JITE v35n2 - An Investigation of the Instructional Thoughts, Beliefs, and Preferences of Selected HRD Practitioners

Volume 35, Number 2
Winter 1998

An Investigation of the Instructional Thoughts, Beliefs, and Preferences of Selected HRD Practitioners

Theodore Lewis
University of Minnesota
Kwame Peasah
University of Minnesota

In their ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) study of trends and models of practice for the field of Human Resource Development (HRD), McLagan and Suhadolnik (1989) identified four classes of competencies needed by practitioners (i.e., technical, business, interpersonal, and intellectual). Included among "technical" competencies were instructional skills (i.e., understanding of adult learning) and techniques for identifying the skills needed to perform jobs and tasks. "Interpersonal" competencies included attributes (i.e., questioning skill and coaching skill) that also could be considered to belong to the instructional category. The study also set forth "role profiles" for HRD practitioners. For example, one role included being an "instructor/facilitator" whose job would include "presenting information, directing structured learning experiences, and managing group discussions and group process" (p. 39).

Across the United States, HRD is being introduced into the selection of degree programs offered by departments that have traditionally focused on the fields of vocational education and technology education. This newcomer must now be accommodated. A starting point for this accommodation might be with instruction. When HRD practitioners assume instructional roles, as has been described in the McLagan and Suhadolnik (1989) study, their task appears fundamentally to be no different from that of vocational instructors or from practitioners in formal educational settings, such as schools or universities. The challenges associated with motivating trainees, and developing ways of representing, sequencing, and imparting content to promote meaningful learning will persist. "paradigm shift" away from traditional subject-matter oriented instruction. The focus is on use of the content or process learned. Thus, the trainer is viewed as a "performance technologist" (Harless, 1995; Rossett & Czech, 1995). This approach to instruction requires that HRD practitioners view both individuals and organizations as units of analysis when they conceive of instruction.

The Adult Learner

Complementing the discourse on instruction in HRD is an adult learning focus (Altizer, 1993; Torrence, 1992; Zemke & Zemke, 1988; 1995). Consistent with the thought of Knowles (1984), there is strong support in this literature for the idea that adults are self-directed learners, for whom a special theory of instruction (coined "andragogy") is required. Challenging the premises of andragogy, Pratt (1988) suggests that the theory does not allow for variation among adult learners. Related to learning theory is the question of learning "styles" of adults. Within the HRD culture, learners are frequently categorized based on an estimation of their particular style of learning. A popular tool used to accomplish this is the Myers-Briggs Inventory. Other learning style schema are premised upon whether one is right-brain or left-brain oriented. Zemke & Zemke (1995) assert that "If we've learned anything from all the attention paid to the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument...in the last decade, it is that adults do have learning-style differences and your design should accommodate them" (p. 24). Davidson (1990, p. 36), however, asserts that "learning styles tend to be discussed more often than researched," and noted, it may not be practical to match learning and teaching styles. Similarly, Dunn, Beaudry, and Klavas (1989) observe that there is a lack of common agreement on what constitutes "style." The determinants of style may be at once biological, social, and cultural. Also, within each culture and class, there are as many between-group differences as there are within-group differences.

HRD as a Unique Culture

Because of peculiarities of the field (e.g., the prominence of subject matter experts, as well as the focus on both individual and organizational performance), HRD could be considered a unique culture, having its own set of values and norms. This view may be amplified by the fact that HRD is, for the most part, an unregulated field, with no standard or core requirements for becoming a practitioner (see the tensions here in Gilley, 1996 and Ellinger, 1996). HRD practitioners in the United States are not required to be licensed to practice. Lack of regulation means openness, and fosters much opportunity for developing folk norms of instruction within the field. These may vary substantially from the norms of mainstream teacher education that fields such as vocational or technology education have internalized.

HRD practitioners may bring a peculiar disposition to instruction. In her study of the tacit beliefs of HRD professionals, Watkins (1990) found that some were inclined to view training as magical, that is, they held the view that one either had a knack for being a trainer or not. Good training was beyond explanation. Others tended to view training as political. For these, what made training successful was external to the trainer, perhaps residing with management. Watkins sought to alter these conceptions, offering instead a view of training as learning (e.g., one in which the trainers perceive themselves as reflective practitioners).

Culture, Thoughts, Beliefs, and Good Teaching

Watkins' study provides some support for the hypothesis that HRD constitutes a unique culture, within which practitioners hold their own unique set of instructional beliefs, thoughts, and judgements. If this view is tenable, then in what ways is the HRD culture unique and along what lines does it differ from the educational mainstream? That the general field of teaching is a unique culture is a view that has had credence (Brousseau, Book & Byers, 1988; Feiman-Nemser & Floden, 1986; Shavelson & Stern, 1981). In their review of research on teachers' pedagogical thoughts, judgments, and actions, Shavelson & Stern (1981) set forth a framework which showed that the choices teachers make in the classroom are a product of antecedent conditions inclusive of professional characteristics. Subsequently, Brousseau, Book, and Byers (1988) examined how the opinions and beliefs of beginning and experienced teachers differed, finding that years of teaching had significant influence on what teachers believed. In other words, beginning teachers eventually become socialized into their practice. The authors wrote that "we must not only ask what beliefs do teachers bring to their profession, but ask whether they are desirable beliefs, how they change, and what factors influence those changes" (p. 39).

While teaching may constitute a culture, there is variation within it regarding what makes for, or constitutes, good instruction. Whether teaching lies in the realm of art or science has been a point at issue (Eisner, 1983; Gage, 1984; Rubin, 1989; Zahorik, 1986). Both Gage and Eisner suggest that teaching is an art, governed not by hard and fast rules, but by rules of thumb. Good teaching is characterized by spontaneity.

The many things that good teachers do in the classroom have been deemed by Shulman (1987) to be premised upon their possessing pedagogical content knowledge, "that special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers" (p. 9). Thus, teaching is a learned profession. Teachers must understand "the structures of subject matter, the principles of conceptual organization, and the principles of inquiry" (p. 9) attending their domain of practice. Shulman speaks of "the wisdom of practice." Within recent times, such wisdom is felt to be a manifestation of reflective practice (Kagan & Tippins, 1991; Liston & Zeichner, 1987; Sparks-Langer & Colton, 1991).

Thus, while instruction is an important facet of HRD (as it is within fields such as vocational education or technology education), it may be that the thoughts, beliefs, and judgments of HRD practitioners are culturally bounded. Just as teaching is held to be a culture that inclines its practitioners and advocates toward peculiar instructional thoughts, beliefs, and dispositions, it may be that HRD likewise predisposes its advocates and practitioners. The study to be reported here sought to examine this basic idea by asking a sample of HRD practitioners to consider and respond to a set of instructional premises in keeping with their own beliefs.

Problem and Purpose

The problem of this study was that little is known about the instructional thoughts, beliefs, and preferences of HRD practitioners. The basic instructional culture of HRD has been little examined. The purpose was to obtain an understanding of the instructional beliefs and preferences of HRD practitioners and to compare these with mainstream conceptions of teaching and learning. This study sought to explore the extent to which instructional beliefs and preferences appear to be peculiar to trainers. Given that HRD is a new and fast emerging segment of vocational programs, conceptual change among this new clientele would become more likely if the instructional thoughts, beliefs, and values were better understood.

Research Questions

To guide the inquiry process, the following related research questions were established:

  1. What are the strongly held views and the belief structure of HRD practitioners with respect to the nature of training?
  2. What are the strongly held views and belief structure of HRD practitioners with respect to training room capabilities that trainers should possess?
  3. What are the strongly held views with respect to adult learners and adult learning and what is the structure of such views?
  4. What are the strongly held views regarding what are important outcomes of learning and what is the structure of such views?
  5. What are the strongly held views about what constitutes good training practices and strategies and what is the structure of such views?

These five questions became organizers for the survey instrument that was developed.


A Culture of Training Survey instrument (consisting of 110 items) was developed by the author, drawing upon instructional principles and practices derived from the literature. A ten-point Likert-type scale ranging from "weak" to "core" was employed for all items ("Weak" on the scale was 1 or 2. "Moderate" was 3 or 4. "Strong" was 5 or 6. "Very strong" was 7 or 8. "Core" was 9 or 10). The instrument was comprised of five sections corresponding to the research questions as follows (a) the nature of training (14 items), (b) capabilities that trainers should possess to be successful in the training room (26 items), (c) beliefs about adult learners and adult learning (18 items), (d) important outcomes of training (19 items), and (e) good training strategies and practices (33 items). A panel of three HRD practitioners independently critiqued the instrument for content, format, and clarity. Their suggestions led to its substantial modification and final refinement as well as to the decision to take it to the field in lieu of further piloting. The eventual results corroborated this decision since the instrument, taken as a whole, yielded a Cronbach's coefficient alpha of .95 as its estimate of internal consistency. Since the basis for the five subsections of the instrument was conceptual rather than empirical, each section was not assumed to be independent of the others. Indeed, a basic assumption underlying the construction of the instrument was that the subsections are correlated. Hence, a single measure of internal consistency (alpha) rather than multiple measures was the most appropriate and parsimonious option. To accommodate a single measure, the instrument was designed so that the same 10-point metric applied uniformly across all 110 items. rather than multiple measures was the most appropriate and parsimonious option. To accommodate a single measure, the instrument was designed so that the same 10-point metric applied uniformly across all 110 items.

A random sample of 350 HRD practitioners, drawn from the ASTD directory of the metropolitan area of St. Paul/Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota, was surveyed. The population was estimated to be approximately 1000. After three mailings, 187 usable returns (53.4%) were obtained. A comparison of early and late respondents as well as an examination of demographic data did not reveal any significant differences among six groups. The substantial length of the questionnaire might have deterred some respondents during the original mailing.

Basic descriptive statistics (i.e., frequency, mean, and standard deviation) were computed for all items in the survey. Data for each of the five sections were factor- analyzed to reveal any underlying thematic structures. Only factor loadings (regression weights) of .40 or higher were considered. In reporting the results, the following approach will be taken. First, for each section of the instrument, the top five items based on means are ranked and presented with their accompanying standard deviations, as well as the frequency of "core" responses (e.g., the number of times subjects rated an item a 9 or 10). These rankings might be unstable, but taken in the context of this study, they provide a degree of insight regarding the preferences of the respondents. A high ranking should not diminish the fact that other items, not in the top five, would also be highly regarded. Second, the factor structure of the responses was examined and is reported in the order of the size of the explained variance. Where the variance explained is negligible, or where the structure of a factor is unintelligible, that factor is not reported. Each factor was then named based on a qualitative interpretation of the theme that appeared to underlie it.

Table 1
Top Five Beliefs about the Nature of Training (n = 184)

Item Rank Mean SD Core
Frequency 1

Purpose of training is to remedy deficiencies in worker knowledge and skills 1 7.8 1.7 73
Trainer's job is to help workers realize their fullest potential 2 7.5 2.1 63
Job of trainer is to help organization/client offer a better service/product 3 7.3 2.1 61
Purpose of training is to transmit organizational values 4 7.3 2.0 58
Training should help workers become more thoughtful practitioners 5 7.1 2.0 44

1 No. of respondents rating an item 9 or 10

Table 2
Factor Structure of Beliefs about the Nature of Training (two main factors shown)

Factors and related items Factor

Humanism   27.9
Purpose of training is to improve the desire of workers to continue learning .85
The trainer's job is to help workers to realize their fullest potential .76
An important purpose of training is to keep workers intellectually challenged .74  
The job of the trainer is to help workers become better learners .73  
Training should help workers become more thoughtful practitioners .55  
Corporatism   14.8
The test of the content of training programs should be workplace relevance .72  
Trainers should keep their sights on the bottom line .67  
The job of the trainer is to help the organization/client offer a better serice/product .53  
A purpose of training is to help remedy deficiencies in worker knowledge and skills .53  

All Factors   59.9

Table 3
Top Five Capabilities that Trainers Should Possess (n=186)

Item Rank Mean SD Core
Frequency 1

Ability to provide clear explanations 1 8.8 1.2 118
Ability to check for understanding and misunderstanding 2 8.69 1.2 113
Ability to engage trainees through questions, probes, etc. 3 8.67 1.2 108
Competence in dealing with bodies of knowledge (e.g. understanding what are the important issues or questions relating to a particular subject area) 4 8.59 1.3 111
Skill in managing an array of classroom situations (such as how to deal with a trainee who is monopolizing classroom discussion) 5 8.51 1.4 105

1 No. of respondents rating an item 9 or 10

Table 4
Partial Factor Structure of Perceptions about Needed Training Room Capabilities

Factors and related items Factor

Strategic Skills   38.6
Ability to develope and use lesson plans .78
Ability to use instructional media .75
Ability to pace instruction .73  
Ability to find alternative ways to present content .55  
Ability to simplify ideas .52  
Ability to make judgements about the fitness of material to be taught .46  
Tactical Skills   6.4
Ability to engage trainees through questions, probes, etc. .75  
Ability to check for understanding & misunderstanding .75  
Ability to generate trainee interest .64  
Ability to choose from a repertoire of teaching strategies .50  
Ability to provide clear explanations .49  
Learner Oriented Skills   5.9
Knowing how to match instruction with adult learning .82  
Knowing how to apply learning theory .78  
Ability to deal with the many kinds of differences that learners bring to the classroom .54  
Artistic Skills   5.5
Having a repertoire of life experiences to draw upon during class sessions .70  
Ability to represent ideas in the form of analogies and metaphors .67  
Knowledge of content or subject matter .60  
Ability to read the mood oftrainees from their non-verbal cues .44  
Ability to use examples for illustrative purposes .55  
Ability to model desired behaviors expeccted of trainees .42  

All Factors   65.1

Table 5
Top Five Beliefs about Adult Learners and Learning (n=184)

Item Rank Mean SD Core

Adults vary in their learning styles (some are reflective, while others are sensing) 1 8.9 1.3 119
Adults vary in their temperaments (e.g. some are introvert others are extroverts) 2 8.7 1.4 110
Adults go through life cycle changes 3 8.2 1.8 92
Adults vary in the extent to which they are self directed 4 8.0 1.6 80
Adults bring much relevant prior knowledge 5 8.0 1.9 91

Table 6
Partial Factor Structure of Beliefs about Adult Learners & Learning

Factors and related items Factor

Individual Differences   25.0
Adults vary in their learning styles .89  
Adults vary in their temperaments (some are introverts others are extroverts .87  
Adults go through life cycle changes .76  
Adults vary in terms of the amount of relevant prior knowledge they bring to the classroom .54  
Adult learners vary in the extent to which they are self directed .52  
Experience   11.9
Adults need to know why they should learn something .81  
Adults prefer content to be organized around life tasks For example, they prefer to write business letters than essays .75  
Adults are interested in learning only when they can see its applicability in their day to day lives .67  
Adults become ready to learn when some life experience dictates that they are .67  
Androgogy   10.5
Adult learners know what they want from instruction .78  
Adults dislike teacher centered classrooms .77  
Adult learning is goal directed .55  
Adults wish to evaluate their own learning .53  

All Factors   60.5

Table 7
Top Five Perceived Important Outcomes of Training (n=184)

Item Rank Mean Core

Trainees can see connections between classroom learning & situations they may confront in the workplace 1 8.5 106
Trainees understand and can apply principles 2 8.3 108
Trainees learn and can demonstrate work processes and procedures 3 8.2 82
Trainees understand concepts 4 7.9 79
Trainees can immediately use what they learn back on their jobs 5 7.8 73

Table 8
Partial Factor Structure of Perceived Important Outcomes of Training

Factors and related items Factor

Workplace Commitment   43.4
Trainees develop greater commitment to their job .79  
Trainees embrace workplace values such as punctuality .75  
Trainees develop greater commitment to their careers .71  
Trainees demonstrate good work attitudes .68  
Trainees subvert individual needs for the good of their coworkers .68  
Trainees understand who their internal customers are and what their needs are .56  
Workplace Application   11.1
Trainees can immediately use what they learn back on their jobs .76  
Trainees learn and can apply rules and formulas .69  
Trainees learn and can demonstrate work processes & procedures .67  
Trainees can see connections between classroom learning and situations they may confront in the workplace .63  
Trainees understand company expectations better .55  
Trainees understand their roles better .55  
Personal Growth   7.4
Trainees become life-long learners .81  
Trainees are able to apply learning in new or novel situations .69  
Trainees learn how to think and act independantly 62  
Trainees are able to part with prior misconceptions they might have had .56  
Learning   5.8
Trainees show inderstanding of facts .81  
Trainees understand concepts .80  
Trainees understand and can apply principles .68  

All Factors   68.3

Table 9
Top Five Training Practices and Strategies (n=184)

Item Rank Mean SD Core

Explain the purpose & relevance of the content 1 8.7 1.34 114
Inform trainees of the objectives of the lesson 2 8.6 1.46 116
Provide oppurtunities to practice
during lessons
3 8.4 1.48 106
Cultivate the interest of trainees at the beginning of training sessions 4 8.3 1.46 88
Try to connect the content of the lesson with prior knowledge possessed by trainees 5 8.2 1.44 81

Table 10
Partial Factor Structure of Perceptions of What are Good Training Practices and Procedures

Factors and related items Factor

Macro-strategies   39.2
Utilize the discussion where appropriate .83  
Utilize case studies where appropriate .81  
Utilize the demonstration where appropriate .79  
Utilize the lecture where appropriate .66  
Utilize computer-assisted methods where appropriate .55  
Utilize games .42  
Micro-Strategies   7.4
Help learners create content outlines    
Help learners create concept maps    
Help learners analyze key ideas    
Provide an advance organizer to establish a conceptual frame for the lesson    
Adapt the content to learner preferences    
Have a deliberate stratedy for sequencing content    
Evaluation   6.6
Make use of formative evaluation .82  
Make use of summative evaluation .76  
Use job aids .70  
Use role play .58  
Use simulations .52  
Pre-test trainees to gauge the extent of prior knowledge .43  
All Factors   68.3

Capabilities Trainers Should Possess

The second section of the survey (26 items) focused on the capabilities that the respondents felt are needed by trainers to be successful in the training room. As shown in Table 3, the top ranked capability was the ability to provide clear explanations. All five items here are consistent with capabilities set forth in the mainstream educational literature. To discern whether there was an underlying value at work, factor analysis was employed. A six-factor solution, explaining 65.1% of total variance was yielded, four of which are indicated in Table 4. The first of these factors was dominant, with six items explaining "strategic skills" reflecting executive type skills (e.g., lesson planning, choosing media, choosing strategy, making judgments about content).

The second factor explained 6.4% of total variance. It appeared to relate to "tactical skills," having to do more with the engagement aspect of training (e.g., probing, checking for understanding, modeling desired behaviors) (Jonassen et al, 1990). The third factor, which explained 5.9% of total variance, had to do with attention to the learner (e.g., learning style, applying learning theory, valuing individual differences). It was labeled "learner oriented skills." The fourth factor explained 5.5% of variance and was named "artistic skills," based on the fact that it dealt with ability to deal with classroom intangibles (e.g., such as reading non- verbal cues) (Eisner, 1983; Gage, 1984). The remaining two factors were not well organized.

Adult Learners and Adult Learning

The third section of the survey (18 items) focused on beliefs about adult learners and adult learning. Table 5 depicts the top five ranked items and shows that the first and second ranked items are consistent with Myers- Briggs categories (e.g., sensing, introversion, extroversion). As can be seen, 119 subjects (64.6%) rated the top ranked item as a core value. This section of the questionnaire resolved into five factors, the top three of which are presented in Table 6. This solution explained 60.5% of total variance. The first factor, consisting of five items, accounted for 25% of variance. The latent theme of this factor clearly was that adult learners vary on a number of attributes and dispositions. Thus, it was labeled "individual differences" and it was consistent with the critique of the idea of andragogy as set forth by Pratt (1988). The second factor explained 11.9% of variance. Four items constituted this factor which was labeled "experience," because it dwelled upon existential factors (e.g., life tasks, life experiences, and daily lives) that appear to shape the disposition of adults as learners.

The third factor explained 10.5 % of variance. It consisted of four items whose latent theme appeared to be consistent with standard adult learning theory as set forth by advocates such as Malcolm Knowles (1984). It was labeled "andragogy." It is interesting here that while andragogy found some support, the more dominant value appeared to favor the idea of variation among adults, which is a view more in keeping with the educational mainstream.

Outcomes of Training

The fourth section of the survey (19 items) focused upon beliefs regarding important outcomes of learning. Table 7 shows the top five rated outcomes. The top rated outcome is the ability of trainees to see the relevance of their training to the workplace. Among the five are a mixture of knowledge items (ranks of 2 and 4), and application items (ranks of 1, 3, and 5).

Further probing of the data through factor analysis (see Table 8) revealed a four-factor solution, explaining 67.7% of total variance. One factor was dominant, and explained 43.4% of the total variance. This factor was named "workplace commitment," consistent with what appeared to be its underlying theme. The business side of training took precedence over all else.

The second factor explained 11.1% of total variance and it was named "workplace application," consistent with its latent theme. Here there was valuing of practical manifestations of instruction, in the context of the workplace. Training had to be seen to be connected with workplace actuality. The third factor, consisting of four items, explained 7.4% of variance. It was named "personal growth," consistent with items relating to lifelong learning, transfer of learning, independence, and conceptual change. Here the focus of training was on the individual per se. The fourth factor consisted of three items, explaining 5.8% of variance. It was entitled "learning," in keeping with the focus on understanding of facts, concepts, and principles.

It can be seen that with respect to outcomes of training, corporate themes were preeminent. They explained more variance than themes relating to the individual. These results constitute a reversal of the values expressed when the nature of training (Table 2) was examined. Then, humanism appeared to take precedence over corporatism. Now, corporatism, in the form of workplace commitment and workplace application, takes precedence over humanism. But the results are not necessarily contradictory. The "nature of training" is an abstract philosophical concept. At that level, the subjects intuitively may value the worker over the work. However, at a more pragmatic outcomes level, where the issue becomes results, practicality overrides philosophy. This is an area where training differs markedly from teaching. Trainers are hired for an instrumental purpose and are aware of that.

Good Training Practices

The fifth section of the instrument (33 items) focused on the research objective related to good training practices and strategies. The top five items are shown in Table 9 and appear to relate substantially to Gagne's events of instruction (Gagne et al, 1988).

When data for this section were factor analyzed, they yielded a seven factor solution explaining 68.3% of variance (Table 10). Again, there was a dominant first factor (six items), that explained 39.2% of variance. This factor was deemed "macro strategies" having an executive or strategic character, corroborating the findings evident in the first factor in Table 4. The second factor (seven items), explained 7.4% of variance. Items had to do with "micro strategies" that were consistent with learning and instructional theory (e.g., concept maps and advance organizers). This second factor also corroborated findings evident in Table 4, in that it reflected skills of a tactical nature. The skills here would require a degree of sophistication in one's outlook as a trainer. They required depth of familiarity with mainstream conceptions of classroom practice. The third factor explained 6.6% of variance and was named "evaluation," because three of the six items that comprised it were thus related. Other factors were not intelligible.

Summary and Discussion

This study was designed to attempt to understand the instructional thoughts and value preferences of a sample of HRD practitioners. The results show that the respondents viewed the nature of training along relatively discrete humanistic and corporatist lines, with humanism the more organized and probably the stronger value. They valued both overt strategic skills (such as planning lessons or choosing media) and tactical skills (relating to actual teaching), with the former being somewhat stronger than the latter. They were inclined more to believe that adults vary in their learning needs than viewing adults as a group that need to be self-directed. The study's sample valued organizational impact of training over personal impacts. The primary outcome of training must be commitment to the workplace and job. They valued macro training methods (e.g., lecture, discussion, and demonstration) over micro methods (e.g., using concept maps or ability to sequence content). Regarding perceptions of capabilities trainers should possess, it was instructive that the top five ranked skills were consistent with events of learning as set forth by Gagne et al (1988). The factor structure of these responses suggest that HRD practitioners believe that the strongest instructional capability needed for the job ought to be manifested well before they reach the classroom (e.g., planning instruction, choosing media, making judgments about the fitness of material to be taught, and being aware of how to alter strategy). In short, they view program planning to be perhaps the highest priority instructional value. The findings related to needed classroom capabilities corresponded with what were perceived to be good training practices and strategies, to the degree that executive-type skills took precedence. The teaching method to be used (e.g., lecture, case study, games, etc.) took precedence over the tactic (e.g., concept map, advance organizer, or content outline) in order to make the content intelligible for the learner.

The strong tendency toward pre-classroom (what method am I going to employ?) over in-classroom (how do I connect the learner with the content?) skills, might be an artifact of the culture of HRD. In-class tactical skills require specific types of coursework preparation that might not be within the range of experience of the typical HRD practitioner. Thus, the day to day exchanges among practitioners might revolve more likely around a videotape than around a concept map.

The commercial side of the HRD culture also may affect attitudes. The numerous vendors with ready-to-use instructional products and the many "try this in your training program" entreaties may ultimately suppress the discourse on HRD theory and principles of which Jonassen et al (1990) is an exemplar.

Within HRD, there is an interest in "stand-up" and "presentation" skills. Here the emphasis tends to be on overt behaviors with the spotlight on the trainer as performer. As indicated in the literature, we know that it is trainee "reaction" at the end of training programs that is the dominant evaluative approach rather than an assessment of their "learning." This perception was reinforced in this study where the learning factor explained just 5.8% of the total variance on perceived important training outcomes.

It was not surprising, with respect to adult learners and adult learning, that beliefs associated with the Myers-Briggs schema were well favored. What was encouraging here, though, was that the subjects favored generally the reality that there is variation among adult learners. All adults learners were not viewed as being self-directed. Implications for individual growth and an eye on the bottom line. This tension, which has been examined by Bjorkquist and Lewis (1994), must be addressed by HRD practitioners, requiring them to respond to two seemingly antithetical training impulses.

Since the sample of HRD practitioners in this study was randomly chosen, it can be surmised that the findings are generalizable to the population of ASTD members in the state of Minnesota. Whether they are generalizable beyond could be tested by replication of the study. What this study has done is establish a baseline, regarding the value positions of these practitioners with respect to the nature of training, to the learners they serve as well as to instruction. Such a baseline can serve as a basis for understanding the culture of HRD as it is experienced by the practitioners. Much remains to be learned about this culture. The questions that need to be asked have not been exhausted in this study. One important use of the kind of knowledge derived here is in understanding the values that practitioners already in the field may bring to HRD degree programs as they seek to be credentialed. These predispositions and already formed concepts of instruction provide the raw material with which these programs must work to effect conceptual change. Based on the authors' own experience with such student clients, however, the competition between the instructional ideas they have learned in practice and those one tries to inculcate on the campus is fierce. The practitioners bring with them many strong beliefs about learning and instruction and they do not retreat from these lightly. Having a better understanding of the structure of the value schemata that HRD students bring will aid in devising strategies that can help them to interrogate their beliefs as well as to consider alternative ones. A second use of baseline information (such as that which has been yielded in this study) is to help the HRD profession at-large learn to examine itself. Reflection is a key to renewal. If practice in the field is to improve, then the professionals must continually assume a reflective stance.

Getting HRD practitioners on a broad front to adopt stances to teaching and learning that are based on tested principles constitutes a challenge. As increasing pressure is placed upon workers to learn new methods, systems, and procedures, that challenge becomes an imperative. It is a challenge that departments in colleges and universities that have ventured into HRD must take up.


Within the context of HRD, one observes a vibrant literature in the realm of instruction, with several Lewis is Associate Professor, Department of Work, Community and Family Education, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Peasah is a doctoral student, Department of Work, Community and Family Education, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota.


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Tracy Gilmore