If L&D is to provide solutions that meet organizational needs, I want to suggest that we should use evidence-based interventions.
If we aren’t leveraging what research says, are we any better than astrologists or numerologists? Our learning designs should be research-based, our strategies should be derived from grounded frameworks, it should validate our tools.
So, where are we?
Two popular beliefs prevalent in the industry are that learners differ by how they learn, or learning styles and that individuals can be characterized by their generation. These flesh out in particular ways.
For learning styles, there are two related beliefs.
One is that we should adapt our learning to individual learning styles. If we can reliably identify how a learner learns, and we can create materials that align with that learning style, we should, no?
A prerequisite notion is that we have reliable distinctions between learners that are consistent and identifiable. Do we?
For generations, there are also two related beliefs.
One is that based upon our generation – baby boomer, Gen X, etc. – we have reliable distinctions that show our preferences for working environments.
The other is that those born since the days of the household personal computer, having grown up with digital technology, have natural skills with these devices. Do these assumptions hold up?
The way to answer questions like these is to look at the research. Independent research, mind you, not research provided by vested interests in these points of view. That’s an evidence-based approach.
Chad Udell and I will explore these issues in session 315 – (e)Learning Myths: What the Research Says – at DevLearn in Las Vegas on Oct. 24. The point is to identify the prevailing story and appeal, look to the research, and come away with take-home messages about what we can (and can’t) say, and what we should do.
If you won’t be able to attend, here are representative studies that address the issues:
- Coffield, F., Mosely, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Should we be using learning styles? What research has to say to practice. London: Learning & Skills Research Centre.
- Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9 (3), 105-119.
- Jones, C. & Shao, B. (2011). The Net Generation and Digital Natives: Implications for Higher Education. Higher Education Academy.
- White, M. (2011). Rethinking Generation Gaps in the Workplace: Focus on Shared Values. UNC Executive Development.
These aren’t the only areas where we should pay more attention to what research and theory say, but they’re ones we think are worth exploring because of their prevalence.
We hope to see you there!
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