Tip #820: Measuring Learning Transfer

Research suggests that learning fails to transfer, in most cases, because there is an inadequate support climate, rather than there being a failure in the learning intervention itself.” Matthew Channell

We design training with the goal that the skills learned will transfer back to the worksite. Unfortunately, research shows that less than 20% of the skills and knowledge acquired in training result in behavioral changes in the workplace. There are many factors that contribute to this dismal result.

In 2000, a group of researchers led by Elwood Holton published the Learning Transfer System Inventory (LTSI). It focused on 16 specific factors that influence the transfer of learning from a training event to the workplace. The LTSI was the first empirically-tested instrument that showed the validity of these factors.

The LTSI assumes that the majority of learning transfer is a social process that occurs when individuals find meaning or motivation to learn and apply what they have learned in specific situations, when supervisors and the organizational environment support that application.

Of the 16 factors, there are 11 factors that relate to the specific training program being evaluated for transfer effectiveness:

1.Learner readiness: the extent to which respondents feel prepared to enter and participate in the training

2.Motivation to transfer: the direction, intensity, and persistence of effort toward using learned skills and knowledge in a work setting

3.Positive personal outcomes: whether the respondents feel that applying training on the job leads to positive outcomes

4.Negative personal outcomes: the extent to which respondents believe that not applying skills and knowledge learned in the training will lead to negative outcomes

5.Personal capacity for transfer: the extent to which respondents feel they have time, energy and mental space in their work lives to make the changes required to transfer learning to the job

6.Peer support: the extent to which peers offer reinforcement of new training and support their colleagues in using new learning on the job

7.Supervisor support: the extent to which respondents feel their supervisors offer support and reinforcement of training on the job

8.Supervisor sanctions: the extent to which supervisors are perceived to impose sanctions when respondents apply newly learned skills on the job

9.Perceived content validity: the extent to which respondents feel the training content accurately matches their job requirements

10.Transfer design: the extent to which respondents feel the training has been designed and delivered so that it fosters learning transfer to the job

11.Opportunity to use: the degree to which respondents feel they were given resources that enabled them to use their newly learned skills on the job

The LTSI also includes 5 general factors that apply to any training program:

12.Transfer effort performance expectations:  measures the respondents’ expectation that the effort devoted to transferring learning will result in improved job performance

13.Performance outcomes expectations: determines the respondent’s expectation that changes in job performance will lead to valued outcomes

14.Openness to change: measures the extent to which the respondent believes that implementing new knowledge and skills is encouraged or discouraged by their organization or their peers

15.Performance self-efficacy: measures the respondent’s belief that s/he is able to change his or her performance at will

16.Performance coaching:  measures both formal and informal feedback from an organization about an employee’s job performance

Awareness of these 16 factors can help you design curriculum and create a learning culture that is more likely to encourage and support learning transfer.

[Note: I cannot find any site that offers the LTSI, although I find many articles indicating that it has been translated into any number of different languages. If you know where to find/purchase the LTSI, please let me know and I will repost the information. Thank you!]

May your learning be sweet.


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