This review examines issues and topics concerning systematic modes of instruction designed to produce environments that shape behavior to satisfy stated objectives. Training here is defined as the acquisition of skills, concepts, or attitudes that results in improved performance in an on-the-job environment. Even a cursory inspection of this review displays the diverse nature of literature in this field which includes such topics as: need assessment techniques, evaluation methodology, and particular modes of instruction; in addition, there are topics with social and political implications such as training for second careers and training hard-core unemployed youth. This is the first examination of the topic in this series since J. P. Campbell's (1971) review. Computer searches covering the period since his review produced over 3000 references from the Educational Resources Information Center and Psychological Abstracts bibliographic data bases. The resulting eye strain was partially alleviated by a set of informal decision rules which helped determine the materials read and considered for this review. First, consistent with the definition of training, the selection process emphasized topics related to systematic instruction designed to produce transfer in work organizations. Thus, topics that emphasized the development of basic principles in learning (e.g. massed vs spaced learning) were excluded unless the research was directly relevant to an instructional program for training purposes. Also, topics such as organization development which have implications for quality of work life and institutional effectiveness that extend beyond the considerations of most training programs were excluded as a separate topic. However, there is an attempt to describe relevant literature from a wide variety of disciplines which touch on many important developments. Therefore, this review examines discussions on such topics as criterion development, found in the educational psychology literature; need assessment methodology, developed in vocational education; and instructional systems approaches, evaluated in military environments.

This review also attempts to conceptualize training issues broadly. It would have been possible to complete this article by examining only the different types of training approaches utilized. However, such an approach would have excluded many important issues that should affect our understanding of training as a system within a work organization. For example, it is possible to consider training as part of the socialization process. Also, it is important to consider training and its evaluation as an intervention which affects the lives of people in work organizations. This review attempts to provide such a perspective as well as examine the more traditional topics.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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