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ICRP: Free the Annals!

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Submitted by Pascale Bourassa, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
   Commenting on behalf of the organisation
Document Education and Training
 
Subject: Analysis of ICRP’s draft report entitled Radiological protection education and training for healthcare staff and students.


The following provides feedback related to the application of the principles of instructional design in the context of developing RP in-house training for delivery to healthcare staff. Comments do not apply to training developed for students by educational institutions that are well-versed in the development and delivery of training. The following includes suggestions for emphasizing or clarifying key messages and makes suggestions for additional recommendations or messages.

It is acknowledged that the authors of the report may have already considered the following and may have chosen to not include the information in the report.

Comments are structured as follows:

1. Systematic Approach to Training
2. Needs Assessments/Needs Analysis
3. Learning Objectives/Assessments
4. Length and Amount of Training
5. Generational Differences and their Impact on Learning Transfer
6. Working with Experts/Masters to Develop and Deliver RP Training

The ICRP report presents a convincing argument to support the need to train a wide array of healthcare professionals and students about radiation protection (RP) worldwide and makes training recommendations based on sound training and instructional design principles.

Systematic Approach to Training

Consider recommending that organizations use a systematic approach to develop their training.

A systematic approach to training development provides a logical progression to the identification of learning needs, to the development and implementation of training to achieve those needs, and the subsequent evaluation of the training. The process should not be carried out intuitively; rather, its success depends on systematic application.

This approach to instructional design allows for feedback and input at every stage to ensure the right learning solution. Experience has shown that a systematic approach is the best method to produce fully auditable training programs. Although it is not an end in itself, it is an effective means of achieving the level of competence required for RP personnel. It should be considered as a broad integrated approach emphasizing not only technical knowledge and skills but also human factors knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA’s).

For the reasons identified below, the Commission might consider recommending a systematic approach to the development of training programs.

• Because the recommendations in the report address the training needs of a large array of organizations and job groups worldwide, the training solutions will vary greatly depending on the organization, training institution, country and participants. Each group will likely have a unique profile, perhaps one radically different from the other. Using a systems approach to training will help to ensure that the content of the training identifies and addresses the varying needs.
• There is strong indication that past training has been deficient or is lacking (e.g. lines 128, 162-164, 797-798 and 804-805). A well-executed systems approach to training development will increase the likeliness of identifying relevant gaps, content and training methodology to deliver better training results.
• Some performance problems cannot be addressed through training (lines 641-642, 810-813), using a systems approach to training will identify these areas and allow the organization to consider other strategies to effect required changes

There are many models to guide the process of developing instruction. These models share at least one common feature: they base instruction (training) on performance requirements in a dynamic, sequential and multistage process. Most models boil down to the ADDIE model,– Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (Rothwell and Cookson, 1997).

It should be noted that some have suggested that such models are inappropriate for e-learning or other technologically based instruction. Others believe that the models serve as a reliable guide whether for in-class or online training.

Consider developing a guide based on applying a systematic approach to developing radiation protection training and its evaluation.

Needs Assessments/Needs Analysis

There is often resistance from organizations to doing needs assessments because they are perceived to be time-consuming and expensive. Consider stressing the importance of a needs assessment to identify gaps between what is and what should be and to place the
Nuclear Power Plant Personnel Training and its Evaluation: A Guidebook International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna 1996
William J. Rothwell, H.C. Kazanas, Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach, Fourth Edition Pfeiffer gaps in priority to ensure efficient and effective training results. A good needs analysis does not need to be time-consuming, expensive and involve a huge amount of effort. A streamlined, well-executed assessment will, amongst other things, help to identify/clarify:

• priorities for training content;
• barriers to learning related to learner attitudes and motivation;
• problems that cannot be solved with training;
• how the organization’s resources, constraints and culture will influence the content of the learning;
• aspects of the physical and social environments that impact the delivery of instruction;
• environmental and cultural aspects that influence attitudes toward instructional intervention;
• environmental and cultural factors that are influencing learning attitudes and performance;
• the nature and role of varying work environments in the teaching and learning process;
• the extent to which organizational missions, philosophy and values influence the design and success.

Learning Objectives/Assessment

High level training content for different learner groups (e.g. lines 272-342) is outlined in the report. It is important to note that this suggested content does not replace the requirement to perform a needs assessment to develop specific learning objectives based on “gaps” identified in that assessment.

Consider putting strong emphasis on the fact that learning objectives should clarify, in measurable terms, what learners should be able to do/know at the end of instruction, how well they should be able to do/know it and what conditions have to exist or equipment must be available for them to exhibit performance. Develop tests and assessments based on these learning objectives to ensure that assessment criteria are focused on the desired outcomes of the training.

Length and Amount of Training

Throughout the report, there are suggestions related to the length of the training (line 729, Tables 1 and 2 on pages 27 and 28, lines 848-849, Section 4.3) and although the author suggests that these recommendations should “act as simple guidelines rather than be applied rigidly” (line 898), there is a danger that organizations will use the guidelines to determine the content of the training thereby missing key elements to be addressed in the training. Although the report states that “A good tool for defining the number of hours needed for training could be the use of guidelines containing specific educational objectives”, consider placing stronger emphasis on the need to allow the learning objectives to determine the length of the training rather than the other way around.

Consider providing clarification regarding the meaning of high, medium, low in Tables 1 and 2 on pages 27 and 28.

Generational Differences and their Impact on Learning Transfer

In determining delivery methods, organizations might ask how older workers are different from middle-aged and younger adults in terms of their learning styles and preferences. It is important to consider generational differences and the impact that will have on learning transfer and delivery methods.

What research validates:

• Generational learning preferences for acquiring, digesting, and distilling information and skills do exist.
• Last few decades have seen a shift in preferred learning styles from verbal to visual to virtual approaches to learning.
• Optimal learning occurs when teaching and learning styles align.

In knowledge and [learning] transfer, age matters.

• Pay attention to the receiver, not just the source.
• The digital divide is very important.
• Generational learning styles and motivations can affect knowledge transfer if not addressed.
• Not all generations are equally different.

Working with Experts/Masters to Develop and Deliver RP Training

Experts often give seminars to share what they know. Research suggests that while useful, these seminars do little to develop the real expertise of participants. People learn better if they are actively engaged, in fact, immersed fully in learning. Full immersion is how we originally learn language, culture and values. In spite of that, there may be a temptation in some organizations to invite the experts to develop and deliver the training (e.g. line 221, 866-870, 873-879) which could result in training that is greatly influenced by the expert’s point of view (e.g. lines 241 and 242) and preference for “talking at” others. This approach could create a barrier to learning transfer.

Consider recommending that the design and development of training be done by qualified learning specialists working with subject matter experts to ensure a learner-focused, performance-based product for optimum transfer of learning. As already mentioned in the report, if experts are to deliver training, consider “train the trainer” sessions to prepare them for delivery.


References
1 William J. Rothwell, H.C. Kazanas, Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach, Fourth Edition Pfeiffer
2 Nuclear Power Plant Personnel Training and its Evaluation: A Guidebook International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna 1996
3 William J. Rothwell, H.C. Kazanas, Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach, Fourth Edition Pfeiffer
4 Effective Knowledge Transfer: Bridging Generational Divides, The Conference Board
5Richard McDermott, How to Transfer the Expertise of Retiring Staff, McDemott Consulting