This article investigated the multiple factors that affect the transfer of training of classroom instruction to on-the-job performance. There has been a lack of information relative to the effect of multiple factors related to the transfer of training, particularly in the area of public health workforce development. This study was conducted to investigate the multiple modalities that hinder or encourage transfer of training.
Public health organizations worldwide are undergoing major changes in structure, size, technology, and human resources (Gebbie, Raziano, & Sterling, 2009; Kirkpatrick, 1998; Petty, & Brewer, 2008; Phillips, 1997; Yelon & Sheppard, 1999). These changes, along with moving from an industrial age to an information age and from national to global competition require an upgrade of worker skills (Gebbie, Raziano, & Sterling, 2009; Swyt, 1995; Yu, 2008).
According to Meister (1994), employee skills, knowledge, and attitudes have changed over the past 20 years and will continue to change well into the 21st century. He wrote that, “three broad movements affecting industry: (a) flatter corporate hierarchies, (b) broader roles required of both workers and managers, and (c) a more culturally diverse labor force have combined to create a workplace unrecognizable from that which existed in the not so distant past” (p. vii). Human resource specialists will need to address these movements that are bringing changes in employee training and putting greater emphasis on the effectiveness of transfer of training (Foxon, 1997; Garavaglia, 1996; Phillips, 1997).
Workers and managers throughout American industry and particularly in public health are increasingly faced with the reality of skill development (Chávez, Turalba, & Malik, 2006). Skill upgrading is paramount to public health managers and educators (Petty, & Carter, 2011). Proper employee development will facilitate corporate success (Aburdene, 2005; Yu, 2008).
Meister (1994) reported that workers must make the necessary adjustments to maintain a competitive edge. These adjustments include (a) proper performance of the technical aspects of their jobs, (b) reaction to outside pressures, (c) meeting customer expectations, and (d) integration of new technologies. Rosow and Zager (1988) concurred, pointing out American industry’s awareness of the need for increased job performance and the resulting increased expectations in classroom training. Goldstein and Gilliam (1990) agreed, suggesting improved job performance through technical skill development.
Transfer of training is defined as the linkage of attitudes, skills, and knowledge learned in the classroom to the job environment (Newstrom, 1984; Wexley & Latham, 1991). Other researchers (i.e., Kirkpatrick, 1998; Milheim, 1994; Redding, 1990; Yelon & Sheppard, 1999) expanded on this definition by describing training transfer as the accumulation of specific problem-solving skills that are transferable back to the job.