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The importance of interpretive sociology is renowned in this Anne Fearfull's piece of research. Clerical skill and knowledge, and the role of the clerical function within five organisations are explored using qualitative research, mainly in-depth interviews. The study also focuses on the concept of 'common sense' in order for clerks to become "efficient or effective in their work". Moreover, in her study, Fearfull concluded that the skills and knowledge of the clerks can easily play an important role with regards to the success of a particular organisation. Additionally, interpretive methodology serves to create new perceptivity in the investigation of skills and knowledge amongst the workforce. Such research aims at the discovery of more opportunities.
How might the understanding of knowledge as proposed by Fearfull (2005) influence human resource development policies?
Various features constitute human resource development, including training, performance management and career growth. These attributes aim at the development of the employees' knowledge. Organisations should understand what knowledge is needed in order to be easily explained to their workforce. In Fearfull's research, the difference between the experienced ("older") and the inexperienced ("younger") clerks, is remarked. As a human resource development policy, organisations can explore the possibility of engaging more experienced employees in delivering the training programmes to the newly recruited and less experienced employees. This can take the form of job mentoring whereby new and/or less experienced employees absorb knowledge from the experienced ones in order to have greater opportunities at succeeding in their position. Research indicates that when newly employees experience mentor relationships, they are more likely to be retained and immersed more quickly into the organisation's culture. By this type of relationship, the mentor also benefits since it provides the opportunity to re-evaluate his/her skills and knowledge and provide areas for improving them.
Provide a brief example which demonstrates your understanding of the key points outlined in the article.
Throughout my University life, I had been engaged in various practicum placements as part of my undergraduate course. These placements have helped me to acquire knowledge through hands-on experience, understanding theories through practice. Additionally, during my first weeks of my employment, I had been engaged in an induction programme, whereby experienced employees provided training to the new recruits, including myself. I had the opportunity to become more knowledgeable of the organisation's procedures and acquire the skills needed to function effectively in my new post.
Despite this, the induction programme did not aid in accelerating the process of getting to know the underlying procedures which established employees employ in the day to day running of the service. Such procedures may be viewed as becoming part of the job's 'common sense' reasoning, which employees acquire after a considerate amount of time in the post. This was something that I have learnt by time. But this problem had been solved by having a mentor in the first four months of my employment. I consider myself as very lucky since my mentor invested trust in my abilities and was always available when needed. This was a truly learning experience whereby knowledge and work skills have been transferred from an employee who had already lived through the same experience.
Lastly, I believe that the secret of the organisation's success is the total and unwavering dedication of every worker, from the lowest to the highest designations. Accomplishment is the result of a collective effort from each and every employee.
Reflective statement on the use of Blackboard:
This is my first time I ever used Blackboard as a means of virtual learning environment. To be honest, I have never heard of it prior commencing my studies with the University of Leicester. In fact, I even had to perform some research before writing this reflective note on the use of Blackboard.
At first, I thought it was quite a complicated tool but after spending some time navigating, my views on the software have changed completely. Blackboard is a system whereby students find useful resources about different subjects (depending on the course one is reading). It offers an excellent alternative to the traditional school / University classroom-based method of learning. Students can have the opportunity of sharing their ideas on a particular subject and even posting assignments and other useful resources online.
Although Blackboard might be seen from some people as a means of killing face-to-face interactions, I am quite sure that when using Blackboard, it is going to turn out as a positive experience.
Lastly, by looking and analysing at what my other colleagues have posted on Blackboard, I am indirectly increasing my knowledge and level of understanding about the subject. I strongly believe that everybody's effort and input is relevant since a broad subject like Human Resources is a not a topic that entails a one-good answer.
AWS Portfolio Exercise 2
Identify one key argument that Garavan makes. In no more than 500 words, summarise the main argument and critically evaluate the respective strengths and weaknesses of this argument.
One of the main arguments identified by Garavan (1997) in his article 'Training, Development, Education and Learning: Different or the Same?' is that training, development, and education should be integrated together by the concept of learning. This implies that the three components are all involved in the process of learning and complement each other to better the "human potential or talent" (1997: 42). Although the four concepts represent different meanings, they all can be incorporated together resulting in a more competitive and efficient organisation.
From a human resource development perception, the relationship between the four may be considered as largely related, with each component facilitating the other (Garavan et al, 1995). Work and education are no longer separated as were in the previous years. "A more integrated model" (Garavan, 1997: 47) is needed to the process of knowledge expansion amongst employees. This process should continuously be practiced as it will enhance the effectiveness of the organisation. By training employees, both the trainees and the organisation will benefit and research has shown that trained employees have a higher retention rate in a particular organisation (Umiker, 1994).
Garavan (1997) also argues that the concept of management education is an important stage in "an employee's career" (1997: 48), entailing an "opportunity to test understanding and organise knowledge in a competing environment" (Association of Management of MBA/MMS Institutes, 2009).
The above goes hand in hand with the concept of talent management which in my opinion is an important aspect of human resource management. It refers to the employee's skills and knowledge which ultimately drive their business success. Various resources, including training opportunities, offering competitive salaries, and being able to attract and recruit qualified staff, helping employees achieve their full potential. Investing knowledge, development and education amongst employees, is a way of putting an organisation into a more competitive environment and its chances of survival are quite higher than the others' organisations. This is the reason why talent management is becoming an important feature in the strategic plan of an organisation.
Thus, these three integrated concepts of learning are vital in an organisation because employees are giving the chance to advance in their future and career. They all motivate employees to be more efficient and more creative so that the organisation will in return provide them with a better salary and more skills.
These concepts can also provide a range of challenges to a particular organisation. Such challenges include:
If training is given in a short period of time (let's say in the beginning of his/her employment), the employee can be overwhelmed with lots of information. This challenge can be overcome if organisations provide training and development opportunities throughout the employees' careers and not only during the first phase of their employment.
The possibility that the employee leaves the organisation to a better or more exciting workplace, after the organisation invests so hard on the development, education and training of the employee.
Successful organisation depends on the level of support given at all levels and its exposure of shared knowledge and information amongst all employees (Nayab, 2010).
Lastly, training, development and education increase knowledge, skills and abilities in each employee. In order to avoid having the situation of no talented employees within a particular organisation, training, education and development must work together and be more involved in the strategic plan of the organisation. The three components together act as strategic partners aiming towards the organisation's success (Kustoff, 2011).
Garavan, T. N. (1997) 'Training, Development, Education and Learning: Different or the Same?', in CLMS (2011) MSc in Human Resource Management and Training. Reading 103.
Garavan, T. N., Costine, P. and Heraty, N. (1995) Training & Development in Ireland: Context, Policy and Practice. Dublin: Oak Tree Press.
Kustoff, R. (n.d.) The New Learning Paradigm. Self Improvement Inc.: Morganville [Online]. Available: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/The_New_Learning_Paradigm.html [2011, February 9].
Nayab, N. (2010) An Overview of HR Talent Management. Bright Hub Inc.: New York [Online]. Available: http://www.brighthub.com/office/human-resources/articles/96352.aspx [2011, February 9].
Umiker, W. O. (1994) Does Training Increase Employee Retention? [Online]. Available: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3230/is_n4_v26/ai_15410797/ [2011, February 9].
AWS Portfolio Exercise 3
In no more than 500 words, analyse the relationship between the process of learning and the role of the trainer, making specific reference to the three readings listed above.
Over the years, many people have examined the way people learn. This has resulted in the formation of various theories in which different views on the learning process have been developed.
The readings pertaining to this exercise entail different approaches towards the process of learning. Lave and Wenger, as cited in Guile and Young's (1998) remark learning in a socially manner whereby knowledge is transferred amongst a group of people working together rather individually. This type of learning, known as situated learning, constitutes a multidirectional approach (rather unidirectional) whereby the apprentice (trainer) is engaged in a web of relationships amongst the other colleagues rather than with his/her trainer only. They coined the term "community of practice" whereby all people share their knowledge by contributing ideas and information, and by helping each other out (Smith, 2003, 2009).
This contrasts with the behaviourists' theory on the process of learning. As noted in Tennant's reading on 'Behaviourism', the trainer takes all the control during the learning process, while the trainees have little or no control over the process. Their simple notion is that if a positive reinforcement follows a desired behaviour, the latter is most likely to happen again. This type of reinforcement, or 'rewards', motivate the learner to continue with that kind of behaviour. This will consequently increase the process of learning within individuals. Additionally, negative reinforcement will give the same results, whereby negative situations are ceased as an effect of the behaviour. Punishment will occur because a negative situation is experienced as a result of the behaviour. Therefore, unlike in the community of practices, motivation occurs only as a result of rewards rather than for a self-wish for learning (Ford, 2009).
Lave and Wenger's work has been built on Vygotsky's zone of proximal development in which an individual performs a task under adult supervision and through the support of his peers. Therefore, learning here is seen as a symbiotic experience for both the learner and his/her tutor whilst in behaviourism, the learner determines his/her behaviour on the reinforcements provided by his/her trainer. Therefore in the behaviourist's approach, the trainer models the behaviour of the trainer rather easing the learning process.
Khoon and Jewson (1995), in their research paper "Changing Hearts and Minds: Training Programmes for Mid-Career Workers in Singapore" suggested four stages in the development of learning process / training programmes by using the learning-centred approach. The findings of their research imply that motivation did not occur within the first stage but is built gradually within the four stages. In fact, no motivation exists amongst people during the first stage ("withdrawal") whereby people in an organisation do not treat training programmes as a solution to their problems and difficulties. As a result, the main task of the trainers here is that of convincing employees by changing their ideas on their perception of training. This stage will then lead to the "awareness" phase in which people start to recognise training as a "potential source of help" (Khoon and Jewson, 1995). In the second stage motivation is built and people have been convinced to attend training. "Norming" is the next stage that follows. Here the trainees understand the fact that learning is the only option to enhance their problem-solving skills and therefore training is now seen as a "privilege rather than a punishment". The final stage implies "participation" whereby people participate fully in the training process without the fear of failing. It is only at this stage where the dispositional barriers are fully conquered. Furthermore, like in the "community of practice", in this stage, people feel that the learning programme is relevant to them.
Lastly, in both situated learning and learning-centred approach, the role of the trainer is more that of facilitating learning by providing support. This will eventually encourage trainees to participate in training programmes and take the initiative of entering into such programmes themselves.
Dunn, L. (2000) Theories of Learning. Oxford Brookes University: Oxford [Online]. Available http://www.brookes.ac.uk/services/ocsd/2_learntch/theories.html [2011, February 12]
Ford, P. (2009) Behavioural Approach [Online]. Available http://paulford.com/behavioural-approach-to-learning/ [2011, February 12]
Guile, D. and Young, M. (1998) 'Apprenticeship as a Conceptual Basis for a Social Theory of Learning', in CLMS (2011) MSc in Human Resource Management and Training. Reading 115.
Khoon, H. C. and Jewson, N. (1995) 'Changing Hearts and Minds: Training Programmes for "Mid-Career" Workers in Singapore', in CLMS (2011) Msc in Human Resource Management and Training. Reading 120.
Smith, M. K. (2009) Communities of Practice. Infed: London [Online]. Available http://www.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm [2011, February 11]
Standridge, M. (2002) Behaviorism [Online]. Available http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Behaviorism [2011, February 11]
Tennant, M. (2006) 'Behaviourism', in CLMS (2011) MSc in Human Resource Management and Training. Reading 104.
AWS Portfolio Exercise 4
'Cognitive theory is more relevant to the trainer in the modern workplace than behaviourist theory'. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
A possible plan.
Both cognitive and behaviourist theories are feasible learning theories. Although many believe that the former has surpassed the latter in its dominancy, it can be argued that both theories are still valid nowadays.
Throughout the essay, an overview of what constitute both theories will be provided, and then share any similarities between the two.
Subsequently, this essay will provide the reader with another theory, cognitive-behaviourism, which in a nutshell, is a combination of both theories underlying a comprehensive interaction between thoughts and behaviours.
The main thrust of the argument presented in this essay is that trainers in modern workplaces shall use the cognitive-behaviourist theories with regards to training of employees.
What does cognitive theory say about learning theory?
Learning occurs within the mind;
"Trainee learns by listening, watching, touching, reading, or experiencing and then processing and remembering the information" (ThinkQuest, n.d.);
Provide meaning to knowledge;
How people understand material.
What does behaviourist theory say about learning theory?
Learning is seen as the acquisition of new behaviours;
"Learning results from pleasant or unpleasant experiences in life" (Bailey, 2011);
"Observable behaviours produced by a learner's response to stimuli" (positive and negative) (Michigan State University, n.d.);
For example, if a positive reinforcement follows a desired behaviour, the latter is most likely to happen again;
This type of reinforcement, or 'rewards', motivate the learner to continue with that kind of behaviour;
This will consequently increase the process of learning within individuals.
Learn to (Behaviourist) vs. Learn that (Cognitive).
Are there any similarities between the two theories?
Yes. In a nutshell, they both agree that:
Experience impacts learning;
Learning theories should be objective and based on empirical based research.
Were the two theories relevant someday or another?
What about today?
What does literature tell about their relevancy?
Can the trainer use both methods?
Blending both theories together entails having a person's faulty thinking and behaviours changed through education and reinforcements. Such techniques foster more adaptive ways for the trainee to cope (Grohol, 2004);
Feeling based learning theories;
Responses are based on continuous interactions between out feelings, thinking and behaviours.
I believe that trainers can apply both theories in the modern workplace if they are implemented correctly and competently. How?
Bailey, L. (2010) Cognitive and Behavioral Learning Theories [Online]. Available http://ezinearticles.com/?Cognitive-and-Behavioral-Learning-Theories&id=3633960 [2011, February 13].
Grohol, J. M. (2004) Types of Therapies: Theoretical Orientations and Practices of Therapists. Psych Central: Newburyport [Online]. Available http://psychcentral.com/therapy.htm [2011, February 13].
Purcell, L. (n.d.) Behaviorism: Learning Theory [Online]. Available https://www.msu.edu/~purcelll/behaviorism%20theory.htm [2011, February 13].
ThinkQuest Team (n.d.) Cognitive Processes [Online]. Available http://library.thinkquest.org/26618/en-5.5.3=cognitive%20learning.htm [2011, February 13].
AWS Portfolio Exercise 5
For each extract, please provide your view in response to the following: Evaluate the style and expression. Are there any problems with it? Does it have any particular strengths?
In my belief, the author of this extract failed to provide the reader with the basic accounts of the key concepts of Skinner's work. Instead s/he criticise Skinner's work by only providing the reader with a number of limitations. This also suggests that the author did not provide an analytical discussion of Skinner's theories in comparison with his/her own arguments. Citing other people's views could have helped the author to back up his/her arguments.
Also, the author used a numeric list while mentioning a number of limitations in his assignment. This style is normally used when presenting facts and not when suggesting the writer's own ideas. The latter in my opinion could have easily been explained better using more detailed paragraphs on each limitation.
Furthermore, the author failed to adopt a third person approach in the assignment, leaving a more judgmental approach on the issues being tackled. This also suggests that the writer's expressed opinions are not analysed in a balanced manner.
Besides this, the author failed to use precise academic language with over-lengthy sentences and incorrect construction of sentences.
A positive strength about this extract is the use of questions, which when used rightly, are aimed to attract the attention of the readers.
The author in this citation, is picturing the audience in an excellent manner. S/he is not assuming that the reader has a prior knowledge on the subject. In fact, arguments are well defined and issues are discussed clearly and logically.
Unlike the first extract, evidence is provided in regards to the statements that the author made. The style of writing is very clear and concise with an excellent flow of discussion that amalgamates the various issues surrounding the topic. Moreover, the author avoided the use of the first person when writing sentences and therefore expressing ideas in a very balanced way.
One problem that I encountered while reading this extract was the use of over-lengthy sentences and colloquial expressions. The last sentence is a case in point, where it could have been simplified by using shorter and simpler sentences.
The author of this extract used a personal account as an introductory and explanatory statement in order to support the answer of the question.
On the other hand, although there is nothing wrong with personal experiences, the author should pay extra attention in order not to become carried away and loses the point of the question.
As a general rule, personal reminiscences are not appropriate in the construction of academic assignments as the focus of the question can easily be shifted. However, in my opinion, I do not see anything wrong with this unless it is within the remit of the subject in caption, and used only as a preamble in an assignment.
Lastly, in the body of the assignment, the author should offer discussions based on the various relevant sources about the subject being discussed.
AWS Portfolio Exercise 6
Please provide a summary of a reading of your choice from the readings in your first module.
Name of article: Learning from others at work: Communities of practice and informal learning
Authors: David Boud and Heather Middleton
Informal learning is not normally attributed in most organisations although some efforts are now being made to take account of it. In fact, this research paper aims to investigate the way employees learn from each other at their place of work. The researcher engages him/herself in work-site interviews with various employees within a particular organisation. The questions asked sought to find suitable ways of learning strategies amongst the workgroups. Moreover, the results of this study have been compared with Lave and Wenger's concept of 'communities of practice', which is highly linked with informal learning at work.
Four different groups were interviewed in order to investigate their learning practices within their own units. The first group (teachers of floor and wall tiling) have been working together for the last ten years. The head teacher's role in this group is quite notable in the learning process amongst the other teachers. Information is passed on orally during unofficial meetings and also by emphasising significant sections of different articles and passes them on to his colleagues. Furthermore, members of this group act as a learning source for each other.
The second group (educational planners) deals with quite sensitive issues within the organisation and their method of learning involves the contribution of experiences and collective knowledge. Colleagues are nominated to act as the central sources for information amongst their faculties. Similar to the first group, the leader of this newly integrated group act as a source of feedback and assistance on the performance of his/her colleagues.
The next group forms part of the Human Resources Department of the organisation. It consists of employees of different grades with a very strong teamwork spirit. Job learning occurs through the supervision of the junior staff by their senior personnel and again the team leader is a primary focus in dealing with the most complicated and unusual difficulties. Learning also takes place through informal gatherings and regular staff meetings. Informal learning also occurs when employees pertaining to this group are asked to act at a higher level whilst others are on leave.
The last group (workplace training unit) is quite small in number and its members have a very close working relationship between each other. Again, employees learn from each other during informal meetings whereby experiences and new ideas are shared amongst each other.
The experience of learning within this organisation is highly dependent on the nature of work amongst the different workgroups. Apart from this, there were some commonalities amongst various sections of the groups with the concept of communities of practice. No relationship between communities of practice and the workgroups themselves has been noted due to lack of common activities and differences of function amongst the employees. Lastly, learning from other colleagues (of the same level) is quite popular in the workgroups interviewed. This contributes to the concept of horizontal or sideways development and learning as developed by Engestrom (2001).
Boud, D. and Middleton, H. (2003) 'Learning from Others at Work: Communities of Practice and Informal Learning', Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(5): 194-202.
Engeström, Y. (2001) 'Expansive Learning at Work: Towards an Activity-Theoretical Conception', Journal of Education and Work, 14(1): 133-156.
Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
AWS Portfolio Exercise 7
Correct any referencing errors in the extract and bibliography. You should edit the extract, correcting the referencing errors as you go, highlighting where you have done so.
Lynda Measor and Patricia Sike Measor and Sike (1992) identify the influence of gender on pupils' achievement in education. They examine pupils' experience of gender role stereotyping in secondary school and how the expectations placed on them contribute to their success or failure. In particular, they suggest that, "â€¦schools prepare each sex for quite different styles of life", and that "Girlsâ€¦leave school unqualified or under-qualified for paid work in the labour market" (Measor and Sike, (1992: PAGE NUMBER MISSING). They acknowledge that boys' expectations of work are also affected by the 'roles' they are expected to fulfil (Measor and Sike, 1992). Indeed, Adams (1996: PAGE NUMBER MISSING), studying the design of 'competencies' for jobs, notes that there is also a difference in expectations of women's and men's behaviour at work, even when those men and women hold the same post (1996).
Clearly then gender shapes expectations, thus affecting the outcome of education and training. However, whether gender is the dominant factor affecting learning outcomes is debatable. Research by Troyna and Hatcher (1992) and Mac an Ghaill (cited in CLMS, 2008) suggests that experience of racial and ethnic difference in schools has as strong an effect on educational outcome as gender. In one study black pupils responded to racism within education in different ways, some by rejecting the expectations placed on them and others by resisting the system but nevertheless achieving above-average results (AUTHOR/S' SURNAME/S MISSING, 1988). Interestingly, both the studies on gender and those on race and ethnicity identify social class as having a fundamental effect on educational outcome. While gender and race can been seen as key barriers to achievement, the underlying mechanisms of social class create barriers to the advancement of both boys and girls of all races and ethnicities in the education and training systems.
For example, in Britain the remnants of a strongly divided social class system have an effect on education. CLMS' summary of the work of Andy Furlong identifies factors such as, "â€¦poverty, overcrowding, differences in values and attitudes towards education, teachers' attitudesâ€¦and the type of jobs which are available locally" (1995: PAGE NUMBER MISSING), all of which influence the outcome of education. Thus, while education in Britain is supposed to offer equal opportunities to all pupils, CLMS shows that these factors are all, "â€¦associated with social class" (1995: PAGE NUMBER MISSING).
These social barriers to learning in the classroom translate to less training later in life. Statistics from a government survey published in 1989, which identified social class by income, showed that members of Social Class 1 (skilled, non-manual occupations) were twice as likely as those in Social Class 3 (manual workers) to report receiving training in the previous three years (Training Agency, 1989).
Aaron Pun, who is interested in the current technological capacity to deliver training to widespread communities via open and distance education, adds to this debate by concluding that a lack of sensitivity to cultural differences can also create barriers to learning (Pun, 1995). He gives an example of Chinese managers, whose expectations of Management Development training were not met. Self-directed and participative training styles were used in a programme supplied by a Western trainer - a lack of cultural sensitivity meant that expectations of a more didactic approach were not taken into account, creating a barrier to successful training.
This point is emphasised by other researchers who note that some problems in training are caused by cultural differences in learning style. In conclusion, all of the cases above show that both cultural and social differences have an effect on learning, and that these influences must be taken into account in the design of training programmes.