Learning 2017 myBU(1)

Dr. Yumei Yang
Objectives of the lecture
• Explain the importance of learning in organisations
• Differentiate learning, training and development
• Discuss the different learning theories
• Articulate how adult learning theories add to our understanding of
learning processes
• Critically assess how learning theories can be applied at workplace
The Definition of learning
• Learning – ‘..a relatively permanent change in behaviour or human
capabilities resulting from processing new knowledge, practice or
experience.’ (Bratton, 2016 p. 184)
• Learning – ‘ is generally defined in terms of the acquisition of
knowledge that leads to a relatively permanent change in
behavior, which results form experience. (Mullins, 2016. p. 151)
• Learning – ‘a process of acquiring knowledge through experience
which leads to a lasting change in behaviour (Buchanan and
Huczynski, 2017 p.147)
The Nature of Workplace Learning
• Relate to all types of skills: cognitive/motor skills, attitudes and
verbal information
• Learning processes help facilitate emergence of organization’s
intellectual capital
• Learning is a mode of adaptation to change, it can be formal,
non-formal, informal or incidental
• Tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge
• Leadership thought linked closely with approaches promoting
learning (Senge, 1995)
Source: Bratton, 2016. Introduction to work and organisational behaviour. London: Palgrave.
Different Terminology
Learning (focuses on the changes which take place in the
individual’s skill, attitude or knowledge)- person-centred
and problem-solving
Training (process of acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes) –
production-centred approach
Development is usually an umbrella term and covers both
training and learning, covers long period of enhancing skills,
and knowledge through various methods.
Source: www.trainingmag.com
Why organisations undertake learning and development (L&D)
Reasons why organisations undertake learning and development (L&D)
Improve productivity.
Improve performance.
Improve knowledge development.
To retain key staff.
To achieve a better balance between long-term organisational
effectiveness and short-term organisational efficiency
To give the organisation a competitive advantage.
Why individuals should spend time at learning?
Benefits to employees:
Increased personal competence.
Increased adaptability.
Higher likelihood of continuous employability.
Ddevelop a person’s potential
How do individuals learn? and how work-related
learning interconnected to collective learning in
an organization?
Behavioural Approach
• Learning is a change in observable and measurable behaviour
• Uses effective practical techniques: repetition, trial and error
• Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner explained learning as interaction with the
• Pavlov (1849-1936) - ‘Father of behaviourism‘
• Skinner (1904-1990) - Theory of ‘operant conditioning’
Behaviourist Theory – Pavlov (1927)
Behaviourist Theory – Skinner (1953)
Operant conditioning: a technique for associating a response or behaviour with
a consequence.
Operant Conditioning – positive and negative
Positive reinforcement: occurs when the introduction of a
consequence increases or maintains the frequency or future
probability of a behaviour
"Big Bang Theory-Operant conditioning"
Skinner’s box
Behaviourism in practice
Behavioural effect
Manager praises employee each time
work is completed on schedule
Increases desired work
Unpaid overtime continues to be
mandatory until work is completed on
schedule, then overtime is rewarded
Increase desired work
Manager asks employee to stay late
when work is not handed in on time
Eliminates or decreases
undesired behaviour
Managers ignores the employee when
work is handed in late
Eliminates or decreases
undesired behaviour
Source: Buchanan and Huczynski, 2017. Organizational Behaviour, 9th edition.
Five steps to modify behaviour in organizations
1. Identify the critical, observable and measurable behaviours to be
2. Measure the current frequency of those behaviours (Baseline)
3. Establish the triggers or antecedents for those behaviour
4. Develop a strategy to strengthen desired behaviours and weaken
dysfunctional behaviours through reinforcement.
5. Evaluate systematically the effectiveness of the approach in
changing behaviour
Source: Buchanan and Huczynski, 2017. Organizational Behaviour, 9th edition.
• Case study: OBMoD, MRSA and ICUS (15 minutes)
• Analyse the case by using the five steps: identify,
measure, establish, develop and evaluate.
Cognitive Approach to learning (1)
• Learning is a process of gathering all of the relevant pieces
of information together until they begin to form a
complete picture – Information processing
• Concerns learning through feedback: part played by how
individuals perceive, evaluate feedback, represent, store
and use information in learning
• Gestalt theorists: Kohler, Koffka and Wortheimer
Concentrated on the ‘black box’ of the mind; behavioural theories thought contents of
the mind not measurable and looked to the environment
Cognitive Approach (2): Kohler
• Insightful learning: is the sudden discovery or
understanding of the relationships in a problem
• Cannot be gained through trial-and-error learning
alone by behaviour reinforcement
• Aha moment
• Recent approaches have lent support to the idea of
‘trial and error’ in learning
Cognitivist learning at workplace
Feedforward interview
Job appraisals
Social Learning Approach
• Social-learning (S-L) - People develop through
observational learning
• Operates on the basis of symbolic representations of
observed actions of credible and knowledgeable role
models - directly or indirectly
• Bandura’s learning theory – Bobo doll
• Learning involves 4 inter-related processes: attention,
memory, motor and motivation (Bandura, 1977)
Social learning theorist also believe that persons’ selfefficacy also influence the learning process.
The behaviour modelling process
Attention processes
Retention processes
Learner focuses on
the key behaviour
of the person being
Learner must recall the
role model’s behaviour
when they are not
Production processes
Learner must be able
to reproduce the
Learner must see their
model receiving
reinforcement for
behaviour, then
receive it themselves
Source: Weiss 1990 cited from Buchanan and Huczynski, 2017 p. 161.
Social learning theory apply to organisational settings?
• What counts as good work performance
• Familiarity in social interaction at work
• The amount of deference to show to superiors
• Dress and appearance
• Social activities after work
• Attitudes to work, colleague, managers, unions, customers
Contemporary learning theories:
Social exchange theory
• Learning occurs through a dynamic social exchange between expert
and learner in the learning community (Vygotsky, 1978)
• Optimal learning achieved with support and through internalizing
learning and social interaction.
• Optimal learning is called the zone of proximal development which
is achievable only with support or ‘scaffolding’
• Vygotsky emphasize the role of assistance, assessment and feedback
Can you think about the application of Social exchange theory at
workplace or in education?
Situated learning theories: (Lave and Wenger, 1991)
• Situated learning theory argue that knowledge, thinking, and
learning are situated in experience
• Knowledge, thinking and learning cannot be separated from
• Situated learning theorist argue that the contexts and activities
in which individuals learn are fundamental to what they learn.
What is the application of situated learning theories at workplace or at education institutions?
Behaviourist and cognitive perspectives
Behaviourist, stimulus-response
Cognitive, information processing
Studies observable behaviour
Studies mental processes
Behaviour is determined by learned
we learn habits
Behaviour is determined by memory, mental
processes and expectations
we learn cognitive structures
we solve problems by trial and error
We solve problems with insight and
Routine, mechanistic, open to direct researchRich, complex, studied using indirect
Source: Buchanan, d. and Huczynski, A.,2017.
Knowles (1975, 1980) popularized the concept of Andragogy
Andragogy is defined as 'the art and science of helping adults learn’
Knowles argued that : adult learners want to be in control of their learning
Knowledge is activity constructed by the learner, and learning is the
construction of meaning through experience
• Knowles characterized adult learning as:
Independent and self-directing
Mature and experienced
Internally motivated by ‘need to know’
Assumptions of Pedagogy and Andragogy ( source: Bratton 2016. p. 198)
The learner
The role of the learner is a
dependent one. The teacher
directs what, when and how a
subject is learned
The learner moves form dependency towards increasing
self-directedness. The teacher encourages and nurtures
this movement
The learner’s
Of little worth. Hence learners
A rich resource for learning. Hence teaching methods
will gain most from the teacher, include discussion, problem solving and simulation
textbooks, assigned readings and exercises
audiovisual presentations
Readiness to
Learners learn what society
expects them to, so the
curriculum is standardized
Learners learn what they ‘need to know’, so learning
activities are designed around application to life
Orientation to
Learners see education as a
process of acquiring subject
matter organized by content
Learners see education as a process of developing
increased competence in the curriculum to achieve their
full potential in life. Learners want to be able to apply new
knowledge and skills. Hence learning activities are centred
around categories of developing competencies.
• When was the last time you felt that you had really
learned something? Recall that occasion, reflect on it,
and try to relate it step by step to the experiential
learning model?
Kolb’s experiential Learning Cycle
(Kolb, 1984)
The cycle is represented
as a cycle of actions with
no particular starting
pint, depending on the
person’s natural
inclination to be a doer,
watcher, thinker or
Learning styles
• Most learners are unaware of their learning styles
• Learning style: the idiosyncratic way in which an individual acquires,
processes, comprehends and retains information (Bates, 2016).
• Each individual has a different learning style preference.
• visual, auditory, kinaesthetic
Learning Styles
How does this relate to that?
I’d like time to think about this
What’s new I am game for anything
How can I apply this in practice?
(Honey and Mumford 1986)
Implication of Honey and Mumford learning styles
• To help managers/employees to devise personal development plans
• To show managers how to help their staff learn
• To be used as a starting point for discussion and improvement with
a knowledgeable tutor
• Suggestions made to help people strengthen an under-utilised style
Learning at an Organisational level
1. Knowledge Management
2. Organizational learning
3. The Learning Organisation
• Knowledge is the key resource for competitive advantage
• Knowledge held in information systems as well as in people’s
heads and communities
• Knowledge sharing is important
• Primary task to integrate knowledge between people, product
and services
Huber (1991)
• Knowledge acquisition
• Information distribution
• Information interpretation
• Organisational memory
Buchanan, D. and Huczynski, A. 2017, Organizational behaviour, 9th edition. Pearson.
Bratton, J. 2016, Introduction to work and organizational behaviour. 3rd edition. London: Palgrave.
Huber, G. 1991, organizational learning: the contributing processes and the literatures,
organization science. 2(1). 88-115
Learning & skills research centre, 2017, Learning styles and pedagogy in Post-16 learning: a
systematic and critical review. Available on:
Mullins, L. and Christy ,G. 2016. Management & Organisational Behaviour. 11th edition. Pearson
Training, 2016. Available on:
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