Knowledge acquisition versus learning

Knowledge acquisition versus learning

I have a confession to make…I don’t know my mother’s telephone number!

I do, however, remember her work telephone number from when I was 6 years old (0191 771878)!  I never bother to learn telephone numbers now because they’re stored in my phone.

I also don’t worry too much about remembering facts and figures because I can always look them up again on the Internet with just a few clicks.

Advances in technology have opened up a whole new world of information and knowledge, and we have become used to being able to get instant access to it.

So what’s the problem?

Many people mistake this gaining of knowledge for the gaining of skills.

I was running a training course for new managers and had just finished explaining a 6-step process for managing poor performance.  When I told them that they would now have the opportunity to practise the skill and gain feedback, they asked “Why are we wasting time on that? You’ve told us how to do it.  Let’s learn something else now.”  They had mistaken knowledge acquisition for skills acquisition.

It’s not just participants on training courses who make this mistake; it can also be the L&D and HR managers who book the courses.  We often get requests to deliver one-day courses to ‘teach our managers how to be effective leaders, communicators, change agents, coaches and negotiators’.  Apart from the fact that it is a tall order to just impart all this knowledge in one day, it certainly is not enough time to allow participants to develop any actual skills.

We know from research in the area of neuroscience and by psychologists such as K Anders Ericsson, how the learning process works.  Skills practises with feedback play a vital role in learning and should form a significant part of training programmes if we want participants to take away learning that will ‘stick’.

Buying short training courses that simply impart knowledge and then cramming 20 participants onto each course, is not a good investment of limited training budgets.

It does not save money in the long run, because more will need to be invested when delegates either forget what they have learnt, or realise that knowledge of how to do something is not the same as being able to actually do it.

At PMSL we build skills practise and feedback into all our skills-based courses, so participants actually develop their skills and can apply the skills at work.

So, Learning & Development managers, would you rather:

a) Pay for two days training to ensure 10 managers develop really good performance management skills, so they can reduce absenteeism and increase motivation and engagement, or

b) Pay for one days training to ensure 20 managers are talked through masses of information they could have accessed on the Internet, which they will then probably forget?

I know where my money would be.

Effective training and development solutions from PMSL Telephone +44 (0)20 3056 1156

Share This:

PMSL Training