AIMING FOR SUCCESS IN EDUCATION, TRAINING, And Learning

In the design of an education and training programme of learning, the best results are likely to stem from following a number of ground rules: [21]

• Feedback is of critical importance. The trainee must be informed continu­ally during training of his or her performance at different levels of learning. Over time, some trainees can become adept at using feedback to accelerate their learning.

• As far as possible the trainee must be prevented from using incorrect meth­ods. If a trainee makes a mistake at some point, the trainer should ensure that this is used as feedback to show where improvements can be made.

It is not overly helpful if errors are repeated as these may act as negative reinforcement and adversely influence the learning. Only in exceptional cases should the incorrect method ever be demonstrated (and then clearly indicated as ‘how not to do it’), as this can easily become entrenched in the learner’s memory and mixed up with the correct method.

• The trainee should be able to control the teaching pace in order to match it to his or her own learning progress. This is often overlooked, but is a key feature of so-called learner-centred approaches. The trainees’ learning is often positively influenced when the learner has greater control over the pace of learning (see Paulsson, Ivergard, and Hunt, 2005).

• Motivation is also essential for a successful process of learning.

For the learning of mainly manual motor skills (in this context including feet, legs, and other limbs), the ordinary five sense organs do not play an especially large role. More important are other feedback systems such as the natural sensors included in the human muscles that are able to sense changes in tension, speed, and accelera­tion (a kind of tacit experience melded with tacit knowledge). Thus from the very beginning, it may often be suitable to insist on accuracy being as high as possible. Allow a slow speed to start with, to facilitate the learners’ confidence in their perfor­mance. As training progresses the speed can be increased (again bearing in mind a learner-centred approach in which learners have control over the pace of learning). In sensory-motor work (for example, a combination of touch and muscular recep­tors), there are complex control problems that play an active role in coordination of hand movements and muscle activity. In such situations it is often better to maintain a predetermined speed from the start and to let accuracy improve as skill improves. In such a ‘lockstep’ approach, development of the two skills in parallel will be mutu­ally supportive of the learning.

In mainly intellectual training, it is especially important to be able to control one’s own learning pace. Part of the benefit of learners controlling their own pace is to allow reflection on accumulated knowledge (see, for example, Kolb, 1984). Naturally, people have their own preferred styles of learning and it is helpful if trainers can iden­tify these at an early stage. This also assumes that the trainer knows how to facilitate different styles of learning and how best to accommodate these in, for example, syl­labus and curriculum design, teaching style, and in practical learning assignments.

There is relatively little information on training and the process of learning for control room operators. However, research has shown that performance of certain types of control room tasks increases if the operator has some technical and factual knowledge of the functioning of the process (Ivergard, Istance, and Gunther, 1980).

Another description of training and learning in control room work emphasises the importance of not dividing up the work into too much detail. In one type of process it may be self-evident to the trainee operators what one does when starting up a certain process unit. In such a case it may only be necessary to say ‘Start up process X’ in the specification. Most people will know how to attend to turning knobs and operating keyboards. It is therefore unnecessary to divide these subtasks into even smaller units such as open the cover, turn the knob, slacken the nut; one need only say ‘Change printer page’ instead, if this is the job in question. Figure 11.1 shows an example of suitable division of jobs at different levels in order to give a basis for training.

Regarding training programmes for older people, it is important to remember some simple rules:

1. Allow plenty of time for training.

2. Allow self-determination of learning pace.

3. Combine verbal and written information; verbal instructions alone are often inadequate.

4. Provide opportunities for practical work early in the training process (learn­ing by doing).

5. Avoid mistakes occurring early in the training (correcting mistakes/errors by doing it right).

AIMING FOR SUCCESS IN EDUCATION, TRAINING, And Learning