Focus on what happens before and after learning, pt. 1

As L&D professionals, we know that you work hard to create courses that are engaging and captivating with the main goal of imparting necessary knowledge on learners in a way that helps them to retain the information and put it into practical use after the fact. However, according to The Conference Board, traditional training methods result in only 37% learning transfer. To put into context, that means that only 37% of people who take a given training course will walk away from the course and actually put their newfound knowledge to any practical use. Looked at another way, that means that 63% of the time the information imparted during a training session essentially goes in one ear and out the other. Yikes!

With those not-so-great statistics looming over us, there is some good news! Research shows the transfer of learning has more to do with what happens before and after the training than during the actual training itself. It may be hard to believe - after all, the information gets imparted during the actual training, so how could the before and after be more important - but it’s true. In fact, Robert Brinkerhoff, an internationally recognized learning effectiveness expert, has theorized that only 20% of transfer of learning takes place during the actual training with the remaining 80% taking place in even parts before and after the training.

So how, exactly, could that be - and how does that apply to the creation of elearning courses?

Before training: 40%

According to Brinkerhoff, the beginning phases of learning transfer - a whopping 40%! - take place before the training has even begun. During this phase, Brinkerhoff’s Courageous Training Model stipulates that the keys to ensuring learning transfer are that the training is, in fact, planned out properly. This planning should include clearly defining the purpose and goals of training, meeting with managers to involve them in the planning process, and - of course - preparing all of the training content as well as any “reflection assignments.”

As you can see, although this 40% takes place before any actual training is instituted, it lays the foundation and framework for what will be a successful, well-thought out program.

During training: 20%

This portion of training - the actual training aspect - is where most people would presume that the bulk of the action and learning transfer would take place. However, according to Brinkerhoff, this actually only requires the least focus of the entire process. During this phase, course designers should be focused on incorporating effective learning practices and tools - such as interactive video and gamification, the actual specific training, and skills focused feedback.

After training: 40%

Interestingly, the remaining portion of learning transfer - nearly half of it - takes place after the training itself has been completed. In order to ensure successful learning transfer, Brinkerhoff surmises that it’s critical to support the implementation with follow-up and at home assignments, colleague meetings and roundtables about the topics at hand, and by providing guidance and feedback where necessary as they directly relate to the learning initiative.

Are you interested in learning more about navigating the rapidly changing elearning market? Check out our guide!

Leave us your comments...