Research the databases in the CSU Online Library, and locate an article for a critique that covers effective training delivery methods for adult learners. The article must be at least four pages in length and published within the last 7 years. Be sure to cover the topics below in your critique.

Identify and explain the author’s main ideas. Begin your critique of the article with an introduction that defines the subject of your critique and your point of view. 
Based on the research in your chosen article, what is the one factor that has a direct and positive impact on knowledge retention, and why? 
Describe the three-step process for training adaptation and delivery. Does the author cover this process in your article? If not, do you think the author’s method would benefit from including this process? Explain your rationale.
What is the importance of employee-driven content?
To appeal to adult learners, what do delivery methods need to include, and why?

Your article critique must be at least two pages in length and use at least two outside sources, one of which must be the article you are critiquing. Adhere to APA style when constructing this assignment, and use in-text citations and references for all sources that are used. Please note that no abstract is needed

22 ProfessionalSafety DECEMBER 2017 www.asse.org

Scott P. Smith, M.S., CSP, is a global risk manager and trainer with a 20-year
career working across five continents. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science
from Northern Michigan University, an M.S. in Industrial Hygiene from University
of Massachusetts, Lowell, and is pursuing a doctorate in law and policy/interna-
tional labor law at Northeastern University. Smith is a professional member of
ASSE’s Greater Boston Chapter.

IN BRIEF
Educating adult learners

entails selecting the proper
tools to train them with and
integrating them into the
learning process.
Integrated training is

achieved by including
employees throughout the
process, from develop-
ment though validation and
feedback.

A
dult learners do not want to be taught.
They want to play a part and need to per-
ceive training as something that will im-

prove them as individuals. “Adult learners like to
be in control of their training or at least play a role
in it” (Dalto, 2015). They not only seek training in
areas that are relevant to them, but find further
motivation to learn and feel a greater sense of ac-
complishment when they are involved in identify-
ing training needs.

A wide range of training modalities can be used,
including in-person classroom sessions, virtual live
sessions and self-paced e-learning. Many organi-
zations embrace e-learning tools because of their
ease of deployment, lower costs and increased

learner convenience. “E-learning can be
defined as the use of computer network
technology, primarily over an intranet
or through the Internet, to deliver in-
formation and instruction to individuals
(in our case, employees)” (Welsh, Wan-
berg, Brown, et al., 2003).

Simulation-based training has been a
staple in industries such as aviation and
nuclear energy (Jha, Duncan & Bates,
2001). Virtual-reality (VR)-based sys-
tems are also becoming more common.
“VR has been recognized as having rel-
evance for training in a wide range of in-
dustries including construction, medical
and space exploration” (Squelch, 2001).

While all these systems are successful in some
ways, the literature does not definitively indicate
which training modality is best. That said, Burke
and colleagues identify one factor that has a direct
and positive impact on knowledge retention: en-
gaging the employee in the training (Burke, Sarpy,
Smith-Crowe, et al., 2006). “Our findings indicate
that the most engaging methods of safety training
are, on average, three times more effective than the
least engaging methods in promoting knowledge
and skill acquisition” (Burke, et al., 2006). Educat-
ing adult learners entails selecting the proper tools

and integrating employees themselves into the
learning process.

Needs Assessment, Delivery & Validation
OSH trainers must continuously adapt training

content and training delivery. Doing so effectively
involves a three-step process (Table 1, p. 24). The
first step is to conduct a needs assessment. Train-
ing needs include codified requirements and the
perceived training needs of employees. By engag-
ing employees in the needs assessment, training
becomes more precise. Doing so also helps an or-
ganization select a delivery system that best meets
employees’ learning needs.

The second step is to select a proper delivery
style. For adult learners, this is critical. By choos-
ing the proper tool to engage workers, employers
help them stay more focused on training, which
increases memory retention. Additionally, incor-
porating site-specific visuals into training materi-
als helps employees develop a clear idea of what is
expected of them.

As Flum, Siqueira, DeCaro, et al. (2010), explain,
“The process of taking pictures and presenting them
creates an ongoing discussion among workers and
management regarding the need for change and
for process improvements, and results in greater
interest and activity regarding occupational health
among workers.” Such a process engages people
and generates dialogue among all employees, which
ultimately leads to better training content.

The final step involves two measures: 1) content
retention as assessed using a short quiz or visual
performance review; and 2) a feedback loop that
provides management with a measure of train-
ing effectiveness. The quiz is based on key train-
ing goals, not simply an overview of concepts.
The feedback loop involves watching employees
perform tasks related to training to assess reten-
tion. Data from these measures reveal remaining
knowledge gaps and help management identify
where improvements in training, delivery style or
content, are needed. Employers must also assess
whether workers believed the training was effec-
tive. By integrating worker feedback into training
design, training continually grows and improves.

Key Factors of the Adult Learner
To see value in training, adult learners must un-

derstand why the training is important to them

Effective Training Methods

Employee Training
Peer-Reviewed

Adult Learners

www.asse.org DECEMBER 2017 ProfessionalSafety 23

and how completing it will increase their abilities.
As Dalto (2015) explains, “Adult learners want
training to be relevant to their daily lives and to
be focused on completing specific tasks.” It is also
important to clearly communicate purpose. “If a
health and safety program’s purpose is unclear or
appears to benefit the company only, many work-
ers will not take the subject matter seriously. The
audience must understand how the training direct-
ly relates to their daily personal lives” (Potts, 2016).

To close this gap, the delivery system must be
concise and state definitively what the training will
do for workers as individuals. By asking employees
during training development what they wish they
had been taught when they started, training ma-
terials grow to meet the demands of longer-term
workers as well as younger workers who may have
less-developed competencies. The term employee-
driven content is used to define this functional need.

In general terms, adult learners are self-direct-
ed; have years of experience and training; are goal
oriented; learn better when properly motivated;
and want to feel respected. They do not want to
sit in a room and merely listen. “Most programs
are developed based on the naive assumption that

safety knowledge can easily be transferred through
conventional classroom instructional methods”
(Albert & Hallowel, 2013). Adult learners want to
be engaged, feel as though their time is being used
wisely and believe the material is valuable to their
skill set.

Adult learners want to engage with an instructor
who can answer their questions and be engaged by
this instructor in a learner-centric dynamic (Albert
& Hallowel, 2013). Adult learners prefer to be edu-
cated by a topic expert, but also want to be trusted
to read and learn on their own.

While online training systems are available,
these systems are prepackaged and not generally
tailored to a specific work environment. When a
worker cannot associate the material presented
with his/her own work environment or lacks a
sense of engagement in the material, the course
loses value. “If sufficient attention is not given to
implementation, e-learning will not be successful”
(Welsh, et al., 2003). Some online training can be
modified and adapted to an employer’s workplace.
This helps bridge the gap with prepackaged train-
ing but it can add cost, hinder annual updating and
increase release time. M

A
T

J
A

Z
S

L
A

N
IC

/I
S

T
O

C
K

/G
E

T
T

Y
I
M

A
G

E
S

P
L
U

S

Educating adult
learners entails
selecting the
proper tools

and integrating
employees

themselves into the
learning process.

24 ProfessionalSafety DECEMBER 2017 www.asse.org

Bringing It All Together
Employee-Driven Content

Feedback from adult workers often centers
around why they need to know what is being cov-
ered in training. If this initial mental hurdle is not
overcome, any training that follows may be ineffec-
tive. An excellent way to address this concern is to
integrate the learner into the training development
process. By discussing training needs with employ-
ee representatives during the needs assessment, an
organization can develop training content that is
more precise and site-specific. Stating clearly how
training will affect employees with buy in from su-
pervisors will further enhance the perceived value
of the training.

In many cases, employees are assigned read-
ing materials or asked to complete online train-
ing. While Welsh, et al. (2003), agree this can be
an easier approach, employers must be careful to
design it to engage students. Often, adult learners
respond negatively to an hour’s worth of slides
on a screen or online training delivered by a ma-
chine. By providing training materials that clearly
identify the expected outcomes and explain the
importance of those outcomes to the individual,
training transforms into a tool for self-advance-
ment rather than simply a company requirement.
It also helps to train employees in small, similar
groups and provide materials for further review,
as this review allows employees to discuss and

review information on their
own time (Figure 1). This
gives the employee a sense
of freedom in education and
promotes self value.

Employee Engagement
Learners generally retain

10% of what is read, 20% of
what is heard, 30% of what
is seen, 50% of material from
group discussion, 75% of what
is learned through practice
and 90% of what they say and
do (Booth, 2007). Therefore,
a trainer should keep train-
ing materials to a few, concise
pages to maintain focus on
critical details. While the his-

tory of lockout/tagout may interest a scholar, it of-
fers little value to employees.

As noted, integrating site photos into training
materials adds value in the form of visible stim-
uli (Flum, et al., 2010). Seeing a lockout tag in a
presentation slide adds less value than seeing a
lock and tag being properly affixed on a piece of
equipment employees encounter each day (Figure
2). Incorporating photos gathered during inspec-
tions also enhances training because such photos
depict actual risks that employees may encounter
in their workplace. This strengthens an employee’s
retention and understanding because it helps the
employee make associations between training and
his/her job.

Open Delivery
Workers should be part of the process for sched-

uling training and planning retraining. As Dalto
(2015) explains, “By consulting with your employ-
ees, you can create a training schedule that best fits
their needs.” Often, employers schedule a weeks’
worth of training to occur once a year. This requires
all employees to attend training at one time, which
increases costs. Performing short, monthly single
topic training sessions allows employees time to
reflect on each topic. This approach also keeps
safety in the forefront year round.

Integrated Training & Validation
Integrated training is achieved by including em-

ployees throughout the process, from development
through validation and feedback. By bringing em-
ployees into the development cycle, they become
part of the solution. By engaging employees in the
training cycle, they feel part of the educational pro-
cess. Integrating the training perspective of the af-
fected employees/supervisors strengthens training
effectiveness. Integrated training validation refers
to the process of asking employees directly wheth-
er they learned or developed better proficiency
through the training and whether the training de-
livered value. By listening to employees’ perspec-
tives on the effectiveness of training, a trainer can
continuously improve the training process.

TABLE 1
Training Process Steps

FIGURE 1
Example Learning Objectives

www.asse.org DECEMBER 2017 ProfessionalSafety 25

Conclusion
OSH professionals have access to many train-

ing tools and resources. However, the most valu-
able tool are the employees who bring with them
hands-on experience and a desire to learn. As Ben-
jamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach
me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” To-
day’s OSH trainers must involve their adult em-
ployees to improve their learning. PS

References

Aben, B., Stapert, S. & Blockland A. (2012). About
the distinction between working memory and short-
term memory. Frontiers Psychology, 3, 301. doi:10.3389/
fpsyg.2012.00301

Albert, A. & Hallowel, M.R. (2013). Revamping
occupational safety and health training: Integrating an-
dragogical principles for the adult learner. Australasian
Journal of Construction Economics and Building, 13(3),
128-140. doi:10.5130/ajceb.v13i3.3178

Bates, R. (2004). A critical analysis of evaluation
practice: The Kirkpatrick model and the principle of
beneficence. Evaluation and Program Planning, 27(3),
341-347. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2004.04.011

Booth, A. (2007). In search of the information literacy
training half-life. Health Information and Libraries Journal,
24, 145-149. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00707.x

Burke, M.J., Salvador, R.O., Smith-Crowe, K., et al.
(2011). The dread factor: How hazards and safety train-
ing influence learning and performance. Journal of Ap-
plied Psychological Association, 96(1), 46-70. doi:10.1037/
a0021838

Burke, M., Sarpy, S.A., Smith-Crowe, K., et al. (2006).
Relative effectiveness of worker safety and health train-
ing methods. American Journal of Public Health, 96(2),
315-324. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.059840

Bush, D. & Andrew, K. (2013). Integrating occupa-
tional safety and health training into career technical
education in construction. Retrieved from www.cpwr
.com/publications/integrating-occupational-safety-and
-health-training-career-technical-education

Dalto, J. (2015, July). Adult learning principals for
safety training. Retrieved from https://ohsonline.com/
Articles/2015/07/01/Adult-Learning-Principles-for
-Safety-Training.aspx

Flum, M.R., Siqueira, C.E., DeCaro, A., et al. (2010).
Photovoice in the workplace: A participatory method to
give voice to workers to identify health and safety haz-
ards and promote workplace change: A study of univer-
sity custodians. American Journal of Industrial Medicine,
53(11), 1150-1158. doi:10.1002/ajim.20873

Illeris, K. (2011). The fundamentals of workplace learn-
ing: Understanding how people learn in working life. New
York, NY: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

International Labor Organization (ILO). (2003).
Global strategy on occupational safety and health. Re-
trieved from www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/
—ed_protect/—protrav/—safework/documents/
policy/wcms_107535.pdf

ILO. (2004). Recommendation concerning human
resources development: Education, training and lifelong
learning [Human Resources Development Recom-
mendation, No. 195). Retrieved from www.ilo.org/dyn/
normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100
_ILO_CODE:R195

Jha, A.K., Duncan, B.W. & Bates, D.W. (2001).
Simulator-based training and patient safety. In R.M.
Wachter (Ed.), Making healthcare safety: A critical analysis
of patient safety practices. Retrieved from https://archive
.ahrq.gov/clinic/ptsafety/chap45.htm

Kirkpatrick, J. & Kirkpatrick, W.K. (2009). The Kirk-
patrick four levels: A fresh look after 50 years, 1959-
2009. Retrieved from www.kirkpatrickpartners.com/
Portals/0/Resources/Kirkpatrick%20Four%20Levels%20
white%20paper.pdf

Merli, C. (2011, June). Effective training for adult
learners. Professional Safety, 56(6), 49-51.

OSHA. (2010). Best practices for the development,
delivery and evaluation of Susan Harwood training
grants (OSHA Publication No. 3686-09 2010). Retrieved
from www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/best-practices.html

OSHA. (2015). Resource for development and deliv-
ery of training to workers (OSHA Publication No. 3824-
08 2015). Retrieved from www.osha.gov/Publications/
osha3824.pdf

O’Connor, T., Flynn, M., Weinstock, D., et al.
(2014). Occupational safety and health and training for
underserved populations. New Solutions, 24(1), 83-106.
doi:10.2190/NS.24.1.d

O’Lawrence, H. (2007). The influences of distance
learning on adult learners. Techniques: Connecting Educa-
tion and Careers, 81(5), 47-49.

Potts, J. (2016). Best practices for engaging workers
in health and safety training. Occupational Health and
Safety, 85(5), 22-24.

Squelch, A.P. (2001). Virtual reality for mine safety
training in South Africa. The Journal of the South African
Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 10(4), 209-216. Re-
trieved from www.saimm.co.za/Journal/v101n04p209.pdf

Welsh, E., Wanberg, C., Brown, K.G., et al. (2003).
E-learning: Emerging uses, empirical results and future
directions. International Journal of Training Development,
7(4), 245Ð258. doi:10.1046/j.1360-3736.2003.00184.x

Using findings
from OSH inspec-
tions with photos
of safety issues
supports training
by showing real-
world risks from the
employee’s actual
workplace.

FIGURE 2
Example of Inspection Findings

Copyright of Professional Safety is the property of American Society of Safety Engineers and
its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the
copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email
articles for individual use.