One training organization discovers that learner-centric design enables performance and drives results.

The following story was shared by Jessica Garcia Dudek, partner with Oxygen Learning.

Client

A large, global software company

Problem

The company's training organization recently implemented a new functional onboarding program, called the Academy, for its senior-level IT consultants. Although participant evaluations revealed high course satisfaction, the consultants' on-the-job performance did not show evidence of learning transfer.

Diagnosis

The training included a series of lectures with several supplementary exercises intended to develop specific consultant behaviors. Its disjointed design did not establish expectations around what participants were required to do as a result.

Methods

Oxygen Learning transformed the training design to make the class learner-centric and performance based, while teaching a new consulting methodology and targeting customer-facing deliverables. About 150 consultants complete the two-week program each year, with 25 participants in each class.

First, participants form small teams by industry. Each group brings to the program a case study of a current, real-world consultant scenario. During the first half of the day, instructors present a new component of the consulting methodology, demonstrate tools and resources available to participants, and give the teams an assignment with defined criteria for success. Each afternoon, teams solve the problem using their case studies and create deliverables for the particular phase of the consulting methodology.

Throughout the course of the training, participants experience an end-to-end consulting engagement, simulating a year's work in two weeks. They create a culminating presentation, which they deliver to a high-level senior audience on the final day of the program.

Ongoing performance feedback boosts learning transfer. Facilitators—internal employee volunteers—coach each group and share team progress with one another. Participants and volunteer subject matter experts give feedback during daily wrap-up sessions. Additionally, consultants receive learning progress reviews daily and at the training's conclusion.

Results

One post-training evaluation question asks, on a scale of 1 to 9, "To what degree did the work you completed on the case study add value to an actual consultant engagement?" The average rating of 6.5 shows that more than two-thirds of consultants often use the exact work they complete at the Academy when interacting with customers on the job.

In response to"What was your confidence in completing a learning objective prior to the Academy, and what is your confidence after?" participants reported 50 percent confidence before the training and between 85 percent and 90 percent confidence following the program.

Satisfaction with the former program centered on the presenters; now it relates to the participants' roles, customer deliverables, consulting methodology, and resulting job performance.