What Mager Left Out, by Fred Parker

What Mager Left Out

I recently posted a plug on social media for the Rapid Training Design (RTD) courses that we are offering through pathfindercoaches.com. The post said, “If you are familiar with Robert Mager, you will recognize much of the content, but there are also things that Mager left out.” I have been challenged to explain myself by a self-proclaimed “Mager Fanatic.”

Ponder for yourself the following:

  • How many of the aspects of training that you do did you NOT learn from Robert Mager? That is what Mager left out.

I am assuming many of you reading this have read Mager’s “Six Pack,” or completed his workshops, especially Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI), and Instructional Module Design (IMD).

Whatever Mager might have left out, he is to be honored for the things he put in. We can’t expect any one person to include everything.

This is good.

It has forced me to revisit my trek along the training track since my very first “official” class in 1971. I was a Marine lieutenant, and that class was built on the old “Techniques of Military Instruction (TMI).”

A few years later the US DoD formally adopted the Interservice Procedures for Instructional Systems Development (IPISD), also known as Systems Approach to Training (SAT), which gave us the tried and true ADDIE model. If you want more details, you can do a web search to learn all you want.

Since then all military courses I am familiar with follow that general model.

I was trained in SAT when I became an instructor at the USMC Command and Staff College in 1977. You might also note that my partner Ted McLyman was the director of the USMC Instructional Management School for three years in the 1980s. Several years later I was trained in Mager and was personally selected to be one of his course managers, conducting CRI and IMD workshops.

All that said, so what?

We came to Mager from a different perspective than most folks. What we learned is that there are some central principles about training. If those principles are NOT followed your training will be less than effective. At the very core of this is Robert Mager with his emphasis on measurable and observable objectives, relevant practice with feedback, and final skill checks with feedback. Further, the only way this can be done is with a solid task analysis up front.

You will notice that these are reflected in all of our courses and are taught in our Rapid Training Design (RTD) levels 1 and 2.

Thank you, Robert Mager!

In our experience, any attempt to create effective training without these core elements will be very weak. Anyone involved in the design and development of individual courses is foolish to deviate from those core principles. After that you can dress up your training with all manner of entertaining stuff offered by technology, but the center stands. We will explore some of these situations in future blogs.

Further, Mager’s Performance Analysis (PA), while not the only model for separating training needs from other performance issues, is the best.

During our careers, however, we also learned some things that Mager may have mentioned in passing but did not cover in detail. These fall into the scope  of organizational training and development. These are required by the greatly expended effort for developing curriculum for organizations versus individuals.

We cover these in detail in RTD level 3. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

First is job and task analysis (JTA).

A full-blown organizational JTA usually includes duty areas, jobs, and tasks, created in some kind of searchable form. A flat file data base is often the best, but documents and spreadsheets will work as well. A JTA may also include skill progression levels, types of training strategies, and references to organizational policies and procedures.

One such JTA covered:

  • 1 entire career specialty
  • 6 duty areas
  • 6 employee levels from new hire to senior management
  • 3 training strategies

Another JTA included:

  • The total maintenance effort of a Fortune 500 corporation
  • 20 duty areas with 50-100 tasks each
  • Competency certification for 140 tasks considered critical

A Third JTA:

  • Designed to track performance growth
  • 4 duty areas
  • 71 jobs
  • 4 employee levels from apprentice through first level supervisor

All of these were then taken by the training writers to produce courses in a priority sequence directed by management.

Second is the development of job aids and job procedures.

Some people combine these as one category, but they have distinctly different purposes.

  • Job aids are refresher or reminder tools for those already qualified for the task. These may be anything from “Place Stamp Here” on an envelope, to the pre-flight checklist for an airline pilot.
  • Job procedures are detailed step-by-step instructions for directing critical processes or for use in training. Some organizations require certain tasks always be completed precisely according to the procedure.

Development of training curriculum follows a known path:

  1. Job analysis, including duty areas whenever possible, gives lists of tasks
  2. Task analysis of each job gives steps and skills.

These give you the “What to do.”

  1. Job aids for simple or known tasks. Some task analyses are good job aids from the start.
  2. Job procedures for critical tasks, or for training purposes.
  3. Individual training programs and classes.

These are “How to do it.”

Now you see what I meant when I mentioned what Mager left out. He is the best there is for course design and development, but organizational curriculum development requires all that plus.

We have boiled down our 80 plus years of training experience into our RTD modules. Come check them out at https://pathfindercoaches.com/rtd-system/ and let us know what you think. They are reasonably priced and come with a money-back guarantee.

We also invite you to join our conversations related to these blogs, and our facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2619780738249043/permalink/2868733143353800/

Thank you.

Fred Parker

Pathfinder Coaches

Director of Course Design and Development at www.PathfinderCoacher.com. Fred has 40 plus years as a consultant designing, developing and delivering performance-based training including all manner of technical training, individual development soft skills, and basic leadership. Clients include all sizes from a local sandwich shop to the military to fortune 500 multinationals. Just beginning to convert previous courses online. I tell folks, “I have trained people in everything from how to make a ham sandwich to how to operate an offshore oil platform, to how to solve problems as a call center operator, in both technical and leadership areas.

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