Organisations slow to employ new advances in science of learning

The CIPD/Cornerstone OnDemand Learning and Talent Development Survey 2012, found that when asked about various methods of learning analysis and diagnostics, more than half of respondents reported they employed Belbin Team Roles and Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaires at least occasionally*. While these methods have much to recommend them, and are constantly updated, many organisations are using versions which are more than two decades old.

By contrast, organisations were less likely to update their arsenal by integrating new scientific developments. Only 12 per cent said that they used game-based learning. Just five per cent incorporated generational changes in brain function, and four per cent incorporated brain plasticity, despite all three being salient and applicable recent scientific advances.

Half of respondents reported that they had never heard of “nudges and incentives to design learning”, despite the concept having been the subject of a bestseller named as “best book of the year” by the Economist, and which led the UK government to set up its own “nudge unit”. More than half of respondents had not heard of the concept of deep practice and learning, despite it being a central theory of a book which topped the New York Times bestseller lists for eleven consecutive weeks in 2008.

John McGurk, Learning and Development Adviser at CIPD, comments: “With new frontiers constantly being breached we are able to access a whole array of fresh insights on how individuals and organisations learn. The good news is these are being translated for us by specialist researchers who see the connection with workplace learning. The findings show that we can benefit greatly from drawing on that expertise and CIPD will be providing exciting new resources to help practitioners get more savvy about the science of learning.”

Vincent Belliveau, General Manager EMEA, Cornerstone OnDemand comments: “Learning and development is a very innovative space which is constantly evolving. However, it is clear that this pace is uneven across the discipline and organisations have yet to apply up-to-date methodology to learning analysis. This inconsistency is prevalent across the industry, with many organisations failing to take advantage of the knowledge within their own organisations via social learning, let alone ‘gamification’. Whilst not all approaches will work for all organisations, it is vital that they are at least aware of them if they are to support their workforce effectively.”

The report did find evidence that recent evidence-based learning theory is being taken up in the workplace. In particular, 54 per cent of respondents integrated findings on the connection between exercise and learning performance into their L&TD programmes.