In September 2013 I went to the INPO Human Performance Conference and saw Kevin Lee give an amazing speech. Some people didn’t like it, some people loved it (like me), but most thought it was poignant and very well delivered. He drew us in with a joke, and then mocked some of the ridiculous processes we put up with in nuclear, and then delivered a personal story where one of the safety-minded people in his organization broke his trust and how the organization rallied around the situation without even really having the facts. It made me think a lot. The organization had implicit trust in the other person’s “facts,” but nobody spoke to Kevin about the situation until later on, and then that wasn’t handled right leaving Kevin wondering who he could trust with simple things in his organization. Kevin has given me permission to use it, so you can hear portions of this speech in an upcoming podcast.
Why was his speech received in different ways? His speech was primarily Affective, delivering to you elements of the job that he values and things he believes you should value, too. Delivering that type of message is not easy, and not a lot of people are as good as Kevin when attempting the effort. He made it personal, and he kept it passionate. Depending on your personality-type, you might not like touchy-feely emotion getting mixed up with your training or professional development.
I’ve been hooked on the Affective realm from the day I was introduced to it in college 3 years ago. At Southern Illinois University’s campus in Groton, CT, there is a Workforce Education Development program that was so transformative and important to me, I did not stop going when a couple of weeks into my first semester I started a new job in Kansas 1500 miles away. I flew back for each class weekend for a year an a half and never missed important face-to-face time with the Professors. I had a goal to learn everything I could about how adults learn and retain information, so I would be able to pull that into my career in Performance Improvement.
My first epiphany
I had been a Instrument and Controls Technician for 15 years before getting into PI full-time and with all the required training throughout the years, I cannot remember a single objective or class that used an objective from the Affective realm. Why is that? When you look at training procedures you can typically find it – even INPO’s training has guidance on the topic. So, what is the mystery? In my estimation Affective training will move the needle on whatever the training topic happens to be. Since Human Performance Training is my thing, let me break it down for you in relatable terms – we can spend a lot of time on defining the tools, applying the tools, and even evaluating or assessing others using the tools, but if we do not spend time on why you should value the tools, we are not training completely. Here is my best argument – if we train someone on the value of something, and get their buy-in, they will seek out the knowledge and skill to get better – of course, this will also be part of the training we provide. Do not have an assumption that someone will value something because they are getting paid to value it – that helps, but if you understand the Affective taxonomy, they don’t truly value it, they are simply responding to it (which is a lower tier).
The Taxonomy breakdowns
Cognitive – Head – Knowledge
Psycho-Motor – Hands – Skill
Affective – Heart – Attitude
Did you see that? KSAs are really Knowledge, Skill, and Attitude – commonly mistaken as Ability, which is simply a cover up for Knowledge, Skill and Skill. We use the KSA acronym and forget a very important area adults need to learn in, either because we don’t know about it, we don’t know how to do it, or we don’t want to do it. Teaching an Affective objective really can take a lot out of the instructor, and also take a lot out of the student if they are engaged on the subject.
Have you heard of higher versus lower order objectives, as well?
This is a whole different subject, but as a prelude to it, how much training have you been through that had higher order objectives in ANY of the three learning taxonomies? I have been looking and haven’t found any training specifically with Affective Objectives (other than small pockets not within the nuclear training community and whatever I create). I have reviewed these observations of mine and more on the topic with colleagues across America, and every time we get into the subject, eyes are opened like mine were three years ago. The nuclear industry and trainers in general need to explain more than the WIIFM for an adult to value the training topic.
The lesson learned
Simply put : all training modules should consider an Affective objective to intentionally try to get students to value the topic of discussion.
Here are some fantastic links for using with Affective training:
In case you need some contrast, this next video is an example of non-affective safety training
If you want to explore some Affective video references