The transfer of knowledge to or from an individual, to or from groups, and to or from organizations can be instrumental in enhancing the overall performance of an organization. Organizations can benefit from enhanced employee performance by realizing increased productivity and profitability.
Transfer of training is a phenomenon of persistent application of the learned behavior by the trainees in the training process to their job. This learned behavior comprises of knowledge, skills, cognitive and creative strategies. The generalization of training and the maintenance of learned skills form an important component of transfer of learning. Generalization is the trainee’s potential to utilize all the skills and knowledge (verbal knowledge and psychomotor skills) on the work related problems and situations which are somewhat similar but not completely identical to the problems and situations encountered during training. Maintenance of the learned skills is to incessantly bring into play all the newly acquired capabilities.
There are several factors contributing to the whole process such as training design, trainee characteristics and work environment. Training design, as the name suggests refers to the physical characteristics of the learning environment as well as the sources utilized to train the trainee. Along with training design, the attitude of the training participants influences learning. The work environment plays a highly crucial role in determining the learning, retention and transfer of training. The execution of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes (KSA) the trainee has understood during the training depends largely on the support the trainee receives from managers, peers, and technology once he or she has returned to the environment in which the new skills, knowledge, and attitudes were intended to be applied.
Several aspects have been recognized that manipulate the degree to which understanding gained from the training programs transfers to the workplace. It has been seen that an important factor manipulating the transfer process is the degree to which the learner is given the chance of practice and is provided with productive feedback from the trainer.
Assessing training effectiveness often entails using the four-level model developed by Donald Kirkpatrick (1994). According to this model, training evaluation should always begin with reaction to the training (level one), and then, as time and budget allows, should move sequentially through learning, transfer, and results – levels two, three, and four. Information from each prior level serves as a base for the next level’s evaluation. Thus, each successive level represents a more precise measure of the effectiveness of the training program, but at the same time requires a more rigorous and time-consuming analysis.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development
Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1994). Evaluating Training Programs. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.