Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An Intriguing Idea for Funding Academic Research

In their guest column, Research for America, researchers Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt describe the fundamental problem with the boom-and-bust approach to science funding and its effect not only on research but, more fundamentally, on the development of future research capacity.

To that end, they propose a program like Americorps but, instead of placing young people in teaching roles, the corps would place young people in research roles.

Among the benefits could be significantly improved training for research assistants, an issue that results in disappointing performance by student-apprentices and their mentor-professors.

The idea is proposed in the field of the sciences but might have even more applicability in the social sciences.

View the entire suggestion at http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/guest-column-research-for-america/.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Long Live Instructor Training

In "Long Live Instructor Training," I provide empirical evidence to challenge the prevalent messages in the training press that instructor-led training is going the way of the dinosaur and that informal learning will replace it.

Check out the article at:

The Limitations of Learning from Experience

Gail Collins' March 28, 2009 column, "How to Train a Governor," describes the after-effects of relying on on-the-job training when the job environment is dysfunctional.

And when the job is high profile and affects millions of people, the consequences can be devastating.

Check out the column at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/opinion/28collins.html?ref=opinion.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

So how smart are those experts, really?

In his March 26, 2009 column (this past Thursday), Nicholas Kristof talks about the general limitations of “experts” to predict the future and suggests which types of experts have greater success in predicting the future.

In particular, he notes how a group of educators fell under the spell of an imposter expert. Makes me worry about the field.

View the entire column at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/opinion/26Kristof.html?ref=opinion

Failure to Train

The editorial “Walking a mile in the wrong shoes” in Thursday’s Globe and Mail suggests that one of the factors contributing to the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski is that the Mounties on duty let their training lapse. The one who used the taser took his training 4 years earlier and had not taken any refresher training. The most senior of the officers on duty let his first aid training (which comes with an expiration date) expire 5 years before the incident.
That raises two issues:

(1) Although the literature on training today tends to focus on return on investment in training, in many situations—especially those involving health, law, life, and death—the real value is the ability of workers to act appropriately when the situation demands it. Training provides the preparation, refresher training maintains the readiness.

(2) That the two Mounties missed their training is part of a trend that is increasingly emerging in the training research: the longer one holds a position, the less likely they are to get training. How many other risks arise because someone was too busy to refresh their knowledge?

View the editorial at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090326.weTaser26/BNStory/specialComment/home.