Training & Development
How Learner Control Affects Web-Based Training Objectives
How Does Learner Control Affect Learning and Retention?Learner control involves giving individuals a certain degree of control over the training. For example, learner control could be as simple as allowing employees to progress through the training at their own pace or as complex as allowing employees to determine what type of information they are learning. Typically, some degree of control between these two options has been found to be optimal. When individuals have control over the learning environment, they may be more cognitively engaged, as they focus on information that is relevant and interesting to them. Because of this, they often experience more positive reactions to the training than if they had little or no control. In turn, they may also process the information more thoroughly and deeply, thereby increasing retention. These positive reactions can be important in keeping trainees motivated, as well as implementing the training in the workplace. This is because as positive reactions towards the training increase, so does the individual’s motivation to complete the training successfully. Additionally, the individual is more likely to have more motivation to apply the learned behaviors or knowledge on the job and be more confident in doing so.
Practical ImplicationsBecause satisfaction with web-based training can affect not only the successful completion of the training but also the individual’s probability she will transfer the training into the workplace, it is important for organizations to be mindful of using learner control when developing and implementing web-based training. Organizations should:
- Design the training with the trainee’s reactions in mind – ensuring individuals will react positively to the training is essential in ensuring trainee engagement and successful implementation in the workplace. This could also be useful to determine if employees will use the control they are granted appropriately, as trainees may not always make choices that will increase their learning/retention.
- Use some degree of learner control – allowing trainees to have some control, such as the ability to select presentation modes, start or pause the training, and review previous material may be beneficial.
- Make the features known to trainees – simply giving the trainee some instruction or education about the various learner control tools available and how to use them most effectively is necessary for the successful execution of a learner controlled web-based training program.
The DeGarmo GroupThis was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Orvis, K., Fisher, S., & Wasserman, M. (2009). Power to the people: Using learner control to improve trainee reactions and learning in web-based instructional environments. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94 (4). 960-971.