70-20-10 and the Dominance of Informal Learning

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Alan Clardy of Towson University. Dr. Clardy recently published an article in the Human Resource and Development Review entitled “70-20-10 and the Dominance of Informal Learning: A Fact in Search of Evidence,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Clardy reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

I reviewed the recent book “Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent” for Personnel Psychology a few years ago. In that book, mention was made in an off-handed factual way at several points to a 70-20-10 rule. I had two reactions: I wasn’t that familiar with that rule, and I started to wonder where the original data could be found. I found myself wanting to see the original studies but the more I looked, the more disappointed I became. Then I wanted to discover where this 70-20-10 “fact” really came from.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

As I note my article, the literature on this matter is scattered and not particularly integrated. So back-tracking through citations, then finding the original sources became a chore at times. Perhaps the biggest challenge was looking through these original studies to see if they mentioned at 70% rule and/or presented any data for a 70% rule.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

It was not uniquely innovative but doing a search for root data in a dispersed literature is somewhat distinctive. Even though I’m sure I did not identify every instance in which a 70-20-10 rule has been noted, I am pleased that I was able to identify as much as I did and then to organize and report it in a more coherent and connected manner.

My academic grounding in HRD has a strong foundation in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Interestingly, the chapters on employee training and development in all standard I/O textbooks and, as I’m recalling, texts on Organization Behavior do not cover, much less mention informal learning experiences. I/O texts, for example, focus almost exclusively on formal training. It would be a mistake to conclude from my paper that I disagree with the notion that much learning about job and work occurs “informally”. Rather, there is a great deal of evidence that much learning does occur “informally”. What I was objecting to was the dogmatic and unqualified assertion that 70% of job/work of all learning happens informally. So, if my article could help generate coverage of “informal” learning in I/O and OB texts, I think that would be a beneficial impact on all of these fields. I do call for more research on how to structure various kinds of “informal” learning venues to improve their effectiveness; seeing more of that would also be a positive impact.

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This entry was posted in human resource development review, Teaching & Learning, Work environment and tagged , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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