Learning theories in Training and Development - Training and Development

How do people learn? Although experts can't agree on a single learning theory, T&D Designers need to know certain core theories. Since experts can't agree, you might ask, "Why worry"? Well, T&D designers need some learning theory upon which to base the activities they specify in the learning systems they create.

Professional instructors need some theoretical basis from which to operate. Consultants and administrators, who serve as change agents for the client organization, need a theory about learning if they are to produce change. After all, change begins with learning that there may be a better way. But which learning theory should you use? Chances are you will use many theories and do what must be done to help people change. By observing your successes and failures, you will develop an eclectic but consistent learning theory of your own.

This can help you launch your growth toward that objective. Newcomers can think of opportunities to try out these ideas; old-timers can guard against the temptation to dismiss them because they're unfamiliar, or because they tried them once and they didn't work the first time.

Here,we take a closer look at representative theories and research on learning inHuman Resource Development (HRD); these are based in large part on the work of Richard Swanson and Elwood Holton (2001). First, five meta-theories of learning are discussed. Then, representative midrange learning theories at the individual and organizational level are reviewed.

So our learning objective reads: "After reading this chapter, the reader will comprehend the similarities and differences among four learning theories: Sensory Stimulation, Reinforcement Theory, Facilitation, and Andragogy." An application objective would be: "Will develop a personally satisfying and realistic theory about helping others learn."

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