Learning theory or performance theory

I've been reading some really good, thought provoking blogs today about learning and learning theory.

Written by Peter Casebow
Published 24 September 2015
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Learning theory or performance theory
I started with Nick Shackleton-Jones' post on a Unified Learning Theory. Nick picks up on the recent spat about Learning Styles (see our blog) and uses that to present the need for a more unified research based theory of learning. I couldn't agree more with the need for the research and I'm looking forward to reading his ideas and findings very soon. Our own input to this wider research started with the survey we did on How Managers Learn.

The second blog that added to my thinking was Michael Eury's Exploring the Learning Landscape. I enjoyed this because it gave me a new perspective on informal learning and the way we can map learning onto our current environment to get a feel for what we are covering and where the 'deserts' are'.

The use of the axis of Structure and Control is interesting, as are his views on the motivation of the learner. These are both really useful posts in helping to develop new ideas and I need to consider them further to see how I integrate them more fully into my own thinking. I know I'll want to start with performance outcomes and work back from there as I outlined in Exploring the Performance Landscape. In terms of research I'd like to specific organizational research developed as I think that whilst there is cross-over to education the practical need to do something with the learning in terms of perfromance brings a different dynamic that cannot be ignored. I'd like to see this linked to performance outcomes rather than learning outputs.

This takes the research into a range of fields beyond the narrow field of learning into a range of areas from communication, organizational culture, performance management, reward, leadership and so on. If learning in organisations is about improving performance outcomes then I think we need to develop a unified performance theory and then practice. Easy said and I know very complex due to the situational aspect of performance, but research rather than theory must be the starting point.

About the author

Peter Casebow

Peter Casebow

Former CEO, Emerald Works
Peter has been working in Learning and Development for the past twenty years, becoming the CEO for Emerald Learning in 2017. He writes and speaks internationally on leadership and management and the development of high-impact learning and development solutions.

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