Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2018 - 53

SECRETS OF SOURCING
DOUG HARWARD

6 KEYS

TO EMBEDDING REINFOR CEMENT
INTO TR AINING DESIGN

Training reinforcement has become
a popular topic among training
professionals as it speaks to the
fundamental principle that the more we
are reminded of something, the greater
the probability we will remember it. But
in corporate training, developing highperforming training programs is not just
about remembering, it's more about
doing. It's about performance and making
sure that those we train can perform a job
at a consistent and high level.

TRAINING IS ABOUT
TASKS - NOT JUST
COMMUNICATING
INFORMATION.
No doubt you've heard of the forgetting
curve concept formed by Dr. Hermann
Ebbinghaus. His research found that if
information is not properly reinforced
after the initial exposure then we would
ultimately forget an exponential amount
of that information in a very short period
of time. What many are not familiar with
is his other conclusion called the "spacing
effect." He found that learning is greater
when information is consumed over an
extended period of time, or through
multiple sessions as opposed to a single
mass presentation.
The spacing effect is an important principle
because it helps us understand how
reinforcement should be designed into a
training experience. All too often, training
is designed as workshops with little to no
practice or reinforcement provided after
the initial session. More recent research by
Dr. Anders Ericsson has found that those

who achieve a high level of performance
do this through reinforcement that is
considered purposeful and deliberate
practice and repetition. Essentially, it is
through the reinforcement of tasks by
doing and purposeful access to feedback
and information.
We must be more concerned with how
to design high-performing learning
programs using reinforcement as the main
component. Here are my keys to designing
high-performing learning programs.
1. Start with proper onboarding:
Entry-level workers must be prepared
to do the job with minimum risk of
failure when working autonomously.
Making mistakes on the job is not the
best way to learn because it puts the
learner at risk of losing confidence
and puts our clients at risk due to
our mistakes.
2. Clear expectations of performance:
Corporate training has been too much
about telling a worker what they
need to know, instead of teaching a
worker how to do what they need to
do. Training is about tasks - not just
communicating information.

immediate - as soon as the task is
completed. The more immediate that
is, the faster they will improve, and
the fewer mistakes they will make
over time.
5. Coaching: Effective coaching is
about providing directional advice
on how to improve. Coaches should
provide guidance on what to do
differently and areas to focus on for
continuous improvement.
6. Embedded on-the-job
reinforcement: Repetition is critical
to improving tasks. Reinforcement
is about critical on-demand
information needed while on the
job, oftentimes related to how to
solve a problem. Reinforcement
can be information that is pushed
to the learner/worker to update
on changes or prevent mistakes,
or it can be pulled and accessed as
needed. This type of information
should be embedded in the day-today routines and easily accessible to
a worker.

3. Repetition: Having the learner
practice behavior in a controlled
environment prior to doing it
autonomously on the job is a critical
component to high-performance
training. Repetition is going to vary
depending on the complexity of
the task.

From where I sit, reinforcement is not just
a popular topic and justification for why
we should have learning libraries and
on-demand content available. It is the
foundation of high-performing learning
programs and why we must rethink the
economics of training for knowledge
and skilled workers alike. We must find
ways to embed learning content into the
job and design training to repetitiously
develop best practices.

4. Immediate feedback: To get better
at a job, the learner must have
feedback that tells them how they
are doing. The best feedback is

Doug Harward is CEO of Training Industry,
Inc. and a former learning leader in the
high-tech industry. Email Doug.

T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - GIVING LEARNING A BOOST 20 18 I WWW. T RAININGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2018

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