Ways to Look at Training and Development Processes: Informal/Formal and Self-Directed/Other-Directed

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    Ways to Look at Training and Development Processes: Informal/Formal
    and Self-Directed/Other-Directed

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,
    MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC
    .

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Two Dimensions of Training and Development Processes
    Decision Factors on Those Two Dimensions
    Informal and Formal Training and Development
    Self-Directed and “Other-Directed” Learning
    Library’s Blogs About Training and Development

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Ways to Look at Formal and Informal
    and also Self-Directed and Other-Directed Training

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs
    that have posts related to Formal and Informal and also Self-Directed and Other-Directed
    Training. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also see the section
    “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next”
    near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free
    related resources.

    Library’s Career
    Management Blog

    Library’s Human Resources
    Blog

    Library’s Leadership Blog
    Library’s Supervision
    Blog

    Library’s
    Training and Development Blog


    Two Dimensions of Training and Development Processes

    You could describe training and development processes using
    two dimensions – one for the degree of formality and one for the
    balance between self-directed and other-directed learning.

    These two sets of choices result in four overall approaches.
    That is, one can take an informal approach to self-directed or
    “other-directed” learning. Similarly, one can take a
    formal approach to self-directed or “other-directed”
    learning.

    Decision Factors on Those Dimensions

    The decision about what approach to take to training depends
    on several factors. These factors include the amount of funding
    available for training, specificity and complexity of the knowledge
    and skills needed, timeliness of training needed, and capacity
    and motivation of the learner.

    Other-directed, formal training is typically more expensive
    than other approaches, but is often the most reliable to use for
    the learner to achieve the desired knowledge and skills in a timely
    fashion. Self-directed, informal learning can be very low-cost,
    however the learner should have the capability and motivation
    to pursue their own training. Training may take longer than other-directed
    forms.

    Highly specific and routine tasks can often be trained without
    complete, formal approaches. On the other hand, highly complex
    and changing roles often require more complete and formal means
    of development, which can be very expensive as a result.

    If training is needed right away, then other-directed training
    is often very useful, e.g., to sign up for a training course at
    a local university, college or training center. Or, a training
    professional can be brought in. Again, other-directed training
    is usually faster and more reliable, but more expensive.

    Self-directed forms of training require that the learner be
    highly motivated and able to conceptualize their approach to training,
    particularly in formal training.

    Informal and Formal Training
    and Development

    Informal Training and Development

    Informal learning is very likely the most common form of learning. There is
    no formal structure or curriculum, and usually no expert trainer who teaches
    students. There usually is no formal recognition of completion, for example,
    a certificate or diploma. Informal learning is ideal for very experienced people.
    Formal learning is ideal for new learners, for example, to learn a new technology
    or specific procedure.

    Informal training and development is rather casual and incidental. Typically,
    there are no specified training goals as such, nor are their ways to evaluate
    if the training actually accomplished these goals or not. This type of training
    and development occurs so naturally that many people probably aren’t aware that
    they’re in a training experience at all. Probably the most prominent form of
    informal training is learning from experience on the job. Examples are informal
    discussions among employees about a certain topic, book discussion groups, and
    reading newspaper and journal articles about a topic. A more recent approach
    is sending employees to hear prominent speakers, sometimes affectionately called
    “the parade of stars”.

    Informal training is less effective than formal training if one should intentionally
    be learning a specific area of knowledge or skill in a timely fashion. Hardly
    any thought is put into what learning is to occur and whether that learning
    occurred or not. (However, this form of training often provides the deepest
    and richest learning because this form is what occurs naturally in life.)

    More Articles About Informal Training

    Informal Learning
    (Wikipedia)

    Informal and Formal
    Learning

    Recognition
    of Informal and Non-Formal Learning

    Informal
    Learning and the Silent Trainer #2

    The
    Power of the Silent Trainer

    Are
    Your Employees Ready to Succeed?

    Informal
    Learning Widespread, Difficult to Track

    Waiting
    for Darwin – Cave Man Training Today

    Training
    for Survival: How to be the Fittest in Today’s Economy

    Formal Training and Development

    Formal training is based on some standard “form”.
    Formal training might include:
    a) declaring certain learning objectives (or an extent of knowledge,
    skills or abilities that will be reached by learners at the end
    of the training),
    b) using a variety of learning methods to reach the objectives
    and then
    b) applying some kind(s) of evaluation activities at the end of
    the training.

    The methods and means of evaluation might closely associate
    with the learning objectives, or might not. For example, courses,
    seminars and workshops often have a form — but it’s arguable
    whether or not their training methods and evaluation methods actually
    assess whether the objectives have been met or not.

    Formal, Systematic Training and Development

    Systematic, formal training involves carefully proceeding through
    the following phases:
    a) Assessing what knowledge, skills and /or abilities are needed
    by learners;
    b) Designing the training, including identifying learning goals
    and associated objectives, training methods to reach the objectives,
    and means to carefully evaluate whether the objectives have been
    reached or not;
    c) Developing the training methods and materials;
    d) Implementing the training; and
    e) Evaluating whether objectives have been reached or not, in
    addition to the quality of the training methods and materials
    themselves

    A systematic approach is goal-oriented (hopefully, to produce results for the
    organization and/or learners), with the results of each phase being used by
    the next phase. Typically, each phase provides ongoing evaluation feedback to
    other phases in order to improve the overall system’s process.

    Note, again, that not all formal methods are systematic. Some courses, workshops,
    and other training sessions have goals, methods and evaluation, but they are
    not aligned, or even integrated. The methods, in total, do not guide the learner
    toward achieving the training goal. The evaluations are too often of how a learner
    feels about the learning experience, rather than of how well the learning experience
    achieved the goal of the training.

    For more information about formal, systematic training and development, see
    Formal Training
    Processes — Instructional Systems Design (ISD) and ADDIE
    .

    Self-Directed and “Other-Directed”
    Learning

    Self-Directed Learning

    Self-directed training includes the learner making the decisions about what
    training and development experiences will occur and how. The learner selects
    and carries out their own learning goals, objectives, methods and means to verifying
    that the goals were met. Self-directed training seems to be more popular of
    late. Note that one can pursue a self-directed approach to informal or formal
    training. For example, self-directed, informal training might include examples
    of informal training listed above (book discussion groups, etc.), as long as
    the learner chose the activities and topics themselves, either for professional
    or personal reasons. Self-directed, formal training includes the learner’s selecting
    and carrying out their own learning goals, objectives, methods and means to
    verifying that the goals were met. (For additional information about self-directed
    learning, see The
    Strong Value of Self-Directed Learning in the Workplace
    .)

    Probably the most important skill for today’s rapidly changing workforce is
    skills in self-reflection. The highly motivated, self-directed learner with
    skills in self-reflection
    can approach the workplace as a continual classroom from which to learn. Supervisors
    and employees who work together to accomplish formal, self-directed learning
    in the workplace also accomplish continuous
    learning
    for continued productivity and learning.

    Self-directed learning programs hold numerous advantages over traditional forms
    of classroom instruction for employees in the workplace, whether they be leaders,
    managers, or individual contributors. Bouchard (Self-directed Learning in
    Organizational Settings
    (working paper), Concordia University, Montreal,
    Canada) explains, “Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that
    traditional approaches to program design and delivery in the workplace and in
    associative organizations present some important weaknesses. Problem areas include:
    coping with the short life span of useful knowledge; passing down acquired competencies
    to succeeding cohorts; accommodating the demands of productivity while providing
    for a continuity of learning; [and!] enabling learners to pursue activities
    that correspond to their learning styles and needs” (p. 1).

    After many years of reflection about learning, eminent psychologist, Carl Rogers,
    founder of self-directed therapy, asserted that “anything that can be taught
    to another is relatively inconsequential, and has little or no significant influence
    on behavior” (On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy,
    Houghton Mifflin, 1961, p. 276). He adds, “The only learning which significantly
    influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning” (p.
    276).

    Self-directed learning programs:

    • Are more effective in development because learning accommodates employees’
      learning styles and objectives
    • Save substantial training costs because learners learn to help themselves
      and each other with practical and timely materials
    • Achieve increased employee effectiveness in their jobs as they learn to
      learn from their own work experiences and actually apply their learning in
      their places of work

    Some Online Articles About Self-Directed Learning

    Self-Directed
    Learning

    another Self-Directed Learning Web page
    Self-Directedness in Adult Vocational Education Students
    Take Responsibility
    for Learning

    Journaling — What
    We Can Learn from Unschooling

    Other-Directed Learning

    This form, of course, is where someone other than the learner
    drives what training activities will occur. Other-directed, informal
    training includes, e.g., supervisors sending employees to training
    about diversity, policies, sexual harassment in the workplace.

    Other-directed, formal training includes where someone other
    than the learner specifies the training goals will be met in training,
    how those goals will be met and how evaluation will occur to verify
    that the goals were met. This form of learning is probably the
    most recognized because it includes the approach to learning as
    used in universities, colleges and training centers. This form
    of learning typically grants diplomas and certificates. Note that
    this form of training, although readily available in universities,
    etc., is usually somewhat “generic”, that is, the program
    is geared to accommodate the needs of the most learners and not
    be customized to any one learner. Therefore, a learner may pay
    tuition fees to learn knowledge and skills that he or she may
    not really need.

    Another form of “other-directed’, formal training is employee
    development plans. The plans identify performance goals, how the
    goals will be reached, by when and who will verify their accomplishment.

    “Other-directed’, formal training can be highly effective
    for helping learners gain desired areas of knowledge and skills
    in a timely fashion. A drawback is that learners can become somewhat
    passive, counting on the “expert” to show them what
    they should be doing and when.

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to
    this Topic

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see
    the following blogs that have posts related to this topic. Scan
    down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also see the section
    “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click
    on “next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The
    blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    Library’s Career
    Management Blog

    Library’s Human Resources
    Blog

    Library’s Leadership Blog
    Library’s Supervision
    Blog

    Library’s
    Training and Development Blog

    Go to main Training
    and Development
    page.


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