Like many companies, in addition to a tuition reimbursement program for formal higher education, VERTEX offers our employees a wide range of training opportunities, from in-house classes and on-the-job-training, to online webinars to off-site third-party training programs. As part of our ongoing focus on employee development, VERTEX recently asked the question, how effective is our training?
What is Effective Training?
According to many sources, the large majority of professional training does not translate into learning or enhanced capabilities. Many training programs result in improvements in work activities immediately after training, but within a few weeks, much training is left behind and people return to pre-training approaches to work. One of the reasons for the lack of long-term learning is related to the training methodology.
Perhaps one of the greatest contributions to educational methods was that of Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator who coined the phrase “banking model” to describe our dominant educational pedagogy (Freire, 1970). The banking model is simple to understand: students are considered empty bank accounts that are then filled with information by trainers, and when asked, they can reproduce the information. A more modern version of the pedagogy is given by Alfonso Montuori, Ph.D., a leading creativity researcher, who defines such a training approach as “Reproductive Learning”. According to Montuori, Reproductive Learning requires students to merely memorize information and feed it back during a test (Montuori, 2011). While this is the dominant educational platform that most of us experienced, and what many professional training approaches use, the method is not very appropriate for professional development or learning about complex matters, and unfortunately, many web-based training programs are still stuck in the banking model.
Once complex multi-disciplinary training is required on such topics as health and safety, engineering principles, consulting, leadership, etc., an entirely different training approach is needed. What Freire advocates is education through praxis, which is a cyclical approach that includes using the information in practice, to make it more a part of the student’s mental process than something merely returned as trained. Montuori calls his approach “Creative Inquiry” (Montuori, 2011).
At VERTEX, our experts are developing an internal university to share training and learning across our disciplines and locations. VERTEX University, as the platform is known, operates under a philosophy of creative inquiry, whereby all training programs offer an opportunity for reading, thinking, and dialoguing with experts and peers. Of course, all training uses some Reproductive Learning, but Creative Inquiry goes much further. At VERTEX University, team members are immersed in a topic and share experiences with colleagues and experts. Learners take the initiative to become experts themselves, and not just pass quizzes online. Students can formulate their own views on a topic, and offer their own solutions. In addition, VERTEX University supplements classroom training with on-the-job-training, to provide a complete learning experience.
Montuori calls this process Creative Inquiry because this type of training operates based on principles of well-known creative processes: immersion in a topic, incubation or reflecting on a topic, illumination by contributing to the topic, and verification by sharing and discussing with peers (A. Montuori, personal communication, 2018). In this manner, VERTEX University takes training out of the old Reproductive Learning model and integrates it directly into the personal and professional development of our team.