Trainees' perceptions of personal learning experiences and training program characteristics that helped them to learn : an exploratory study

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Klingel-Dowd, Susan C.
Murk, Peter J., 1942-
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Leadership
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Many U.S. corporations have begun investing in the education and training of their personnel in order to implement and maintain the changes necessary to remain competitive in a global market place. Employees have been required to learn and utilize new and/or different competencies.The purpose of this study was to identify formal training and informal learning experiences that were judged as valuable as the learners began the on-the-job utilization of their formal training and/or informal learning activities. Three adult education learning theories (andragogy, proficiency theory, and situated cognition) were examined to determine what formal and informal learning experiences of the respondents, were reflected or contradicted, by these theories.It was determined that interviews with employees to ascertain their perceptions might yield insights as to how they think they have learned new skills. Therefore, 15 employees with various job descriptions and who were employed by three separate and diverse organizations wereinterviewed. This diversity was necessary in order to achieve maximum variation sampling. All of the interviews for this study were audio tape recorded to ensure accurate data collection. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and reviewed item-by-item and line-by-line for emerging trends and important concepts.The findings suggested that the majority of workplace skills or competencies were learned and utilized through informal learning. Formal training was used to initiate, maintain, or validate the informal learning. Content learned during the formal training was more likely to be used if participants were given an opportunity to practice the skills or competencies during the training. Handouts or booklets were used after the training to replicate the skill or competency.The findings suggested that the theoretical description of needs assessment and of the evaluation process were not valid in the current workplace training setting. Respondents suggested improvements for both areas.This study has implications for trainers, training directors, and human resource personnel. Further study is recommended on needs assessment, evaluation, and informal learning within the workplace.