The Work-Learning Research Privacy Policy

We will not share your information with anyone at anytime!

There are two exceptions to this rule.

1. If you give us written permission to:
(a) share your thoughts, ideas, or questions;
(b) use your words as a testimonial; or
(c) share your story or experience,
then we will share your information in the manner mutually agreed.

2. If you purchase something from us using your credit card, we will share your information with your credit-card company over a highly-secured connection for the purpose of authorizing the transaction.

At Work-Learning Research, our effort to provide the learning-and-performance field with trusted research depends upon our unwavering integrity and respect for the rights of others. We will do everything we can to uphold this integrity, including a strict adherence to this privacy policy.

Work-Learning Research Mission

Work-Learning Research, founded in 1998, works in the learning-and-performance field, bringing research knowledge to practice and practicality to research.

We help instructional designers, e-learning developers, trainers, and performance consultants develop a practical understanding of the human learning system and utilize research-based knowledge to build effective learning-and-performance solutions.

Our central objective is to improve learning-and-performance practice by bridging the chasm between practitioners and researchers. We provide instructional designers, trainers, performance consultants, and other practitioners with research-based knowledge that they can trust to be practical and effective. We also work with researchers to promote the development of a viable body of applied research.

Why is Evidence-Based Practice Needed?

For too long, the training and performance fields have jumped from one fad to another—from the “pellet-reinforced” programmed learning technologies to the “the-learner-knows-everything” adult learning theory; from the “put-the-handcuffs-on-me-please” instructional-systems-design methodology to the “this-will-sound-really-impressive” neuro-linguistic programming. The list goes on and on.

What’s sad is that most (though not all) of these fads have something valuable to offer. So why do we swing from one to another? Because we have no anchor that grounds us, no firm footing from which to make a stand about what works and what doesn’t.

Work-Learning Research was founded to provide the field with a clear understanding of the human learning system; to energize researchers to create a practical body of knowledge; to motivate practitioners to demand verifiable, research-based information to guide their design decisions.

Only when each and every one of us have this understanding—the vital mental models of how learning works to produce performance—only then will we find our footing. Only then will we be able to deflect the fads, separate effective ideas from marketing claims, and provide our learners with the best possible learning and performance experiences.

Will’s Vision

Will envisions a learning-and-performance field where well-respected professionals apply their deep understanding of human learning to issues of productivity, innovation, management, personal development, and social responsibility.

Learning events will be more than twice as effective as they are today.

Practitioners will hold themselves accountable by measuring their results and continually improving their instructional efforts.

Researchers will do more applied work and will compile their results into useful, practical, and readable prose.

The field will have a common body of knowledge required of all its participants.

Discussions of what works will be productive and evidence-based, pushing the field forward instead of bouncing it from one fad to another.

Researchers and practitioners will learn from each other. The field will include a large cadre of research-practitioners.

Salaries for practitioners will double.

Researchers who focus on applied work will be honored within the academy.


What Can You Do?

If you believe in this mission too, here’s some ideas for what you can do:

  1. Stay abreast of the research, reading research translations of the type provided by Dr. Ruth Clark and Dr. Will Thalheimer.
  2. Evaluate your own learning interventions (or have someone else evaluate them). Do this in a way that recognizes the importance of testing meaningful decision making after a realistic delay, and ensuring comparable conditions. Be skeptical of case studies and other anecdotal evidence.
  3. Question “new” learning methods. Be skeptical yet open.
  4. If you buy learning products or services, demand from the vendors some validation that their offerings actually will produce learning benefits.
  5. Stay in touch. When Will’s book comes out, there will be a visible shift in the direction of the industry. See See Will’s Blog.

Here’s some other stuff you might be interested in:

  — Our Research Principles

  — Representative Research Citations

  — Neon Elephant Award

  — Our Clients

  — Our Policies


Contact Information


Work-Learning Research, Inc.
2 Belmont Terrace
Somerville, MA, US




Click here to send an email…

Will’s Research Principles

Written in the first person so that each researcher can make a clear commitment to these goals.

  • Goals for My Research
  • I will aim to produce a definitive synopsis on each topic.
  • I will aim to write reviews that will withstand critiques from both researchers and practitioners.
  • I will seek a fresh perspective on every topic that I consider.
  • I will seek to understand the human functioning behind each phenomenon that I study.
  • Approaches to Doing the Research
  • I will keep practical application as a guidepost as I do my research and think about each topic.
  • I will seek out a wide range of articles for each topic.
  • I will examine the evidence to find the truth, limiting the influence of my prejudices.
  • I will approach each research article with healthy skepticism, understanding that:
    • Authors’ conclusions can be wrong, biased, or narrow.
    • The relevance of the article may be limited in scope.
    • Research articles may not generalize to the practice of training.
    • A single research article by itself is not worth much; a confluence of evidence is usually required.
    • Research articles may have methodological flaws and so may not be relevant. Sometimes, though rarely, these flaws may be tangential enough to be ignored or downplayed.
  • I will examine empirical research studies and not just review articles.
  • I will approach each review article with healthy skepticism, understanding that:
    • Reviews can be wrong.
    • Reviews can be limited in scope and thus not relevant.
    • Reviews may not generalize to the practice of training or workplace learning.
    • Reviews can inappropriately evaluate research articles.
  • Approaches to Doing the Writing
  • I will write in an engaging style that promotes interest, wonder, and a clear sense of what to do.
  • I will write so that practitioners will quickly and easily understand my points.
  • I will seek out researchers with relevant expertise to provide feedback and insight on the content.
  • I will seek out practitioners to provide feedback and insight on the writing and its practicality.
  • I will write a fair and balanced synopsis and let the reader know my level of certainty.
  • I will follow prescribed editorial guidelines.

Partial Client List

Air Force Institute of Technology
Allen Interactions
American Honda Motor Company
Americas Best Real Estate Education Corp.
Best Buy
Cathay Pacific Airways
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Chicago Transit Authority
Defense Intelligence Agency
Deloitte Consulting
eLearning Guild
Erie Insurance Group
Fairview Health Services
Federal Judicial Center
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Friesen, Kaye and Associates
Harvard University
Information Mapping
Intermountain Health
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Karta Technologies
Kauffman Foundation
Kronos Incorporated
Liberty Mutual
L. L. Bean
Medco Health Solutions
Midi, Inc.
Monitor Group
National Restaurant Assoc. Educational Found.
Nissan North America
Pacific Life Ins. Co.
Pennsylvania Association of Realtors
Putnam Investments
Questionmark Corporation
Renaissance Learning
Root Learning Inc.
Sacred Heart University
SoftAssist, Inc.
Strategic Management Group
Tufts University
Type A Learning Agency
United Healthcare
U.S. Postal Service
Walt Disney World
Wells Fargo Financial
Winnipeg Police Service


Invite Me to Speak!

I am sometimes available as a keynote speaker, workshop leader, webinar presenter, and instructional-design team-meeting facilitator.

I have spoken hundreds of times over the last 10 years at national and international conferences, including being an invited keynote speaker on numerous occassions.


Some of the organizations/groups where I have spoken:

  • International Society of Performance Improvement
  • American Society of Training and Development
  • E-Learning Guild
  • Canadian Society of Training and Development
  • Training Solutions Conference
  • Chicagoland Learning Leaders
  • Children’s Hospitals Exchange
  • Compliance and Ethics
  • Industry Trainers Conference
  • Training Conference
  • ITTC Conference
  • Questionmark
  • Isotrain
  • Microsoft
  • Intermountain Health
  • UNUM
  • Salem State University
  • Tufts University
  • MIT
  • ISPI Armed Forces Chapter
  • Association for Multimedia Communications
  • Documentation and Training
  • New England Learning Association
  • Distance Teaching and Learning


Testimonials from Conference Presentations

“Excellent presentation. Provocative. Interactive. Interesting. Best session of the conference for me.”

“This is the best session I have attended so far! Engaging, useful information presented in an interactive and humored way. I loved that Dr. Thalheimer had such a great sense of humor. Obviously, he is very knowledgeable and skilled. Thank you!”

“Very thought provoking and well done.”

“He’s great. I always attend a ‘Will Session.'”

“Charming passion. Thank you.”

“Outstanding! Love the research base, tempered by experience.”

“Thanks for leading the charge to use research productively in practice!”

“As ever insightful, engaging, inspiring. Thanks for delivering another outstanding presentation Will.”


“Excellent. Best presentation I’ve attended at the conference.”

“Great speaker. Relevant and engaging. Best seminar so far.”

“This was an excellent session and provided me with executable inexpensive information I can use right away.”

“Fabulous presenter. Have him do an annual something on research summary.”

“Great stuff! Got to the point quickly!”

“Excellent job and excellent material.”

“Very personable and engaging presenter. Lots of good info! Good use of humor, kept my attention.”

“Great session. Very informative and well presented.”

“Good research/data with practical application.”

“I have not rated any other workshop as highly as this workshop. The best, most useful & stimulating workshop I’ve attended at this conference.”

“Best workshop of the conference.”

“This was the best presentation I sat through all week! Recommend as encore presentation. I was completely engaged.”

“Outstanding!! Best of show!!”

“The best presentation so far.”

“Excellent presentation on a research topic which any one involved in e-learning should know.”

“Best I’ve attended!”

“Awesome. Only good speaker I have seen so far (w/ good content).”

“Excellent session where facilitator practiced what he preached.”

“New information!!! Great delivery!! Best session thus far!!!!”

“Great presentation, good citing of studies and real-life applications. Thanks!”

“Best session I’ve attended this week”

“Excellent presentation. Humor incorporated in the presentation made the information not only insightful but also enjoyable.”

“This was one of the best sessions I’ve attended. Bring him back to other conferences!”


Setting Up a Speaking Engagement

Contact me by phone at 888-579-9814 or by email.

Will’s Message:

I’ve been in the learning-and-performance field for almost 30 years, and have been running Work-Learning Research for over 15 years. In that time, I’ve learned that developers of instruction need practical advice, not academic jargon; that they need an in-depth understanding of underlying principles, not inflexible, oppressive rules; that they want validated information, not fluff. That the most important thing is to be open to learning, to bridge the gap between research and practice with a humble wisdom.

My goal is to utilize my research-based insights while tempering them with practical intelligence understood in specific learning and on-the-job performance contexts. Consulting for me is a mutual exploration, bringing together insights and knowledge from both party’s experience, knowledge, and on-the-ground understanding of how learning works to create performance.

Because I’ve spent years building rich and flexible mental models of how learning works; because I’ve been in the learning world on the practical side and on the business side; I tend to see solutions that others don’t see. I tend to create solutions that meet the needs of the learners and the organization. I don’t know everything of course, but if your organization needs another set of eyes, mine might be just what’s needed to take your work to the next level.

Potential Applications

Want to jumpstart your team by getting them thinking beyond their day-to-day grind?

Having a debate within your development team? Can’t figure out which learning design method to use?

Purchasing a new e-learning program and want to know how effective it’s likely to be?

Developing a new product or upgrading your old offerings, and want to ensure that you’ve considered all the options, especially those based on the deepest learning mechanics?

Ever wonder whether your instructional designs are effectively producing learning and performance results? Or whether they might be better?

Want to assure your boss or organization that your training designs utilize the latest research findings?

Is your team stuck in a rut? Producing the same learning designs over and over and over again?

Do your folks constantly fight about the same old design issues? Do they seem to speak different languages when it comes to developing your learning interventions? Want to get them all on the same page?

Do you want to know for sure how effective your learning interventions are? Willing to evaluate your efforts? Want to prove that what you’re doing is effective?

Has your team’s knowledge of instructional design grown worn and frayed? Need to revitalize the thinking?

Want to know what the research says?

Contact me, Will Thalheimer, at 888-579-9814 or through email.


Hi. This is Dr. Will Thalheimer. I teach all our workshops, most often alone, but sometimes with copresenters. My goal is to help your team build wildly more effective learning interventions, and my workshop designs reflect that. I begin with hard research, translated to make it practical. I help your folks build deep mental models of how learning works to generate on-the-job performance.

I keep the focus on the practical. I help prepare your learners to bring back wisdom to their workplace.

Workshops can be tailored to the needs of the specific client, audience, and workplace. We can go as deep as you want. I’ve provided short sessions covering a few narrow topics, or multiday intensives building actual learning interventions or learning-measurement practices.

Some Titles

  1. Performance-Focused Smile Sheets
  2. The Decisive Dozen — The Most Important Learning Factors
  3. Creating and Measuring Learning Transfer
  4. Research-Based Instructional Design
  5. Learning for E-Learning
  6. Using Questions to Facilitate Learning
  7. Writing Scenario-Based Questions
  8. Measuring and Evaluating Learning
  9. Situation-Based Learning Design
  10. Spaced Learning, Subscription Learning, Microlearning
  11. Immersive Learning Audit Workshop


Typical Workshop Design

  • All of our workshops are based on validated research and focus on practical learning-design decisions.
  • Our workshops can be tailored to the specific needs of our clients and workshop participants.
  • Workshops encourage learners to think and discuss, question and apply, and plan for putting ideas into practice.
  • We guarantee complete satisfaction.


Workshop Pricing

  • Pricing varies depending upon your specific needs.
  • Our workshops offer world-class information and are priced from this perspective.
  • We offer discounts to qualifying nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.


Workshop Options

  1. Have one or more of your learning programs evaluated with our proprietary research-based auditing process. Discuss results and brainstorm improvements as part of your workshop.
  2. Utilize online learning as the primary or secondary delivery method.
  3. Combine workshop with project work to create an action-learning intervention.
  4. Combine workshop with consulting to get recommendations on particular issues and situations.
  5. Combine workshop with research to delve into specific areas of interest.
  6. Combine workshop with program evaluation to get feedback on your current instructional offerings and develop plans for improvements.
  7. Utilize custom assessments to ensure that your participants are meeting standards.


Discuss Options

  • Contact me (Dr. Will Thalheimer) directly through email at or by calling 1-888-579-9814.


Why are Work-Learning Research Workshops Worth Considering?

  1. Your learning designers deserve a richly rewarding developmental opportunity.
  2. Your team will be challenged with new perspectives on learning and performance, enabling creativity and innovation.
  3. It’s a great way to get your team started on a new project.
  4. It’s a great way to energize your team or get the started in a whole new direction.
  5. Because the workshops are backed by the world’s best research, it’s a perspective you can trust—not just another fad-driven exhortation.
  6. Dr. Will Thalheimer brings a rare combination of instructional-design experience, management awareness, and research savvy to his work. He’s been in the field since 1985, working as an instructional designer, trainer, simulation architect, project manager, product manager, business leader, researcher, and consultant. Dr. Thalheimer brings depth, practicality, and a human touch to these workshops.

Leaders in the learning-and-performance field are beginning to move away from traditional notions of instructional design. The emerging model is based on having a deep understanding of human learning and performance. In the future, we’ll all design our learning interventions with an eye toward the human learning system. Work-Learning Research workshops will enable your team to lead the rest of the industry into the future.

The value of these workshops comes from their transformational properties. The way people always work constrains the way they see the world. To break out of our tattered views of learning, we need to be challenged to see things differently. Work-Learning Research workshops can get your team started on the road to innovation.

Transfer of Training Estimates

Have you heard or seen any of the following statements? And do you believe them?

“Only 10% of training transfers to the job.”

“Only 10% of the investment in training
actually transfers to the job.”

“Although $100 billion is spent on
training each year, only 10%
of these expenditures
result in transfer to the job.”

Similar citations have been used in both the research and practitioner communities. But is any of this information accurate? Robert Fitzpatrick’s cautionary tale about how an innocent rhetorical question became twisted into established fact should make all of us skeptical enough to question the veracity of the claims that we encounter.

The following article is reprinted with permission from the TIP Newsletter of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), a well-respected organization of Industrial/Organizational Psychologists. To learn more about SIOP, visit their website. To learn about the TIP Newsletter, a non-refereed publication of SIOP, visit

The Strange Case of the Transfer of Training Estimate

Robert Fitzpatrick
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Some time ago, a learning systems product development manager named David L. Georgenson set about to write an article on transfer of training, with emphasis on ways in which it might best be nurtured in organizations. To introduce his discussion, Georgenson hit upon the idea of asking a rhetorical question, thus: “How many times have you heard training directors say: ‘I…would estimate that only 10% of content which is presented in the classroom is reflected in behavioral change on the job’” (Georgenson, 1982, p.75). Georgenson had no need to, and did not, cite any evidence or authority for the 10% estimate; it is clear that he had used a rhetorical device to catch the reader’s attention. The estimate may or may not be accurate; it seems plausible but not compellingly so.

Georgenson’s article contains nothing about the dollar cost of training. There is no reason that Georgenson should have dealt with cost, and he did not.

In time, other authors wanted to write on transfer and to find some introductory way to convince the reader that transfer is indeed a problem worth writing about. And so were spawned a number of articles and books which used the estimate of Georgenson’s fictive training directors. Here are some examples in which Georgenson (1982) was specifically cited as the source:

“It is also estimated that only 10% of the dollars spent on training results in actual behavioral change back on trainees’ jobs” (Wexley & Baldwin, 1986, p. 503).

“It is estimated that while American industries annually spend up to $100 billion on training and development, not more than 10% of these expenditures actually result in transfer to the job” (Baldwin & Ford, 1988, p. 63).

“Less than 10% of [estimated expenditures on staff development] may produce behavioral changes on the job” (Alavi, 1994, p. 160).

“Georgenson (1981) [sic] estimated that not more than 10% of the $100 billion spent by industry actually made a difference to what happens in the workplace!” (Dickson & Bamford, 1995, p. 91)

“…given the finding that only 10% of training expenditures have been shown to result in behavioral changes back on the job” (Facteau, Dobbins, Russell, Ladd, & Kudisch, 1995, p. 2).

And there is more. Some writers on transfer did not cite Georgenson but did cite others who cited Georgenson. For instance:

“A recent comprehensive survey of research and literature by Timothy Baldwin and Kevin Ford found the following:…It is estimated that while American industries annually spend up to $100 billion on training and development, not more than 10% of these expenditures actually result in transfer to the job…(1988, p. 63).” (Broad & Newstrom, 1992, p. 7)

“Timothy Baldwin and Kevin Ford (1988, p. 63) report: ‘Not more than 10% of these expenditures [on training] actually result in transfer to the job.’” (Robinson & Robinson, 1995, p. 3) See also Fitzpatrick (1996).

In most of these examples, the 10% figure is accurately identified as an estimate, though words such as “finding” and “report” do appear. But almost all refer to $100 billion, though Georgenson’s imaginary training directors said nothing about expenditures. If they had, one supposes they would have made some adjustment for inflation over the years.

All the writings cited here so far come from 1996 or earlier. I found most of them through the Social Science Citation Index. Soon, the search process became burdensome and the returns seemed to be diminishing. I put the information aside, with the thought that, like the black plague of long ago, the epidemic of transfer estimates had run its course.

But recently I caught up with the April 2001 issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology. There, in the introductory paragraph of an otherwise enlightening article, it says: “U.S. businesses spend upwards of $100 billion annually on formal and informal training activities (Georgenson, 1982). However, it is estimated that only 10% of these training expenditures result in transfer of training to the job (Georgenson, 1982).” (Smith-Jentsch, Salas, & Brannick, 2001, p.279)

So the plague is back. Or perhaps it never went away. Some will say it doesn’t matter. It’s only introductory fluff, not centrally germane to the main thrust of the topic which it introduces.

But others may argue that it does matter. If we can’t trust the introductory citations, how can we then accept the more weighty citations and ideas which follow? And sometimes the introductory matter is important in itself; if Georgenson had said that only 90% of what is taught is transferred to the job, isn’t it less likely that we would have read his article (or funded his study of transfer) in the first place?


Alavi, M. (1994). Computer-mediated collaborative learning: An empirical evaluation. MIS Quarterly, 18, 159–174.

Baldwin, T. T., & Ford, J. K. (1988). Transfer of training: A review and directions for future research. Personnel Psychology, 41, 63–105.

Broad, M. L., & Newstrom, J. W. (1992). Transfer of training: Action-packed strategies to ensure high payoff from training investments. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Dickson, D., & Bamford, D. (1995). Improving the interpersonal skills of social work students: The problem of transfer of training and what to do about it. British Journal of Social Work, 25, 85–105.

Facteau, J. D., Dobbins, G. H., Russell, J. E. A., Ladd, R. T., & Kudisch, J. D. (1995). The influence of general perceptions of the training environment on pretraining motivation and perceived training transfer. Journal of Management, 21, 1–25.

Fitzpatrick, R. (1996). [Review of the book Performance consulting: Moving beyond training]. Personnel Psychology, 49, 188-191.

Georgenson, D. L. (1982). The problem of transfer calls for partnership. Training and Development Journal, 36 (10), 75-78.

Robinson, D. G., & Robinson, J. C. (1995). Performance consulting: Moving beyond training. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Smith-Jentsch, K. A., Salas, E., & Brannick, M. T. (2001). To transfer or not to transfer? Investigating the combined effects of trainee characteristics, team leader support, and team climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 279-292.

Wexley, K. N., & Baldwin, T. T. (1986). Posttraining strategies for facilitating positive transfer: An empirical exploration. Academy of Management Journal, 29, 503-520.

End of article by Robert Fitzpatrick

To see the original article online, go to:

…Will Thalheimer continues the discussion below…

Implications for the Learning-and-Performance World.

Obviously, we should ignore the 10% number. More broadly, we need to be sure we’re not basing our instructional-design and performance-improvement decisions on faulty information. There’s lots of it out there. We need to find information we can trust and we need to develop ways to check the validity of the claims that we encounter.


Hello! This is Dr. Will Thalheimer.

Since founding Work-Learning Research in 1998, my goal has been to help my clients maximize the effectiveness of their learning interventions and learning environments, while also working to improve our field. I do this by exhaustively compiling research from the world’s preeminent refereed journals on learning, memory, and instruction—and translating that research with practical wisdom.

Through my speaking engagements, workshops, e-learning benchmarking, and consulting, I help enlightened clients build world-class learning programs.

I can help your organization build wildly more effective learning too.

Feel free to contact me at 888-579-9814 or by emailing me.

Or you can check out my work at my other websites: