If you work in the workplace learning-and-performance field, one of your jobs is to ensure that employees are maximizing their cognitive performance, their decision making, and their overall work output. If people’s cognitive abilities decreased with age, that would be a problem. More importantly, if we can improve our employee’s cognitive abilities, we have a responsibility to do just that. The benefits will accrue to our organizations and to our employees too (and probably then to their families and society at large).

This begs the following questions then:

  • “Is there research in refereed scientific journals that provides evidence for cognitive decline as people age?”
  • “Is there research in refereed scientific journals that provides evidence that we can help improve people’s cognitive abilities as they age?”

I’ve created a short 4-item quiz for you to test your knowledge in this area. Take the quiz. When you are done it will return you directly to this blog post (is that cool or what)?

Take the Quiz. Test your Knowledge of Aging’s Effect on Cognitive Ability.


Click here to take the quiz


The quiz is based on an article by Christopher Hertzog, Arthur F. Kramer, Robert S. Wilson, and Ulman Lindenberger.

HEY, what are you doing? Go take the quiz first. There’s research to show that the sort of questions I ask in the quiz will actually help you remember this topic. Doh!

The article by Hertzog, Kramer, Wilson, and Lindenberger is in Volume 9—Number 1 in the refereed scientific journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest that was just published in 2009. The title of the article is: Enrichment Effects on Adult Cognitive Development Can the Functional Capacity of Older Adults Be Preserved and Enhanced?

HEY, really. Go take the quiz first!!

Both of my parents (75+) are doing everything right according to the article.


Cognitive ability does tend to decline with age. See graph from the article:


But notice that though AVERAGE cognitive ability declines there are wide ranges. And since I’m 51 years old as I write this, I’d like you to note that maximum cognitive performance seems highest near 50 years of age.

Can Cognitive Ability be Improved?

Yes, these researchers conclude that it can. Although they admit that more research is needed.

What Can Improve Cognitive Ability?

Well, they didn’t look at everything that might impact cognitive ability, so we don’t have a clear picture yet.

They highlighted the strongest findings in their conclusion:

“The literature is far from definitive, which is no surprise given the inherent difficulties in empirically testing the enrichment hypothesis. However, we believe there is a strong and sound empirical basis for arguing that a variety of factors, including engaging in intellectually and mentally stimulating activities, both (a) slow rates of cognitive aging and (b) enhance levels of cognitive functioning in later life.” p. 41
“What is most impressive to us is the evidence demonstrating benefits of aerobic physical exercise on cognitive functioning in older adults. Such a conclusion would have been controversial in the not-too-distant past, but the evidence that has accumulated since 2000 from both human and animal studies argues overwhelmingly that aerobic exercise enhances cognitive function in older adults. The hypothesis of exercise-induced cognitive-enrichment effects is supported by longitudinal studies of predictors of cognitive decline and incidence of dementia, but also by short-term intervention studies in human and animal populations. The exercise-intervention work suggest relatively general cognitive benefits of aerobic exercise but indicates that cognitive tasks that require executive functioning, working memory, and attentional control are most likely to benefit.” p. 41

They also noted some other more-tentative findings:

“…these data support the idea that a higher level of social engagement is related to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia in old age. The basis of the association is not well understood, however.” p. 33

“…these data suggest that chronic psychological distress may contribute to late-life loss of cognition by causing neurodeteriorative changes in portions of the limbic system that help regulate affect and cognition, changes that do not leave a pathologic footprint (e.g., dendritic atrophy) or whose pathology is not recognizable with currently available methods. These changes, when extreme, might actually be sufficient to cause dementia, but it is more likely that they contribute to cognitive impairment and thereby increase the likelihood that other common age-related neuropathologies are clinically expressed as dementia” p. 36

“…in observational studies that examine more than one lifestyle factor, cognitive activities appear to be the strongest predictor of cognitive change. However, this could be the result of several factors, including the following: (a) Rarely are physical activities characterized in terms of intensity, frequency, and duration; (b) the period across which activities are assessed has been different for cognitive and physical activities; (c) with one exception, activities have been treated as unidimensional in nature. Clearly, these issues require additional consideration in future studies.” p. 39

They also offer a word of caution about software programs that are marketed as ways to improve cognitive ability:

“The majority of software programs marketed as enhancing cognition or brain function lack supporting empirical evidence for training and transfer effects. Clearly, there is a need to introduce standards of good practice in this area. Software developers should be urged to report the reliability and validity of the trained tasks, the magnitude of training effects, the scope and maintenance of transfer to untrained tasks, and the population to which effects are likely to generalize. Arriving at thisinformation requires experiments with random assignment to treatment and control groups, and an adequate sample description. Just as the pharmaceutical industry is required to show benefit and provide evidence regarding potential side effects, companies marketing cognitive-enhancement products should be required to provide empirical evidence of product effectiveness.” p.48

So, to answer the quiz questions:

1. What happens to most people’s cognitive abilities as they age from 50 years onward? Answer: Declines with age.

2. Is there valid research evidence from scientific refereed journals that suggests that people can improve their cognitive outcomes by engaging in certain activities? Answer: Solid evidence, but still some controversy.

3. Which of the following have been shown to improve cognitive ability as people age. Answer: The article didn’t cover all the territory, but the strongest evidence is for (1) mentally and intellectually challenging activities and (2) aerobic physical activity.

4. Imagine that you work for a company that consists of a substantial number of workers over the age of 50. If you had a set budget to spend to improve their cognitive functioning, which of the following investments would garner the greatest results? Answer: Well, the research review does NOT compare the differences between (1) mentally challenging activities, (2) aerobic exercise, and (3) social engagement. However, see their overall conclusion below, which suggests that intellectual engagement and physically activity are key.

Their overall conclusion:

“We conclude that, on balance, the available evidence favors the hypothesis that maintaining an intellectually engaged and physically active lifestyle promotes successful cognitive aging.” p.1

More research on benefits of exercise:

“Unlike the literature on an active lifestyle, there is already an impressive array of work with humans and animal populations showing that exercise interventions have substantial benefits
for cognitive function, particularly for aspects of fluid intelligence and executive function. Recent neuroscience research on this topic indicates that exercise has substantial effects on brain morphology and function, representing a plausible brain substrate for the observed effects of aerobic exercise and other activities on cognition.” p. 1

They cite the potential for training interventions:

“…cognitive-training studies have demonstrated that older adults can improve cognitive functioning when provided with intensive training in strategies that promote thinking and remembering. The early training literature suggested little transfer of function from specifically trained skills to new cognitive tasks; learning was highly specific to the cognitive processes targeted by training. Recently, however, a new generation of studies suggests that providing structured experience in situations demanding executive coordination of skills—such as complex video games, task-switching paradigms, and divided attention tasks—train strategic control over cognition that does show transfer to different task environments. These studies suggest that there is considerable reserve potential in older adults’ cognition that can be enhanced through training.” p. 1

But they offer a warning against one-shot interventions:

“There is no magic pill or no one-shot vaccine that inoculates the individual against the possibility of cognitive decline in old age. As noted earlier, participation in intervention programs is unlikely to affect long-term outcomes unless the relevant behaviors are continued over time.” p. 47

What do we have to do?

Well, if we take our job seriously, we ought to heed the research. We can improve our fellow employees cognitive abilities as they age, so we ought to figure out how we might support that.

I certainly haven’t got this nailed but if your company is interested, I think it would be fascinating to see what we might do.

It has been my pleasure and privilege to co-teach several learning measurement workshops with Dr. Roy Pollock, and to follow the important work that he and his colleagues have done at The Fort Hill Company over the years. I acknowledged their work by awarding Cal Wick, Fort Hill's Founding Father, the Neon Elephant Award back in 2006. I've also reviewed their ground-breaking book, The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, and have recently reviewed their new book, Getting Your Money's Worth from Training and Development.

Now, I have captured Roy in a video interview, that I think you'll enjoy and learn from.

You can purchase the book by clicking on the link below:

Again, I highly recommend the book. Read my book review to see how much.

I got an email today from someone asking me about a term I created called “Evaluation Objectives.” I realize that I have not actually written anything for public consumption on this, SO this blog post will suffice until my book on workplace learning is released. Apologies if the following is not completely clear.

The basic idea is that we ought to have evaluation objectives rather than learning objectives in the traditional sense.

Specifically, we need to decouple our learning objectives from our evaluation objectives so that what we evaluate is directly relevant. Of course our evaluation objectives and learning objectives have to
be linked, but not necessarily with a one-on-one correspondence.


Suppose you want to train managers to be better at championing change efforts.

Traditionally, we might have objectives like:

The learner will be able to describe how people tend to resist change.

Or, put in a more performance-oriented fashion, a traditional objective might read:

The learner will engage in activities that lessen colleagues’ resistance to change.

Examples of evaluation objectives might be as follows:

The learner will initiate a change effort within one month after the training ends and be successful in getting 75% of his/her colleagues to sign a public statement of support for the effort.

OR, if real-world compliance cannot be assessed, an evaluation objective might be something like:

2. In the “Change-Management Simulation” the learner will score 65 points out of a total possible of 90.

OR, if a simulated performance can’t be created, an evaluation objective might focus on ratings by employees.

3. Two months after the training ends, the learners’ colleagues will rate them on average at least 4.5 (of 6 levels) on the multi-rater 360-degree change-management scale on each of the 5 indices.

OR, if this can’t be done, an evaluation objective might focus on a series of scenario-based questions.

4. On the 20-question scenario-based quiz on change management given two weeks after the course ended, the learner will get at least 17 correct.

NOTE: More than one evaluation objective can be used for any learning intervention.


Evaluation objectives are NOT tied to individual learning points that have to be learned, though of course they are linked because both should be relevant to the overarching goals of the learning program.


When objectives focus on the big picture, as compared to when there is a one-to-one correspondence between learning objectives and evaluation items, (1) they are more relevant, (2) the learners are more likely to see them as valuable and worth achieving, (3) organization stakeholders are more likely to see the evaluation results as having face validity, (4) the evaluation results will give us additional pertinent information on how to improve our learning interventions.

Eric Shepherd, CEO of Questionmark, asks a great question on his blog.

"As Learning and Assessment Professionals What Could We Have Done to Prevent the Financial Crisis?"

Click to check it out.

Eric provides a great list of things on the learning side. I added some things as well.

I'm a great believer that we all have some ability to influence, so I'm inclined to say, "YES," we could have done some things better.

Not that we have control. Not that others aren't more responsible. Certainly the incompetence of the former presidential administration, the deregulatory mindset we'd bought into, the senior management we work for. But, we could have done some things differently. What do you think?

The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is now famously known for making seriously contaminated products, killing 9 since September 2008 and sickening almost 700 others.

You all know that. What you may not know is that PCA was inspected by the leading certifying agency in the food industry on multiple occasions and was given glowing reviews.

Here is what the Washington Post reports:

David Mackay, Kellogg's chief executive, said his company trusted
audits performed by the American Institute of Baking International, the
biggest food-inspection firm in the country. The institute conducted
scheduled inspections of PCA's facilities and never flagged serious
problems. It issued a "certificate of achievement" and a "superior"
rating last August, when PCA was getting results from internal
laboratory tests that revealed a salmonella problem in its plant in
Blakely, Ga., congressional investigators said.

Many well-known companies (including Kellogg) trusted outside food auditing firms to test the ingredients they were sourcing for their own products. Others, like Nestle, sent their own auditors and rejected PCA products after finding rat droppings, beetles, and other detritus in PCA's products.

Not surprisingly, PCA paid American Institute of Baking International to perform the audits (AND to certify PCA as in compliance).

Lessons Learned

  1. When a company pays an auditor, the auditor may have incentive to be lenient.
  2. When a company relies on outside inspectors to assess other entities, they may not get good information.
  3. When an industry fails to provide good oversight and regulation, bad things can happen.
  4. Just because something is certified, even by the largest or most prestigious certifying body in an industry, doesn't mean the certification can be trusted.
  5. It's not just about good people, it's also about good structures, oversight, and information.

Is this Relevant in the Training & Development, Learning & Performance Field?

Yes. You bet. We have:

  1. Awards that are biased toward those paying award application fees.
  2. Top 10 and Top 20 lists that represent the awarding entity's client list.
  3. Industry research based on surveys sent to the research entity's clients' client lists.
  4. Industry research that is biased toward the research entity's biggest clients.
  5. Conference sessions that are guaranteed for companies who pay for exhibit space.
  6. Webinars by sponsoring organizations.
  7. Etc.

Unfortunately, there is no trusted journalistic institution in our field. Our trade organizations are timid because commercial interests pay the bulk of their operating expenses. Most of our bloggers (me included) are timid because we earn our living in the field. Where the hell are the freelance bloggers who our social-media evangelists promised would rise up to fight corruption and injustice?

Best Advice in Current State

The best advice at this point in time is:

  1. Be skeptical.
  2. Do your own digging. 
  3. Form groups of other skeptical diggers and share information.
  4. Don't just get angry about this. It's the way the world works. Find work arounds.
  5. If you can't point fingers, gently avoid the corrupters.
  6. If you're entangled with a corrupting entity, gently work to reform it, or leave it.
  7. If you are a corrupter, forgive yourself, reform yourself.
  8. Do good work.

Nicholas Kristoff, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times has a problem. He wants to tell people about the genocide in Darfur but people tune out after a while.

Click here to see his latest attempt to keep our attention.

Click here to see his recent work on this topic with George Clooney.

Advice for Learning Professionals

As a learning professional, have you ever utilized "celebrity" to grab your learners' attention? I'm not necessarily talking about movie stars. What about a well-respected person in your company? Your CEO?

Of course, it's not always easy to get this right, but it's a tool we ought to have in our toolbox.

By the way, which link did you click first above? They're both the same…

This Friday February 6th, Dr. Roy Pollock will join me for a Brown Bag Learning Webinosh (short webinar) to talk about How to Build Measurement into Our Training-Development Processes.

We'll talk about this by reviewing our newly released job aid. Click the link below to get the job aid:

Building Measurement Into Your Training-Development Plan

Roy is co-author of the groundbreaking book, Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning, and the just-released book, "Getting your Money's Worth from Training-and-Development," which is fantastic by the way (see my blog post on this tomorrow).

Click to learn more about the webinar (or sign up now)…

Update May 2014

Sarah Boehle wrote an article that included Neil Rackham's famous story on the dangers of measuring training only with smile sheets. The story used to be available from Training Magazine directly, but after some earlier disruptions and recoveries at Training Magazine, their digital archive was reconstituted and currently only goes back to 2007.

Fortunately, you can read the article here.

I've been gathering a list of Myths that the Business Side Has about Learning.

I reached out to my clients, to groups in LinkedIn, to my Brown Bag Learning participants. I also reviewed some books, including Stolovitch & Keeps "Telling Ain't Training"; Doyle's "The Manager's Pocket Guide to Training", Bell's "Managers as Mentors". I also brought to memory my own recollections from over a decade of work and research on learning.

I compiled a list of about 140 myths and then used a card-sort methodology to separate them into categories.

Here are the results:

Everybody Hold Myths

First, it became clear that the Business Side isn't the only group that holds myths. Learners and we as Learning Professionals have our own sets of myths. We can't demonize the Business Side. We have to go out of our way to understand and work with the business side to craft workable effective solutions for our organizations and all the people impacted.

Let me say that sometimes I kind of regret that a distinction has to be made between us as learning professionals and them as the business side. There's something wrong with that distinction (we are IN the business aren't we), yet the dichotomy makes some sense since we support others who do the actual work of the business.

The Most Popular Myths
(that the Business Side Has about Learning, according to Learning Professionals)

These are in order from my card-sorting categorization effort. The most-often cited are listed first.

  1. Bad Learning Designs are Thought to be Good Learning Designs (big list below).
  2. Training Alone Produces Improvements in On-the-job Performance.
  3. Information Presentation is Sufficient as a Training Design.
  4. Training & Instructional Design Require No Special Skills or Competencies.
  5. Learners Know How to Learn.
  6. Managers Think Learning & Development is a Low-Priority Part of their Role.

Other High-Importance Categories

  • On-the-Job Learning is Forgotten or NOT Utilized or NOT Supported.
  • It’s a Training Issue (a conclusion drawn before considering alternative causes).
  • Formal Training has Little Impact.
  • Experienced Workers Don’t Need Training.
  • Development of Learning Interventions is Easy and Can be Shortened or Short-Changed.
  • Measurement of Learning. Miscellaneous Issues thereof.
  • Technology is Key to Learning Success.

Will's and Other Additions

  • Learning Designs Don’t Need to specifically Minimize Forgetting (Enable Remembering).
  • Content Doesn’t Need Validation.
  • Particular Behaviors are Easy to Learn (e.g., It's easy to do customer service).
  • Learning is Always Beneficial. It is Never Disruptive or Distracting. It Never Misinforms.
  • Opportunity Costs of Learning Can be Ignored.
  • We Don’t Have to Measure Learning.
  • We Have to Measure ROI.
  • We can Avoid Measuring Retrieval.

Short List of the Bad Learning Designs that the Business Side (and others I might add) Think Are Good Learning Designs

  • It is good to have new employee take all their elearning
    courses right away before starting work.
  • Employees ONLY learn by doing.
  • Reading is always bad, boring, and ineffective.
  • Training can be just as effective if we make it as short as
  • Training doesn’t need pre-work or post-work.
  • A large library of courses or books is the way to go.
  • Employees need to know everything.
  • We should and CAN cater to learning styles.
  • Latest management craze (provide book to everyone).
  • Six-hour online courses are fine.
  • Some learning media are inherently better than other
    learning media.
  • Best value in training is a 10 to 12 hour day.
  • More information = More learning.
  • People remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see…
  • Most communication is by body language (57% is body
    language, only a small fraction communicated is in the actual learning
  • We need more exciting visual decorations to grab attention.
  • Immediate feedback is always best.
  • Etc.


The first thing to do is to demonize everyone and give ourselves kudos for our wisdom,  conscientiousness, and whimsical charm.


The first thing to do is to take responsibility. Just as a speaker must take responsibility to ensure that his or her listeners are understanding the intended message (even though much is out of the speaker's control), we must take responsibility for ensuring that our business stakeholders (1) understand learning at a deep level, (2) understand how they can ensure that training is applied successfully on the job, and (3) understand how they can create a work-learning environment that supports employees in learning on their own, from each other, and from their managers.

I got started on this myth gathering as a way to help me build a course for a client (a very large company) to help them improve work-learning at their company top to bottom, including formal and on-the-job learning.

Will this be easy? No. Someone today at my Brown Bag Webinosh asked, "Haven't we been trying to bust these myths for decades?" Great question, and it goes to the difficulty of the task. Many of us have been trying for decades to make changes, but I think also that many of us are just doing our little part as order takers. We build learning interventions when asked. So, bottom line is that I think we could try harder. That's the first thing.

We need to try smarter as well. I've learned over the years, when I've tried to communicate complicated research-based information, that it is critical to find just the right metaphor, just the right visual model, just the right explanation that is both simple and robust to get the job done.

Maybe human learning and performance is just too complicated to enable this, but I think it's worth a try to build some better metaphors, models, and explanations.

We also need to continue to offer research, real-world examples, and valid evaluation results as evidence. We also need to understand our business partners and their mental models and build our case within their frameworks, so they get what we're saying. We need to build into our training-development process our stakeholder-education efforts and our stakeholder-understanding efforts.

Reaching Out

If your company has created a learning intervention to help your business managers better understand learning and their role in it, I'd love to learn more. Contact me.

If your company would like to utilize or co-develop such a learning intervention, feel free to contact me now.

Complete Lists of Myths That the Business Side Has About Learning
(according to Learning Professionals)
(Note that these are offered "as is" with typos, etc.)

  1. "learning" is the accountability of the Training
    or Development Department or staff, rather than a leadership responsibility
  2. 1 and done – one class and they'll know everything
  3. 1 or 2 day management training seminar can turn an
    ineffective manager in to a high performing one.
  4. A best practice is to "get all the PPLs out of the
  5. A business gives a metrics pass to the learning group
    because “that stuff can’t be measured” and is then puzzled.
  6. A learning buffet (large library of courses) is the way to
  7. A learning group is not integrated with those responsible
    for performance support.
  8. a test is need to prove the learners
    ""know"" it
  9. Any set of questions will do. There is no need to check to
    see which ones are good measures and which are not.
  10. Anyone can train someone else therefore anyone can create a
    training course.
  11. Asking a performance leader (someone good at their job) to
    deliver on the job training should not diminish that performer's output
  12. Bad Learning Designs are Thought to be Good Learning Designs
    (big list below).
  13. best value in training is a day 10 or 12 hours long.
  14. Build it and it will run: it's vital to get IT involved
  15. Build it before or without any needs assessment.
  16. Butts in seats is all that matters
  17. Content Doesn’t Need Validation.
  18. Context doesn't matter; just teach everyone the right steps
    to a task
  19. Courses without organizational support are okay.
  20. customer service is easy to teach.
  21. Delivering or presenting instructional content (via ILT or
    online courseware) is sufficient to elicit improved performance in the
  22. Different media create different learning results.
  23. Don't bother with objectives; just present the content.
  24. E-learning development is fast
  25. e-Learning isn't learning.
  26. E-Learning takes 1/3 the time of classroom instruction, so
    it should only cost 1/3 as much to create
  27. electronic learning is just as effective as in person
  28. Employees can't manage their own learning successfully
  29. employees need to know everything.
  30. Employees only learn by doing.
  31. everyone learns the same way (often the way that the manager
    best learns
  32. Everyone learns the same way, so only one style of learning
    is required..
  33. Experienced Workers Don’t Need Training.
  34. Facilitators can develop great courses
  35. Formal (scheduled, structured, SME-created) learning
    interventions are the best means of conveying knowledge and skills to our
  36. Formal Training has Little Impact.
  37. Getting certified by taking a training class alone
  38. Hands-on training is okay if it just enables
  39. Help mgmt solve problem, not just do workshop
  40. I already know it so I don't need to go to training.
  41. I attended a training class so I don't need to practice it.
  42. I attended a training class so I must know how to do it.
  43. I don't have to take part.
  44. I don't need to go through training, I just need my people
  45. I know everyone had different learning styles, but I learn
    hands on.
  46. I left them a to-do list–they should follow it. No follow
    up required.
  47. I need new folks to start immediately. No time for training.
  48. I should see immediate results on my bottom line the first
    day after training
  49. idea sharing is a good form of learning
  50. If ""they"" can do it,
    ""they"" can train it.
  51. If I tell all of my people what to do in a meeting, they'll
    do it and won't need reminders or additional training
  52. If someone doesn't know how to do something I will just do
    it myself because it's faster than teaching
  53. If someone is trained on something they will be able to
    easily figure out how to apply it to their current job without any guidance
  54. 'if we build it they will come
  55. I'll figure it out on my own so therefore I don't need to go
    to training.
  56. I'm a Director/VP so I don't need to go.
  57. I'm a visual learner – I can only understand it if I see it.
  58. in hard economic times it makes sense to cut training.
  59. Information makes for learning
  60. Information Presentation is Sufficient as a Training Design.
  61. Interactive eLearning is only for Gen X or younger. Older
    folks won't get it.
  62. It has to be interactive
  63. IT training still needs vaildation if the training is
    presented from a task point of view. Must ensure that the steps taught are the
    steps needed to complete the task.
  64. It’s a Training Issue.
  65. Its a training issue
  66. It's better if I just have someone show them how to do it.
  67. It's easy for people to change if you train them right
  68. It's okay for the training function to be order takers.
  69. I've been promoted so I don't have to go to training.
  70. Just send me the handouts/training materials and I'll figure
    it out.
  71. Lack of cultural sensitivity for global audiences
  72. Lack of performance results mostly from lack of skills or
  73. latest management book or craze (providing book to everyone)
  74. Learners have misconception that they don't have
    responsibility to go beyond listening.
  75. Learners Know How to Learn.
  76. Learners know what they need
  77. Learning Designs Don’t Need to specifically Minimize
    Forgetting (Enable Remembering).
  78. Learning Development is Easy and Can be Shortened or
  79. Learning does not happen outside the classroom
  80. learning is a luxury. 
    We hired smart people.  Just work.
  81. Learning is Always Beneficial. It is Never Disruptive or
    Distracting. It Never Misinforms.
  82. Learning P's. don't understand that learning happens on the
  83. Learning should not take a lot of time away from work.  And people should be able to do self-study
    for almost everything
  84. Learning/Training is the responsibility of other departments
    — NOT the responsibility of the managers.
  85. Let's give them a book or seminar on the topic and they'll
    be all better.
  86. Live virtual programs (LVC) are most effective when they are
    recorded without an audience and made available for playback
  87. Managers think it's more valuable to create multiple SMEs as
    opposed to structured learning.
  88. Managers Think Learning & Development is a Low-Priority
    Part of their Role.
  89. Measurement of Learning Misc. Issues.
  90. Money not available
  91. More information provided, more learning.
  92. more/better training will solve the problem
  93. Most communication is by body language (55%) and tone of
    voice (37%) rather than choice of words (7%). [This is a bastardization of
    Mehrabian's studies.]
  94. My reports went through e-learning. I don't need to do more.
  95. My time is valuable, I don't have time to take a training
  96. need a class [to practice the stuff]; I already read it
  97. Non-business people shouldn’t be involved in business
    decision making
  98. Not just test scores!
  99. On the job training happens without structure or reward or
  100. one size fits all" approach
  101. Only paper and pencil tests (i.e., multiple
    choice/true-false) are adequate for regulatory purposes to prove that the
    learner has mastered the content.
  102. On-the-Job Learning is Forgotten or NOT Utilized or NOT
  103. Opportunity Costs of Learning Can be Ignored.
  104. Other High-Importance Categories
  105. Particular Behaviors are Easy to Learn.
  106. People can learn how to use software from a cheat sheet.
  107. people can learn without being made self-aware about their
    own level of competence.
  108. people know "how" to learn
  109. People's overall learning doesn't matter, I just want them
    to do the task right
  110. Performers should be assessed immediately after they have
    received the content from an instructor or from a courseware program.
  111. PowerPoint with narration is good enough.
  112. PPL completion rate is the way to measure quality of
  113. PPLs and in-store activities are useless – we need to do
    hands-on training "instead".
  114. presentation = training
  115. Pyramid.
  116. Quantify and communicate the value
  117. Reading is always bad, boring, ineffective.
  118. Regulatory and credentialling agencies create good tests.
  119. Reports generated by a Learning Management System (LMS) are
    sufficient for monitoring the learning-to-assessment-to-performance continuum
    in our workplace.
  120. Role plays are a waste of my time.
  121. Seen IT buy ""learning"" w/o consultitng
    HR or Training dept
  122. Six-hour online courses are just fine. i.e. no
    acknowledgement of information overload erasing what is learned.
  123. SME's are the best trainers, and Trainers are always the SME's":
    Pulling an SME to deliver training just because they know the most isn't always
    the most effective approach.
  124. SME's or developers make the best (or even competent)
  125. So often what is perceived by mgmt as good training is
    attributed to the skills of a good presenter, not to training design.
  126. successful performance during training usually results in
    improved otj performance.
  127. Technology is Key to Learning Success.
  128. Technology is key to learning success.
  129. Tell me what I need to know and that's enough.
  130. tell once, people know it.
  131. tell them and they'll do it.
  132. Telling is all we need to do."
  133. Telling somebody once means they will remember it AND apply
    it to their work.
  134. That "presentation" = "training".
  135. That stakeholders will see imediate results (i.e. less than
    1 year).
  136. The best way to design is to use the "present and test
  137. The biggest myth is that training alone will change people's
  138. The business believes that they can put an employee through
    training (be it live, web-based, etc.) and magically they will automatically
    put the skills into place
  139. the course alone will solve the problem
  140. the HR as a service provider model gives problems as your
    'client' is your customer – and the customer is always right
  141. The more slides, the better (death by PowerPoint)
  142. The only way to learn is on-the-job-training; spending money
    on training programs is a waste
  143. The skills of instructional designers and educators are
    pretty shallow and their key abilities are primarily related to instructional
  144. the training department can't help – they don't know our
    side of the business
  145. the training is bad
  146. there are learning styles
  147. There are way too many PPLs… but we need a PPL on
  148. There is no special knowledge needed to teach, design, or
    organize training
  149. They can learn all they need to know in (pick arbitrary unit
    of time)
  150. they don't realize the importance of reinforcement, repeat
    sessions, follow up
  151. They have a college degree so they already know it.
  152. They need a course in order to learn
  153. Think in-person learning is more effective than online
  154. too busy
  155. Training & Instructional Design Require No Special
    Skills or Competencies.
  156. Training Alone Produces Improvements in On-the-job
  157. Training can be just as effective if we make it as short as
    possible (one day instead of three days)
  158. training course will solve the problem.
  159. Training determines job content and tasks, not the
    supervisor or work center.
  160. training doesn't need follow-up
  161. Training doesn't need pre-work or post-work
  162. Training done to replace what managers should be doing
  163. training fixes everything
  164. Training is a cheap-quick-easy solution to a problem with my
  165. Training is common sense.
  166. Training is the responsibility of the organization that
    sponsors it and the trainer who delivers it.
  167. Training is time consuming and does not produce results
  168. Training isn't very important in my responsibilities.
  169. Training Just Happens
  170. Training takes too long.
  171. Training will automatically change behavior on the job
  172. Training willing workers creates willing and able workers.
  173. Training/teaching/telling = learning
  174. Trainings are luxury and sometimes seen as a cookie for the
    staff at a time no one really need it. Let them have some legal fun
  175. Try again, make sure you use the Access Code that is showing
    and follow by a # sign.
  176. verbal responses (for example to customers) are easy.
  177. We can Avoid Measuring Retrieval.
  178. we can send them an email.
  179. We can train people to do anything…
  180. we can train people to instantly recall anything.
  181. We can use common sense to guide training design.
  182. We can't bring in outside help – our industry is too
    specialized and our needs are too unique.
  183. We Don’t Have to Measure Learning.
  184. We don't have to look at the performance situation.
  185. We don't have to validate our content.
  186. We don't need to learn! We just need to prove we meet the
  187. We don't need to practice. Just tell them.
  188. We have no time allocated for training in our budget so it
    doesn't happen (mgr may not realize that a lot of training happens on the job –
    not only as a formal process where the employee sits at the computer).
  189. We Have to Measure ROI.
  190. We only hire people who know what they are doing, they don't
    need to learn anything, and if they do, they'll pick it up on the job
  191. we should automatically assume that an SME is ipso facto
    'the best trainer'.
  192. We should/can cater to learning styles.
  193. When things are not going well it is clearly a lack of
    skills and knowledge – so TRAIN them
  194. Why explain to all levels of employees how the organisation
    works, how the departments relate to one another, etc
  195. Why would I train my employees if they are already doing it?
  196. Why would I want to train my employees in specific
  197. You can develop a perfect course without SMEs.
  198. you can fix anything with enough training.
  199. You can’t teach people relationship skills (either they have
    them or they don’t)
  200. You don't need objectives, any one can write training.
  201. You either have the ability to learn or not.
  202. You have competence or not, then you learn it on the job.
  203. You need to use a technology to train people properly

Ideas Participants in My Brown-Bag Learning Event Offered on What We as Learning Professionals Ought to Do about the Myth Problem
(Note that these are offered "as is" with typos, etc.)

  • Our responsibility – gently guide. Present the right solution when asked for the wrong one
  • Give examples of whether X type of intervention has been successful
  • Offer performance solutions: this is what we can do (beyond training)
  • Bring out the research to dispel the myths
  • Develop solid business acumen and work, plan, collaborate from there
  • to educate clients
  • We need to discuss the learning models and theories that we support when appropriate
  • We should be advocates for learners
  • We should questions their thinking, ask for evidence
  • Provide real evidence of success.
  • educate, communicate, inform
  • We have to walk a fine line between sticking to the ""truths"" we know, yet dealing tactfully with management's myths.
  • myth busters
  • Don't be an order taker
  • I have found that the RIGHT manager can make a difference. Sometimes change can come from within, by working to influence a middle manager.
  • Have proof/case studies of effects of good design and guidance.
  • Don't wait to be invited to clarify them. Anticipate the reality and invite yourself to the table.
  • Sell our clients on our skills and recommendations. It keeps coming down to convincing management about the value of what we have to offer.
  • As learning professionals we need to promote the effort to focus on what is needed to improve performance.
  • To have a clear focus and mission for learning in our organizations, and to be able to communicate clearly, with supporting information.
  • Dealing with these myths is our reality and part of scoping a project and defining target and objectives realistically… all the time…

Donald Kirkpatrick Answers Questions. Click to view.