It’s hard to believe, but 3 weeks ago I started my employment with Ronald A. Williams. Last week was quite exciting as I got to meet a number of our customers for the first time at a CTE conference. For those outside the education world, CTE stands for Career & Technical Education, and is perhaps better known as vo-tech. I must say, getting to chat with the teachers who are in the classrooms training the next generation of CAD professionals was quite interesting. Frankly, the inner-geek in me just couldn’t help but start comparing the world of education to industry.
One topic I found especially intriguing was the profoundly different ways education and industry measure success of their students/employees. Companies pour thousands and thousands of dollars into training their staff, but how is success primarily measured? Typically success in industry is measured by the dollar; Return on Investment. If I invest x-dollars in training, how much will new efficiency gains make me back over time?
Now think back to when you were a student. What defined your success? Here’s a clue, it generally started with an A and ended with an F. At the end of the day it was all about the grade you earned after taking a series of quizzes, tests, and exams. But why do teachers even bother to use their trusty red-pen to mark what’s right and what’s wrong?
The answer can be summarized in a single word – REINFORCEMENT.
Frankly, this is where education seems to flourish, and industry seems to fail more often than not. Chances are you didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly know algebra. Instead your algebra teacher probably showed you some basic algebraic formulas, and progressively started giving you problems to try on your own. At the end of it all, you got tested on the topics, and were assigned a grade as a way to measure your performance.
But that graded paper was truly more than a grade. It also highlighted what you got wrong, and how to calculate that equation correctly. While your grade may have motivated you to learn, ultimately it wasn’t the grade that MADE you learn. What made you learn was the reinforcement you received along the way.
Suffice to say, we probably wouldn’t call it education without this reinforcement. So why is reinforcement a seemingly optional component to corporate training programs?
What does your firm do? What do you wish they did differently? How does your firm reinforce it’s training program? Share your thoughts in the comments of this post, and stay tuned for part two!