Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE

EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES
FOR ENCOURAGING TRANSFER OF TRAINING
IN WORKPLACE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

by
Maika D. Leibbrandt

A Research Project Proposal in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Education

REGIS UNIVERSITY
March, 2015

Dr. Heidi Streetman, Proposal Instructor

Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter

Page

INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................................1
Problem Statement.......................................................................................................................1
Purpose and Direction..................................................................................................................2
Advancing Current Study.............................................................................................................3
Intended Audience........................................................................................................................4
Chapter Summary........................................................................................................................4
REVIEW OF LITERATURE...........................................................................................................5
History of Training Transfer........................................................................................................6
Definition..................................................................................................................................6
Formal and Informal Learning.................................................................................................6
Foundations of Study................................................................................................................7
Advancement of Study.................................................................................................................9
Approach to Evaluation............................................................................................................9
Supervisor and Peer Support..................................................................................................11
Themes in Successful Training Transfer................................................................................12
Trainee Relationships in the Workplace.................................................................................13
Relevance of New Skills or Knowledge to Daily Work.........................................................14
Current State of Study................................................................................................................15
Future Research Needed............................................................................................................15
Work Environment Specifics..................................................................................................15
Program Design and Evaluation.............................................................................................16
Formal and Informal Practices...............................................................................................17
Chapter Summary......................................................................................................................17
PROJECT DESIGN.......................................................................................................................18
Adult Learning Theory...............................................................................................................18
Jesuit Values...............................................................................................................................19
Methodology & Format.............................................................................................................20
Chapter Summary......................................................................................................................21

Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION
The role of the workplace trainer is, perhaps, more vital to business success than ever.
Current estimates report spending on learning and development in North America to be between
$130 and $160 billion annually (Baun & Scott, 2010, p. 62; Bailey, 2014, p. 33). This investment
indicates an increased importance being placed on workplace educational programs. Human
Resources professionals and learning professionals within organizations are becoming strategic
partners, seeing the value of employee skills and knowledge as being strongly linked to the
vitality of the business, and a valuable asset in the race to achieve business goals (McPhun, 2013,
p.4).
Due to the integral role of workplace training, the concept of training transfer is
especially important to consider. According to Saks and Burke-Smalley (2004, p. 112),
organizations that invest in training see positive increases in business performance. Furthermore,
organizations with a higher rate of transfer of training experience even better business
performance (p.112). In other words, it simply is not enough to invest in training. Business
leaders who expect a high return on their training investment must also consider the best
strategies, within training and the workplace, to support transferring learning skills and
knowledge into daily work.
Problem Statement
Workplace learning programs are common solutions for building needed employee skills,
knowledge, and awareness. While some studies have managed to measure the transfer of
training, from the classroom to the everyday workplace, no research currently exists suggesting
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
why one learning strategy transfers while others fail to transfer. Insight gained from analysis of
successful strategies, which support training transfer, will inform the practice of educational
professionals, as well as the investment of human resource leaders’ time and capital.
It has been suggested that the work environment has a strong effect on employees’
probability of transferring skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to the everyday office
(Hua, 2013, p. 83; Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p.2). Early studies on work environment
and behavioral change of the trainee focused specifically on the relationship between the trainee
and his or her manager (Burnaska, 1976). Current studies echo the role of the manager as having
a strong effect on the employee’s motivation and ability to transfer (Kirkman, Rosen, Tesluk, &
Gibson, 2006, p. 711). Despite these claims, little is known about specific strategies, which
managers can deploy, in order to support training transfer. For example, further research can be
conducted to examine proximity of the manager to the employee, previous performance of the
employee, or even the employee’s relationships with other co-workers. A careful focus on
relationships within the work environment will reveal meaningful strategies for managers to
consider when supporting employees’ development and use of new skills and knowledge.
Purpose and Direction
Through a method of applied research, this thesis will serve two main purposes:
summarizing themes of successful training transfer strategies, and offering helpful practical
actions relevant to both managers and training practitioners.
One broad theme that appears to be common across successful instances of training
transfer is relevance of the learning within the workplace, or how clearly the new skills and
knowledge align with organizational goals (McPhun, 2013, p.5). A specific strategy to support

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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
relevance is to create autonomy for employees. Researchers suggest freedom in the way a job is
carried out leads to greater ability to utilize new skills (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p.13).
A second theme which seems to be important to training transfer is practice. Few studies
measure the effectiveness of training transfer at more than one moment in time. However, those
that have measured more than once find greater success if some time has passed between
completion of training and measurement of transfer (Hua, 2013, p. 93). More research is needed
to determine appropriate time for practice and opportunities for practice. Currently this theme
appears within studies, rather than serving as the primary variable of a study. Still, it is prevelant
across literature and warrants further consideration. The notion that successful transfer takes time
could enhance the approach to leading and measuring learning in the workplace.
A third and final broad theme present in successful transfer is a sense of community. This
is a broad way to describe the importance of supportive relationships between trainees and their
fellow coworkers and supervisors. Researchers have cited positive relationships with supervisors
and peers as strong predictors of training transfer (Lee, Lee, Lee, & Park, 2014, p. 2853; Hua,
2013, p. 93). Practical application of this theme could manifest through an intentional focus on
workplace relationships, building trust among teams, or deploying collaborative approaches to
problem solving, using newly acquired skills and knowledge.
The thesis project will expand upon these three themes by exploring existing research and
literature, collecting practical actions for building upon the themes, and offering a library of
resources relevant to improving these themes in the workplace.

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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
Advancing Current Study
It seems that much of the work done in the field of training transfer focuses solely on the
success or failure of case-by-case situations. Therefore, training practitioners and managers alike
are currently lacking a summative explanation of the strategies that are most likely to predict
successful transfer. It is a challenging task, as most cases appear to measure and evaluate
successful transfer differently. Some consider surveys of trainees, while others focus on surveys
of trainers, or surveys of colleagues. The variance of evaluation may be a challenge in coming to
conclusions across different research studies, but also presents a learning opportunity for future
work.
The cornerstone within current literature on which this study will build is the solid
understanding that developing a strategy for transfer is a vital requirement in order for learning
to be applied in the workplace (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p.2). While the strategies may
differ and evaluations vary, this statement is a strong and focused starting place for exploration.
Intended Audience
The main target audience for this project is training practitioners, as their knowledge has
a great effect on the practice of learning, in the workplace (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010,
p. 604). The deliverable associated with this audience will be a detailed brochure, which will
include themes common to successful training transfer, suggestions to consider when designing
learning programs, and access to research and resources which the audience may find relevant to
their practice. To ensure the usefulness of this brochure, training practitioners will be included,
as reviewers, in the final phase of the project, offering their feedback on and critique of the tool.
A secondary audience who will benefit from this project is workplace managers. This
audience will have access to a practical guide of actions that support training transfer, explained
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
in relationship to the academic background of the broad themes they should consider, in order to
help employees.
Chapter Summary
This project will serve a much-needed purpose in the learning and training community:
identifying strategies that best support transfer of training from the classroom to the workplace.
Initial study, conducted by reviewing existing literature, suggests three main themes are common
across successful training transfer. These themes are relevance of the gained skills and
knowledge within the workplace, time and autonomy to practice newly acquired skills and
knowledge, and a sense of support from the learner’s community, be that through strong
relationships with supervisors, or with co-workers. This project will study these three themes in
greater depth and develop both theoretical and practical conclusions, intended to benefit training
professionals and managers alike. The following chapter discusses literature and current studies,
informing further research within the scope of this project.
Chapter 2
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
The field of workplace training and development is both vast and significant in relation to
business strategy (Paradise, 2007, p. 60; Baun & Scott, 2010, p. 62). The effectiveness of
training of employees is not universally measured, and often relatively unknown. One way to
determine the return on an organization’s investment in training is to focus on the change in
behavior of employees, following training. This change in behavior, specific to training, is often
referred to as transfer of training (Baldwin & Ford, 1988, p. 63). Presently, it is estimated that
only a small portion of workplace learning, offered through formal training, is actually
transferred into the workplace (Pham, Segers & Gigselaers, 2012, p. 2).
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
The purpose of this chapter is to explore the most effective strategies to support transfer
of training in the workplace. Through a review of literature, I will explore the history of training
transfer and early theories related to workplace training. I shall study the current state of
measuring and supporting training transfer. The paper will conclude with an analysis of
perceived gaps in the existing research, a discussion of the need for additional study, and specific
areas for further exploration.
History of Training Transfer
Definition
Learning in the workplace can be described as “acquiring, using, and critically reflecting
knowledge to achieve organizational goals” (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 600). Early
studies by Baldwin and Ford (1988) define effective use of knowledge and skills acquired in a
training context. Transfer of training is a concept which enables study of what happens beyond
the classroom. Researchers consider the extent in which trainees use the knowledge gained in
training, while working in other situations, as well as on-the-job experience (Chiaburu &
Tekleab, 2005, p. 605). Baldwin & Ford’s (1988) model presented the imperative of studying
training effectiveness from multiple angles of consideration. These angles included initial
design, work environment, and characteristics of individual students (p.65).
Formal and Informal Learning
Workplace learning is often described by researchers and human resource professionals
as the acquisition, use, and critical reflection of knowledge needed to achieve the goals of the
organization (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 601). Early research appears to focus on
formal learning, which is understood to be the primary learning resource in the workplace. The
majority of professional development offerings exist within the realm of formal learning,
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
including seminars, courses, and organized apprenticeships (Merriam, Caffarella, &
Baumgartner, 2007, p.24). Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner claim learning occurs as a
process in which individuals develop propositional, procedural, and dispositional knowledge
through experience in the workplace. The specificity of such a cycle could describe why formal
learning appears to dominate much of literature and research in the realm of professional
development.
In addition to formal learning, the concept and practice of informal learning is gaining
notoriety. Professionals experience and conceive information outside of a formal classroom, and
while research into informal learning appears to be currently limited, it does contribute to the
conversation. Examples of informal learning include self-directed learning, coaching,
observation, networking, or simple trial and error (Marsick & Watkins, 2001, p. 27). In a private
sector study, Enos, Kerhkahn, & Bell (2003) identified 247 different learning activities used by
managers to develop specific managerial skills. Of these activities, 70% were termed informal
(p. 377). Similarly, Billet (1992) found workplace experience to be the main source of
individuals’ introduction to and continuation of professional growth and development (p. 10).
Foundations of Study
Despite advances in understanding workplace training transfer, facilitators and teachers
still struggle to create and measure performance results after educational events (Hutchins,
Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 600). In order to understand this existing gap, it can be important
to first explore the background of workplace training.
One of the first ways researchers conceptualized training transfer was to focus
specifically on behavioral change. Burnaska (1976) first noted behavioral change as the topic of
a study in effectiveness of interpersonal skills training. Managers were trained in several
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
different soft skills that had been determined to be important in the workplace. Measuring the
training against employee turnover, Burnaska found a positive correlation between training of
employees and supervisors, and employees remaining with the organization after six months. An
important early theory of behavior change is Social Cognitive Theory (Merriam, Caffarella, &
Baumgartner, 2007, p.295). According to Social Cognitive Theory, people are not driven by
internal forces, but by external factors. Consider a triangular relationship between behavior,
environment, and personal factors that effects trainees’ ability to successfully change their own
behavior. Within these three considerations, there are specific areas which have been identified
as factors that can positively influence behavioral change. These variables include emotional
coping, observation, self-efficacy, self-control, reinforcement, and outcome expectations
(Bandura, 1986).
Another early theory which informs training transfer is the Theory of Planned Behavior
(Ajzen, 1991, p.181). According to this theory, behavior is dependent not solely on external
factors, but on the individual’s intent to perform. This theory can influence training practice by
encouraging emphasis on the linkage of one’s personal motivation to organizational learning
goals. An important facet of this theory is the need for the individual to believe he or she has
both the ability to perform the given behavior, and the control to make the decision to change.
A third theory informing modern understanding of training transfer is Stage Change
Theory (Prochaska, Wright, & Velicer, 2008, p.564). In this theory, there are six stages,
beginning with pre-contemplation and ending in termination. This theory can influence practice
by raising awareness of behavior in order to enhance the contemplation, which learners need in
order to progress through the steps of the theory. Practitioners can plan interventions which

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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
specifically include consciousness-raising, dramatic relief, and evaluation of both self and
environment.
The history of studying and supporting transfer of training is rooted in cognition and
behaviorism (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p.275). Early theories and studies
reveal the necessity of further study and greater access to information. The extent to which
educational professionals can use history and theory depends largely on how well they
understand, study and practice these discoveries (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 600).
Advancement of Study
Approach to Evaluation
Throughout the study of educational training transfer, research has revealed what appears
to be one over-arching message. The use of transfer strategies is a vital requirement in order to
transfer learning (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p.2). However, the method of measurement
of various transfer strategies can differ from study to study. It appears studies can generally fall
into one of three categories of measurement: survey of trainers, survey of trainees, or survey of
peers or colleagues.
Survey of Trainers
Hutchins, Burke, and Berthelsen (2010) conducted a study of professional trainers, aimed
at studying the ways in which practitioners learn about training transfer (p. 604). Researchers
hoped to identify often used pathways of learning, in order to understand why the gap existed
between training and training transfer. From this study, it was determined that professionals seek
knowledge primarily through informal learning, such as job experience, discussion, books or
web searches. However, professionals noted they would prefer to learn in discussions with

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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
external trainers and more formal, academic or classroom-based settings. Surveying trainers,
themselves, did not appear to be a popular method of research, but adds another aspect to the
overall conversation.
Survey of Trainees
One factor to consider when evaluating training transfer is the time between training and
evaluation of transfer. In one study of the effect of specific work environment factors on training
transfer, researchers surveyed training participants immediately upon completion of training, and
again three months after completion of training (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p.8). The
content of the trainee survey reflected certain workplace environment variables, often referred to
as “transfer climate.” Pham, Segers, and Gijsalaers (2012, p.7) utilized an existing questionnaire
to measure the transfer climate, consisting of 17 items. In addition to measuring the workplace
environment, researchers also surveyed trainees about the level of support they received from
supervisors, using a separate questionnaire, comprised of six items for measuring supervisor
support.
Survey of Peers or Colleagues
One gap identified by Pham, Segers, and Gijselaers (2012) was the lack of feedback on
the effectiveness of training from people other than those who were actually trained (p.13-14).
They suggested future research to include not only evaluation by the trainee’s supervisor, but
also, the trainee’s peers, determined to be both business subordinates and customers.
Burnaska (1976) took into account the perspective of outside observers (p. 331). This is
similar to the approach suggested by Pham, Segers, and Gijselaers (2012), but slightly more
nuanced. Burnaska (1976) utilized 25 judges, trained in observing and evaluating behavior
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
through role play situations. The role plays were intended to give trainees a chance to
demonstrate the soft skills they had learned in the training, including conflict resolution, and
giving and receiving criticism (p. 333). In addition to using outside judges, Burnaska utilized
formative and summative measures. These surveys were not of trainees, but of the employees of
those who had been trained. Specific questions about the specific behavior which the training
was aimed at addressing were asked of trainee’s colleagues. Burnaska discovered a significant
positive correlation between managers receiving training and their employees noticing a change
in their behavior (p. 332).
In another example of surveying colleagues or peers, a study by Ali, Mirza, and Rauf
(2014) focused on surveying the behavior of teachers. The goal was to train teachers to abstain
from using corporal punishment in the classroom. To evaluate the effectiveness of training
transfer, researchers surveyed the students of the teachers who had received training. Students
completed a pre-test, regarding the behavior of their teacher. One month and 20 days after
teachers received training, students were surveyed, again. Results indicated a change in
behavior, or positive transfer of training (p. 101). However, researchers noted a desire to extend
the survey to further into the future, to indicate lasting change.
Supervisor and Peer Support
Studies of training transfer have evolved on methodology of measurement. The field
seems to have also evolved to identify two popular topics of study specific to the work
environment, support of supervisors and support of peers (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012;
Kirkman, Rosen, Tesluk, & Gibson, 2006). Supervisory and peer support have not always been
measured or studied simultaneously, and some studies find differing results on each (Hua, 2013,
p. 82).
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
Burnaska’s (1976) early work on behavior change found that supervisor training
positively affected behavior change in employees who had also been trained. Findings from this
early study are echoed in later studies. In an evaluation of 505 supermarket managers, social
support—especially in the form of encouragement from the direct supervisor—was found to be a
strong positive correlate to training transfer (Hua, 2013, p. 92). Similarly, Kirkman, Rosen,
Tesluk, & Gibson (2006) studied the training transfer of computer-assisted training programs.
When teams ranked higher in trust of each other and their leadership, as well as trust of their
technology and technology support, customer satisfaction with employees’ level of proficiency
was higher (p. 711). In addition to the trust factor, teams performed better the longer the leader
had been with the team.
Peer support, defined as encouragement from co-workers to utilize new knowledge and
skills, has been found to play a strong role in influencing training transfer (Hua, 2013, p. 85).
Still, Hua calls for extended study in the area of peer support, citing a wide agreement on the
importance of the role of the co-worker, but lack of studies specific to the topic alone (p. 93).
Upon further inquiry into the question of peer support, Hua (2013) found trainees’
perceived encouragement from co-workers to utilize new learning, to be a stronger predictor of
training transfer, even than supervisory support (p. 92). Additional studies have called upon coworker support as a portion of a greater study of work environment factors when considering
positive correlates to training transfer. In a study of 440 respondents, from a United States-based
organization, co-worker support was found to be the strongest predictor of transfer of training, as
well as a strong predictor of transfer maintenance (Chiaburu, 2010, p. 55). Further research was
desired to understand proximity of co-workers. For example, how close in geographic location

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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
do they need to be, or how close in the structure organizational hierarchy makes a difference to
the outcome of training transfer.
Themes in Successful Training Transfer
At present, it appears most studies have been targeted at the question of whether training
transferred, not testing one strategy against another. However, analysis of successful examples
of training transfer into the workplace reveals two general, but clear, areas of focus for future
strategies.
Trainee Relationships in the Workplace
Several researchers use the term “workplace environment” to describe the experiences
employees have before, during and after training (Hua, 2013, p. 83; Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers,
2012, p. 2). One common factor within workplace environment is the relationships trainees have
with fellow employees as well as with supervisors. The relationships in the workplace appear to
be factors many researchers consider, when studying effective transfer, and therefore could be
important components of a supportive learning work environment (Hua, 2013; Keen & Berge,
2014; Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012; Kirkman, Tesluk, Rosen, & Gibson, 2006).
While studies note the need to further explore the components of supervisory support in
order to measure them more specifically against training support (Hua, 2013, p. 93), it is
suggested that supervisor support, three months after completing training, serves as a stronger
indicator of transfer than supervisor support immediately following training (Pham, Segers, &
Gijselaers, 2012, p. 13). This could help explain the enduring nature of supportive relationships,
as studied by Hua (2013). According to this study, regardless of whether the employee is
supported by peer or supervisor, the relationship that has the most influence on transfer of
training is the relationship which is both constant and consistent (2013, p.92). Employees are
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
even more likely to transfer skills and knowledge into the workplace if that support is perceived
prior to training (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p. 13). For high-performing employees, it
appears supervisor support is an even stronger predictor of transfer of training, potentially
because the stronger the relationship the employee has with his or her supervisor, the more often
the importance of new skills and knowledge is communicated (Lee, Lee, Lee, & Park, 2014, p.
2853).
Researchers suggest in order to positively exploit relationships in the workplace as a
support strategy for training transfer, practitioners should include the peers of trainees when
developing transfer strategies, and allocate more attention to strengthening the relationships
trainees have with those around them in the workplace (Hua, 2013, p. 93; Pham, Segers, &
Gijselaers, 2012, p. 13).
Relevance of New Skills or Knowledge to Daily Work
Employees who develop new understanding or learn new behavior appear to be more
likely to successfully demonstrate that behavior in the workplace, when it aligns with their basic
expectations. Lee, Lee, Lee, & Park (2014) assessed the relevance to daily work when they
measured motivation to transfer. A sample item within measuring motivation was “I’m planning
to actively apply the knowledge and skills obtained from training to the job.” (p. 2846). This
motivation to transfer was addressed in a model proposed by Price (2008), in which one of the
main steps in developing a training program is to ensure business methods and procedures shape
training objectives and content (p. 432).
Although not empirically proven, this sentiment was echoed by McPhun (2013, p. 5),
who suggested alignment not only of organizational goals, but of individual goals as well. It
seems the role of the supervisor is important yet again, specifically in creating the opportunity
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
for relevant use of new skills and knowledge. Supervisor support significantly affects employee
motivation to transfer, not only employee ability to transfer (Lee, Lee, Lee, & Park, 2014, p.
2853). If supervisors have the power to grant autonomy to employees, that autonomy can lead to
employees’ perceived relevance of newly acquired skills and knowledge. Pham, Segers, and
Gijselaers (2012), claimed “the more the trainees’ degree of freedom in carrying out their job, the
greater their ability to organize and execute their work, resulting in effective transfer” (p. 13).
Current State of Study
In summary, the modern study of training transfer grew out of studies of behavior and
behavior change. At this juncture, it appears much of the research has revealed a few enduring
points. Work environment plays a heavy part on transfer of training, in particular, the support of
peers and supervisors (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012; Hua, 2013). The role of the trainer is
important in encouraging transfer of knowledge or skill to the workplace. It is suggested that
increasing trainer competencies to support training transfer more formally could be a key in
improving targeted business outcomes (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 614). In
addition to studying strategies for training transfer, research suggests practitioners should have a
seat at the table to intentionally connect business goals with training goals. Trainers should play
a more vocal part in making trainees aware of their own responsibility for incorporating new
knowledge and skills into everyday life (Pham, Segers, & Gijselears, 2012, p. 14; McPhun, 2013,
p.5). One way to enhance this conversation is to pay close attention to the planning of training
programs, and how closely it aligns with business initiatives (Price, 2008, p.433).

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Future Research Needed
At present, most literature calls for further study and enhanced research, across numerous
areas of studying training transfer. The following are noted gaps in current study as well as
specific elements ripe for further exploration.
Work Environment Specifics
The environment of the workplace is generally cited in most research, yet it remains
unclear to what extent transfer strategies play a role in the relationship between learning and
environment (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p.2). Expanding this idea to include specific
areas could advance the study of training transfer. An organization’s division of labor, practices,
social norms, and perspectives of individuals could be specific variables, important in shaping
the learning. As discussed previously, improving facilitator knowledge of training transfer could
possibly yield greater results (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p.616). Researchers
suggested examining the link between trainers’ academic exposure to training transfer strategy
and their ability to enable the learner to apply new skills in the workplace.
An element of workplace climate is the relationships learners have within an
organization. These relationships, and their effect on training transfer, can be important points
for further research. Hua (2013) found the topic of peer support to be lacking research (p.82).
While research on supervisory support often found promising results, some studies found mixed
conclusions (Keen & Berge, 2014, p.26).
The concept of time needed to practice newly acquired skills and knowledge relates to the
way training transfer is evaluated. While the idea of time to practice is not explicitly explored as
a variable in training transfer, it is a factor in most studies, as researchers must decide how often
to evaluate successful transfer (Ali, Mirza, & Rauf, 2014; Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012).
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This topic appears to expand our understanding of the bigger picture of studying training
transfer, and warrants further exploration.
Program Design and Evaluation
An individualized approach to training that matches both learner capability and business
outcomes, is another opportunity for future research. Despite advances in understanding training
transfer, there remains a disparity in measurement and evaluation (Lee, C., Lee, H., Lee, & Park,
2014, p.2838). Considering job performance alone as a variable of training transfer may not take
all relevant variables into account. One study proposed the pre-training abilities and attitudes of
learners to be variables which can affect motivation to transfer (Gegenfurtner, et.al, 2009, p.129).
In addition to pre-training attitude, pre-training job performance can also offer information on
differentiated strategy for training transfer (Lee, Lee, Lee, & Park, 2014, p. 2846). This concept
also introduces a potential difference between attitude and behavior. For example, if motivation
to transfer is different than ability to transfer, perhaps it is important to study each separately, or
at least consider them as different pieces to the puzzle when designing learning interventions.
Differentiated design based on learner needs is one area in need of more study. Another
need for further exploration appears to be methodology of evaluation. Time span of evaluation
varies by researcher and subject (Burnaska, 1976; Ali, Mirza, & Rauf, 2014). In many cases,
researchers note the potential variables at play given the different time spans which could affect
the outcomes. Perhaps this is a difficult variable to normalize across studies given the unique
nature of each workplace, but it could lead to a discussion regarding more generalized forms of
evaluation for training transfer.

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Formal and Informal Practices
Across different case studies, it appears researchers struggle to clarify the role of formal
versus informal learning opportunities (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 602). This could
be a reason contributing to the challenge of identifying specific strategies which overwhelmingly
contribute to successful transfer of training. Many studies focus solely on whether the training
was transferred to the workplace. Few narrow down the variables of formal and informal
learning experience which contributed to the success or failure of training transfer. In future
research, it will be important to focus not only on studies in which training is transferred to the
workplace, but also to delve into the design of both informal and formal learning endeavors
experienced by the trainee.
Chapter Summary
Transfer of training, defined as the extent to which employees use new skills and
knowledge on the job, is an issue of great concern in the business world (Pham, Segers, &
Gijselaers, 2012, p.1). The study of training transfer grew from early studies of behavioral
change, and can include training design, work environment, and trainee’s characteristics
(Baldwin & Ford, 1988). Even in these early studies, it was noted that having a strategy for how
to transfer learning was a crucial prerequisite for successful transfer (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers,
2012, p.2). Simply having a strategy may be helpful, but future research aims to identify the best
supporting strategies which businesses and training professionals can consider in order to
improve the return on their investment into learning.
A review of literature was completed, studying learning theories as well as case studies.
Three common themes appeared to be important across successful cases of training transfer.
These themes are relevance, practice, and community. These themes are broad but applicable
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areas for further exploration, and will serve as the basis for ongoing study and execution of this
project. A detailed description of the design of this project is outlined in the following chapter.
Chapter 3
PROJECT DESIGN
Workplace learning programs are a common solution for building needed employee
skills, knowledge, and awareness. While some studies have managed to measure the transfer of
training from the classroom to the everyday workplace, no research currently exists suggesting
why one learning strategy transfers and others fail to transfer. Insight gained from analysis of
successful strategies which support training transfer will inform the practice of educational
professionals and people managers as well.
Adult Learning Theory
The study of training transfer is an applied study rooted in andragogy and theories of
adult learning. Malcolm Knowles’ principals of adult learning indicate adult learners’ desire to
be independent and practical (McGrath, 2009, p. 102-104). When it comes to learning, adults are
attracted to goals, relevancy, and personal respect. They tend to learn from life experiences and
seek out ways to apply learning in everyday situations.
Transfer of training is a concept that furthers Knowles’s principals of adult learning, by
focusing on the extent to which learners use the skills, knowledge, or behavior learned in the
classroom (Pham, Segers, & Gijselaers, 2012, p. 2). With investment in workplace topping $130
to $160 billion, annually, in the United States (Paradise, 2007, p. 60; Baun & Scott, 2010, p. 62),
it is more important than ever to ensure successful transfer of training from the classroom to the
workplace. This project will summarize research and offer a tool to do just that.

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Jesuit Values
The Jesuit Value Cura Personalis reminds us to care for the whole person (Regis
University, 2014). This value speaks greatly to the opportunity this research provides to improve
the effectiveness of employees. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, only 13% of working adults
are engaged at work, meaning they are emotionally involved in and enthusiastic about what they
do (Crabtree, 2013). This statistic underscores the need for change in our workplaces, a need to
create work environments where people feel supported and energized. Learning initiatives could
be one way to engage adults at work, but they must be effective and build upon relevant business
initiatives and personal goals in order to be a sustainable factor of building engagement. Caring
for the whole person means caring for how individuals experience work, as well as the effect that
experience has on their families. This project serves a higher purpose than simply improving
learning. It serves the purpose of caring for individuals by ensuring their time spent at work is
supportive of their development and can lead to a positive experience they then bring into their
homes.
Following the Jesuit Value of Contemplatives in Action (Regis University, 2014), this
project is an opportunity not only to reflect upon a problem, but to use education, research, and
information to address it. Not only will this research serve an academic purpose, but the design
of the project is meant to lead to practical use in workplace training. Contemplatives in Action is
a reminder that reflection is a valuable tool to guide our work. This applied research project
requires thoughtful consideration of existing case studies as well as review from current
professionals in order to serve as both a thoughtful and applicable tool with which to serve
others.

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The Jesuit Value of Magis (Regis University, 2014) embodies the grace of continually
striving for more. Studying successful strategies to make the most of workplace learning is, at its
core, born from a desire not only to achieve, but to achieve something meaningful. Magis is
about choosing the best path in a given situation, to glorify God. My work as a workplace
educator is what I believe to be the best use of my unique God-given talents, and this project is a
manifestation of my desire to continually offer the best of these talents to others.
Methodology & Format
This applied research project will address the problem by first studying existing research
of training transfer. The primary product of existing research will be presented as a literature
review on the topic of transfer of training in the workplace. This literature review will identify
areas of similarity shared by successful practices in training transfer. These areas of success will
help to organize the project into chapters. From these chapters, additional research will be
implemented in search of practical strategies for both learning professionals and people
managers to use, in order to support training transfer in the workplace.
Included in the study of existing research will be case studies, professional journal
articles, trade journals, as well as interviews with adult learning facilitators and adults involved
in formal learning opportunities. To ensure a consistent interview process, I plan to design an
instrument of reflective questions that will be administered to each professional. Professionals
who take part in the instrument will represent different areas of industry expertise, and different
levels of training background. I will collect and analyze the data from the instrument, and
conduct follow-up interviews, if more clarity is needed. From this research, two main
deliverables will be created: a guidebook on creating and delivering successful programs for
learning professionals; and a guidebook on supporting employee training transfer for managers.
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Running head: TRANSFER OF TRAINING IN THE WORKPLACE
These guidebooks will be created as digital files and available for distribution among
learning professionals and managers alike. In addition to the digital files, a website will be
created where links to case studies, raw interviews, and links to articles will be available. This
format is appropriate for the audience which could most readily use the information, because it
does not require cost of printing, and can be easily accessed in the way learning professionals are
already accustomed to (Hutchins, Burke, & Berthelsen, 2010, p. 609). In addition to making the
project available online, it will be distributed to a team of existing trainers in a mid-sized
consulting firm headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
Chapter Summary
Grounded in the Jesuit Values of Cura Personalis, Contemplatives in Action, and Magis,
this project aims to be both thoughtful and practical. Applied research focused on successful
strategies for training transfer in the workplace will serve both training professionals and
managers. Analysis of existing case studies demonstrating successful training transfer will lead
to the development of a digital guidebook, consisting of common themes among successful
transfer. This guidebook will include information on the themes as well as practical guidance on
how to ensure each theme is considered when offering workplace training. The primary target
audience, professional training leaders, will also serve as reviewers of the project. A secondary
audience, who also stands to benefit from the study, is managers looking to improve training
transfer in their own workplace.

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