Evidence-based Learning

Evidence-based Learning

Opinions about the most effective ways of learning differ. And, although we speak about blended learning approaches and differences in preferred learning styles there are limited evidence-based learning approaches available. Both in education and in corporate learning professionals are doing their job based on impressions, trends and old habits. In the Dutch Financial Times there was an article of Prof. Maassen van den Brink about this issue. She wrote that innovations in education often are implemented without proper knowledge of the effects of the implementation. Examples are the so-called ‘new learning’ approach for more competency oriented education instead of the ‘old’ knowledge orientation. This is heavily criticized since students now lack the body of knowledge needed to apply their competencies in the right way (simply speaking). Also the reduction in class size aimed at by the government with massive funding is no success. McKinsey research has shown that this has no effect on the quality of education whatsoever. They indicate that the quality of the teacher still is the most important factor (you probably don’t want to pay the McKinsey fees for this conclusion). The article raises the need for Evidence-Based Education. Not only the scientific stuff, but soft and hard research to support practices.

When you don’t limit the focus on Education you can see that the same applies to Corporate Learning and HRD. We tend to jump from the one hype to the other. From knowledge management to e-learning to talent management. The focus is on the labeling and the surface and not on the fundamental and evidence-based practices that work in different situations. In the end still most learning is ‘delivered’ in 10+ groups by trainers or via electronic page turners labeled as e-learning. The only evidence we have is that there practices do not deliver the results we aim for. In my opinion evidence-based learning would be a good approach for corporate learning and HRD as well. Again not only based on hard scientific research, but softer industry research and practical questionnaires can bring a lot of value as well. Evidence-based learning can be of great help for all trainers and HR staff trying to facilitate learning in their organizations, so let’s get things started!


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