Part of a Series: Here’s Why I Love Content Types: And You Should, Too
Dusty Shows Her Attitude
Attitudes. We can help our learners to form or change their approach toward something. We call this “affective learning.” We can usually infer that people have a particular attitude by certain choices that they make. For example, students show that they respect the dangers of traffic when they choose to “stop, look, and listen” before crossing a street.
Why We Bother with Attitude Learning
Even though it is often ignored, affective learning is almost always important. Whatever we’re teaching, we hope that our learners will choose to use what they’ve learned. For example:
- Use the safety equipment
- Take time to do analysis
- Use a win-win approach in a negotiation
- Speak to customers in a helpful, respectful manner
Most learning involves some kind of change for the learner. If they develop the attitudinal approach required to make the change, then they are much more likely to transfer their learning from the classroom to later practice.
If you as the designer pay attention to what you are hoping your learners’ attitudes will be, then you can make some important decisions about how to design the instruction. For example, if you want someone to consider a new point of view, that’s easier and will require less time and instructional effort than if you want that person to become the role model for a new way of doing things.
How to Design for Attitude Learning
Designing for changes in attitude learning includes three parts, illustrated here with “taking time to do analysis” as an example:
- Knowing How. Before you can analyze a performance problem, you have to know when to do it and how it’s done.
- Knowing Why. Making the choice to conduct an analysis rather than going straight to solutions requires knowing why it’s worth it to spend the time. Role models and stories can help with this. Ask a more experienced consultant or designer (role model) to demonstrate how to conduct an analysis. Give examples (stories) about times when people forged ahead without analysis and experienced costly consequences.
- Practicing. Your learners also have to practice framing questions, asking them, and figuring out how to turn the answers into recommendations. Also, some people fear interviewing people who outrank them, and practicing ahead of time will help.
Formal or Informal. Obviously, this kind of learning can happen in a formal learning setting or in many other ways, as well. For example, a manager can use these principles for introducing a new way of doing something during a staff meeting or team huddle.
Support and Alignment. Setting people up for success includes, as always, support from management and alignment in other parts of the performance system. For example, it’s impossible to use safety equipment if it’s not readily available.
Evaluation. Assuming your learners or employees know how to do something, and they have done it successfully at least once, now we look to see if they choose to do it. That’s how we tell if we have a change in attitude. Here are some examples:
- 100% of the workers wear their safety equipment on the floor. We haven’t had a violation in the past 6 months. Previously, we had violations every week.
- The pharmacy reps were 100% compliant during the last 3 months. In the previous quarter, we had X cases of noncompliance.
- Our consultants and designers conducted an analysis (at least quickly) for every project they did last year. Prior to this, it was a hit-or-miss occurrence.
Creating an “attitude adjustment” can take time. Making the change from indifference or a negative attitude can start with a spark of interest. It’s up to us to kindle that interest by showing how, explaining why, creating opportunities for practice, and setting up the environment to support the new way of doing things.
Responding in a Whole Different Way
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