Factors Shaping the Learning Transfer from Training within Organisations21st August 2020
Transfer of learning can be defined as the process of applying the knowledge and skills gathered from a training session, on the real job role. The entire point of organisational training is to enhance the employees’ abilities and performances so that the organisational goals can be satisfied. In order to attain that, the knowledge and skills obtained from the training programs have to be actually implemented in a positive manner. However, often times, despite conducting thorough training sessions, the employees are unable to see positive growth in their respective performances. That said, it is essential for one to have an understanding of some of the factors that can influence the level of learning transfer that can be carried out. In fact, there are a few theories of training that can be considered in terms of their ability to shape the degree of learning transfer that can be executed.
- The Theory of Identical Elements: This theory asserts that learning transfer can be effectively conducted if the skills covered in the training session are similar to the skills needed for the job. This saves time as the learners are closely exposed to the skills and knowledge that will enable them to thrive in their respective roles.
- Structure: The structure and sequencing of the training session also plays a key role in determining the degree of learning transfer. It is essential for the trainers to emphasise the topics and knowledge that are relevant to the job roles, and are hence covered with extra attention and time.
- Cognitive Theory of Transfer: According to this theory, the extent to which learning transfer occurs is largely reliant upon the learners’ cognitive ability to comprehend, retain, and apply the skills and knowledge. In order to capitalise on this, the learning materials and lessons must be covered in a way so that the content can be easily interpreted and retained by the learners.
- Motivation: Motivation plays another crucial role in influencing learning transfer. If the learners are able to enjoy the sessions and find relevance in the content, then they will willingly apply them to see positive outcomes. However, demotivated trainees will never bother to absorb the knowledge, let alone transfer it to their roles. This can be secured by resorting to a right mix of financial and non-financial motivational strategies such as bonuses, promotion, empowerment, recognition, and a blend of other useful factors.
- Resources: In addition, the access to resources and learning materials will also play a significant role in regulating the degree of learning transfer. If poor technology or inexperienced trainers are hired to run the training sessions, then the learning objectives can never be met, and learning transfer can hence become a remote possibility.
- Management Support: Coupled with access to resources, consistent support and encouragement from the management to apply the acquired skills and knowledge will inject the employees with the confidence to experiment with the new skills gathered from the training sessions. If the management itself is sceptical about change, and prefer the traditional methods, then the employees will be afraid of deviating from the expected normal.
- Company Culture: The company culture is another factor that partially conforms with the level of support from the management. Organisations with a change resistant learning culture will struggle to implement the new learnings, and learning transfer will hence be hampered.
- Pre-existing Knowledge: The employees’ pre-existing knowledge and skills are important. Skilled employees who have a thorough understanding of various perspectives and experience may find it easier to soak up the new knowledge, and even be smart enough to apply them in their respective roles.
These are some of the factors that can be taken into consideration when assessing the level of learning transfer that is unfolding within the organisation. However, while some of these factors may be applicable in a certain organisation, they may not feature in other cases. The degree of learning transfer is often viewed as an indicator for measuring the effectiveness of a training program. Therefore, for impactful training to take place, learning transfer should be an inevitable consequence.