Why Was Classroom Training Rated So Poorly?

In “The Changing Nature of Organizations, Work, and Workplace,” Judith Heerwagen of J.H. Heerwagen & Associates and Kevin Kelly and Kevin Kampschroer of the U.S. General Service Administration note that work is now more: cognitively complex; team-based and collaborative; dependent on social skills; dependent on technological competence; time pressured; mobile and less dependent on geography.

Managers and employees need new skills to effectively manage these challenges- and they require learning and professional development options that go beyond traditional classroom training.

This is validated by the results of a 2017 survey of Learning in the Workplace conducted by Jane Hart, the Founder of the Center for Learning & Performance Technologies. Over 5,000 managers and employees were asked to rate the importance (value/usefulness) of 12 work-related learning methods as either: NI = Not Important; QI = Quite Important; VI = Very Important; or Ess = Essential.

The results of the Survey are identified in rank order below, with 1 being the highest ranking learning method. The methods were ranked by their combined VI+Ess (Very Important and Essential) scores. (The VI+Ess total is in parentheses after the method):

1. Daily work experiences (i.e., doing the day job) (93)

2. Knowledge sharing with your team (90)

3. Web search (e.g. Google) (79)

4. Web resources (e.g. videos, podcasts, articles) (76)

5. Manager feedback and guidance (74)

6. Professional networks and communities (72)

7. Coach or mentor feedback and guidance (65)

8. Internal resources (e.g. documents, guides) (60)

9. Blogs and news feeds (56)

10. E-learning (e.g. online courses for self-study) (41)

11. Conferences and other professional events (35)

12. Classroom training (31)

As you can see, the survey results reveal that the least valued way of learning in the workforce is classroom training!

We don’t know why the respondents give classroom training such a low rating. There can be many reasons, such as:

  • Content focused on theory rather than on practical application.
  • Too general one-size-fits-all examples difficult for the participants to translate and apply to their own work situations.
  • Ineffective training methods, such as a predominance of lecture with PowerPoint.
  • Lack of useful job aids.
  • The wrong people received the training, due in part to a need to ensure a sufficient number of butts in seats.
  • Inconvenient scheduling.
  • The time commitment and high cost of registration and travel for off-site classes.
  • Poor content, either outdated or irrelevant to real work needs.
  • Poor instructors, lacking effective presentation skills and/or classroom management skills.
  • No follow up by supervisors to reinforce the learning.
  • A lack of support for implementing any new learning.

Since I design and deliver classroom training, I would like to believe that it is not classroom training per se that the respondents rate so negatively- just poor curriculum design, delivery and facilitation.

What do you think?

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