An Experiential Learning Theory
People learn by having experiences. It doesn’t matter what experience they have as long as they
1. Take some action and
2. Demonstrate the desired capability.
Therefore these experiences can be any combination of formal and informal learning (including prior experience). The obligation of a Program Designer for an Experiential Training Program is to
1. Provide clear descriptions of the capabilities desired
2. Define the business drivers/value proposition/metrics of success for these capabilities.
3. Identify and/or Create Experience Opportunities for students to achieve the capabilities
4. Create assessments for each capability (see Assessment theory)
5. Monitor and maintain the program as it evolves through the learning lifecycle.
Successful completion of each Capability Component of an Experiential Training Program is achieved by
1. Passing the assessment and
2. Documenting the experience.
Problem Solving Assessment Technique
The goal of learning is for people to be better at solving problems. This is hard to measure. However, it can be done by assessing people’s ability to rate the probability of success of a solution. An assessment can be created with sample problems and possible solutions. Each solution would have a Likert scale asking whether the learner thinks this solution is very likely, somewhat likely, probably not likely or definitely not likely to be successful. SMEs could be asked the same questions. Success of the assessment would be measured by how much the learner’s answers deviated from the average SME’s answers.
Measurement of Success
All learning must involve action. Guessing is not acceptable. The threshold for documentation will depend on the requirements of the program (regulatory considerations etc.) It can be as simple as checking off the original suggested experience or as rigid as requiring manager sign-off. Without documentation of experiences there is no way to replicate success or correct errors in the program. Memorization of information is not a capability. The ability to access information and use it to solve problems is the only measurable learning. Therefore, information resources can be provided along side a Capability Component, and accessing the information can be an experience. The information itself cannot be measured in the assessment.
The only reason for learning in business is if something changes, otherwise all the capabilities required to do a job would be measured in the recruiting process. Therefore, the capabilities required in a training program must have the same goals as the change program that the Learning Program supports. Since the success of the learning program is measured against the attainment of the goals of the change program, the change owner is obligated to clearly articulate the goals of the change program to the Experiential Training Program Program Designer. For instance if the goal of a change program is that the company can track returns better, and the solution is a returns tracking database, then the user requirements for the database are the same as the capability requirements of the training program, and the measure of success of the training is the same as the measure of success of the database, that people can track returns better by whatever criteria was established when the database project was approved and funded.
If learning is achieving the capability of solving particular types of problems then there are two experiences necessary to be successful:
1. An experience that shows the student how the components of the problem interact and how the components lead to creating value so that the student can formulate a framework for understanding the problem.
2. An experience that allows the student to test that framework against actual problems within the full range of probable scenarios. Throughout any experiential learning, it is relevance to business goals and the expectation of the student to integrate the learning with their own thinking that makes the learning “stick”.
Information Awareness is a type of training where the goals are to make the target audience aware
1. That the information exists
2. How to get it and
3. What it is used for.
The obligation of the training designer is to reach the target audience and to make the information accessible. Because there is no obligation on the part of the audience, there is no assessment. This makes Information Awareness similar to Communication (the only difference being the type of skills involved in creating the material). Evaluation of the success of the program can be done by interviewing a small random sampling of the audience. If a handful of people can access the information then everyone can. Documentation of the experience is optional and can be an affidavit of receipt of the information. It is important to note that without an obligation of the audience member to integrate the learning, the efficacy of the program is limited.