Mandatory versus voluntary adult learners : implications for trainers Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5138jk53z

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  • During the past fifteen years, Professor John Keller has developed a systematic, comprehensive model to motivate adult learners. Its major elements are Attention- Relevance-Confidence-Satisfaction (ARCS), and research with volunteers confirms that the strategies improve adult responses in learning settings. Training in business and industry, however, often involves mandatory attendance by participants. According to research, such "captive" audiences "ought" to be more resistant to the learning process. The purpose of this study, then, was to explore, first, whether Keller's tactics produce different outcomes for mandatory rather than voluntary participants in short, one-time-only presentations, and second, whether prior interest mitigates the expected negative responses from mandatory attendees. Teachers from poor rural school districts covered by a federal grant were the subjects. A presentation designed with Dr. Keller's assistance was delivered to teachers of all grades. Responses indicating attendees' post-presentation feelings about the emotional impact and recognition of specific techniques were collected from eight locations. A literature survey that included the topics of attention, curiosity, adult learning theory, Keller's design, and voluntary/mandatory participation provided information that assisted in interpreting the answers from the 196 attendees. Distribution analysis revealed that pre-presentation responses were severely skewed; therefore, non-parametric statistics, Chi-Square and the Nomographic Test of Percentages, were used for analysis. Chi-Square analysis between perceived level of mandatory attendance and post-presentation responses resulted in no significant associations, largely because of the extreme data skew. The Nomographic Test of Percentages between relevant pairs of percentages resulted in no-interaction findings. Attendees who were interested in the subject of drug education were not influenced by their mandatory/voluntary status. Limitations of the nomographic scale precluded statistical analysis of comparisons that involved low interest, voluntary attendees, but in the population grouping that included seven of the eight sessions, many such unmotivated participants responded with high scores. Use of Keller's strategies apparently overcame initial barriers. Such a finding is comforting to trainers who routinely deal with mandatory attendees. Positive emotional and presumably learning outcomes are quite possible if the materials are designed with attendee Attention-Relevance-Confidence-Satisfaction in mind.
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