Tip #689: Why Was Classroom Training Rated So Poorly?

“Speaking for myself, I spend a good ten minutes a day deciding whether or not to read the results of new surveys, and, once I have read them, a further five minutes deciding whether or not to take them seriously.” Craig Brown

In “The Changing Nature of Organizations, Work, and Workplace,” Judith Heerwagen of J.H. Heerwagen & Associates and Kevin Kelly and Kevin Kampschroer of the U.S. General Service Administration note that work is now more: cognitively complex; team-based and collaborative; dependent on social skills; dependent on technological competence; time pressured; mobile and less dependent on geography. http://studylib.net/doc/8493490/the-changing-nature-of-organizations–work–and-workplace

Managers and employees need new skills to effectively manage these challenges- and they require learning and skill development options that go beyond traditional classroom training or e-learning sessions.

This is validated by the results of a 2017 survey of Learning in the Workplace conducted by Jane Hart, the Founder of the Center for Learning & Performance Technologies. Over 5,000* managers and employees were asked to rate the importance (value/usefulness) of 12 work-related learning methods as either: NI = Not Important; QI = Quite Important; VI = Very Important; or Ess = Essential.

The results of that survey are identified in the table that follows. The methods are ranked by their combined VI+Ess (Very Important and Essential) scores. The red figures indicate the ratings that received the largest number of responses.


Results of the 6th Annual Learning in the Workplace Survey (8/8/17)


Learning Methods NI % QI % VI % Ess %

VI+Ess %

1 Daily work experiences (i.e., doing the day job) 1 6 26 67 93
2 Knowledge sharing with your team 1 9 30 60 90
3 Web search (e.g. Google) 5 16 27 52 79
4 Web resources (e.g. videos, podcasts, articles) 4 20 37 39 76
5 Manager feedback and guidance 7 19 39 35 74
6 Professional networks and communities 4 24 41 31 72
7 Coach or mentor feedback and guidance 7 28 43 22 65
8 Internal resources (e.g. documents, guides) 8 32 35 25 60
9 Blogs and news feeds 10 34 33 23 56
10 E-learning (e.g. online courses for self-study) 20 39 25 16 41
11 Conferences and other professional events 17 48 32 3 35
12 Classroom training 28 41 19 12 31

The survey results reveal that the least valued ways of learning in the workforce are classroom training and e-learning. http://c4lpt.co.uk/litw-results/

We don’t know why the respondents give classroom training such a low rating. There can be many reasons, such as:

  • Content focused on theory rather than on practical application.
  • Too general one-size-fits-all examples difficult for the participants to translate and apply to their own work situations.
  • Ineffective training methods, such as a predominance of lecture with PowerPoint.
  • Lack of useful job aids.
  • The wrong people received the training, due in part to a need to ensure a sufficient number of butts in seats.
  • Inconvenient scheduling.
  • The time commitment and high cost of registration and travel for off-site classes.
  • Poor content, either outdated or irrelevant to real work needs.
  • Poor instructors, lacking effective presentation skills and/or classroom management skills.
  • No follow up by supervisors to reinforce the learning.
  • A lack of support for implementing any new learning.

Since I design and deliver classroom training, I would like to believe that it is not classroom training per se that the respondents rate so negatively- just poor curriculum design, delivery and facilitation.

What do you think?

May your learning be sweet.



* Breakdown of Survey Demographics:

Countries: 63 countries around the world, including USA 25%, UK 25%, Australia 9%, Canada 7%, New Zealand 6%, Germany 5%, and Netherlands 3%.

Industries: Education 25%, Financial Services 10%, Government 9%, Healthcare 6%, and Technology 6%.

Organization size: 250+ people 66%, and 51-250 people 13%.

Function: HR/L&D 59%, IT 5%, and Marketing 4%.

Job type: Non-managerial 39%, Senior manager 22%, Middle manager 18%, Line manager 10%, and Other 10%.

Age: 41-50 36%, 51-60 25%, 31-40 24%, <30 6%, and >60 6%.                                                                                

Sex: Female 62%, and Male 38%.


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