The Factors That Affect Training Design

A host of factors influence the design of training. These range from the conceptual, such as a clear definition of training outcomes, to the practical, such as logistical considerations. By addressing key issues before and during the design phase, the training designer can both increase course effectiveness and speed implementation.

Overall Goals of Training

Identify the domain of learning to be targeted: knowledge, skills, attitude or behavior. Determine if specific skills are to be taught that will require practice and can be measured. If the training is oriented toward attitude or behavior, consider if any emotional factors may be addressed.

Learning Objectives

Determine the specific desired outcomes of the training by answering the question: Upon completion of this training, what should a participant know and be able to do? Define what constitutes successful course completion. Identify the core skills, knowledge and attitudes that are at the heart of the course.

Course Content

Determine the amount of research and the expertise needed to develop and teach relevant, timely and up-to-date content, as well as the length of time that the content will maintain its relevance. Other factors affecting course content are both the total number of trainees and the optimal number that can be taught at one time. The best learning method for the material being taught will also influence the course's content.

Course Lifetime

Determine the course's schedule, including frequency of training, as well as a way to test the objectives, materials and content for continued relevance. In addition, build in a means to revise and update the course, particularly if it is expected to have significant longevity.

Design Needs

Ascertain whether this will be a new training or if there is an existing course to be updated. Identify training designers and determine development time and cost. See how diversity requirements (different learning styles, language, cultural backgrounds, physical needs, etc.) will influence the training. Research to find out what permissions are necessary to incorporate materials into the course. Find out if any restrictions imposed by training locations or participant availability will affect design.

Participants

Determine the size, location and characteristics of the target population, as well as their current level of experience and expertise with the topic. Make certain that they meet course prerequisites, and identify any technology needs or requirements.

Intangibles

Trainees enjoy and respond positively to material that's presented creatively and enjoyably. Engage instructors who are competent and compatible with their audiences, and who can add inspiration and laughter to your course's syllabus.

Resources

Determine how many instructors will be needed, how they will be trained, their scheduling requirements, how much preparation time they will need and how much travel will be required.

Determine space and location requirements. Determine the time required for training and define course segments, if necessary. (For example, will an eight-hour course be taught in one-hour segments over several weeks, in two half-day blocks, or a single intensive day?)

Identify all costs the training will generate: facilities, materials, instructors, travel and meals both for participants and instructors, software, and presentation equipment (computers, TV, video, microphones, etc.). In addition, be certain to identify any subject-matter experts required for training development. Also determine all technology requirements: new software or upgrades, computer and application access for participants, and complex installations or technology management that will require technical expertise. Finally, note all administrative and communication requirements and identify resources.

Evaluation Factors

Ideally, successful training should be periodically repeated for a new crop of trainees. Success can usually measured by identifying measurable outcomes and then conducting the appropriate measurements. These measurements can be developed in-house or obtained externally. For instance. a real estate agency might conduct license training for its new sales representatives. The best measure of the course's effectiveness is the number of trainees who passed the licensing exam.

References

About the Author

Wayne Smith began publishing in 1977, with articles in “Personnel Administrator,” “Journal of European Industrial Training,” “Human Resource Planning” and other business magazines. He currently covers a variety of additional topics and holds a doctorate in psychology from Texas Tech University. A lifelong fitness practitioner, he maintains a consistent schedule of weight lifting and aerobic activities and hikes the Colorado mountains.