THE LEARNING TRANSFER BIG PICTURE
George Hall Mike Smith Carolyn Dare
Do not forget learning transfer while crafting your learning and development initiatives. A research-driven model allows your organization to adapt quickly and make real-time adjustments to your learning strategy.
AFTER MORE THAN three decades of experience
improving the effectiveness of learning and development
programs and consulting with Fortune 500 clients such
as Mercedes-Benz, Kimberly-Clark, and Starbucks, our
field research indicates that more attention must be paid
to learning transfer, that is, the process of applying new
knowledge and skills from training when back in the
workplace. Despite the importance of incorporating learning transfer into the implementation plan surrounding a course, learning transfer is often neglected as an aspect
of learning strategy and design. Too often, learning and
development departments look to the individual to implement their own learning. However, aspects of the work environment are beyond the control of the individual and
greatly impact participants’ ability to transfer learning
from training. Significant, positive bottom-line impacts
can be realized by focusing on learning transfer.
How can we begin to improve learning transfer?
Is there a significant opportunity for improvement?
Learning leaders frequently say that improving transfer
could be a significant catalyst but do not think their companies are capturing this value or know how to begin the process. Seminal research by two collaborating faculty
members at Louisiana State University on leveraging
learning transfer, Elwood F. Holton, author or editor of
19 books, and Reid Bates, author of over 150 publications,
resulted in a winning 16-factor model that can be used to
support any learning initiative. In this article, we present our experiences with the Holton-Bates model and discuss
the benefits of using a research-driven model to make
real-time adjustments to learning strategy:
• Challenges of learning transfer
• View from the C-Suite and L-Suite
• Key performance indicators
Performance Improvement, vol. 53, no. 10, November/December 2014 ©2014 International Society for Performance Improvement
Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) • DOI: 10.1002/pfi.21442
• Discovering catalysts, weak catalysts, and barriers
• Advantages of data and speed
LEVERAGE SEMINAL RESEARCH
The Holton-Bates model was developed after 30 years
of research in adult education. The collaborative model
was adapted into an online survey, the learning transfer
systems inventory and the transferlogix process model.
Learning and development practitioners using this
approach can clearly establish whether or not participants
can transfer the learning from any learning intervention
into performance. The model has 16 enablers or key
performance indicators that, if switched on, will accelerate the adhesion of any learning program (see Table 1). This information offers tremendous insight into what
makes training effective or ineffective at any company.
The transferlogix process explains the results that were
received and suggests what to do about it.
For the C-Suite or L-Suite, one of the most pressing
mandates today is to demonstrate value by showing how
development programs can impact the business. This has
not always been the case when designing training and
development programs. For too long, the training and
development field has focused, perhaps too narrowly,
on building skills and raising awareness of the need to
develop certain skills and abilities. Today, the key issue
involves creating structures and processes to systematically identify the behaviors that enable the company to execute its business strategy. The learning transfer systems inventory shows the area of focus needed to obtain learning transfer. The transferlogix process provides a
proven, step-by-step system to ensure that...
References: Holton, E., & Baldwin, T. (2003). Improving learning transfer in
Holton, E.F., Bates, R.A., & Ruona, W.E.A. (2001).
Holton, E.F., III, Bates, R., Seyler, D., & Carvalho, M. (1997)
Toward construct validation of a transfer climate instrument.
Kraiger, K., Salas, E., & Cannon-Bowers, J.A. (1995).
Rip, G., & Hall, G. (2014, July). A new lens on training. TD
Gist, M.E., Bavetta, A.G., & Stevens, C.K. (1990). Transfer
training method: Its influence on skill generalization, skill
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