Thursday, February 17, 2011

Career and Technology Education and the 70+20+10 Model for Learning and Development

Eric Shepherd, CEO of Questionmark, created an interesting discussion on the "70+20+10 Model for Learning and Development."

As I read Eric's thoughts, it made me realize why career and technology education is so successful. This type of education has always been based upon this framework. CareerTech students spend their class time "Doing" (real life, on the job-type experiences) with "Others" (instructors that have worked in industry) and have based these first two components upon "Study" (formal learning).
The CareerTech Testing Center has considered testing and skills standards development as integral components of career and technology education since 1980. Although testing is and will always be a "hot" topic, there is a need to establish a base level of competency (summative assessments) in every occupational area.

Please read Eric's discussion below:
Last summer Charles Jennings introduced me to the 70+20+10 model which provides us with a simple vocabulary to discuss how we learn. Simply stated:
  • 70% of learning comes “Doing” …real-life and on-the-job experiences
  • 20% of learning comes from “Others” …feedback, observing and working with others
  • 10% of learning comes from “Study” …formal learning and training
Most of us can agree that this is “roughly right” whilst also sensing that the percentages are questionable! That is why I prefer to think of this as a vocabulary rather than a model.

The concept is often expressed as 70/20/10 (implying division) or 70-20-10 (implying subtraction) and so I express this as 70+20+10 to help reinforce that we learn from all three environments.

We could waste time by arguing how a particular learning experience should be categorized. Just as those before us might have argued about how many fairies could dance on the head of a pin. Should this or that learning experience be categorized in the 70%, 20% or 10%? Probably not. However, it is worth recognizing the variety of ways in which we learn.

The idea of 70+20+10 helps us recognize that daily life provides a learning environment for us to enjoy. The challenges we confront each day are simply learning opportunities. Courage to step outside our comfort zone – including our interests, goals, attitude towards challenges, and personal disciplines – impacts our life-long learning more than formal courses.

Learning from others (20%) and formal instruction (10%) is still essential. I would have enjoyed a few more broken bones if I hadn’t learned from others or been on a formal training course. Experienced professionals have been essential to my survival when bungee jumping, parachuting, and scuba diving. Courage was simply not enough.

Where do assessments fit into 70+20+10?

All types of assessments, just as all forms of learning, have important roles to play in the 70+20-10 world, assessments answer the following questions:
  • “How do we know they got it?”
  • “How do I know I got it?”
  • “What should I, or they, learn now?”
I fly a lot and I know that my pilot has learned a lot from on-the-job experiences but I also know that he/she has passed tests related to weather patterns, flight controls, emergency procedures, etc. Oh yes and driving tests help reduce traffic accidents. Oh yes and I feel that motor mechanics should be qualified to repair my car.

Yes, indeed, Summative Assessments (tests and exams) still have a place!

Pilots need to know what might happen if a plane needs to crash land but crashing a real plane is expensive and dangerous! Providing safe environments to promote knowledge recall, develop appropriate behaviors, and practice key skills prior to an emergency can increase the chances of a positive outcome.

And so there’s a place for Formative Assessments such as quizzes to provide safe learning environments.

When someone wants to learn and develop do they want to go through the complete learning experience again — just in case? Where should someone start? Diagnostic Assessments can help us by identifying knowledge and skills gaps to suggest appropriate learning experiences.

Assessments fit into the 70+20+10 world quite well, confirming what people know, enhancing the learning process and helping them determine their future learning needs.
I feel that some individuals belittle career and technology education, but I truly believe that this form of education does many things the right way. Programs are based upon the development of skills standards, which are developed with input from industry. The program's curriculum, instructor developed tests, and all summative assessments are created based upon the skills standards. It truly is our mission to prepare students to succeed in the workplace, in education, and in life.

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