How much practice is enough?
What practice? We hear questions like these regularly.
You probably won’t be surprised, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for questions like these. Many factors are in play: business goals, stakeholder expectations, the complexity or importance of the work, what the learning ecosystem can support, where the employee is in their development (what they already know or can do), etc. In short, every situation is unique.
During the scenario selection and engineering process, we often use a matrix – it’s simple, gives everyone a common framework, and is an easy visual to understand. Matrices like those shown below can be part of the work analysis or the design process.
Step 1: Determine two factors that drive the difficulty and complexity of the work (business stakeholders or top performers will be able to tell you). When a role works with customers (a bank teller or call center agent, for example), interacting with the system and interacting with the customer are options that have worked well for us.
Step 2: Describe what Low, Medium, and High difficulty or complexity mean for each factor. For example, for the customer, the levels might be
Low = happy/agreeable – easy to work with
Medium = neutral/hesitant
High = unhappy/resistant – difficult to work with
Step 3: Draw the matrix; here’s an example:
Step 4: Work with the stakeholders to determine what constitutes “ready” or “enough” – at what point will stakeholders be confident that the learner “is ready?”
Step 5: Discuss and determine the combination of practice scenarios necessary to achieve “ready” and mark the matrix (add details to each mark as needed). Also, sequence the practice, building from low difficulty and complexity to high.
These steps are just part of the design process. From here, the conversation evolves topics like formative and summative learning objectives, modality, content flow, treatment, appropriate spacing, blocking and interleaving, spacing, setting aside time for reflection, feedback, support back at the job, etc.
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Building your Best Employee: Learning Strategies that Drive Results