Measuring Learning Resistance to Workplace Training

Measuring Learning Resistance to Workplace Training

Jonathan E. Taylor (Troy University, Troy, AL, USA) and John Lounsbury (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJAVET.2016010102
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Training Transfer has been a topic bearing considerable mention over the past several decades. This article focuses on the connection between training transfer and learning resistance and presents research findings describing the design, creation, and testing of the Learning Efficiency Inventory (LEI). The LEI was designed to measure learning resistance and multiple correlates, such as resentment, overconfidence, disinterest, and perceived social norms in mandatory workplace contexts. This study represents early attempts at validation for the inventory itself as well as an explanatory model of learning resistance.
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The purpose of the present paper was twofold: to report on the development of a scale to measure the construct of learning resistance in workplace training and to present an agenda for future research. We begin with a brief overview of the training transfer literature and its connection to learning resistance, and then follow it with a more thorough conceptual analysis of that latter construct.

Training transfer has long been a fertile topic in the workplace training literature. It has been conceptualized as the process in which knowledge, skills, and attitudes employees learn in training are used in a practical way on the job (Salas, Tannenbaum, Kraiger, & Smith-Jentsch, 2012. As might be expected for such a broad concept, training transfer has been the subject of manifold theoretical models and associated empirical studies (e.g., Baldwin & Ford, 1988; Burke & Hutchins, 2008; Nijman et al., 2006; Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012; Richie, 1992).While there are many suggested causes of suboptimal training transfer, the transfer process itself has traditionally been identified as encompassing three components – training inputs, training outputs, and conditions of transfer (Baldwin and Ford, 1998). The present paper is concerned with the latter component–conditions of transfer.

As noted by Hutchins and Burke (2007), this conditions of transfer component has, itself, been broken into three areas of study: personal characteristics of the trainees (Colquitt, LePine, & Noe (2000), training intervention designs (Machin & Fogarty, 2004), and the role of work environments (Holdton et al., 2000; Lim & Johnson, 2002; Tracey et al., 1995). Consistent with our interest in the individual learner, we focus specifically on the first of these three - trainee characteristics.

Colquitt, LePine, and Noe (2000) provide an overview of personal characteristics as they relate to transfer and distinguish between broad personological factors--such as cognitive ability and self-efficacy--and situational characteristics, which take into account environmental and contextual factors that affect learners during the learning process. One of the most important personal factors which can impede the learning process is learning resistance, and learning resistance often resides at the intersection of the personal and the environmental. Using this framework then, learning resistance can be considered a personological condition of learning/training transfer. The following section examines the construct in more depth.

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