Better Training Outcomes are just a Few Reminders Away

Topic: Training
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (JAN 2010)
Article: Sometimes you need a reminder: The effects of prompting self-regulation on regulatory processes, learning and attrition.
Authors: T. Sitzmann and K. Ely
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

Have you ever taken a training course and noticed your mind wandering?  Or have you ever found that the decisions you made during training (“I already know this stuff, I think I’ll skip it”) weren’t exactly the best for facilitating your learning?  Don’t feel bad, you’re not alone.  Many adult trainees are guilty of the same bad habits.

To address these problems, several researchers have begun exploring interventions that are expected to help trainees make better decisions during training, especially when given a great deal of control over their learning (characteristic of e-learning courses).

One intervention that is gaining in popularity is self-regulatory prompting which presents trainees with questions that are intended to focus their attention and behaviors toward learning the training content.  Self-regulatory prompts basically serve as periodic reminders to trainees.  It simply involves periodically presenting trainees with questions such as, “Am I concentrating on learning the training material?” and “Are the studying strategies I am using effective for learning the material?”

Sitzmann and Ely found that this simple intervention does indeed lead to better learning and attrition as long as it is delivered continuously throughout the entire training course.  Additionally, Sitzmann and Ely found that continuous prompting leads trainees to learn more because trainees who receive continuous prompting spend more time on the training course.

Overall, Sitzmann and Ely’s findings demonstrate that trainees can use a reminder every now and then, and even the simplest of interventions can have a big impact on training outcomes.

Sitzmann, T., & Ely, K. (2010). Sometimes you need a reminder: The effects of prompting
self-regulation on regulatory processes, learning and attrition.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(1), 132-144.