It will require all three teaching philosophies (positivism, constructivism, and behaviorism) to educate and train auditors to the objectives of an audit. It is difficult implementing one philosophy still maintain the same level of thoroughness and effectiveness. I am currently an educator and know that it takes a variety of teaching and training techniques for students to perform successfully.
The three philosophies have been the subject of many scientific and psychological debates, dating as far back as the early 1800's. The positivism philosophy involves thinking in one frame of mind, believing that there is one right correct method of achieving desired results. In my opinion, it limits the ability to expand intellectual growth, thinking outside the box, and being applicable to new systems or modern practices. A study was conducted proving that it is damaging to thinking that there is only one right way of finding a right answer. "The study consisted of students being provided a predetermined answer and were given the task of finding out how the answer was tabulated. The study resulted in improper scientific behaviors because the students manipulated the data to generate a positive right answer because learned methods were found inapplicable (Allen 2008 321)." This is proof that learning one right way of finding an answer may not apply to all situations. I would still implement this philosophy in certain aspects of audit training which will be explained later.
Constructivism is based upon learning from our own personal experiences. The philosophy of constructivism is that we learn by solving problems that are presented to us. I believe this aspect is the strongest aspect of any training or learning. Constructivism provides the foundation to build from learning experiences and applying them to new situations. This teaching philosophy promotes creativity and thinking outside box to solving problems. Jean Piaget, a well known developmental psychologist said that constructivism takes place when students are provided situations and activities which they can acquire a learning experience (Powell 2009 242).
Behaviorism is when information is embedded to reinforced or shape to a desired behavior (Zuriff 2002 370). A psychologist by the name of Fred Skinner of Wheaton College coined behaviorism as being government rule behavior (Zuriff 2002 370).Skinner also was the first to introduce the term "operating conditioning" which means an individual responds in a specific way due to external stimuli. All of these philosophies can be implemented in educating and training auditor trainees.
The way I will utilize positivism into my training session is by teaching the audit trainees the sequence of the audit process. The sequence of the audit process does not change and there is only one way of conducting it. The audit trainees will learn the stages and requirements of an audit such as the pre-activity phase, opening conference, conducting the audit, closing conference, and final reports.
The pre- activity phase is the planning stage leading to conducting an audit. During this phase, the auditor trainees will receive the bulk of their training. The pre-activity phase is when auditors are selected and assigned a specific area to audit. The assigned areas of audit will be discussed in a lecture format. The auditor trainees will also learn about the regulations that pertain to their assigned areas and how retrieve regulations from databases when necessary.
The three terminologies of this assignment are more scientifically directed. The goal of positivism is to gain knowledge through the teachings of the classroom. The role of the trainer or teacher is to interpret events for the students (www.coe.tamu.edu). The positivism philosophy is a controlled and predictable way of teaching and thinking. Positivism does not promote the exploration of trying new methods of doing things.
The positivist approach was used to teach the auditor trainee about the sequence of events that occur during an audit. The term constructivism is more interesting. It's the hands-on aspect of training and tests the auditor trainee's knowledge. The materials learned from a positivism perspective sometimes overlap into constructivism form of teaching. The trainees have already been taught about regulations, how to retrieve information from databases during the positivism stage (lecture format), and now it's time to tests the trainees knowledge. The testing of training knowledge is the constructivism learning method. For example, mock audits will be conducted in the areas assigned to each auditor trainee. The objective is to determine whether the trainees are able to apply what he or she has learned in the classroom and be able to real auditing situations.
There is proof that there is nothing wrong with using positivist methods to lay the framework of constructionist activities. A professor from the University of Maryland stated, "Constructivist methods in a learning course, doesn't mean eliminating positivist techniques such as using lecturing as an instructional tool. It still proves worthwhile to spend many hours lecturing. Lecturing is the base for constructivist framework. It's the foundation in which builds farther understanding (Henry 2002)".
There will be a lecture (positivism technique) on role playing. Role playing is an essential aspect of the auditing process. Role playing is a constructionist teaching strategy because it does incorporate problem-solving and trying to figure an appropriate solution. The auditor will have to role play during the interviewing process in order to make the interviewee feel comfortable. For example, the interviewee seems very uncomfortable and nervous. The correct solution is to project a comfortable tone of voice, indicating to the interviewee that there is nothing to worry about. The auditor would pass the training test by reassuring and informing the interviewee that the interview is about facility practices not an evaluation of his or her work that would lead to reprimanding.
There will be a lot of classroom time spent learning the fundamentals of each audit area. The trainees will be tested in areas in which they are assigned. I will implement the combination of positivism and constructivism to in order to provide my trainees the tools and experience to be successful during the auditing process. All lessons will be followed with a hands-on testing module.
Constructivism and positivism are both apart of the learning experience. There is a journal article titled, "Positivists and Constructionist Persuasions in Instructional Development". It summarized that positivism and constructivism were complementary to each other and it would be difficult to acquire a full breadth of learning without them (Hwang 1996 343).
My training program is consistent with modern teaching and training methods. I have included the third teaching method which solidifies my total auditing training program. The third method is utilization of the behaviorism philosophy. Behaviorism used to reinforcement everything that has been learned. The training objectives will change the behavior of the trainees. The objective of conducting audit is to determine the compliance status of a company. It can be accomplished by conducting the audit according what has been taught in training. The objective of the audit is to detect deficiencies, support deficiencies with regulatory proof, and remain professional at all times. Behaviorism involves reinforcement and repetition. The objectives will be restated throughout the entire auditor training. The goal is to mold or condition the trainee's mind to the objectives of the audit.
Behaviorism will prove itself when the trainee conducts the audit. He or she will discover a deficiency, support it with a regulation, and move confidently throughout the facility. Fred Skinner, as mentioned earlier would call this type of behavior operant conditioning. The trainees will be taught to recognize (external stimuli) deficiencies and record them according to protocol.
I feel utilizing the three philosophies in my teaching strategies will definitely ensure auditor calibration. My teaching strategy includes lecture time, hands-on / problem-solving, and repeating the objectives throughout training. Incorporating positivism, constructivism, and behaviorism in my auditor trainee sessions will promote quality auditors.