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How to Choose a Driver Training Program: Learning Domains

Posted by Mark G. Gardner on July 27, 2018 in the category Training

How to Choose a Driver Training Program - Learning Domains

This article serves as Part 1 of 3 in a series on Choosing a Driver Training Program

We’re often asked to advise our clients on the best methodology for training professional drivers. It usually begins with a question such as “how can I get the biggest bang for the buck when training my drivers?” Or “what’s the most effective method for training drivers?”

Before we can answer these questions, we first have to consider three key dynamics.

  1. Learning Domains
  2. Desired Outcomes
  3. Typical Challenges

In this series, we'll provide you insight into these three key dynamics and once you understand them, deciding on the best methodology for training your drivers will be easy.

Dynamic 1: Learning Domains

Learning domains refers to the type of learning we’re trying to accomplish. There are four learning domains:

  1. Affective
  2. Cognitive
  3. Behavioral
  4. Organizational

Affective

Affective comes first. It’s also known as receptivity. Like the muscles in your body, the human brain will not exert unnecessary energy on anything that won’t benefit you. No learning can take place until affective elements have answered the all-important question, “what’s in it for me?” Your drivers won’t ask that question out loud, but they’re always thinking it. Affective learning takes place when the student realizes there are benefits to spending the energy to learn something new. Affective learning is the greatest challenge our school systems faces. Students sit in the classroom and wonder how in the world they can benefit from studying algebra, calculus or a foreign language.

Our outcome-based designs always begin with affective elements that explain the benefits of paying attention and learning the new material. We don’t even try to tackle the second learning domain, cognition, until we’ve achieved success in the affective domain.

Cognitive

Cognitive learning refers to knowledge. It’s the acquisition and retention of concepts, principles and mental processes. Using our high school analogy, knowledge-based learning takes place when the teacher lectures, the students read and pay attention and ask questions, do their assignments, pass tests and demonstrate that they’ve memorized a new subject. Cognitive outcomes are the gold standard for our public schools. When the student passes the final exam, proving they’ve memorized the subject matter, they move on to the next grade or graduate. While cognitive outcomes are important, they fall far short of what our customers need.

Behavioral

Behavioral learning refers to skills. And, skills are defined as how to do things. For example, how to golf, how to play guitar, how to conduct a pre-trip inspection or how to close a multimillion dollar sale. Each of these actions begins with the words “how to.” Learning any skill requires that you first learn certain knowledge. For example, you can’t learn how to conduct a pre-trip inspection, until you first learn what to look for. Skills-based learning build on knowledge-based learning. It’s important to understand the difference between learning domains because, well, they’re learned in different ways. Understanding the difference between how knowledge and skills are learned will help you choose the right methodology for training your drivers.

The important distinction between knowledge and skills is that skills can only be learned by doing. No one ever got good at golf by reading books and watching videos. However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of skills you’ve learned over your lifetime have been the result of watching someone else do it and then copying their behavior. It really is a case of monkey-see monkey-do. And then, a whole lot of practice.

Organizational

The final domain is rarely discussed by instructional designers. However we believe it’s the most important. It’s organizational. What organizational outcomes have we achieved by implementing a training program? Do the employees suddenly have a newfound knowledge? Sure, we hope so. Do they have new and different skills? Check. However, if those new skills don’t lead to better organizational performance, what was the point in doing the training in the first place?

This is what we mean by outcome-based training. We want to see improved organizational outcomes. Better productivity, improved driver retention, fewer accidents and injuries, or happier customers. We create education and training across all four domains so that you can achieve better organizational results. The methodologies you choose to deliver the training depend on three key elements 1.) Learning domains, 2.) Desired outcomes and 3.) Typical challenges.

In the next installment of this series will discuss desired outcomes and how to best achieve them.

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