Evidence-Based Training Methods and Smile Sheets (An Interview with Dr. Will Thalheimer)

It’s always a good idea to use training methods that are (1) based in evidence and proven to be effective and (2) focused on improving performance on the job.

Dr. Will Thalheimer is one of the leading research experts on evidence-based and performance-focused training methods, and he’s been kind enough to grant us an interview that we’ll present as a series of four related articles.

In this article, our interview with Dr. Thalheimer will focus on smile sheets.

You may already know the term smile sheet, but if you don’t, you’re probably familiar with the concept. You know those surveys trainers hand out to learners who have just completed some form of training? And the learner then uses the survey to evaluate the training event, materials, and instructor? That’s a smile sheet, also known as a training evaluation sheet, reaction sheet, or a Kirkpatrick level 2 evaluation.

These learner evaluations are sometimes called smile sheets, however, because there’s a belief that the learners may not use them to put down truthful, objective, helpful information, but instead just write nice comments about the training and the instructor that are meant to make the trainer smile about supposedly having done a good job.

So you see the problem. If a smile sheet is nothing but a bunch of well-intended but fake or meaningless “smiles,” we’re not drawing helpful information from learners about the training material that we can use to evaluate the training and revise it if necessary so our training has a desired influence on worker job performance. And that’s why Dr. Thalheimer has done research on smile sheets, first to determine that as commonly written they’re often meaningless and second to give us tips on how to write better smile sheets that will help improve performance.

If all this is ringing a bell for you, you may be familiar with Dr. Thalheimer’s great book Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form or with the earlier article we wrote exploring his book on how to write better smile sheets.

So let’s check out the interview. Remember this is one part of a longer interview with Dr. Thalheimer, and we’ll have additional articles in which he discusses:

  • Spaced practice
  • The effectiveness of elearning
  • Evidence-based training methods & learning myths

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9 Great Uses for Mobile Training at Work

Mobile Training Image

Organizations are becoming increasingly interested in mobile training these days (also called mobile learning and M-learning).

Which is great, because you can use mobile training in a lot of positive ways. But on the other hand, you don’t want to just rush into it, believing that this new technology is the silver bullet that will make training magical in the same way that people made the same claims about radio, TV, movies, filmstrips, video tapes, DVDs, the Internet, and more.

So in this article, we’re going to list out for you some productive ways to use mobile training at work. Please add any additional ones from your experience as well.

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The Training Within Industry (TWI) Job Relations Program (JR): Making Better Managers

Training Within Industry (TWI) Job Relations Program Image

Not that long ago, we wrote an an overview of Training Within Industry (TWI).

As that article explains, TWI was a job training program created by the U.S. government during World War II. And, as it turns out, it had a strong influence on the development of  lean manufacturing in Japan.

TWI includes four primary components–Job Methods, Job Instruction, Job Relations (these three are together known as the “J Programs”), and Program Development.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the Job Relations program, also known as the JR program.

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How to Create Better Workforce Development Training

                 

Workforce development is essential for businesses and other organizations in today’s economy. And while there are many aspects to great workforce development, starting with successful onboarding of new employees, workforce development training is a key part of the effort as well.

Yet many organizations don’t have an expertise in training development, and aren’t familiar with the nuts and bolts of how to go about it.

In this article, we’ll give you a simple blueprint to follow when developing workforce development training. Following these steps will get you far, and once you’ve got this down you can learn more and further refine your workforce development training as well as other aspects of your workforce development efforts.

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Tips for Beating the Training Forgetting Curve

Combatting the Training Forgetting Curve Image

In a recent article, we introduced you to the well-documented forgetting curve in training and explained that something called spaced practice can help reduce or even eliminate the forgetting curve.

In this article, we’re going to give you a few more tips for how to design training that combats the forgetting curve and creates memorable training that employees will not only understand during the training, but that they’ll also remember after the training and put to use on the job.

Sounds like good stuff to know, no?

Let’s get started, then.

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6 Steps for Creating Effective Manufacturing Training Programs

Want to know how to design, create, and deliver effective manufacturing training programs at work? The kind of manufacturing training that truly helps workers acquire new knowledge and develop new skills they can perform on the job? The kind that will have a real, measurable effect on key business KPIs such as average time to onboard a new employee and even production, revenue, and profit?

We’ve got a pretty simple, six-step formula for success for you to follow in this article. Just put these six steps into action at your manufacturing facility and you’ll have more skilled workers before you know it. The employees will thank you for it (after all, they want to know how to perform their jobs well) and so will your bosses.

This article explains each of the six steps in a good bit of detail below. But if you really want to take a deep-dive, know that we’ve provided links throughout the article so you can explain various aspects even more.

And as if that weren’t enough, we’ve got a free guide to Effective Manufacturing Training you can download right now, or a 30-minute on-demand webinar on Effective Manufacturing training that you can watch too.

And with that, let’s see what there is to know about effective manufacturing training at work.

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How to Motivate Workers: Developing a More Engaged & Innovative Workforce

Before we begin our article, let’s begin with a teaser to get you interested.

There’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.

Daniel Pink, TED Talk, The Puzzle of Motivation

And with that attention-grabbing teaser, let’s return to our article, which ultimately addresses that teaser, explains it, and and offers tips on how to solve the problem…(but know that you can also find the video of that TED Talk near the bottom of this article).

We’re moving into a new era of manufacturing. Or really, we’ve already entered the new era, and things are continuing to change at increasing rates even now.

If you’ve heard people talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, you’ve already heard about it. The same is true if you’ve heard people talking about advanced manufacturing.

And that’s great, because this era holds a lot of exciting promise. But there’s a problem, too. Many employers are struggling to find enough workers with the necessary advanced skills. If you’ve heard of or read articles about the skills gap, you know what we’re talking about.

As a training company servicing the manufacturing industry, we’re dedicated to providing workforce training materials to help workers develop the skills necessary to help their companies thrive in this new, modern economy. Training can and does provide a measurable leg up in the perpetual manufacturing skill arms race.

But while training is helpful, important, and necessary, it can’t be the entire solution. There’s more to it than just that. For one thing, you’ve got to have workers who are motivated and capable of learning new skills–the skills they need today, and the new skills they will need tomorrow.

All that learning and skill acquisition takes motivation. Motivation to learn, motivation to acquire new skills, and motivation to be creative and innovative. But where does all that motivation come from?

Some of the motivation factor is up to the employee, of course. But employers also play a big role in creating and sustaining an environment that encourages motivation, creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.

In recent years, cognitive scientists, psychologists, behavioral economists, and other experts have learned a lot about what motivates people in their lives and at work. Some of those findings are pretty counter-intuitive.

What’s really stunning is that while some companies are doing the right things on this point, many or even most companies are not. Not only are their management practices, rules, and culture not actively contributing to these desirable workforce characteristics, they’re actively working against and stifling motivation. This is one of the areas of workforce organization where there’s a large gap between what studies and research shows us and what companies really do.

And that’s a shame, since the research is out there and in many cases can be easily applied if companies just look into it and make a few simple changes. Some companies will succeed precisely because they have taken steps to motivate workers to learn and innovate. And other companies will fail not only because they failed to take those steps, but because their culture, rules, and management techniques actually stifled that motivation to learn and create new business value.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips from Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, which focuses on how companies can create a workplace environment that nurtures these important traits in their workers.  Pink’s book is based on and compiles research from a lot of scholars in this field, including Dan Ariely (whose book The Upside of Irrationality: the Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home we’ve written about in the past).

Before you begin reading about how to motivate workers, feel free to check out the short video overview of samples from our online workforce training courses. And as always, let us know if we can help you with your workforce training programs.

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What is eLearning? How Can I Use It?

eLearning allows you to access training material online rather than in a traditional classroom setting. This makes eLearning more convenient because you can complete the courses when you desire, on your schedule.

While eLearning courses can have videos embedded in them, eLearning  is much more interactive than simply watching a video. eLearning presents material in a multimedia format, so you are more likely to remember it. Some of the tactics used to present material include practice questions, feedback to answers, and scored tests.

eLearning allows your employees to learn more about topics relating to their careers. Completing eLearning courses ensures that your employees are well informed so they can be more efficient, productive, and safer at work.

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Online Occupational Health and Safety Training Courses

online occupational health and safety training courses image

Convergence Training’s online occupational health and safety training courses teach new employees important knowledge and skills while providing experienced employees a way to refresh their understanding of knowledge and skills they’re familiar with (see our article on the importance of “spaced practice” for more about the value of this).

There are some clear advantages of online training. One is that the employee can learn at his or her own pace. Another is that the employee can access the online training anywhere at work anywhere by using a mobile device.

Convergence Training provides a large number of online safety courses on many different topics. This article describes some of the courses involving driver safety, first aid, equipment safety, and general safety. However, to see the full list and course descriptions, check Convergence Training’s online occupational health and safety training courses.

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How to Use Spaced Practice to Support Memory in Job Training

spaced practice image

The human brain is amazing. And so are the human abilities to learn new information and skills, remember them, and later retrieve and use them when it’s needed.

But if you’re involved in training and/or learning and development, you also know it’s not all that easy. And one of the big problems is that people tend to forget much of what they learned in training.

We’ve addressed some of the reasons why this happens earlier in our articles Why Don’t People Remember Their Training? and How People Learn (or Don’t). In this article, we’re going to continue looking at issues related at this general theme of forgetting and how to better support memory after training.

In particular, we’re going to focus our attention more specifically on the learning curve, the forgetting curve, and spaced practice. We think this will make you see more value in refresher training, for one thing. But we’ll include tips for using spaced practice at points of the learning and development cycle beyond just refresher training, too.

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What is Visual Learning? Identifying and Understanding the Benefits of Visual Learning

Humans are visual creatures.

Going back a bit in time, vision was important to us on the African savanna to recognize predators and find food.

And although today most of us spend less time dodging leopards than our ancestors might have, it’s easy enough to see the importance of vision in our lives. How long do you go without watching a movie at the cinema, viewing a film on Netflix, or playing a video game? Or even consider music–don’t you often experience music in a music video, or while watching a stage full of dancers?

Why are so many of the dominant forms of entertainment visually oriented? Because, to return to our beginning, humans are visual creatures.

And so it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of that for workforce learning and development.

We’ll discuss this a bit in this blog post.

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5 Steps to Developing Better Occupational Environmental, Health, and Safety Training

Better Occupational Environmental, Health, and Safety Training ImageIt’s not easy to develop effective occupational environmental, health, and safety training. If you’ve been doing it yourself, you know this.

And what makes it worse, many times the people tasked with designing, developing, delivering, and evaluating that training are experts in certain areas under the “EHS umbrella” but don’t have a lot of expertise in things related to training or learning and development. Sound familiar?

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of how to improve the environmental, health, and safety training at your workplace, we’ll link you to more extensive articles on each topic, and most importantly, we’ll give you a free 60-page guide on creating better environmental, health, and safety training so you can apply it at work over and over again. 

Please note that this article and the free guide at the bottom are based on ANSI Z490.1, the US National Standard of Criteria for Accepted Practices in Safety, Health, and Environmental Training. You might also be interested to know that ANSI Z490.2, an upcoming standard on online safety training, is currently in the works (check that link for an update on progress).

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