Tag Archives: learning and development

Next OzLearn Tweet Chat is on 13/5/14


On Tuesday 13th May at 8:00pm AEST (UTC +10hrs), @OzLearn is having its next monthly twitter chat. The topic for the chat is based on the third article in a series written especially for OzLearn by Jonathan Kettleborough (@JKettleborough):

Alignment Requires Consistency

The chat will be moderated by Con Sotidis (@LearnKotch) and the questions will be around the need for L&D to be consistent with the needs of the business.

To join the chat, go to Twitter at 8pm on 13/5, search for @OzLearn and join in the conversation (don’t forget to add #ozlearn to your tweets).

There is also an OzLearn LinkedIn group where you can view the Storify of the chat afterwards.

Hope you can join us for the chat!

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2014 in OzLearn


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Next OzLearn Tweet Chat is on 8/4/14


On Tuesday 8th April at 8:00pm AEST (UTC +10hrs), @OzLearn is having its next monthly twitter chat. The topic for the chat is based on this article written especially for OzLearn by Jonathan Kettleborough (@JKettleborough):

Alignment Requires Clarity

The chat will be moderated by Tanya Lau (@TanyaLau) and the questions will be around the need for L&D to have clarity about the business in order to be aligned with the business.

To join the chat, go to Twitter at 8pm on 8/4, search for @OzLearn and join in the conversation (don’t forget to add #ozlearn to your tweets).

There is also an OzLearn LinkedIn group where you can view the Storify of the chat afterwards.

Hope you can join us for the chat!

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 3, 2014 in OzLearn


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Enhancing Learning Experiences

At a recent L&D Meetup, we were talking to each other about what we’d been working on since we last caught up. A couple of friends were discussing changes to the Privacy Act and the e-learning courses that have been developed to communicate these changes to the employees in their respective workforces.

The industries I’m talking about here are finance and insurance so I’ve no doubt each of the Legal Departments have been frantically enforcing the necessary amendments to the systems/policies/procedures across each organisation. It also sounded like the e-learning modules contain everything there is to know about the privacy legislation! They were saying that there hadn’t been too much direct focus on privacy for a while but these changes had breathed some life back into the area and now it was more urgent to make people ‘aware’.

I was reflecting on this on the weekend (actually, I was vacuuming my place at the time and I was thinking about the night before) and I know these legislative/compliance type topics are generally quite dry – although it’s no excuse to blame your content  – and normally compliance means that employees will be ‘forced’ to complete the learning. So, we’re already on the back-foot because most employees won’t really want to do it to begin with. This highlighted to me two important and often neglected areas of learning design – motivating people and sustaining the learning afterwards.



I’ve written a couple of posts about motivation and Ryan and Dec’s self-determination theory (SDT) of motivation before. At this point feel free to do one or more of the following:

  1. Click here and here to read the previous posts.
  2. Keep reading this post for a summarised version of the previous posts and some strategies for improving motivation in e-learning.
  3. Scroll down to the Sustaining the Learning section.

Essentially, the SDT focuses on the degree in which behaviour is self-motivated and self-determined. We all have three basic psychological needs:

  • Autonomy (a sense of being in control and having freedom)
  • Competence (a sense of being able to do something), and
  • Relatedness (a desire to be associated or connected to others).

Contexts that satisfy these needs will result in more sustained motivation over time. If we apply this theory to e-learning and we use strategies to support these needs in the design of the course, we can improve learner motivation even if they are required to complete a course by their organisation.

How can this be achieved in practice?

Here are five examples, with some practical applications that I came up with:

1. Give people some control as they work through the module or course.

  • Let them choose how they navigate through the course
  • Give the option to skip parts that they already know
  • Provide opportunities to explore different parts of the course.

2. Allow people to make meaningful choices and pursue challenging goals

  • Use branching scenarios that have consequences for decisions made
  • Increase the difficulty of challenges as the person works through a topic
  • Offer rewards based on challenges completed rather than screens visited.

3. Provide opportunities for collaboration between learners

  • Get people working together on tasks/activities that help develop competence
  • Provide topic discussion areas and space to share resources or to ask questions.

4. Keep the stakes low and allow practice

  • Provide multiple opportunities to apply the material they are learning to context specific situations
  • Give them time to repeat practice activities until they succeed
  • Provide tools and aids that can be used during the course and then back on the job.

5. Provide regular, meaningful feedback throughout the learning experience

  • Let people know how they are going and where they are up to

Motivation is important in any learning experience. If we can help satisfy the psychological needs of our people, we can improve their motivation towards the course they are completing even if they have to complete it.


Sustaining the Learning

Often when we complete an e-learning course (or classroom course, for that matter) it’s confined to a defined period of time. There may be a build up to the course but then once learners complete it, and are deemed ‘competent’ it’s back to work. Move on. They’ve been trained. The box has been ticked.

Sustaining the learning after an event, be it online or classroom, presents a real opportunity for us in L&D. All too often, in my experience, after people complete a learning event they go back to work and it’s business as usual. Surely we can do more to sustain what has been delivered and bring about some meaningful change? If we just do things once in a course, it will be forgotten if the information is not reinforced.

Last year, I read some interesting blog posts by Craig Taylor who implemented a campaign approach to compliance training in an organisation he worked for. I thought this was a wonderful idea so I floated doing something similar with our compliance program to our risk and compliance officer. It hasn’t been done before in my organisation and the good news is that I’m getting support from others and things are building (I’ll write a dedicated post about it in the next month or so).

Using social tools and creating opportunities for networking and sharing knowledge are other powerful ways that can sustain learning over the longer term. Maybe if we did this, we wouldn’t need so many courses?

How do you motivate your people towards learning and sustain it afterwards in your organisation?


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Next OzLearn Tweet Chat is on 11/3/14


On Tuesday 11th March at 8:00pm AEDST (UTC +11hrs), @OzLearn is having its next monthly twitter chat. The topic for the chat is based on this article written especially for OzLearn by Jonathan Kettleborough (@JKettleborough):

Why L&D can’t ignore alignment anymore.

The chat will be moderated by Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) and the questions will be around how aligned L&D is to business.

To join the chat, go to Twitter at 8pm on 11/3, search for @OzLearn and join in the conversation (don’t forget to add #ozlearn to your tweets).

There is also an OzLearn LinkedIn group where you can view the Storify of the chat afterwards.

Hope you can join us for the chat!

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 10, 2014 in OzLearn


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Need for Cognition

The topic for this post comes from what I discovered about Need for Cognition (NFC) during my Educational Psychology studies in late 2013. I found this topic area quite interesting and I wanted to share some of the research findings from the journal articles that I read.

What is Need for Cognition?

John Cacioppo and Richard Petty proposed that NFC was “the tendency for an individual to engage in and enjoy thinking” (1982, p.116). For Cacioppo and Petty, NFC was about the level of motivation towards cognitive activity (the process), rather than achieving cognitive clarity (the outcome). In addition, people high in NFC are characterised by active exploring minds that reach out and draw information from their environment.

Measuring NFC

According to Cacioppo and Petty, variations in individuals NFC were conceptualised as falling on a continuum from low to high need or, to put it another way, people who are cognitive misers to those who are chronic cognizers. The word ‘need’ in this context refers to a likelihood or tendency as opposed to a biological or sensory need. In order to measure one’s NFC, they developed the Need for Cognition Scale (1982). Across a series of studies, Cacioppo and Petty developed a 45-item NFC Scale and found that test anxiety and social desirability biases did not affect the outcome. Examples of items from the scale include:

I am very optimistic about my mental abilities

Learning new ways to think doesn’t excite me very much

I think primarily because I have to

Over time, shorter versions of the NFC Scale have been developed e.g. an 18-item scale which was used in several articles.

Several researchers have studied the relationship of NFC to other constructs:

NFC and Personality

In a study conducted by Fleischhauer, Enge, Brocke, Ullrich, Strobel & Strobel (2009), they investigated the relationship of NFC and personality. The five-factor model (FFM) of personality describes five broad dimensions of human personality, which are:

  1. Extraversion – the tendency to experience positive emotions, be assertive, sociable and talkative.
  2. Agreeableness – a disposition of compassion and co-operation.
  3. Conscientiousness – a tendency to show self-discipline, be organised and dependable.
  4. Neuroticism – the tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily.
  5. Openness – being open to experience, adventure, unusual ideas and curiosity.

Results showed that “NFC is not only related to open-minded, goal orientated, conscientious ad emotionally stable behaviour but a general tendency to actively invest cognitive resources independent of context” (p.90).

NFC and Intelligence

Fleischhauer et. al. (2009) conducted a second study that investigated the relationship between NFC and intelligence. They examined NFC and fluid intelligence (gF) which is the ability to solve novel problems and also crystallised intelligence (gC) which is intelligence accumulated over a lifetime. The results showed positive correlations both gF and gC and higher correlations with gF than gC.

In another study into NFC and intelligence, Hill, Foster, Elliott, Shelton, McCain & Gouvier (2013) also found positive correlations between gF and gC.

In addition, Hill et. al. (2013) also examined the relationship between NFC and working memory (WM) which they define as the “cognitive ability to hold information in mind for a short period of time for the purpose of mental manipulation and processing” (p.23). WM has been linked to higher levels of general intelligence, particularly gF. However, this study found that NFC was not related to WM at all.

NFC and Complex Problem Solving

Nair, U. K. and Ramnarayan (2000) investigated the relationship between NFC and the ability to solve complex problems. They defined complex problems as “mostly non-routine and for which well-defined solutions do not exist” (p.307). The participants for this study were managers spanning seven-hierarchy levels and across six functional areas of a metal-processing plant.

They found that an increased NFC lead to more effectiveness in solving the complex problem and for those with higher NFC, problem solving became easier.

NFC and Decision-Making Competence

Carnevale, Inbar and Lerner (2011) wanted to find out if NFC and leadership experience were moderators of leaders susceptibility to bias when making decisions. They examined for dimensions of decision-making competence:

  • Susceptibility to framing which is when two equivalent problems produce a different response due to variations in the language used to present the problem.
  • Confidence calibration which is the extent to which confidence matches accuracy across various judgements.
  • Consistency in risk perception which is the way in which people perceive the level of risk when making decisions.
  • Sensitivity to sunk costs which is the amount of willingness to continue with a course of action once resources are invested.

Results showed that leaders high in NFC were less affected by task framing and less swayed by sunk costs than those low in NFC. There was no correlation with better confidence or more consistent risk perception.

What causes variations in NFC from person to person?

In reviewing the journal articles that I have found many of them look to examine and measure adults in order to determine their level of NFC on the scale i.e. somewhere between low and high. The articles do not necessarily investigate how people developed their level of NFC.

How this motivation is developed or is where is may have come from remains unclear. However, Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein and Jarvis (1996) suggest that intrinsic motivation is an antecedent (a preceding circumstance or event) to assist with understanding NFC and literature on intrinsic motivation would be a useful starting point. They also suggest that motivation towards learning via observation and experience and an ability to cope with problems through reasoning could be developed in childhood years.

One theory of motivation that may be useful in examining NFC is Ryan and Deci’s self-determination theory (SDT). According to SDT, engaging in activities for their inherent satisfaction and that are enjoyable are said to be intrinsically motivating (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Unlike other motivation theories, extrinsic motivation (engaging in activities that lead to a separable outcome) is not a single construct; it exists in four distinct forms according to the extent to which the motivation for the behaviour emanates from one’s self. In other words, extrinsic motivation can be viewed by the degree to which it is controlling of one’s behaviour (external) or allows one’s behaviour to be more autonomous (internal).

SDT proposes that all humans require the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs (Ryan and Deci, 2000), namely:

  • Competence (a sense of being able to do something i.e. being competent),
  • Autonomy (a sense of being in control and having freedom), and
  • Relatedness (a sense of being associated or connected to others).

Contexts that satisfy all three basic needs will help support people’s actions, resulting in more sustained motivation over time and positive outcomes. Therefore, conditions that assist with the internalisation of motivation towards engaging in cognitive activity can help develop need for cognition in individuals. Cacioppo et al. suggest that the development of NFC may be enhanced by “the construction of contingencies that foster both cognitive development and feelings of enjoyment, competence and mastery thinking” (1996, p.246). This is consistent with the SDT approach to motivation.

What are the implications of NFC for learning and development?

In terms of NFC and learning and development, the research into the implications is virtually non-existent. However, there may be benefits from the creation of conditions that stimulate individual’s intrinsic motivation for thinking and reflecting. All too often, courses are streamlined to reduce time away from working and while necessary could be a source of frustration for those high in NFC. In order to cater for these individuals, perhaps additional material or access to additional resources should be provided so those high in NFC can still have their need satisfied.



Cacioppo, J. T. and Petty, R. E. (1982). The need for cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 42(1), 116-131.

Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., Feinstein, J. A., Blair, W. and Jarvis, G. (1996). Dispositional differences in cognitive motivation: The life and times of individuals varying in need for cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 197-253.

Carnevale, J. J., Inbar, Y. and Lerner, J. S. (2011). Individual differences in need for cognition and decision-making competence among leaders. Personality and Individual Differences. 51, 274-278.

Fleischhauer, M., Enge, S., Brocke, B., Ullrich, J., Strobel, A and Strobel, A. (2009). Same or different? Clarifying the relationship of need for cognition to personality and intelligence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 36(1), 82-96.

Fleischhauer, M., Strobel, A., Enge, S. and Strobel, A. (2013). Assessing implicit cognitive motivation: developing and testing an implicit association test to measure need for cognition. European Journal of Personality. 27, 15-29.

Hill, B. D., Foster, J. D., Elliott, E. M., Shelton, J. T., McCain, J. and Gouvier, D. (2013). Need for cognition is related to higher general intelligence, fluid intelligence, and crystallized intelligence, but not working memory. Journal of Research in Personality. 47, 22-25.

Nair, U. K. and Ramnarayan, S. (2000). Individual differences in need for cognition and complex problem solving. Journal of Research in Personality. 34, 305-328.

Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 25, 54-67.


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Ultimate Personalisation

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Andrew Jacobs called Turn and Face the Strain. It was about the lack of ability of L&D to be innovative and provided some reasons that hold us back from doing things differently – from being disruptive. It’s definitely worth a read.

After I read the post, I shared a link to it on twitter:


To which Andrew replied:


I commented that for me it was my confidence but in reality it’s also for the reasons he mentioned in his post. It can be hard to change and try something different.


I thought about this and replied:


By this I mean L&D solutions within my organisation. To which he responded:


It got me thinking, what would Ultimate Personalisation look like? Here’s a list of what I came up with, in no particular order:

  • Talking to new employees a few weeks after they have started to see how they are settling into our organisation and finding out what support they need for their role.
  • Gaining a better understanding of our employees and the environment in which they work by spending time with them on-the-job i.e. getting away from my desk and going to where the work is being done.
  • Talking directly with the employees whose managers or supervisors say they need ‘training’ and find out what the real issues/gaps are.
  • Following up employees who have completed courses or been to conferences to find out what they’ve learned, how they’ll apply it and how we can share this knowledge/skills with others in our organisation.
  • Creating informal workplace networks that encourage the sharing of ideas and experience between employees.
  • Creating customised learning solutions for individuals and teams and not generic ones.
  • Curating resources on a range of topics and encouraging employees to share and add to the collection and importantly, making the information easily accessible by those who need them, when they need them.
  • Providing personal development opportunities on topics not related to work e.g. general interest topics.
  • Working with top performers from within our organisation and encouraging them to share the ‘secrets of their success’ with others.
  • Being a learning role model myself within our organisation by sharing, participating and collaborating.

What else could Ultimate Personalisation be?

I’ve started to do some of these things and I’ll write more about it in the coming months.

I’m sometimes frustrated because I think that I’m not in a position of influence. The reason being is that I’m not in charge, I’m not the manager/supervisor. But, this is an excuse because I can still be influential from where I sit in our organisation.

What other ways can we be disruptive?

Footnote: While putting this post together, I came across another great blog post worth reading Status Quo Sucks by Shannon Tipton that talks about a need for L&D to do things differently.


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Outputs vs. Outcomes

“Understanding the difference between outcomes and outputs is important.

Outputs relate to what we do. Outcomes refer to what difference is there?

Outputs include:

  • Facilitating workshops
  • Delivering training
  • Developing products, curriculum and resources
  • Conducting assessments

In the past we’ve tended to focus on outputs. We are anxious to tell others what it is we do, the services we provide, how we are unique and who we serve. We’ve done a good job of describing and counting out activities and the number of people who came to them.

Now, however, we are being asked what difference does it make? This is a question about outcomes”.

The above text comes from a document that is on display in my work area (along with our Team Charter). I agree with what it’s saying but unfortunately our work unit, myself included, didn’t take much notice of it (along with the Team Charter). The report that went to our Director to summarise our activities for 2013 was full of x participants attended this course, y participants attended that course and so on.

Outputs are easy to quantify. While our team did all of the above things what difference did it make?

What value did we add to the organisation?

Outcomes are about impact. Outcomes are harder to determine. But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make them real. I’m not a big resolution person but given that it’s early 2014, I’d like to put more focus on the outcome this year and beyond, on making a real difference.

Does your Learning and Development department talk about and share their outcomes? I’d love to hear your examples, please share below.

Make a difference


Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Learning and Development


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