In Part 1 I set the stage by letting you in on the spark for this series. Basically, it started with a discussion to help a colleague in the Sales & Marketing discipline understand the difference between “training” and “information.”
I laid the groundwork by describing a model compiled by a guy named Benjamin Bloom. The overall model talks about 3 main categories:
Cognitive. (Thinking-type learning.)
Affective. (Emotional-type learning.)
Psychomotor. (Physical skills-type learning.)
In Part 2 I drilled-down on the Cognitive category; this is usually the category that most of you who write marketing copy for training programs will find your products and/or services categorized under.
For example, a math tutorial, a presentation skills training program, or a real estate agent training course are examples of training that generally deal with helping someone understand, apply and/or perform certain skills. That’s the stuff of the Cognitive category.
Also in Part 2, I listed the six levels of Cognitive learning.
I took us on a 10,000 foot tour of the first three levels: Knowledge, Comprehension and Application. That’s also when I gave my view that, in response to my friend’s question, “information” can generally be thought of as the stuff spanning the first two levels–Knowledge and Comprehension.
And, while “training” can be a more general term spanning the whole gamut, I tend to differentiate it from “information” by placing it among the stuff of skills development and behavioral change. That means the higher levels of Cognition, specifically, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.
In this last part, I’ll cap off this series by doing a similar fly-by of the top three levels: Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. I’ll also give examples of each.
Level 4: Analysis.
Here we’re talking about training that develops a level of performance where your consumer (the student) can make distinctions about the subject of the training program.
So, where Level 3 said “show me”, “demonstrate for me”, or “DO (some task)…”, Level 4 says, “Compare and contrast…”, “tell me the differences between…” or “write an essay about…”.
For example, let’s say you’re a student in a course for presentation skills training. Your participation in a classroom exercise may ask you to prepare and present a 7-minute presentation. As far as that goes, that’s Level 3: Application.
However, if the instructor were to ask you to explain the difference between an extemporaneous presentation style and, say, lecture style, then you’ve dipped into Level 4: Analysis.
Level 5: Synthesis.
Here we’re talking talking about training that develops a level of performance where the student is asked to solve some problem that requires combining other training or knowledge. As a marketer writing marketing copy, you might recognize these as the types of training programs that include activities asking participants to work through a complex scenario. These are sometimes called scenario-based training programs.
One example that immediately comes to mind is the type of training pilots go through in flight simulators. Or, to use a military example, war game exercises.
To use a civilian example, I can remember an intense week some fifteen years ago at a training campus of a management consulting firm I used to work for. At the time they operated under the name Andersen Consulting, which was the management consulting arm of the now defunct accounting firm, Arthur Andersen.
The week-long training program included a solution progression in a simulated corporate environment. (Complete with a demanding, surly “client,” office furniture and snarky new wannabe consultants.) Our class was grouped into teams of 6 consultants that each had to meet several times daily with the “client.” Based on a series of Q&A interactions, each team worked to create a final solution that solved the client’s business problem.
As a marketer, you should know that what I described above is the kind of training activity you would expect to find in a Level 5 training environment.
Level 6: Evaluation.
Here we’re talking about a level of performance from a participant that demands they defend a hypothesis or justify a position. It’s expected that at this level, the participant has achieved some degree of mastery of the subject matter; they can dang-near write the proverbial book.
An easy example that comes to mind here is a master’s or doctoral program. At the end of such programs, students are asked to complete some type of capstone exercise where they write a thesis or dissertation and defend it.
Wrapping It Up.
So, that’s it in a nutshell. I laid out the three categories of learning under Bloom’s model. (Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor.) Of those categories, I focused on the Cognitive domain and explained each of the six levels and provided examples. I also explained a view that differentiated “information” from “training” as the kind of cognitive learning described in the first two levels (knowledge and comprehension). In contrast, I explained a view of “training” as falling in the realm of skills and/or behavior change developed in levels 3 through 6.
My hope is that, armed with a basic understanding of the information above, then you, as a marketing professional, will have another tool in your utility belt to evaluate the promises you make in the marketing copy written about training programs you’re asked to sell.
Until next time, I wish you success.