Making Sense of the Data
The data analysis progressed through the constructive method of reading, selecting, presenting and interpreting the data and then formulating conclusions. All the information was summarized and prepared for a digital format. The analysis was a formidable task largely due to the abundance of high quality and thoughtful information extracted from the various sources. Notes were read, reread and sorted to form the framework. After distilling the information, three category headings evolved. They were:
An evolving flowchart of the filtering process provided a visual representation for the researcher which greatly assisted in transforming learning indicators into instructional suggestions. From this flowchart, arose the scaffold for developing the action research strategies.
Evidence of Learning
Four major themes emerged out of the range of learning indicators which consisted of helping others; transfer of learning outside the classroom; empowerment elements; and learner-generated products. Participants reported that learning had occurred beyond the classroom when they were able to assist or instruct co-workers, co-classmates, family members, friends, their boss and even their instructor. Examples of the transfer of learning to work, home or community were named by interviewees and ranged from writing memos, to using spreadsheets more efficiently or creating a presentation. In the empowerment theme, much attention was given, especially from the learners, to the enabling result of taking courses. Such items included knowledge and skills expansion; improved confidence and attitude; effective job performance without frustrations; feeling of independence; greater self- awareness; better problem-solving strategies; and enhanced ability to ask better questions. Observable indicators regarding attitude changes encompassed appropriate body language, mannerisms and forthright verbal expressions of success. As one respondent stated I used to be scared stiff and now I can do it. The last theme of this category dealt with the creation of something tangible, a product, either in class, at work, at home or in a community. Many examples are similar to those mentioned in the transfer of learning theme.
One key theme emerged central to the issue of transferability of learning to work performance. Although behavioral change can mean learning has taken place, it does not necessarily ensure it will transfer to bottom-line outcomes and subsequently enhance the companys business. However, there is some evidence of learning and change when employees ask more questions, provide their own examples of application, solve problems faster, advocate the adoption of new learning, use a new language linked to the new concepts, and exhibit appropriate body language.
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