This article focuses on a study that was conducted over the subject of trainer expressiveness and trainee mastery. There were one hundred thirty-two participants that took place in the study and listened to lectures that differed in seductive details and trainer expressiveness. When Annette Towler is taking about “seductive details”, she is referring to the information in the training that is ‘highly interesting and entertaining information that is only loosely related to the topic’.
The author describes that in order to assist in the training process, trainers need to consider the best practices that will help the trainees’ learning during the instruction and to transfer this knowledge and these skills to the workplace. The trainers can shape the learning system of the organization by designing and delivering training programs that enable the trainees to transfer their skills back to the workplace. Annette Towler explains that a great way to accomplish active participation during delivery is through increasing the trainees’ mindfulness.
By doing this, she describes that it helps the trainee to pay attention and make a mental effort to assess the information and integrate it with knowledge that they have previously learned. When trainees are engaged in the learning process, they become active participants rather than lifeless, uninterested recipients. It is also described that active participation can increase the transfer of training. Training methods, such as the content of instructional material and the communication style of the trainer, can influence what the trainees remember and how they transfer it to the workplace.
Annette says, “In human resource development, trainer expressiveness is part of a subset of trainer behaviors named ‘immediacy,’ whereby trainers motivate trainees through their nonverbal and verbal behavior. ” If the information itself is interesting, then the trainers probably don’t need to spice up their material. However, the article describes that there will be occasions when the material is dry, such as discussion of statistical analyses, and the trainer will be tempted to add a little zest to the material.
The article then goes on to describe that for effective problem solving to occur, training design needs to include learning aids that help the trainees to learn, organize, and recall the training content. Annette Towler says that research on the influence of seductive details suggests it is harmful to recall information, although none of the research in this article was focused on the influence of seductive details on problem solving. But, it says that learning theory suggests that training design features that are beneficial for recall might be beneficial for problem solving as well.
The trainees’ level of mastery orientation can be a good predictor of training outcomes and can also influence the extent of problem solving. In this study, Annette Towler adopted an aptitude-treatment interaction approach by examining the interaction effects of trainee mastery orientation and situational factors on recall and problem solving. The article tells of how there have been many studies on how seductive details influence recall, however, there have only been two studies that have considered the seductive details occurrence within the setting of a spoken presentation.
To obtain the seductive details effect, they added interesting yet irrelevant details to the narration, or irrelevant video clips. After they conducted the study, they found that participants in the seductive details condition recalled less information. However, previous research has tended to focus on recall and recognition and had not focused on problem solving, so the article describes that it is unclear how their findings will generalize to other settings where trainees are required to apply their knowledge.
In this article, the author focuses on both recall and problem solving to examine the boundary effects of the seductive details effect. To be more specific, the author asks whether seductive details are damaging when the trainer is expressive or when the trainee has a mastery orientation. Learning theory, described in the article, suggests that seductive details might be harmful for recall but useful for problem solving because trainees can organize information according to how the material is presented in the training.
The researchers described the seductive details effect as having damaging effects on recall because it distracts trainees from learning and because learners tend to organize information inappropriately. The author is quoted as saying, “Research on problem solving suggests that many errors in problem solving occur because of a superficial integration process in which learners use superficial details in problems rather than adopting a problem integration approach where they make use of relevant information. When there is highly interesting and entertaining information that isn’t directly related to the training topic, it can create confusion as to what was in the core material, so recall will not be as good and more errors will occur. However, Annette Towler says that this distortion can lead to a richer understanding of the material and facilitate problem solving because trainees are required to form a general overview of the material.
She says that this is fine for simple, straightforward information, but if the material becomes unstructured, this form of instruction can be damaging as trainees are required to transfer what they have learned during training. Therefore, cognitive flexibility theory suggests that seductive details might be beneficial for problem solving because they interrupt the organization of material. The article suggests from the research that seductive details are detrimental for recall but beneficial for problem solving. The research in this article also suggests that the more expressive the instructor, the more the trainees remember.
In the environment of the seductive details research, the article proposes that a trainer who leaves out unneeded information, and is very expressive, will be most effective for trainee recall. Towler believes that seductive details might be beneficial for problem solving because the distractive nature of seductive details allow the trainees to form their own framework of events and gain a more comprehensible model. However, she feels it is unlikely that trainees can form a rich model of the learning material if the trainer is inexpressive.
Towler found an effect of trainer expressiveness and organization on problem solving for high-mastery trainees but not for low-mastery trainees. Some information that they found from the research in this article include: participants in the expressive condition perceived the trainer to be more animated than those in the inexpressive condition, more charismatic than those in the inexpressive condition, more powerful than those in the inexpressive condition, more exciting than those in the inexpressive condition, and more motivating than those in the inexpressive condition.
In the study, the trainer delivered the lecture by omitting or including phrases that enhanced or reduced seductive details. The article brings up that the issue for HRD professionals who are involved in training is how to increase trainee ability to transfer what they have learned during training back to their jobs. The adult learning theory suggests that training should involve active participation rather than passive receiving of knowledge if trainees are to apply what they have learned back in the job where they work.
The author suggests that one strategy to encourage trainees to be active participants is enabling the trainees to organize information themselves rather than placing the trainer in the role of expert. The study in this article found that trainees who listened to a lecture containing seductive details performed better on a problem-solving test than those who did not hear seductive details. Active processing can occur when material is not well structured or contains seductive details that were vague to the core material, according to Towler.
This study really focuses on trainer effectiveness to examine their effects on recall and problem solving. This article and study proposes practical suggestions for trainers because it suggests that when explaining instructional material, it might be beneficial to incorporate bits and pieces of information that are not exactly related to the material. This training research also has demonstrated that spaced out practice, where trainees have rest intervals within practice sessions rather than massed practice, is most helpful to the trainee learning.
According to Towler, previous research on the effects of seductive details found that seductive details were not beneficial for recall. However, Towler also found that non-inclusion of seductive details was most beneficial for high-mastery trainees if the trainer was very expressive. The results in this article show that an expressive instructor who uses seductive details is the most effective for problem solving. This finding suggests that seductive details are beneficial for transfer of knowledge.
The article also talks about a study of 150 organizations, and it was found that one year after training, only 34% of employees had applied their knowledge and skills to their jobs. It then goes on to explain that it is essential that the training design permits effective transfer of knowledge and skills because the transfer-enhancing activities that occur during a training course are important factors of transferring that knowledge to the job. This article and study recommends that a basis of transfer depends on the qualities of the trainer.
The article also finds that trainers should make their instructional material as entertaining as possible through use of seductive details and conveying the material in an animated and lively style. In conclusion, the research from this article suggests that to prepare trainees to transfer and apply the knowledge they learned throughout training, they need instructional conditions that stress the connection of knowledge and diverse perspectives on the information provided during the raining. Towler goes on to explain that the findings need to be replicated across different samples and settings, but they imply that trainers should seek to organize information in such a way that interesting, indirect nuggets of information are included as well as core material if the objective is for trainees to transfer what they have learned to their jobs.
I believe the issues in this article are relevant and significant to the practice of Human Resource Development because a very large part of HRD involves training the employees to develop the necessary skills, and to apply those skills in their field of expertise. This article gives great insight to a method of training that will be useful when training someone in a demonstration or lecture type setting.
By preparing the trainer to know exactly how to act and what to include in the training session, it could help the trainee increase the knowledge he or she absorbs in the training session and transfer it back to the workplace. By doing this, it could save organizations a lot of money and time by cutting back on extra training sessions and avoiding errors in the workplace that occurred because the worker was not properly trained or did not remember all of the important information from the training session.
This could have a very large impact on the practice of HRD in organizations because it will better integrate the use of training with the job performance and effectiveness of the individual in the workplace. I believe that an HR manager should make sure that the trainer is very expressive and lively during training. If the trainer is monotone and does not believe or care about what he is instructing the trainee, then that could be very detrimental for that trainee to recall the information later on in the job setting.
The trainer also needs to involve active participation with the trainee rather than just telling the trainee what to do during the entire duration of the training process. Last of all, it is very beneficial for the training session to be broken up either by small amounts of interesting or entertaining information that is somewhat related to the training topic, or to give the trainee a small break if the training process is very long. If the trainer tries to accumulate a vast amount of information all at once, the trainee is not likely to retain all of the material.
Read “The ethics of truth-telling and the problem of risk” by Paul Thompson
Read “The ethics of truth-telling and the problem of risk” by Paul Thompso
(One Page, Single Spaced, 12-Point Font, Writing standards expressed in the syllabus, upload as PDF
Thompson thinks a paradox arises in risk communication. Do you?
What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of deliberative versus non-deliberative risk?
What are Thompson’s four dictums of ethical risk communication?
Do you agree that his dictums are helpful? Or do you see any problems with them?