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Setting Goals: How You Can Enhance Your Professional Development

For many organisations striving for success in today’s economic climate, it is no longer enough for your employees to simply “know” information, facts and figures about the industry and organisation in which they work.

Regurgitating information (in some cases, to pass an elearning course) is useful for neither party; especially when it comes to applying these ‘learnings’ in a real world context.

It must be recognised that for an organisation to truly achieve growth, learning needs to focus on enhancing the performance of each individual within any given organisation – not merely their ability to appear competent.

This hardly startling revelation is increasingly known as “Continuing Professional Development” [CPD].

Glossary Term: Continuing Professional Development [CPD] is a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that aid learners in managing their own learning journey and growth. CPD is firmly focused on the outcome of results and skills – i.e. the benefits that professional development can bring to real-world job situations.

Many strategies and learning theories can be implemented as part of a learners learning experience to help facilitate CPD and, goal-based learning is just one of many that has recently come under our radar.

What is the Goal-Based Learning?

Goal-based learning centres on developing real-world behaviours that drives learners toward tangible performance improvement. As organisations modernise, with flatter, less siloed, and more autonomous business structures on the rise, roles are naturally becoming less definitive.

An equally modern idea; goal-based learning is focused on encouraging and enabling learners to take control of their individual learning journeys, and  to better respond to the changing requirements of their role.

In performing goal-based learning, learners adopt a focus on developing skills that can be utilised within their current job role to close skill gaps and develop competencies, rather than increasing knowledge of ‘fact’ [as associated with content-based courses and end-of-gate quizzes] which encourages little engagement outside of the learning environment.

What is the Process?

For any subject area, learners are required to identify all the elements an expert in that field would themselves do. These then become the specified goals for the chosen subject area.

As an example, the subject of “communication”might incur goals of:

  • Remember people’s names
  • Be a great listener
  • Provide feedback on someone else’s journey

Instructional Designers can use these selected goals to identify the knowledge needed to achieve achieve goal and then, provide learners with suitable learning activities to help develop the required knowledge. From a CPD point of view, these tangible, real-world experiences help accentuate and reinforce the ‘fact’ based knowledge that is learned from more content-focused learning.

Learners then have the choice to select appropriate learning activities and learning material that aid them in practicing the associated skills to achieve each goal.

How Does Goal-Based Learning Improve CPD?

The Facilitation of Self-Directed Learning

The goal-based learning approach is learner-centric; affording learners a much greater degree of control over their own learning journeys. In the case of self-directed learning, the users journey can be guided by AI and xAPI driven recommendations based on a learners performance history, interests and goals, as seen in a Learning Experience Platform.

With the help of their trainer, learners can select goals they believe to be the most beneficial to their CPD and, in setting these goals, as well as personalised recommendations, learners are more likely to select the learning activities they believe will be the most beneficial in achieving their goals. In doing so, learners are considering the practicalities of each activity and the impact it’ll have on their job-related skills.

Increased Motivation for Workplace Learning

In adopting the goal-based approach, research suggests motivation to complete workplace learning is likely to be increased. In a recent report titled “Student Goal Orientation, Motivation and Learning” produced by the University of Texas, researchers found that individuals who have what is called a “mastery goal orientation” are willing to put forth a great deal of effort in order to “master” the skill or concept.

In consideration of a learners CPD, the prospect is likely to further increase motivation, with workplace learning initiatives including a more tangible, achievable pathway to success for example, benefits including a pay rise, a promotion or more seniority.

The Development of Skills in the Workplace

Learning shouldn’t be restricted to the classroom – or, “virtual” classroom in this instance. A goal-based approach can ensure that learning continues into the workplace, enabling employees to put into practice the skills they have been improving on via their digital learning journey.

What Benefits Can Goal-Based Learning Offer?

Learners are not limited to a single goal – learners can set themselves more than one goal at any given time and, are not required to have completed their current goal to implement a new one meaning learners can improve upon several areas during their learning journey.

Learners can connect socially – goal-based learning doesn’t have to be a lonely experience and, this approach is ideal for implementing a social aspect to the learners experience. This approach can enable learners to make the most of the knowledge that already exists within their organisation, sharing among colleagues information that is prevalent to an individual’s set goal.

Aids performance evaluation – with succinct goals to work towards, upon a learners annual performance review with their line manager, they can outline the progress they have made and the steps they have taken in achieving these goals.

A more focused approach – through goal-based learning, as well as personalised recommendations, learners are no longer sifting through learning activities that aren’t wholly relevant to them and their specific job title. Learning becomes more focused to their individual needs and, takes them less time in getting their.

In the interest of Continuing Professional Development, goal-based learning is just one method we believe hosts a number of benefits for workplace progress and the development of vital skills.

Continuing Professional Development and Learning Experience Platforms are something we aim to explore with you over the coming months but, for now, join us back here next week where we’ll be discussing problem-based learning.

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