Studies in Personnel and Industrial Psychology

By Edwin A. Fleishman | Go to book overview

19. How to Feed Back Performance Results to Trainees*

James N. Mosel

REDUCED TO SIMPLEST terms, the process of personnel training consists of an "input" phase (the showing, telling, and explaining) and an "output" phase (the trainee's attempt to reproduce what is taught). The input is the instruction that goes into the trainee. The output is his response.

But there is still a third phase which is necessary if training is to be successful--the "feedback" phase. The trainee not only must attempt to make the responses which the trainer teaches, but he must also know how well he has succeeded in doing this. There must be a feedback from the output phase of the trainee's behavior into the input phase of the instruction. As training progresses the instruction must come more and more to incorporate information concerning the adequacy of the trainee's performance.

Feeding back to employees the results of their work embodies what psychologists call the "principle of knowledge of performance." This principle is one of the most thoroughly validated principles of learning. It is also one of the most neglected in industrial training. It may be stated as follows: As knowledge of performance increases, learning increases both in rate and level. A few studies will illustrate the kind of result we can expect.

In a government agency, calculating machine operators increased their performance by 60% as a result of seeing their output recorded in relation to the output of others.

In a Pittsburgh public utility, furnace stokers had no indication of how well they were doing. Gauges were installed to show the efficiency of the individual boilers and the data from these gauges were plotted to show individual improvement in the technique of firing the boilers. The result was an annual saving of $333,000 in coal.

In training operators to cut tungsten discs with a foot operated abrasive wheel, trainers developed a recording device which showed the learner his cutting patterns and thereby brought out the specific errors

____________________
*
From Journal of American Society of Training Directors, Feb., 1958. Paper read before the Employee Training Institute at the Annual Conference of Public Personnel Administration of the Civil Service Assembly, Oct. 9, 1956, Washington, D.C.

-173-

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