Knowledge centre management and use training workshop in Dessie, Jun 14-15 2014 (photo credit: LIVES).
Training is one of the most widely used capacity development approaches to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes of individuals. Many organizations invest resources and train their employees to improve organizational performance. However, research shows that only about 10% of training programs by organizations transfer knowledge to improved performance in the workplace.
A number of factors affect transfer of knowledge and skills including trainee characteristics, training design, delivery methods and processes as well as work environment. To address these transfer problems, a number of strategies can be embedded in the design and delivery of training programs.
This story describes two knowledge transfer strategies ‘learning logs’ and ‘action planning’ which are being tested and used in the Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project to facilitate application of knowledge and skills from training events to the work environment.
Learning logs use active learning to encourage trainees to take responsibility for their own learning and applying what they learn. This strategy encourages trainees to understand the need for a training and find a reason for learning by relating training objectives and content to their work context. Trainees formulate their own learning goals and monitor the learning progress throughout the training process.
A learning log facilitates reflection of the learning process and outcomes by the trainees themselves. The tool presents trainees with a check-in and check-out process that includes questions to facilitate daily reflection and journaling of key learning and insights, observations, lessons learned and possible actions to take. This process helps trainees internalize the learning process and relate key learning with their work. It also facilitates retention and application of knowledge and skills from training programs.
The other transfer of knowledge strategy during training events is action planning. It is important that trainees become motivated to apply learned knowledge and skills and action planning helps to do just this. At the end of training programs, trainees develop action plans that identify activities, contexts and requirements for the application of the newly acquired knowledge and skills. The action planning tool can also include deliverables, milestones and mechanisms to monitor and self-evaluate progress.
As part of the action planning exercise, a force field tool is used to identify perceived opportunities and constraints for application of knowledge and skills and to come up with mitigation strategies.
Experience from the LIVES project shows that when training is coupled with coaching and mentoring, learning becomes continuous and experiential and has relevance to practice. Action planning is required to provide post-training support for effective application of new knowledge and skills in the work environment. Most of the knowledge and skills gained from training programs cannot be effectively retained and applied without repetition and practice so trainees are provided with coaching and mentoring support as well as performance feedback on a regular basis. Coaching and mentoring involve not only technical support but also organizational and management issues.
Written by Mamusha Lemma (PhD), LIVES.