In an earlier post, I started addressing a question about differentiating between "training" and "information." The series was sparked by questions I get occasionally from marketing colleagues who are preparing to write copy for training programs.
- Thinking-type learning ("Cognitive"),
- Emotional-type learning ("Affective"),
- Physical skills type learning ("Psychomotor").
Potentially a lot of big words, I know. I'll try to keep it at a practical level. In this post, I'll list the six levels in the type of learning called the Cognitive domain. (things like thinking, understanding, comprehending). That's the stuff of training programs I usually design, and the type of training about which marketing professionals (at least in companies I work with) write copy.
The six levels of the area of learning we're talking about here are:
The stuff in yellow will the subject of this post. I'll hit the green stuff in Part 3.
Level 1: Knowledge.
Here we're talking about the ground floor. Learning at this level is most associated with information and the ability of a student to recall that information. For example, after reading this blog post you might say to yourself, "I don't get all that 'cognition stuff' Mel was talkin' about, but I get the gist of it. There are a progression of 6 levels..." And then you might go on to try and name the six levels. That's basically Level 1: Knowledge.
If you're a marketer preparing to write marketing copy, the way you'd recognize if the product you're pitching is designed to get the student at least to level 1, is to find out if the program includes student testing around questions like:
- "List the 6 levels of learning in the Cognitive domain."
- Or, "Match the definitions listed in the right column with the learning levels listed in the left column."
So, if you ask me what the difference is between "training" and "information"? I'd say level 1 (and perhaps even level 2) is about information. I view "training" as being at higher levels and more about development of skills and changing behaviors.
Level 2: Comprehension.
Here we're talking about going one step above "knowledge." So, in the example of seeing whether or not you learn anything from this blog post, you might be able to list the 6 levels well enough. But, the question is, can you come up with your own examples of each level? That's a key difference from Level 1; being able to explain the meaning of the concepts using your own words.
When writing marketing copy and making claims about a training program helping someone understand a subject area, you want to find out if the design of the training program includes student testing around questions like:
- "In your own words, provide at least two examples for each of the learning levels listed below..."
- Or, as in an example of a real estate short sale class I recently helped develop: "Given the following financial information for your client, calculate the likelihood of success for this short sale."
Level 3: Application.
Here's where it starts getting a little dicier with marketing copy. I've seen enough marketing copy that claims "mastery" or "guaranteed improvements in the number of leads...", when in fact, the training program doesn't even come close to "mastery" or in being able to guarantee "improvements" in performance.
In level 3, we're talking about whether or not a training program tests for how well a student is able to apply the concepts she/he has learned in the training program by actually performing those concepts during simple scenarios on the job (or, at least in a realistic simulation of that person's job).
Using my customer audience, for example, we might have a program that teaches real estate agents the components of an effective listing presentation so as to succeed in converting a prospect to a client. And, they may even "get it." But, when we evaluate students for level 3, we want to be able to see or otherwise reasonably observe whether or not that agent can actually deliver the listing presentation in a manner consistent with how we talked about it in the training program.
So, when writing marketing copy and making claims about a training program helping someone improve their performance on the job, then you want to find out if the design of the training program includes student-testing similar to things like:
- Roleplay scenarios: "Pair up with a classmate and take turns delivering a listing presentation to each other."
- Or, "Conduct a listing presentation with the instructor and respond to any objections given by the instructor during your mock presentation."
As you can see, level 3 gets a little more involved in the process of doing the stuff that was taught. Typically, someone would also be on hand to evaluate the performance. These types of student assessments are relatively easy to do in a live classroom environment. But, when you're writing marketing copy for training programs that are delivered via electronic media (web, CDs, DVDs, and so on), it's an area where you want to get a little more cautious.
As a copy writer, you should know level 3 is more difficult to pull off in a virtual format. Though, when it's done properly, it's usually pretty cool. It's cool because it can involve social media tools like group forums, online chat, webcams, or WebEx type interactions. I'll save examples of that for a future post.
So, just to cap it off, unless there are the kinds of roleplays or two-way interactions suggested above, I think you'd be stretching it a bit to write marketing copy that claims something like, "Buy this course and you will be able to improve your presentation skills and gain more clients..." That type of copy would, in my opinion, just simply be untrue. That is, unless the training program provides for some type of live evaluation of student performance (there's a word for it: "synchronous") where the instructor observes the student performing the required skills.
That's a lot to soak in for one post. I'll hit the other levels (Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation) in Part 3.
Until next time, I wish you success.
- Learning Theory 101 For Sales and Marketing Professionals (Part 1)
- Learning Theory 101 For Sales and Marketing Professionals (Part 3-Last)
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