memory, training programs must be explicit on content and elaborate on details. There are several ways to create long-term memory. One approach that trainers use is to create a concept map to show relationships among ideas. Another is to use multiple forms of review including writing, drawings, and role-playing to access memory through multiple methods. Teaching key words, a procedure, or a sequence, or providing a visual image gives trainees another way to retrieve information. Reminding trainees of knowledge, behavior, and skills that they already know that are relevant to the current training content creates a link to long-term memory that provides a framework for recalling the new training content. External retrieval cues can also be useful. Consider a time when you misplaced your keys or wallet. In trying to remember, we often review all the information we can recall that was close in time to the event or preceded the loss. We often go to the place where we were when we last saw the item because the environment can provide cues that aid in recall. Like other teams in the National Football League, the Cleveland Browns players have notebook computers to learn plays, schemes, and prepare for opponents by watching videos and taking notes.50 However, the Browns coaches also believe that players can’t just watch videos, they need to actively learn. So coaches are encouraging players not just to type on their notebooks but to write things down using pencil and paper. The idea is to get the players to mentally process what they are supposed to be learning, which helps commit them to memory. Taking notes by writing rather than typing causes the learner to rephrase ideas in their own words, which means they must process the information at a deeper level in the brain. Another way to help employees commit to memory what they learned is through reflection. Reflection involves having trainees spend a short amount of time such as fifteen minutes, reviewing and writing about what they learned and how they performed.51

Research suggests that no more than four or five items can be attended to at one time. If a lengthy process or procedure is to be taught, instruction needs to be delivered in relatively small chunks or short sessions in order to not exceed memory limits.52 Rather than requiring employees to take the time to go through an entire course that may include information that is not helpful or needed, courses are being modularized or broken down into small chunks of learning.53 Learners can skip content they are not interested in or can demonstrate mastery in by completing tests. Chunking courses allows employees to save time and money by focusing on topics that they need for their job or want to learn. Long-term memory is also enhanced by going beyond one-trial learning. That is, once trainees correctly demonstrate a behavior or skill or correctly recall knowledge, it is often assumed that they have learned it, but this is not always true. Making trainees review and practice over multiple days (overlearning) can help them retain information in long-term memory. Overlearning also helps automize a task.

Automatization refers to making performance of a task, recall of knowledge, or demonstration of a skill so automatic that it requires little thought or attention. Automatization also helps reduce memory demands. The more that automatization occurs, the more that memory is freed up to concentrate on other learning and thinking. The more active a trainee is in rehearsal and practice, the greater the amount of information retained in long-term memory and the less memory decay occurs over time. For example, opportunities for learners to retrieve what they have learned can also increase retention.54 Boosters refer to retrieval opportunities that can help the learner’s brain consider training information as important and help retain it. Boosters can include short multiple choice, short-answer quizzes, or other activities that require learners to retrieve what they have learned from long-term memory.


Another way to avoid overwhelming trainees with complex material is to give them pretraining work that can be completed online or using workbooks.55 For example, trainees can become familiar with the “basics” such as names, definitions, principles, and characteristics of components before they are trained in how the principles are applied (e.g., dealing with angry customers) or how a process works (e.g., testing for pathogens in a blood sample, changing a car’s water pump).

Employees Need Feedback

Feedback is information about how well people are meeting the training objectives. To be effective, feedback should focus on specific behaviors and be provided as soon as possible after the trainees’ behavior.56 Also, positive trainee behavior should be verbally praised or reinforced. Videotape is a powerful tool for giving feedback. Trainers should view the videotape with trainees, provide specific information about how behaviors need to be modified, and praise trainee behaviors that meet objectives. Feedback can also come from tests and quizzes, on-the-job observation, performance data, a mentor or coach, written communications, or interpersonal interactions.

The specificity of the level of feedback provided to trainees needs to vary if trainees are expected to understand what leads to poor performance as well as good performance.57 For example, employees may need to learn how to respond when equipment is malfunctioning as well as when it is working properly; therefore, feedback provided during training should not be so specific that it leads only to employee knowledge about equipment that is working properly. Less specific feedback can cause trainees to make errors that lead to equipment problems, providing trainees with opportunities to learn which behaviors lead to equipment problems and how to fix those problems. Difficulties encountered during practice as a result of errors or reduced frequency of feedback can help trainees engage more in exploration and information processing to identify correct responses.

Employees Learn Through Observation, Experience, and Interaction

As mentioned earlier in the chapter, one way employees learn is through observing and imitating the actions of models. For the model to be effective, the desired behaviors or skills need to be clearly specified and the model should have characteristics (e.g., age or position) similar to the target audience.58 After observing the model, trainees should have the opportunity in practice sessions to reproduce the skills or behavior shown by the model. According to adult learning theory, employees also learn best if they learn by doing,59 which involves giving employees hands-on experiences or putting them with more experienced employees and providing them with the tools and materials needed to manage their knowledge gaps. One way to model behavior or skills is to show learners what to do using YouTube videos. For example, the Cheesecake Factory has videos of outstanding servers at work available at its Video Café.60

Employees also learn best through interaction interacting with training content, with other learners, and with the trainer or instructor.61 Table 4.12 shows the three ways that employees learn through interaction and when to use them. Learner-content interaction means that the learner interacts with the training content. Learner-content interaction includes reading text on the web or in books, listening to multimedia modules, performing activities that require the manipulation of tools or objects (such as writing), completing case studies and worksheets, or creating new content based on learned information.


TABLE 4.12 Three Types of Instructional Interaction

Type When to Use
Learner-content Requires mastering a task that is completed alone. Learn process of studying information and acting on it in a team context.
Learner-learner Requires mastering a task that is completed in a group. Learners will gain new knowledge or validate their understanding by discussing content with peers.
Learner-instructor Best for in-depth topic exploration and to develop strengths in critical analysis and thinking. Discussion may be limited when large amounts of material need to be presented in a short timespan.

Sources: Based on H. Nuriddin, “Building the right interaction,” T+D (March 2010): 32–35; D. Leonard and W. Swap, “Deep smarts,” Harvard Business Review (September 2004): 88–97.

Learner-instructor interaction refers to interaction between the learner and the expert (trainer). Trainers can facilitate learning by presenting, demonstrating, and reinforcing content. Also, trainers provide support, encouragement, and feedback that are valued by most learners. Learner-instructor discussions can be useful for helping learners understand content, enhance learners’ self-awareness and self-assessment, gain an appreciation for different opinions, and implement ideas on the job. To maximize learners’ critical thinking and analysis skills, discussion should go beyond instructors asking questions and learners providing answers.

Learner-learner interaction refers to interaction between learners, with or without an instructor. Learner-learner interaction, including observing and sharing experience with peers, may be especially useful for training interpersonal skills (such as communications), acquiring personal knowledge based on experience (such as tacit knowledge about how to close a sale or resolve a conflict), context-specific knowledge (such as managing in an international location), and learning to cope with uncertainty or new situations (such as marketing a new product or service).62

Consider how Urban Meyer, the Ohio State University head football coach (National College Football Champions in 2014!), built more learner-learner and learner-content interaction to teach players offensive plays and defensive schemes.63 Traditionally, learning consisted of coach-led or learner-instructor interaction. In this type of learning environment players passively learned by listening, taking notes, asking a few questions, and then spending most of the time memorizing plays and their assignments. Now, Meyer uses a “flipped classroom.” Prior to face-to-face meetings coaches send plays and game plans to players using videos and graphics that can be accessed on smartphones and iPads. Players are expected to understand the plays, formations, and schemes prior to coming to team meetings. Players are now actively involved in learning during team meetings. Team meetings include a mix of hands-on exercises, walk-throughs of schemes, and quizzes. Most of team meetings are devoted to reviewing specific situations that may occur during a game. Players know to come to the meetings prepared and ready to participate because the coaches will call on them to see if they know what they should have learned prior to coming to the meetings.

Communities of practice (COPs) refers to groups of employees who work together, learn from each other, and develop a common understanding of how to get work accomplished.64 COPs can involve face-to-face or electronic interaction. The idea of COPs suggests that learning occurs on the job as a result of social interaction. Every company has naturally occurring COPs that arise as a result of relationships that employees develop to accomplish work, and as a result of the design of the work environment. For example, at Siemens Power Transmission in Wendell, North Carolina, managers were wondering how to stop employees from gathering in the employee cafeteria for informal discussions.65 But that was before the managers discovered that the informal discussions actually encouraged learning. In the discussions, employees were developing problem-solving strategies, sharing product and procedural information, and providing career counseling to each other. Now Siemens is placing pads of paper and overhead projectors in the lunchroom as aids for these informal meetings. Managers who were previously focused on keeping workers on the job are now encouraging employees by providing essential tools and information and giving employees the freedom to meet.

COPs also take the form of social networks, discussion boards, list servers, or other forms of computer-mediated communication in which employees communicate electronically. In doing so, each employee’s knowledge can be accessed in a relatively quick manner. It is as if employees are having a conversation with a group of experts. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has 11 COPs that focus on maintaining shop floor excellence.66 The COPs make it easy for employees to share best practices, learn from one another, and improve business processes. The maintenance function used its COP to deliver more than 600 hours of training on new technology and maintenance processes. This has resulted in more reliable equipment and higher productivity, such as increasing equipment use in one manufacturing plant from 72 to 92 percent.

COPs are most effective for learning and improving work performance when managers and employees believe they contribute to the core operating processes of the company, such as engineering or quality.67 Despite the benefits of improved communication, a drawback to these communities is that participation is often voluntary, so some employees may not share their knowledge unless the organizational culture supports participation. That is, employees may be reluctant to participate without an incentive or may be fearful that if they share their knowledge with others, they will give away their personal advantage in salary and promotion decisions.68 Another potential drawback is information overload. Employees may receive so much information that they fail to process it, which may cause them to withdraw from the COP.

Employees Need the Training Program To Be Properly Coordinated and Arranged

Training coordination is one of several aspects of training administration. Training administration refers to coordinating activities before, during, and after the program.69 Training administration involves:

Communicating courses and programs to employees

Enrolling employees in courses and programs

Preparing and processing any pretraining materials, such as readings or tests

Preparing materials that will be used in instruction (e.g., copies of overheads, cases)


Arranging for the training facility and room

Testing equipment that will be used in instruction

Having backup equipment (e.g., paper copy of slides or an extra overhead projector bulb) should equipment fail

Providing support during instruction

Distributing evaluation materials (e.g., tests, reaction measures, surveys)

Facilitating communications between trainer and trainees during and after training (e.g., coordinating exchange of e-mail addresses)

Recording course completion in the trainees’ training records or personnel files

Good coordination ensures that trainees are not distracted by events (such as an uncomfortable room or poorly organized materials) that could interfere with learning. Activities before the program include communicating to trainees the purpose of the program, the place it will be held, the name of a person to contact if they have questions, and any preprogram work they are supposed to complete. Books, speakers, handouts, and videotapes need to be prepared. Any necessary arrangements to secure rooms and equipment (such as DVD players) should be made. The physical arrangement of the training room should complement the training technique. For example, it would be difficult for a team-building session to be effective if the seats could not be moved for group activities. If visual aids will be used, all trainees should be able to see them. Make sure that the room is physically comfortable with adequate lighting and ventilation. Trainees should be informed of starting and finishing times, break times, and location of bathrooms. Minimize distractions such as phone messages; request that trainees turn off cell phones and pagers. If trainees will be asked to evaluate the program or take tests to determine what they have learned, allot time for this activity at the end of the program. Following the program, any credits or recording of the names of trainees who completed the program should be done. Handouts and other training materials should be stored or returned to the consultant. The end of the program is also a good time to consider how the program could be improved if it will be offered again. Practical issues in selecting and preparing a training site and designing a program are discussed in more detail in Chapter Five.

Encourage Trainee Responsibility and Self-Management

Trainees need to take responsibility for learning and transfer,70 which includes preparing for training, being involved and engaged during training, and using training content back on the job. Before training, trainees need to consider why they are attending training and set specific learning goals (either alone or, preferably, in a discussion with their manager) as part of completing an action plan (action plans are discussed in more detail later in this chapter). Also, trainees need to complete any assigned pretraining assignments. During training, trainees need to be involved. That is, they need to participate and share experiences in discussions, to practice, and to ask questions if they are confused. After training, trainees need to review and work toward reaching the goals established in their action plan. They need to be willing to change (e.g., try new behaviors or apply new knowledge) and ask peers and managers for help if they need it.

Self-management refers to a person’s attempt to control certain aspects of decision making and behavior. Training programs should prepare employees to self-manage their use of new skills and behaviors on the job. Self-management involves:

Determining the degree of support and negative consequences in the work setting for using newly acquired capabilities


Setting goals for using learned capabilities

Applying learned capabilities to the job

Monitoring use of learned capabilities on the job

Engaging in self-reinforcement71

Research suggests that trainees exposed to self-management strategies exhibit higher levels of transfer of behavior and skills than do trainees who are not provided with self-management strategies.72

Ensure That the Work Environment Supports Learning and Transfer

There is no magic “formula” for ensuring that transfer of training occurs. Effective strategies for transfer of training include ensuring that trainees are motivated and managers and coworkers support learning and transfer.73 These strategies are especially important when training open skills; that is, trainees have more choice about what and how to apply trained principles. Closed skills include prescribed behaviors that likely are less influenced by managers, peers, and the work environment. Also, designing training to increase knowledge and self-efficacy has a positive relationship with transferof training.

Table 4.13 shows a list of obstacles in the work environment that can inhibit learning and transfer of training. They include (1) lack of support from peers and managers and (2) factors related to the work itself (e.g., time pressure).

TABLE 4.13 Examples of Obstacles in the Work Environment That Inhibit Transfer of Training

Obstacle Work Conditions

Description of Influence

Time pressures

Inadequate equipment

Few opportunities to use skills

Inadequate budget

Trainee has difficulty using new knowledge, skills, or behavior.

Lack of Peer Support

Peers discourage use of new knowledge and skills on the job.

Peers are unwilling to provide feedback.

Peers see training as waste of time.

Peers do not support use of new knowledge, skills, or behavior.

Lack of Management Support

Management does not accept ideas or suggestions that are learned in training.

Management does not discuss training opportunities.

Management opposes use of skills learned in training.

Management communicates that training is a waste of time.

Management is unwilling to provide reinforcement, feedback, and encouragement needed for trainees to use training content.

Managers do not reinforce training or provide opportunities to use new knowledge, skills, or behavior.

Sources: Based on J. Tracey and M. Tews, “Construct validity of a general training climate scale,” Organizational Research Methods, 8 (2005): 353–374; R. D. Marx, “Self-managed skill retention,” Training and Development Journal (January 1986): 54–57.

For example, new technologies allow employees to gain access to resources and product demonstrations using the Internet or notebook computers. But while employees are being trained to use these resources with state-of-the-art technology, they often become


frustrated because comparable technology is not available to them at their work site. Employees’ computers may lack sufficient memory or links to the Internet for them to use what they have learned.

These obstacles inhibit transfer because they cause lapses. Lapses take place when the trainee uses previously learned, less effective capabilities instead of trying to apply the capability emphasized in the training program. Lapses into old behavior and skill patterns are common. Trainees should try to avoid a consistent pattern of slipping back or using old, ineffective learned capabilities (e.g., knowledge, skills, behaviors, and strategies). Also, trainees should understand that lapses are common and be prepared to cope with them. Trainees who are unprepared for lapses may give up trying to use new capabilities—especially trainees with low self-efficacy and/or self-confidence.

One way to ensure that learning and transfer of training occurs is to ensure that the climate for transfer is positive. Climate for transfer refers to trainees’ perceptions about a wide variety of characteristics of the work environment that facilitate or inhibit the use of trained skills or behavior. These characteristics include manager and peer support, the opportunity to use skills, and the consequences of using learned capabilities.74 Table 4.14 shows characteristics of a positive climate for transfer of training. Research has shown that transfer of training climate is significantly related to positive changes in managers’ administrative and interpersonal behaviors following training. To support the transfer of financial training emphasizing Southwest Airlines’s key business metrics, cost


checklists explaining how employees can contribute to the company’s bottom line are distributed companywide following training.75 Flip charts showing highlights from manager-employee question-and-answer sessions are posted in work areas. All managers receive large posters displaying the company’s four “magic numbers” (net income, unit cost measure, net margin, and invested capital). The posters include blank columns that managers are expected to complete and regularly update to show the past year’s performance, the current year’s goals, year-to-date numbers, and quarterly results.

TABLE 4.14 Characteristics of a Positive Climate for Learning Transfer of Training

Characteristic Example
Supervisors and coworkers encourage and set goals for trainees to use new skills and behaviors acquired in training. Newly trained managers discuss how to apply their training on the job with their supervisors and other managers.
Task cues: Characteristics of a trainee’s job prompt or remind him or her to use new skills and behaviors acquired in training. The job of a newly trained manager is designed in such a way as to allow him or her to use the skills taught in training.
Feedback consequences: Supervisors support the application of new skills and behaviors acquired in training. Supervisors notice newly trained managers who use their training.
Lack of punishment: Trainees are not openly discouraged from using new skills and behaviors acquired in training. When newly trained managers fail to use their training, they are not reprimanded.
Extrinsic reinforcement consequences: Trainees receive extrinsic rewards for using new skills and behaviors acquired in training. Newly trained managers who successfully use their training will receive a salary increase.
Intrinsic reinforcement consequences: Trainees receive intrinsic rewards for using new skills and behaviors acquired in training. Supervisors and other managers appreciate newly trained managers who perform their job as taught in training.


Supervisors and coworkers encourage and set goals for trainees to use new skills and behaviors acquired in training.

Newly trained managers discuss how to apply their training on the job with their supervisors and other managers.

Task cues: Characteristics of a trainee’s job prompt or remind him or her to use new skills and behaviors acquired in training.

The job of a newly trained manager is designed in such a way as to allow him or her to use the skills taught in training.

Feedback consequences: Supervisors support the application of new skills and behaviors acquired in training.

Supervisors notice newly trained managers who use their training.

Lack of punishment: Trainees are not openly discouraged from using new skills and behaviors acquired in training.

When newly trained managers fail to use their training, they are not reprimanded.

Extrinsic reinforcement consequences: Trainees receive extrinsic rewards for using new skills and behaviors acquired in training.

Newly trained managers who successfully use their training will receive a salary increase.

Intrinsic reinforcement consequences: Trainees receive intrinsic rewards for using new skills and behaviors acquired in training.

Supervisors and other managers appreciate newly trained managers who perform their job as taught in training.

Source: Adapted from J. B. Tracey, S. I. Tannenbaum, and M. J. Kavanagh, “Applying trained skills on the job: The importance of the work environment,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 80 (1995): 235–252; E. Holton, “What’s Really Wrong: Diagnosis for Learning Transfer System Change.” In Improving Learning Transfer in Organizations, ed. E. Holton and T. Baldwin (San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003): 59–79.

Consider what Vanguard and ESL Federal Credit Union are doing to create a positive climate for learning and overcoming obstacles to transfer of training.76 At Vanguard, the mutual fund company, one of the competencies used to evaluate its top managers’ performance is a commitment to developing employees’ professional skills. As a result, managers are expected to share their knowledge with employees in the classroom. Senior leaders, company officers, and executive staff members serve as adjunct faculty members who teach workshops. In addition to serving as workshop instructors, they conduct small-group or individual coaching sessions, participate in client interaction simulations, and make themselves available to help employees apply what they have learned. Vanguard’s managers spend an average of 120 hours per year in the classroom. ESL Federal Credit Union uses performance contracts for some of its training classes. Before training, employees meet with their managers to discuss and agree on expectations and goals for learning. Employees meet with their managers thirty, sixty, and ninety days after training to discuss progress toward the goals and expectations. Managers send the results of the post-training meetings to the learning and development team. The learning and development team follows up after the course with learners and trainers to find out if the course provided useful knowledge that could be applied to the job.

Incentives help create a positive climate for learning and transfer. Hudson Trail Outfitters has three hundred employees who work in its stores selling outdoor equipment.77 Managers found that employee are motivated to learn and value free jackets and merchandise discounts more than bonus checks for completing training programs. The benefits for Hudson Trail Outfitters outweigh the costs of providing the jackets and other gear. Employees who complete training stay longer with the company and they make more sales per day and sell more items in each transaction. Dunkin’ Brands (you might know them for their donuts and coffee) awards stores with certificates and trophies, and provides employees with cash rewards, “money” employees can use to cash in for gifts, and field trips to meet with executive chefs.

Some companies are using digital badges for awarding employees who have completed courses, earned a certification, or mastered a skill.78 The badges can be placed in the employee’s personal profile, shared on social networks, and even put in a virtual backpack to take them to job interviews! Deloitte found that the company’s leaders were not visiting its online learning site. The site included content from business schools, videos, tests, and quizzes. Deloitte found that adding missions, badges, and leaderboards to the site increased traffic. The badges are given for completing orientation to the site and personalizing a home page as well as based on the number of videos watched and the amount of information contributed to the site. The number of learners returning to the site has increased and course completion is up 50 percent.



The discussion of the implications of the learning process for instruction provide general principles regarding how to facilitate learning. However, you should understand the relationship between these general principles and the learning process. Different internal and external conditions are necessary for learning each outcome. Internal conditions refer to processes within the learner that must be present for learning to occur. These processes include how information is registered, stored in memory, and recalled. External conditions refer to processes in the learning environment that facilitate learning. These conditions include the physical learning environment, as well as opportunities to practice and receive feedback and reinforcement. The external conditions should directly influence the design or form of instruction. Table 4.15 shows what is needed during instruction at each step of the learning process. For example, during the process of committing training content to memory, verbal cues, verbal links to a meaningful context, and diagrams and models are necessary. If training content is not coded (or is incorrectly coded), learning will be inhibited. An example that illustrates many of the internal and external conditions necessary to achieve learning outcomes are shown in the training programs of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) with campuses in New York, California, Texas, and Singapore.

TABLE 4.15 Internal and External Conditions Necessary for Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcome

Internal Conditions

External Conditions

Verbal Information

Labels, facts, and propositions

Previously learned knowledge and verbal information Strategies for coding information into memory

Repeated practice Meaningful chunks Advance organizers Recall cues

Intellectual Skills

Knowing how

Link between new and previously learned knowledge

Cognitive Strategies

Process of thinking and learning

Recall of prerequisites, similar tasks, and strategies

Verbal description of strategy Strategy demonstration Practice with feedback Variety of tasks that provide opportunity to apply strategy


Choice of personal action

Mastery of prerequisites Identification with model Cognitive dissonance

Demonstration by a model Positive learning environment Strong message from credible source Reinforcement

Motor Skills

Muscular actions

Recall of part skills Coordination program

Practice Demonstration Gradual decrease of external feedback

Source: Based on R. M. Gagne and K. L. Medsker, The Conditions of Learning (Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt-Brace College Publishers, 1996).

The CIA, the world’s finest training facility for chefs, has approximately 2,000 full-time students in its degree programs. CIA graduates are chefs in some of the best restaurants in the world and in prestigious private dining rooms (such as the White House), and they direct food service operations for large hotel chains such as the Marriott, Hyatt, Radisson, and Hilton. For example, you might have heard of Cat Cora, the Iron Chef on the television show Iron Chef America. Besides offering degree programs, the CIA also hosts more than 6,000 trainees from a wide variety of companies that have food service operations.

Whether an instructor is teaching meat-cutting or sautéing techniques, the programs’ learning environments are basically the same. A lecture is followed by demonstration and several hours of guided hands-on practice. The trainee then receives feedback from the instructor. The trainer moves from a show-and-tell approach to become a coach over the course of the training session. Videos are produced for every class that a student will take. They can be viewed from residence halls or can be seen at the video learning center where students can review the tapes at their own pace; the students control what they see.

CIA programs deal not only with cognitive learning, but also with physical and emotional learning. In addition to cooking and baking courses, students are required to study psychology, total quality management practices, languages, marketing, communications, restaurant management, and team supervision. Food ethics, sustainability, physical fitness and stress management are required parts of the curriculum. Why? Running a commercial kitchen involves long hours and high levels of stress—it is very physically demanding. Thanks to the learning environment created at CIA, the institute is recognized as the world leader in gastronomic training, providing a foundation of basic knowledge for chefs from around the world.79



Learning and transfer of learning must occur for training to be effective. This chapter began by defining learning and transfer of learning and identifying the capabilities that can be learned: verbal information, intellectual skills, motor skills, attitudes, and cognitive strategies. To explain how these capabilities can be learned, the chapter discussed several theories of learning: reinforcement theory, social learning theory, goal setting theory, need theories, expectancy theory, adult learning theory, and information processing theory. To understand how to ensure that what is learned is applied to the job, three transfer of training theories were discussed: identical elements, stimulus generalization, and cognitive theory. Next, the chapter investigated the learning process and its implications about how people learn. The section on learning process emphasized that internal processes (expectancy, storage, and retrieval), as well as external processes (gratifying), influence learning. The potential influence of learning styles in learning was examined. The chapter then discussed the relationship between the implications of the learning process, transfer of training, and the design of instruction. Important design elements include providing learners with an understanding of why they should learn, meaningful content, practice opportunities, feedback, opportunities for interaction and a coordinated program. Also, the training design should encourage learners to self-manage and ensure that the learners’ work environment supports learning and transfer.

Key Terms

learning, 159

transfer of training, 159

generalization, 159

maintenance, 159

verbal information, 160

intellectual skills, 161

motor skills, 161

attitudes, 161

cognitive strategies, 161

reinforcement theory, 161

social learning theory, 162

self-efficacy, 162

verbal persuasion, 163

logical verification, 163

modeling, 163

past accomplishments, 163

goal setting theory, 165

goal orientation, 165

learning orientation, 165

performance orientation, 166

need, 166

expectancies, 167

instrumentality, 167

valence, 167

andragogy, 168

closed skills, 170

open skills, 170

theory of identical elements, 170

fidelity, 172

near transfer, 172

stimulus generalization approach, 172

far transfer, 172

key behaviors, 173

cognitive theory of transfer, 173

expectancy, 173

perception, 173

working storage, 173

semantic encoding, 174

rehearsal, 174

organizing, 174

elaboration, 174

retrieval, 175

generalizing, 175

gratifying, 175

instruction, 176

objective, 177

training context, 178

practice, 179

metacognition, 179

self-regulation, 179

advance organizers, 180

overlearning, 180

error management training, 180

massed practice, 181

spaced practice, 181

overall task complexity, 181

mental requirements, 181

physical requirements, 181

whole practice, 182

part practice, 182

reflection, 183

automatization, 183

boosters 183

feedback, 184

learner-content interaction, 184

learner-instructor interaction, 185

learner-learner interaction, 185

communities of practice (COP), 186

training administration, 186

self-management, 187

lapses, 189

climate for transfer, 189

internal conditions, 191

external conditions, 191

Discussion Questions

Compare and contrast any two of the following learning theories: expectancy theory, social learning theory, reinforcement theory, information processing theory.

What learning condition do you think is most necessary for learning to occur? Which is least critical? Why?

Are learning and transfer of training related? Explain why or why not.

How do instructional objectives help learning to occur?


Assume that you are training an employee to diagnose and repair a loose wire in an electrical socket. After demonstrating the procedure to follow, you let the trainee show you how to do it. The trainee correctly demonstrates the process and repairs the connection on the first attempt. Has learning occurred? Justify your answer.

Your boss says, “Why do I need to tell you what type of learning capability I’m interested in? I just want a training program to teach employees how to give good customer service!” Explain to the boss how “good customer service” can be translated into different learning outcomes.

How does practice help learning? What could a trainer do in a training session to ensure that trainees engage in self-regulation?

Can allowing trainees to make errors in training be useful? Explain.

What learning conditions are necessary for short- and long-term retention of training content to occur?

What is near transfer? Far transfer? What are their implications for training design?

How can employees learn through interaction? Are some types of interaction best for learning in some situations but not others? Explain.

How can the work environment inhibit learning and transfer of training? Explain. What work environment characteristics do you believe have the largest influence on transfer of training? Justify your answer.

You have a one-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 the instructional characteristics and activities you will use to ensure that the engineers and software programmers learn project management.

Application Assignments img

Using any source possible (magazines, journals, personal conversation with a trainer, etc.), find a description of a training program. Consider the learning process and the implications of the learning process for instruction discussed in the chapter. Evaluate the degree to which the program facilitates learning. Provide suggestions for improving the program.

You are the training director of a hotel chain, Noe Suites. Each Noe Suites hotel has 100 to 150 rooms, a small indoor pool, and a restaurant. Hotels are strategically located near exit ramps of major highways in college towns such as East Lansing, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio. You receive the following e-mail message from the vice president of operations. Prepare an answer.

To: You, Training Director

From: Vice President of Operations, Noe Suites

As you are probably aware, one of the most important aspects of quality service is known as “recovery”—that is, the employee’s ability to respond effectively to customer complaints. There are three possible outcomes to a customer complaint: The customer complains and is satisfied by the response; the customer complains and is dissatisfied with the response; and the customer does not complain but remains dissatisfied. Many dissatisfied customers do not complain because they want to avoid confrontation, there


is no convenient way to complain, or they do not believe that complaining will do much good.

I have decided that to improve our level of customer service, we need to train our hotel staff in the “recovery” aspect of customer service. My decision is based on the results of recent focus groups we held with customers. One theme that emerged from these focus groups was that we had some weaknesses in the recovery area. For example, last month in one of the restaurants, a waiter dropped the last available piece of blueberry pie on a customer as he was serving her. The waiter did not know how to correct the problem other than offer an apology.

I have decided to hire two well-known consultants in the service industry to discuss recovery, as well as to provide an overview of different aspects of quality customer service. These consultants have worked in service industries and manufacturing industries.

I have scheduled the consultants to deliver a presentation in three training sessions. Each session will last three hours. There will be one session for each shift of employees (day, afternoon, and midnight shift).

The sessions will consist of a presentation and question-and-answer session. The presentation will last one and a half hours, and the question-and-answer session approximately 45 minutes. There will be a half-hour break.

My expectations are that following this training, the service staff will be able to recover successfully from service problems.

Because you are an expert on training, I want your feedback on the training session. Specifically, I am interested in your opinion regarding whether our employees will learn about service recovery from attending this program. Will they be able to recover from service problems in their interactions with customers? What recommendations do you have for improving the program?

Identify what is wrong with each of the following training objectives. Then rewrite it.

To be aware of the safety rules for operating the ribbon-cutting machine in three minutes.

Given a personal computer, a table, and a chair, enter the data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Use the Internet to learn about training practices.

Given a street address in the city of Dublin, Ohio, be able to drive the ambulance from the station to the address in less than 10 minutes.

Go to, Big Dog’s Instructional System Design (ISD) page. This website is an excellent resource that describes all aspects of the ISD model. Click on “Learning” and scroll to the concept map or list of terms under the map. Click on “Learning Styles” and take the Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (VAK) survey. What are the implications of your learning style for how you best learn? What type of learning environment is best suited for your style? Be as specific as possible.

Go to, the website for an interactive tutorial that provides a refresher on algebra. Choose a topic (such as Fractions), and review the module for the topic. What does the module include that can help make the learning process effective? Why?


Go to, a site created by Marcia L. Conner about how adults learn. Click on “Learning Style Assessment” and complete it. What are the assessment’s implications for the way that you learn best?

Go to, the website for Schneider National, a transportation management company that provides logistics and trucking services. Click on “Jobs.” Under “Orientation” click on “New CDL Holders,” Under “Company Drivers,” click on “Orientation.” Watch the videos “The best in the industry” and “Your Training Engineer.” What types of learning outcomes are emphasized in training? Considering the features of good instruction discussed in the chapter, identify the features of Schneider’s training program that contribute to learning and transfer of training. Explain how each feature you identify contributes to learning.


Safety First

BNSF Railway is a North American freight transportation company with over 32,000 miles of routes. BNSF hauls agricultural, consumer, industrial products, and coal. BNSF puts safety above everything else it does, including productivity. BNSF recognizes that safety is based on having well-trained employees who share BNSF’s vision for an injury- and accident-free workplace and who are willing to look out for one another. Thanks to our employees’ commitment, a carefully maintained network and equipment, and well-prepared communities, BNSF is a safety leader in the rail industry. Approaching Others About Safety (AOAS) is a training program for all BNSF Railway employees. The goal of the program is for BNSF employees to be confident about giving feedback to each other about safe behavior and avoiding unsafe situations. Employees need to learn the value of providing feedback when they see unsafe behavior or situations, including positively recognizing when someone is working safely or correcting them when they perceive another employee is at risk. Training should focus on the types of exposures that tend to result in most injuries, including walking/path of travel around trains, rails, and equipment, pinch points between the railway cars, and climbing or descending locomotives and railway cars.

Describe the different types of instructional characteristics that this program should have for learning and transfer to occur resulting in a decrease in injuries and accident. Would these characteristics vary depending on who was attending the program (e.g., managers, train crew, employees who maintain track, structures, or signals)? If so, how would they vary?

Source: Based on “BNSF Railway: Approaching Others About Safety,” training (January/February 2014): 108–109;, website for BNSF Railways, accessed March 11, 2015.


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