Blogging my homework – the longest executive summary ever

Posted by gminks in EME6691 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I’m not very happy with this particular homework. It’s an executive summary (ES) of chapter seven of the book Handbook of Human Performance Technology. I think its too long, but I didn’t want to lose points for not covering everything.

I wish I could blog these ES assignments. I would set the whole thing up differently, I’d learn more because I’d have to research relevant links. I just feel like I’m seven again, writing book reports. Not to mention I had to create a mind map for the same chapter.

At any rate, here is the assignment:

Chapter Seven in the Pershing book describes the origins and evolution of human performance Technology (HPT). The chapter discusses why a discipline such as HPT is needed by businesses. The chapter also describes how the histories of disciplines such as management, philosophy, and instructional design have influenced the formation of the HPT discipline. The chapter goes on to discuss how the discipline began to evolve, and finally discusses future direction for HPT.

The chapter begins by explaining that constant, systematic change is a given for modern organizations, and traditional management theories that can only provide prescriptive techniques are not equipped to aid in navigating that change.

During the Industrial Revolution, deploying and managing humans as part of the supply chain became a necessity. Managers applied strategies based on economic theories such as subsistence theory, which held that workers who were hungry would work harder, or the theory of the economic man which held that workers would work harder if they were paid according to performance.

As the Industrial Revolution progressed, people started studying the effectiveness of these theories. Frederick Taylor combined the economic theories with time-and-motion standards to establish rates of pay that were linked to levels of performance, basically making workers assets that were simply  extensions of the machines with which they worked.

In the 1920’s, people started questioning the idea that performance could be based purely on financial incentives, and social science motivation theories were born. The Hawthorne studies produced the social man view which recognized that people are motivated by things other than financial compensation. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y discussed the social man versus economic man paradox. In the 1940’s Abraham Maslow produced his psychological theory of needs, which explained that people act in order to satisfy a spectrum of internal needs. O’Brien and Dickinson argued that needs satisfaction neither causes nor explains behavior. Vroom produced an expectancy theory that says workers are motivated to reduce the possibility of pain and increase the possibility of pleasure.

HPT also has origins in pragmatic philosophy. Lab experiments by Ivan Pavlov showed that environmental stimuli can elicit involuntary responses. Edward Thorndike manipulated the association between a stimulus and a response.  John Watson started with the work of Pavlov and Thorndike and advocated managing using behavioral theory, and became known as the father of behaviorism.

B. F. Skinner conducted lab experiments based on Thorndike’s law of effect, and this became the basis of behavior analysis. He called behaviors that people exhibit in an attempt to control their environment “operant behaviors”. He demonstrated that there are positive and negative reinforcers.  He believed that a behavioral model was a way to understand why individual performance changes over time because of experience or learning history.

Skinner theorized that provided feedback at every step of an instructional operation would serve as a positive reinforcer that would improve performance. Skinner even created the “Skinner box”, which was a way to study operant behavior.  He also created a teaching machine that recorded students’ responses while they progressed through instructional materials at their own pace. Susan Markel (who was a student of Skinner) showed that breaking instruction into small, sequential chunks and providing feedback on each chunk improved performance.

Information technology has made it possible to deliver self-paced instructional materials in any environment. Robert Mager’s model says that learning objectives should describe performance based on the context of where and how the activities will be performed. He also proved that creating measurable objectives based on the desired performance could help improve performance. Gilbert provided three criteria that accomplishments should meet. They must be measurable, observable, and reliably verified.

The first signs that HPT was emerging as a discipline came when the National Society for Programmed Instruction (NSPI) was formed to apply the laboratory findings of behaviorists in the field. NSPI was created by behavioral scientists. NSPI is now known as the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), and is supported by other organizations such as the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the International Federation of Training and Development Organizational Development (IFTDOD), and the Organizational Behavior Management Network (OBMN). Journals also started to appear including Training, The Performance Improvement Quarterly, Performance Improvement, Performance Express, The Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and the OBM Network News.

Some HPT practices that have evolved because of the work of behavioral scientists include Brethower’s Five Performance Principles, Systems Approach to organization change, System Theory, Front-End Analysis, the organizational scan model, SMARTER goals, the performance learning-satisfaction evaluation system (or PLS), the language of work model, and the metamodel of improvement.

The future of HPT will be shaped by how business respond to market pressures such as globalization, the demographic issues of more women entering the workplace and Baby Boomers retiring to name a few. HPT provides a framework that can be used to help organizations navigate this change.

2 Responses to Blogging my homework – the longest executive summary ever

  1. Pingback: If the world is changing, why am I studying about the guys that sent us down the wrong path? | Adventures in Corporate Education

  2. Pingback: Is ROI an evil MBA term? More on the ROI of blogging | Adventures in Corporate Education

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