The incompleteness or lack of closure at the conclusion of each course combined with a need to bring awareness of the learning process became the underlying incentive for a more reflective and investigative approach to clarifying the issue. A knowledge gap of whether and what people have learned has always existed and there have been no tools to measure this gap. Accordingly, the process and model of action research served as the guiding framework to observe and reflect on issues dealing with the development of learning. Thus, the research question was framed to read as:
Understanding the Situation
Data Collection Methods
Three data collection methods were selected to gain a deeper understanding of the research question and provide fuel for reflection. Interviewing, conducting a literature review, and collecting existing records provided the main sources of data.
The primary method to capture the voice of the different stakeholders was face-to-face interviews. The target group was composed of the program participants and represented departments such as maintenance, finance, shipping, salaried staff, packaging, quality control, brewing and family members of the employees. Workplace instructors and trainers, the company Human Resources Director, and a University of Alberta professor who specializes in work-place learning were also interviewed. Although common opinions were voiced, each person brought some new and insightful piece of information that served to round out this research data source.
Semi-structured questions were designed to obtain interviewee perceptions, thoughts, and opinions. These interviews were conducted with program participants either at the Molson Learning Centre or in a local coffee house. Interview questions were framed around specific learning goals, important learnings, and proof of learning. Learners gave concrete examples of learning on the job, at home or in the community, and voiced suggestions on how to figure out if learning had occurred after completing a course. Interviews were not tape recorded but field notes were taken during and after the interviews and then transcribed into an electronic form on the computer.
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