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Individual Learning

All individuals learn- whether they do it consciously or unconsciously. It is a fundamental requirement of existence. Individual learning is defined as the capacity to build knowledge through individual reflection about external stimuli and sources, and through the personal re-elaboration of individual knowledge and experience in light of interaction with others and the environment. Prof David Merrill asserts: "... the social context of a learning environment may provide support for its members, nevertheless the change in cognitive structure and the acquisition of knowledge and skill is and individual event." Here, we refer individual learning in the context of organization. In other words it implies that How an individual learns in an organization and how is it important in an organization.

Following section deals with the various models and theories coined by different pshycologists explaining how an individual learns.

Theory of Learning Cycle (By David Kolb)
In order to learn from an experience, you have to go through the learning cycle. David Kolb stated that for true learning to take place, we need to have an experience, reflect upon the experience, make sense of it and finally apply our theories to our lives by planning what we would do next time we were in the same or similar situation. Learning is inhibited when a learner misses one of Kolb’s stages.

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Individual Learning

Fig: Learning




Based on Kolbs learning Cycle, Peter honey and Alan Mumford made an attempt to classify individuals into four groups based on their learning styles. Activist: People who learn through doing and prefer activity based development. They do not effectively, respond well to lectures or highly reflective activity.. they prefer to learn through involving excercises, problems, tasks etc… Reflector: Reflectors are people who enjoy reviewing and considering situations and events.In groups they observe and reflect rather than actively join or lead the discussion. They feel uncomfortable if they are put into limelight without prior warning. Theorist: Theorist like to know theories behind a piece of learning, they prefer to learn from research, data, models and information. They like Logic and are rational and analytical in a leaning situation. They will be uncomfortable with high emotion and feelings. Pragmatist: They prefer practicality to theory and learn effectively when they are able to apply the learning to the situation and the real world. They seek out new ideas and want to try them out drawing links between the subject and their current jobs. Thus based on the learning styles of the individuals an appropriate learning method must be designed for every individual.

Theory of Competence:
This theory states that learning is a four stage process, which involves the journey from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence.
1. Unconscious incompetence: The individual neither understands nor

knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it.
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2. Conscious

incompetence: Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it. do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration.

3. Conscious competence: The individual understands or knows how to

4. Unconscious competence: The individual has had so much practice

with a skill that it becomes "second nature" and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Theory of Multiple Intelligencies (By: Howard Gardener)
The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that there are a number of distinct forms of intelligence that each individual possesses in varying degrees. Gardner proposes seven primary forms: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, body-kinesthetic, intrapersonal (e.g., insight, metacognition) and interpersonal (e.g., social skills). The implication of the theory is that learning/teaching should focus on the particular intelligences of each person. For example, if an individual has strong spatial or musical intelligences, they should be encouraged to develop these abilities.

Modes of Learning (D. Rumelhart & D. Norman)
There are three modes of learning: accretion, structuring and tuning. Accretion is the addition of new knowledge to existing memory. Structuring involves the formation of new conceptual structures or schema. Tuning is the adjustment of knowledge to a specific task usually through practice. Accretion is the most common form of learning; structuring occurs much less frequently and requires considerable effort; tuning is the slowest form of learning and accounts for expert performance.

Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (By Leon Festinger)
According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance. In the case of a discrepancy between attitudes and behavior, it is most likely that the attitude will change to accommodate the behavior.
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After understanding various theories related to individual learning, it is per se necessary to also understand concept of Organizational learning.

Individual learning & Organizational Learning
The concept of learning organization has two important elements: individual learning; and organizational learning and transformation. Individual learning alone is not sufficient for a learning organization, it must be used to create organizational learning.

Individual Learning in the Workplace
All individuals have the capacity to learn, given sufficient time and support. It is impossible for organizations to invest continually in one person’s development without seeing the return on that investment. An essential aspect in the learning organization is the way in which the organization seeks to improve the capacity of individuals to recognize and take advantage of learning opportunities. Individual learning in the workplace will be adult learning. And adult learning is influenced by organizational context. Recently, there has been a shift towards viewing learning as a continuous lifelong activity which is focused on the learner, who has increasing responsibility for his own development. The benefits of learning for individuals are as follows (Allan, 1999): • • • • • Learning is the key to developing a person’s potential Learning to learn is the key to effective learning Learning enables the individuals to meet the demands of change The capacity to learn is an asset that never becomes obsolete Embracing learning helps the individual to acknowledge that learning is more than formal education and training

According to Giesecke and McNeil (1999), effective individual learning does not necessarily result in a learning organization. Rather, individual learning needs to lead to behavioral changes that clearly improve organizational performance. And the results of learning must become a part of the organizational culture and processes.

Organizational Learning
Organizational learning is concerned with the development of new knowledge or insights that have the potential to influence behavior. It takes place within the wide institutional context of inter organizational relationships and 'refers broadly to an organization's acquisition of understanding, know how, techniques and practices of any kind and by any means. Organizational learning examines how in this context
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individual and team learning can be translated into an organizational resource and is therefore linked to processes of knowledge management. Organizational learning Vs. Learning organization “Learning organization” implies an Organization which needs to continuously learn to survive, that learning at operational, policy and strategic levels needs to be conscious, continuous and integrated. Thus Learning organization can be defined as “one 'where people ' continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together'. While individual learning is very important and underpins the development of employees, team learning appears to be a prerequisite for organizational learning as it enables the learning from individuals to be shared and refined. Organizational learning can take place at two levels:

Single Loop learning, It is about dealing with the problems or symptoms of a situation rather than the underlying causes. In simple words, It is about ‘Doing things right’.

Double Loop Learning, examines the underlying cause of a situation which may lead to a review of the organization’s assumptions and goals. ‘It is about doing the right things.’

Relationship between Individual Learning and Organizational Learning
Organizational learning occurs when individuals, within an organization, experience a problematic situation and inquire into it on the organization’s behalf. In order to become organizational, the learning that results from organizational inquiry must become embedded in the images of organization held in its members’ minds. Just like an individual, if an organization is successful in embedding new learnings into its organizational patterns, it is able to develop new capacities for learning and establish a new equilibrium.

The Move from Training And Development To Learning And Development
Organizations need good people who can perform effectively in their job. In the workplace , employees are required to adapt and respond to the changes quickly and without loss of productivity. Learning needs to be
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continuous because of the pace of change and therefore it can no longer be the sole responsibility of the HR or training department; individuals and their managers must be involved and take the share of identifying learning needs and ensuring everyone is appropriately skilled to achieve business goals and objectives. We need to understand ‘development’. the meaning of ‘learning’,’training’ and

Training is an instructor-led, content-based intervention leading to desired changes in behavior. Learning is the process of increasing knowledge and skills and developing our attitudes or beliefs so that we have the opportunity for increased choice. Development is the process of growth and learning, resulting in change or progression. Learning and development within organizations is not going to be delivered unless there is a development need. The various factors that will create a development need are:
1. Imposed

Change: change that happens within an organization ( whether internally or externally driven) and leads to a need for different skills knowledge and behaviors to be demonstrated. reviewing current performance against standards and results(actual or desired).

2. Performance Review: development needs that arise as a result of

3. Personal Motivation: when an individual decides to enhance their

knowledge and skills or alter their behavior in order to achieve personal goals, which may be to achieve a promotion, take on a different career, increase their happiness or make other significant life changes.

Methods Of Learning • Action learning
Action learning is based on the premise that learning will take place when existing knowledge is applied to a problem through the use of questioning. It is more than learning by doing because it involves all aspects of the learning cycle, including the reflection about what has been learnt ,internalization of the learning and its application to the situation at hand.
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• Coaching
The process of helping people enhance or improve their performance through reflection on how they apply a specific skill and/or knowledge to a specific situation, thus resulting in an improvement in performance.

Discussion Boards and Groups
Discussion groups are an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences. There is no formal hierarchy in discussion groups and each member can contribute as they feel able, rather worry about being judged by senior members of their organization.

• Mentoring
It is a process of helping an individual enhance or improve a specific skill in order to improve performance. Mentoring is a formal or informal relationship between senior and junior employees for the purpose of supporting learning and development. The mentor provides ongoing support, advice, and career direction to an individual.

• On-the-job training
It is a structured training that takes place in the workplace. It is highly valid and relevant to the learner as it occurs in a real environment and provides the learner with a realistic experience and opportunity to apply or transfer their learning straightaway. It can be very useful for managerial training which is often delivered via formal off-the-job courses.

• Job rotation
Job Rotation is a career development strategy where an individual temporarily moves laterally into an established or "shadow" position. An employee may complete a series of Job Rotations.

• Self-study
It is a learning which is self-directed. The learners takes responsibility for their own learning and for the methods they choose to use. Self study is often prompted by a specific need. It encourages self-development and self-reliance and can help individuals to learn and to value their own resources.

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Individual Learning

Assessment of Learning Impact
It is necessary to assess the learning developments of the individual and its impact on the organization. This can be done with many of the available options.

Validation measures the achievement of learning . Pre-event validation ensures that the learning objectives for the activity are a true reflection of the needs identified. Post event evaluation checks whether learning has occurred and whether the learning objectives have been achieved.

Evaluation measures the overall cost benefit of the programme and not just the achievement of laid down objectives. It has three stages:
1. Performance:

Measures the effect of a learning experience on the individuals work/life depending on the purpose of the programme. It is essential to know what the performance was before the program, so that the changes can be measured. Changes in performance can be measured by quantitative data such as the number of errors or items produced; or through observation where changes in behaviour can be noticed. on the organization should be assessed . It may take some time for the learner to transfer their learning and use in the real world. Measurement should take place over a period of time. It is useful to have pre development data to compare.

2. Impact on organization: Before a programme is planned, its impact

3. Return on investment: it is a cost benefit analysis. It states how

much the development has cost against the returns for the organizations. Many benefits of development cannot be measured whereas cost of any development can be easily measured.

The SEW-EURODRIVE India Pvt. Ltd, a manufacturing firm faced by the problem of shortage in leadership skills. Thus its basic objective was to take the Organization to the next orbit of business performance and to build a cohesive senior team. To achieve a higher level of individual learning, the firm implemented WLDP TM (Wholesome leadership Development Process). It involved a set of processes starting with identification of competencies of the employee using 360°
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feedback and MBIT. It also involved identification of competencies required for a leader and understanding the business. Based on strengths of employees and required competencies, learning modules were developed. Learning was not only focused on leadership development but also extended to individual learning objectives. Employees had to undertake two projects to expose them to self-learning as they get chance to work in a group. The firm adopted learning strategies like mentoring, Coaching, Group learning, Selflearning, Action learning, discussion board. The visible results of the programme were improved leadership competencies, enhanced team spirit, good team behavior, etc... It also made employees more committed and engaged. In order to remain competitive, many other global firms like Motorola, moulded every employee as a change agent and thought leader. They have done this by building a culture of constant learning and development. As Charles Darwin famously remarked, "It is not the strongest of the species that will survive, or the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change."

 The

electronics and telecom major Motorola, has been globally recognized for its learning culture and innovative training practices. It has set up the Motorola University to meet all its training needs. It focuses on holistic learning, and the university continuously revises its curriculum based on participant inputs, global benchmarking and changing strategic requirements. pediatric care centre, Miami Children's Hospital, Florida, is internationally renowned as one of the few service sector organisations to innovate in the field of organizational learning. At the hospital, it is mandatory for all new patient-care staff to undergo six-month familycentered training. The training methodology includes role playing to sensitize staff to the needs of young patients. Each learning intervention is consciously aligned to the hospital's mission of excelling in family-centered healthcare.

 The

Every employee is a veritable island of knowledge, and the organization must integrate these isolated pockets to channelize individual learning towards achieving its larger strategic objectives. At the same time, it cannot afford to lose focus on the individual's personal development. This balancing
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act has by far been the biggest challenge for the human resource function in the context of the knowledge economy


Easter and Knowledge

Smith Mark

..Handbook of Organizational learning and

Jackie Clifford & Sara Thorpe ..Workplace learning and development – Delivering competitive advantage for your organization
Sherry Shiuan Su..Individual Learning And Organizational Learning In Academic Libraries

Kim, Daniel H..The link between Individual and organizational learning; Sloan management review


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