Delivery methods appropriate to the target audience and learning objective shall be specific. The delivery method shall ensure adequate feedback mechanisms for trainee questions and concerns. – ANSI Z490. 1-2001
There are three primary categories of learning objectives often referred to as domains of learning. They are cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Cognitive objectives focus on skills and knowledge such as, “name the four hazardous classes of chemicals”. Psychomotor skills refer to hands-on skills, such as “don a respirator”. Affective objectives have to do with attitudes, values, and beliefs, such as “explain the value of conducting a risk assessment before entry operations begin”.
Can computer-based training address all of these issues? The answer is a resounding “NO”. To a degree, computer-based training can have value for cognitive learning objectives, but the other two domains of learning cannot be adequately addressed. In a letter of interpretation from OSHA, the following was stated:
Equally important is the use of hands-on training and exercises to provide trainees with an opportunity to become familiar with equipment and safe practices in a non-hazardous setting. Many industrial operations, and in particular hazardous waste operations, can involve many complex and hazardous tasks. It is imperative that employees be able to perform such tasks safely. Traditional, hands-on training is the preferred method to ensure that workers are prepared to safely perform these tasks. The purpose of hands-on training, for example in the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, is two-fold: first, to ensure that workers have an opportunity to learn by experience, and second, to assess whether workers have mastered the necessary skills. It is unlikely that sole reliance on a computer-based training program is likely to achieve these objectives. –OSHA, updated 6.2.2005.
Another critical component of successful instruction is thoughtful, purposeful feedback. Studies have shown that when a student receives feedback on how they are performing they are more likely to retain the information. Additionally, OSHA requires that employees must be given the opportunity to ask questions, which requires access to a qualified trainer. How effective can training be when there is lack of review and remediation to employee questions or concerns?
Every organization should have a program that conducts a training analysis that measures the effectiveness of the delivery method.