Training in the sphere of human resource management (HRM) is viewed as a critically important strategy to improve the skills of employees and increase their engagement and commitment to the organization. Therefore, researchers pay attention to studying what approaches to training applied by HR managers can lead to enhancing employees’ performance and productivity with reference to the development of their potential and capabilities (Arghode, Brieger, & McLean, 2017).
Theories of learning, such as behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism, provide the basis for developing and implementing training programs to be used by HR managers to educate employees (Rücker, 2017). Thus, it is important to understand how different theories of learning behind training can influence employees’ achievements. The purpose of this paper is to examine the possible difference between the impact of applying behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, or connectivism on the effectiveness of training.
The efficiency of training in HRM depends on the choice of theoretically supported approaches, strategies, and practices. The problem requiring empirical research in this context is that not all theoretical approaches to training selected by HR managers contribute to the development and education of employees, resulting in the absence of positive outcomes for the staff and organization (Arghode et al., 2017). Thus, it is necessary to conduct empirical research to determine the difference between the application of various learning theories and training effectiveness. The research question formulated depending on the identified problem is the following one: What is the difference between HR managers’ application of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, or connectivism and the effectiveness of training in the organization?
In the literature on training in HRM, much attention is paid to discussing learning theories behind training and development programs and courses, especially with reference to the idea of adult learning. Researchers identify four theories or approaches to learning to focus on, such as behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism, which differ in relation to the role of a learner and an instructor in the process (Kesim & Altınpulluk, 2015).
Furthermore, these theories differ in tools proposed to develop new knowledge and understanding in students. According to Arghode et al. (2017), “an instructor’s ability to utilize theoretical principles to improve instruction” can lead to different results in learning depending on the theoretical approach to follow (p. 604). Each of the four learning theories can have different effects on the learning of adults.
Behaviorism and cognitivism are viewed as passive approaches as the engagement of learners depend on the quality of the presentation of material. External stimuli from an instructor are important in both cases, but these approaches are less effective for adults than for children (Kesim & Altınpulluk, 2015). Knowledge can be effectively acquired or constructed, but there is limited space for developing skills and making connections to practice (Rücker, 2017).
On the contrary, constructivism and connectivism allow for constructing the meaning and forming knowledge with reference to collecting information from numerous sources. In this case, the focus is on internal stimuli that lead to higher training outcomes (Kesim & Altınpulluk, 2015). In HRM, managers interested in engaging employees in training activities choose constructivism and connectivism to stimulate adults’ learning.
In the sphere of adult learning, the transition from behaviorism and cognitivism to constructivism has been observed during recent decades. Today, more researchers speak about the necessity of focusing on connectivism as the most effective approach to stimulating and studying the aspects of learning (Arghode et al., 2017; Rücker, 2017). These tendencies in education and learning are related to training in HRM and should be studied in detail to contribute to developing the most effective programs to promote employee development.
- H0: There is no difference between the application of constructivism and connectivism and the application of behaviorism and cognitivism in training programs in the impact on their effectiveness.
- H1: There is a difference between the application of constructivism and connectivism and the application of behaviorism and cognitivism in training programs in the impact on their effectiveness.
The independent variable in this study is training that can be based on the principles of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism. The dependent variable is the effectiveness of training measured with reference to HR managers’ and employees’ perceptions and assessments.
Research Methodology and Findings
It is possible to design the project based on the discussion of theories of learning in HRM for empirical work when focusing on examining how HR managers’ reference to these theories can influence the effectiveness of implemented training programs. The application of the quantitative methodology is more appropriate than the qualitative methodology to gather and analyze data on HR managers’ and employees’ reactions to different training programs.
For this empirical research, 80 participants are selected with the help of the non-probability purposive sampling approach to compose four samples depending on the type of theory applied. A web-based survey (a Likert scale) with these participants is chosen as an effective instrument to collect data for this quantitative research as it includes questions on employees and HR managers’ assessments of training effectiveness depending on the theory behind development programs. The usage of ANOVA and correlation as statistical tests allows for determining the difference between the samples.
Findings indicate that there is a difference between applied theories in terms of their effect on training. Training based on the principles of constructivism and connectivism can be assumed to be more effective because of a positive correlation with employees’ achievements. In contrast, training based on behaviorism and cognitivism is not appropriate to develop employees’ skills and knowledge.
These assumptions are in line with the results reported by Arghode et al. (2017), who state that constructivism and connectivism explain the nature of adult learning; therefore, these theories are more applicable in the HRM context. Training programs based on constructivism allow employees to learn from their personal experience, construct blocks of knowledge, and collaborate with peers. Training grounded in connectivism provides employees with opportunities to be self-directed in learning when collecting information from different nodes: trainers, online sources of information, peers, and others (Rücker, 2017). These approaches lead to more remarkable training outcomes because they are less passive than programs based on behaviorism and cognitivism, including lectures, seminars, tests, and assessments.
The analysis of the data indicates that the alternative hypothesis for this research has been supported, and the null hypothesis is rejected. Thus, trainee-oriented learning approaches, such as constructivism and connectivism, and trainer-oriented theories, such as behaviorism and cognitivism, differ in their effectiveness. Consequently, it is possible to assume with a focus on the statistically significant findings of ANOVA and correlational tests that HR managers should apply the principles of constructivism and connectivism when developing training for employees in order to achieve higher outcomes.
Arghode, V., Brieger, E. W., & McLean, G. N. (2017). Adult learning theories: Implications for online instruction. European Journal of Training and Development, 41(7), 593-609.
Kesim, M., & Altınpulluk, H. (2015). A theoretical analysis of MOOCs types from a perspective of learning theories. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 186, 15-19.
Rücker, M. S. (2017). How can an understanding of learning theories be used in the design of training? A critical evaluation. Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(2), 63-70.