Neon Elephant Award 2009

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21st December 2009

Neon Elephant Award Announcement

Dr. Will Thalheimer, President of Work-Learning Research, announces the winner of the 2009 Neon Elephant Award, given this year to Ruth Clark for her many years in leading the workplace learning-and-performance field with research-based insights and recommendations, and—by so doing—helping to professionalize our field.

Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…


2009 Award Winner – Ruth Clark

Ruth Clark, EdD, a recognized specialist in instructional design and technical training, holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology from the University of Southern California. Prior to founding CLARK Training & Consulting, Dr. Clark served as training manager for Southern California Edison. She is past president of the International Society for Performance Improvement and author of six books and numerous articles. Dr. Clark is the 2006 recipient of the Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional Achievement Award from ISPI. Ruth is the author of numerous books, searchable at under her full name Ruth Colvin Clark, including:

  • The New Virtual Classroom: Evidence-based Guidelines for Synchronous e-Learning,
  • Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load,
  • e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning,
  • Graphics for Learning: Proven Guidelines for Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Visuals in Training Materials,
  • Developing Technical Training: A Structured Approach for Developing Classroom and Computer-based Instructional Materials,
  • Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement. Click to purchase it here: Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement

In addition to her lifetime of work, she is honored this year for the 3rd edition of her excellent book, published just a little over a year ago, Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement. Although this is said to be the 3rd edition, the research cited is fresh and up-to-date. This book may be Ruth’s masterwork. It covers a wide swath of the learning research. It’s written by a research translator at the height of her powers. It’s a must-read (and must-study) for everyone in the field of workplace learning-and-performance.

It’s not easy to examine learning research from refereed scientific journals and compile it so that it is practical for others. The time commitment is incredible, the research skills must be of the highest caliber—and it requires guts and gusto. Some of what the research reveals cuts against the common wisdom. Sometimes it chaffs and brings angst and heat. Ruth’s continuing perseverance over the last three decades is testament to her passion and tenacity. Her work itself is testament to her integrity and skills.

I would imagine that over the last two decades there is no one in our field who has improved the work of as many instructional designers, trainers, and e-learning developers as Ruth Clark. For me, she continues to be a beacon—proof that research-based work is valued by our profession. For our field, Ruth’s work is simply indispensible.

Using evidence-based reasoning and recommendations is not just useful in practice. It is what respected, successful professions are based on. We owe Ruth Clark our most grateful thanks.


Click here to learn more about the Neon Elephant Award…