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A Success Case of Training Transfer of a Blended, Technical Training Initiative


A Success Case of Training Transfer of a Blended, Technical Training Initiative

Avon, Steven (2021) A Success Case of Training Transfer of a Blended, Technical Training Initiative. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Research Problem: The purpose of this study was to explore how a technical, blended training solution impacted training transfer in an organization over time.
Research Questions:
Main Question. To what extent does training transfer within an organization from a specialized, technical, blended training program, several months after the training initiative?
Supporting Question (SQ) 1. Which skills were mastered by learners and which were not?
SQ 2. How are learners applying new skills in the months following the training initiative?
SQ 3. What factors enable or impede transfer of the training?
SQ 4. If training transfers, how do stakeholders benefit from the training initiative?
Literature Review: Technical training is instruction based on a specific product or task (Williams & Nafukho, 2015). Critical success factors for technical training include leveraging the skills workers have already developed with similar systems (Stull, 2018). Blended learning is the integration of different methods of teaching, such as directed versus self-directed or in person versus online (Rossett, 2019). Critical success factors for blended learning include standardization (a consistent message), segmentation (producing individual blocks with different teaching methods) and automation (approaches which require as little human intervention as possible) (Bitzer, Söllner & Leimeister, 2016). Training transfer is the degree to which learners apply and maintain over time the knowledge, skills and attitudes learned during a training program (Baldwin & Ford, 1988). Critical success factors for training transfer include trainee characteristics (consisting of ability or skill, self-efficacy, motivation and personality), training design (the approach used to conceive the program, such as the use of a realistic training environment), and work environment (the climate in which the learner evolves). Although the four-level Katzell-Kirkpatrick framework is the most used approach to evaluating training programs, its limitations include the fact that it does not consider workplace influences which might affect performance, does not identify avenues for further improvement and does not look beyond the training environment to examine performance (Bates, 2004; Brinkerhoff, 2005). An alternative is Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method, which details verifiable training stories to convey the value of learning in ways which organization leaders can find believable and relatable (Brinkerhoff, 2005; Williams & Nafukho, 2015).
Methodology: A qualitative approach inspired by Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method (1983, 2003, 2005) was used, with 22 participants in a large North American financial services provider. Participants completed training on an updated software application; more specifically, a customer service system. They were asked to complete a pre-training survey and three follow-up surveys: two, six and ten weeks following the implementation of the system changes. Of these, eight participants who self-identified as having successfully transferred the skills were interviewed. The data collected was then coded and a thematic analysis carried out to answer the research questions.
Results and Conclusions: Most participants (18 of 22) self-reported using their new skills, with a strong majority describing the use of their performance support system (an online help tool used to document employee processes and procedures) for support. Although training coaches had not directly observed participants using the system, anecdotal evidence from other stakeholders supported participants’ self-assessment of successful transfer. Potential enablers to training transfer were identified, including the use of a knowledge management system, practice, and support from systems experts. Potential barriers included the overlap of the training program with summer vacation; lag time between training and the new system launch; fatigue with the frequency of system changes; and the lack of a training environment. Participants also identified benefits to the training program, including faster treatment time (the time it takes to handle a customer interaction), greater autonomy when using their systems, and fewer mistakes.

The data provided program stakeholders with information which would not have been possible with the Katzell-Kirkpatrick framework. Based on the findings, stakeholders could avoid repeating the pitfalls of the training program under study and find avenues for future improvement.

The implications of this study suggest eight take-aways to consider for practice. These include: documenting procedures in a performance support system; offering expert support and feedback; providing the opportunity to practice; properly scheduling training initiatives; planning change management activities; personalizing training to the learners’ roles; planning quality assurance activities; and using blended learning approaches.

How the study supports or extends previous research for training transfer is also discussed, as are the limitations of the study, which include the lack of generalizability and some issues with the training initiative studied, such as the findings, which relied on participant self-assessment.

Future research could replicate the study with a larger sample size and a focus on different types of training initiatives such as “soft skills” training to determine whether the findings transfer to other types of training. Other potential areas of future research include the value of just-in-time training and how the presence of a training environment affects the transfer of complex technical skills.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Avon, Steven
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Educational Technology
Date:8 August 2021
Thesis Supervisor(s):Carliner, Saul
ID Code:988759
Deposited By: STEVEN AVON
Deposited On:29 Nov 2021 16:25
Last Modified:29 Nov 2021 16:25
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