Academic journal article Journal of Business and Educational Leadership

Assessing Influences on Perceived Training Transfer: If I Only Knew Then What I Need to Know Now

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Educational Leadership

Assessing Influences on Perceived Training Transfer: If I Only Knew Then What I Need to Know Now

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Employee training is estimated to cost employees over $125 billion annually (Paradise, 2007) in the industrial sector, while research indicates only 10% of training is transferred to the work environment (Baldwin & Ford, 1988). Given these costs, employees' abilities to transfer the necessary skills to the work environment are paramount. Training transfer has generally been considered from the private-sector perspective (e.g., Facteau, Dobbins, Russell, Ladd, & Kudish, 1995; Machin and Fogarty, 2003); yet there are few studies on these same influences as viewed by military members attending training (e.g., Salas, Milham, & Bowers, 2003), where the impact is arguably as great. The Department of Defense (DoD), the nation's largest employer, also incurs significant training expenses, estimated at $28 billion in 2007, and employs 1.4 million active duty members, 718,000 civilians, and another 1.1 million members serving in the Guard and Reserve (DoD, 2010). As a specific example, Air Force Logistics Readiness Officer technical training costs approximately $25K per student for a 45-day course (Richard Hutchins, Financial Analyst for Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, personal communication, 16 November 2010). This research tested an existing training transfer model by assessing perceptions of recent technical school graduates regarding their perceptions of transfer of training back on the job.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Baldwin and Ford (1988) reviewed multiple studies focused on the construct of training transfer and determined methods to measure how much training one has applied on the job. Kozlowski and Salas' (1997) work indicated that acquisition of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes through training was of little value if those new characteristics were not maintained over time. In other words, learning was of little value to organizations unless it was transferred in some way to performance. Yamnill and McLean (2001) suggested negative influences that could cause failures in the ability to transfer such as inequities in training and poor training design. They proposed that once those negative influences were understood, then trainers could take the precautions to prevent further occurrences of such influences. Links between the constructs of training transfer and training effectiveness have been demonstrated by research (e.g., Alliger, Tannenbaum, Bennett, Traver, & Shotland, 1997; Salas et al., 2003), and one of the more common connections identified is the use of training transfer in combination with other constructs such as pre-training motivation and other factors such as tests scores from evaluations given at the training, evaluations scores from on the job, and training effectiveness (Baldwin & Ford, 1988). Interestingly, less common connections made in other studies have been to simply use the term training transfer as a surrogate for training effectiveness (Facteau et al., 1995; Mathieu & Martineau, 1997; Mathieu, Tannenbaum, & Salas, 1992; Noe & Schmitt, 1986). In an empirical study by Blumenfeld and Holland (1971), the definition of training effectiveness was the "quality of the accountability evidence, specifically with the demonstration of the training" back to the job. This definition was similar to the definition of training transfer provided earlier. In a study using MBA students as subjects, Gist, Bavetta, and Stevens (1990) suggested training transfer was a direct antecedent of training effectiveness. Gist et al. (1990) reported that the MBA students with measurably higher perceptions of training transfer were also categorized as describing the training received as effective. The explication of the connection between training transfer and training effectiveness is essential to understanding the selection of the Facteau et al. (1995) model used in this study. Consistent with studies demonstrating a linkage between training transfer and training effectiveness (e. …

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