Application of theories, principles and methods of adult learning for managers to improve workplace reactions to learning, knowledge and performance

E. Joseph Steier, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The objective of this dissertation was to explore the concept that knowledge and application of theories, principles and methods of adult learning to teaching may be a core management competency needed for companies to improve employee reaction to learning, knowledge transfer and behavior as well as engagement, retention and profitability. Currently, the projected outcomes linking workplace learning to organizational performance through increased employee engagement, competency and empowerment are often not achieved (Awbrey, Feurig & Kontoghiorghes, 2005). The literature review and conceptual framework for this dissertation centered on the growing research termed "leaders as teachers" and further defined teaching competencies for leaders through a set of adult learning theories, principles and methods. The application of this idea was tested through the creation and deployment of Signature Healthcare's educational training program for managers, which included web-based modules and activities linked to principles and methods of adult learning, learning styles, facilitation versus traditional teaching, effective teaching methods, improved communication, establishment of learning cohorts, and application and demonstration of teaching skills. To assess its impact on improving workplace learning and performance within the subject organization, a randomized experiment was conducted in which individual and organizational performance was evaluated using Donald Kirkpatrick's Four-Level evaluation system as the theoretical framework (D.L. Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2006). The researcher examined how the new teaching competency for managers impacted the reactions to learning (Level 1), knowledge transfer (Level 2), key individual behaviors (Level 3), and collective operational performance including employee engagement, retention, and overall company profitability (Level 4) when managers deployed this new teaching competency within the normal course of business in the workplace. ^ This competency extended from the formal training situations to all activities of daily business. Having this teaching competency eliminated the dependency on corporate for training materials and directives, which reduced costs. Further, the trainers improved their performance over time. Training that incorporated the new competency improved participant reaction to training, increased knowledge transfer, changed employee behavior to reduce resident falls, and positively affected aspects of employee engagement. Employee retention improved and when extrapolated to the entire organization, a cost savings of $1.9M could be realized. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Education, Adult and Continuing|Psychology, Industrial

Recommended Citation

E. Joseph Steier, "Application of theories, principles and methods of adult learning for managers to improve workplace reactions to learning, knowledge and performance" (January 1, 2010). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3421848.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3421848

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