A great review of Ruth Clark’s book Evidence-Based Training Methods and some myths debunked!

Wallace Hannum, a contributing editor to Educational Technology and a faculty member in the educational psychology program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, calls Ruth Colvin Clark’s latest book Evidence-Based Training Methods a “superb book” that “belongs in the hands of every training professional, not just on their bookshelves.” His review appears in the November-December 2010 issue of Educational Technology magazine, and it praises the book for moving from reliance on commonly held training myths to presenting training practices that are consistent with the empirical evidence about human learning. Hannum says that the “real message in this book is not the content it covers but rather how Clark presents this content by drawing directly on sound research into human learning. This is not just another book about training methods or how to develop training. Rather, Clark offers a fresh approach at the intersection of research and practice that is both based in empirical research evidence and completely practical.” In chapter 1 of her book, Clark debunks four training myths and provides four guidelines that will improve your training. (Some of them are probably going to shock you.) Here are some excerpts from the book: Myth 1: Learning Styles “The learning style myth leads to some very unproductive training approaches that are counter to modern evidence of what works. The time and energy spent perpetuating the various learning style myths can be more wisely invested in supporting individual differences that are proven to make a difference.” Guideline: Do not waste your training resources on any form of learning style-based efforts including instructor training, measurement of learning styles, or training methods that attempt to accommodate learning styles. Myth 2: Media Panaceas “When we plan instruction around the latest technology gismo, we ignore the psychology of human learning, which has severe limits. When we assume a technology-centric view, our focus is on all the wrong things. Instead of designing training to support human learning processes, we get caught up in the latest technology trends without regard for how they can be most effectively used.” Guideline: Ignore panaceas in the guise of technology solutions in favor of applying proven practices on best use of instructional modes and methods to all media you use to deliver training. Myth 3: The More They Like It, the More They Learn “[T]here is in fact a positive correlation between ratings and learning. But the correlation was very small! In fact, it was too small to have any practical value.” Guideline: Don’t rely on course evaluations as indicators of learning. Use valid tests to assess the pedagogical effectiveness of any learning environment. Myth 4: Stories (Games or You-Name-It) Promote Learning “The lack of universal effectiveness of most instructional techniques is the basis for what I call the ‘No Yellow Brick Road Effect.’ By that I mean that there are few best practices that will work for all learners and for all learning goals.” Guideline: Be skeptical about claims for the universal effectiveness of any instructional technique. Always ask, How is the technique defined? For whom is it useful? For what kinds of learning outcomes will it work? The rest of the book provides substantive information and practices that are grounded in research about a wide variety of topics, including If you want to learn more about the book and get a sample chapter, click here.

Read more