Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Agents of change: A new role for learners in online workplace training
by Warren, Kathryn Lloyd, Ph.D., Capella University, 2014, 168; 3625946
Abstract (Summary)

Workplace training design has evolved from a task-based systems framework managed by the designer, to a collaborative process of problem-solving that includes stakeholders across the enterprise. Collaborative design models address persistent problems, such as cost efficiency, requirements that change late in development, and aggressive timetables, but perceptions of training effectiveness continue to be pessimistic. Given the substantial role of employees in making training effective, by transferring what they learn to their day-to-day responsibilities, this study proposed an emergent design model in which designers collaborate with employees as partners in solving training design problems. Previous efforts to include employees in training design have faltered, because of time and resource requirements which limit participation or greatly expand timelines. This study investigated the potential of broad employee participation, through the widely-used medium of organizational surveys, in which employees are invited to suggest ways to improve their work environment. The study applied a three-phase, mixed methods approach, to investigate whether survey text responses contain viable input into training design, and to explore the nature of that input in terms of major themes about workplace training, and detailed input reflecting employees' experience of online training. Nearly 90,000 text responses were accepted into the study, from industries that include pharmaceuticals, retail, manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services. Analysis exposed the inherent conflict between the designer's focus on training delivery, and the employees' focus on transferring what they learn to their jobs; and a widespread organizational conflict between leadership compensation tied to short-term financial metrics, and long-term strategies that drive infrastructure programs such as workplace training. Responses across all industry sectors in the study reported limited management support for training, which is nonetheless essential to employees' job performance. Responses described online training that makes only minimal use of the basic functions of computer technology. The study validates earlier research questioning workplace training effectiveness, with evidence suggesting that training programs are constrained by organizational challenges that cannot be solved by designers alone. The study suggests that organizations can involve their employees in addressing the conflicts that limit training effectiveness, through design partnership using survey responses.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sims, Rod
Commitee: Francis, Bruce, Medley, Mike
School: Capella University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Instructional Design, Educational technology, Vocational education
Keywords: Critical realist, Mixed methods, Online, Organizational survey, Text mining, Training
Publication Number: 3625946
ISBN: 9781321003680
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