1. Explain a lesson plan. Describe the different types of information found in a detailed lesson plan. In your discussion, include a design document and its usefulness.
A lesson plan is a set of directions used by the trainer to help communicate the information of the program to the trainees. It functions as a guide, which integrates the information needing to be explained to the trainees and the steps and activities that will be used to do so. It contains a breakdown of the amount of time needed to deliver the training, allocating specific portions of time for each task. To ensure consistency between trainers, there is usually a table of contents that can be closely followed to make sure that the process is the same no matter what and that the trainers and trainees can be aware and in agreement about the training process (specifically regarding the course and program objectives). This helps give the program shareability between programs, departments, and trainers. A detailed lesson plan consists of clearly defined learning objectives, a list of specific topics that are to be covered over the course of the training, at whom this training is to be aimed (i.e., target audience), and how long the lesson should take. There is also a detailed lesson outline, an explanation of the necessary activities, what type of preparation is necessary for the training, and if there are any prerequisites needed before taking part in the training. A discussion of how the training should be administered and how to evaluate whether or not the learning was successful is also usually part of an effective lesson plan. A design document differs from the lesson plan, in that it is developed first, is less detailed, and is not used directly in the training. It can almost be considered as a lesson plan for the actual lesson plan. The text describes it as a guide for the managers to understand how the training will be developed and implemented. It can be compiled by subject matter experts, reviewers, or trainers. The design document is the first step in developing the training. It is in the development of the design document that the needs assessment is most important. The assessment is used to define the goals and objectives of the training. The design document includes these goals and objectives as well as the intended audience, how long the development of the training should take, and measurable checkpoints along the way, how long the training should take to deliver, the methods used in the training, any possible problems or opportunities associated, resources need, a brief outline, methods of evaluation and possible links to other programs (Noe, 2001, p. 173-4).
2. Explain how practice helps learning. Give examples of how this has helped you.
Practice helps self-directed learning because it allows the trainees to integrate the content of the training program. It gives the trainees the chance to rehearse a task or skill so that they may achieve proficiency. The employee must demonstrate that they have learned the specific capabilities taught during the training. It gives the employees a chance to demonstrate what they have learned under conditions and standards similar to those in the actual job field. Practice can involve simulated situations, role-playing, games that require the use of new knowledge, as well as standard oral and written questioning. Practice has been beneficial in my educational career in many ways. Complex math formulas become much easier to understand once I have practiced the same ones multiple times. If I simply had to take a test after the formulas were explained to me, it would be very difficult to recreate them without practice. Practice also allows for overlearning, which ensures that I will remember the formula itself when it comes time for a recall, since I will have written and practiced it over and over as many times as was necessary to learn it thoroughly. Learning theories and concepts in this course has been easier using some of the practice methods. Written role-plays, where I must imagine I am responsible for my own training program have made these concepts more tangible and understandable. Without this type of practice, I would simply be trying to memorize definitions. Practice is very important for effective learning.
3. Compare and contrast two learning theories. Which one do you believe is most effective? Why?
Reinforcement theory and social learning theory do share some concepts, but social learning theory seems that it would be more effective because it allows for more involvement and responsibility on the trainee’s part. Reinforcement theory argues that people are more likely to perform well if they know their actions will result in a positive outcome (either a positive reward or the removal of a negative circumstance). The text provides an example of employees being more likely to come to work on time if they know that their boss will stop yelling about it, but it seems that an employee who is offered a bonus, or some other reward, for coming to work on time, will do so also, and will probably feel happier for doing so. Reinforcement theory requires that the trainer knows what types of reinforcement work best for the specific employees. They must then decide how best to connect these outcomes with the training.
Social learning theory, on the other hand, does not rely on a punishment and reward system to encourage learning. Instead, it operates on the idea that people learn best by observing others. Social learning theory seems more effective because it allows for multiple opportunities to teach the trainees without punishing them. There is, however, a reward of sorts—simply the sense of accomplishment should be enough to encourage a person to attempt to learn new material. There is also, through observation, the promise of reward if accomplishment is not enough motivation. An employee who sees that someone else is being rewarded for their behavior, the employee may adopt this behavior as well. As the text explains, this type of theory does rely on the idea of self-efficacy; that is, an employee’s belief in whether or not they will be able to learn the new skills necessary to complete a task. Even if a person has low self-efficacy, there are ways to encourage the employees and encourage their level of self-efficacy. Verbal persuasion (providing encouragement), logical verification (explaining how the new task is similar to one already mastered), and modeling (someone skilled in the task showing how it is completed) all work to increase self-efficacy, which in turn, will encourage social learning. Because social learning theory has more adaptability and works on improving an employee’s idea of his her own worth, social learning theory is likely more effective than reinforcement theory.
4. You have just been promoted to be the program manager of the training department in your organization. What considerations must you consider in regard to selecting training site, preparing the training site, and choosing the trainers?
I would hope, if my organization has an entire department devoted to training, that they would also have the facilities for this. If there were not already a designated training room, I would look for a large conference room. I would make sure that the room had adequate space and lighting, and that it was not centrally located to allow for some quiet and privacy. Oftentimes, rooms like this that are free and available become multi-purpose rooms, with employees stopping in to eat lunch or make phone calls on their breaks, so I would ensure that the organization knows ahead of time that training is being held, so that it is not interrupted. Because technology is often a part of successful training, I would make sure that the room has ample outlets, Internet connection, and easy hookups for a computer, document camera, and any other possible necessities. I would not be able to dictate color palette or décor, but I would take down any artwork that may be distracting. Again, since my organization would have a training department, there would hopefully already be skilled trainers in the organization. I would choose the trainers who know most about the content and whose strength lies in the type of training necessary (someone better at hands-on training for a more practical lesson or someone better at explaining concepts if the lesson is more theory-based).