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Any Answers Digest #23 – Computer-based learning and skill retention, evidence to support induction, a ‘cure’ for exam-phobics?


TrainingZONE Any Answers Digest - Issue 23
Wednesday 6 November 2002

********** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS **********
Computer-based learning and skill retention...evidence to support
induction...a 'cure' for exam-phobics? testing...
employee representative groups...
********** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS **********

With 851 questions and 2477 answers posted, and 895 members
taking part in Any Answers so far this year, make sure you're
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What you asked this fortnight
New questions posted include:

- Are there any documented research examples of use of
electronic / computer based learning increasing skill retention?,
asks David Halliwell.

- Does anyone know of any research/papers written examining the
effect of an adult learners first experience (face-to-face or e-
learning) and its impact upon their likelihood to undertake
further learning?, asks Lisa McCrindle.

- Has anyone experience of setting up an employee representative
group or panel for consultation purposes and would be willing to
share their experiences? asks Louise Schwartz.

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Featured question: Evidence to support induction

I am struggling to convince the Senior Management team that it is
essential to provide a full induction programme that covers
Customer service focus (Internal/external) before new employees
are released to the work environment. I am aware that there is a
need to reduce attrition, increase team environment awareness and
improve customer satisfaction, however need to provide evidence
to back up my proposition. Can anyone assist me with this?

I would be grateful of any evidence that supports the return to
the business against the cost of losing people in the first year.

Question submitted by Rob Jagger

Members responses

Just a couple of suggestions for data you could seek out and use:
Do you know why people leave during the first year? For instance:
didn't feel a part of the team, left to sink or swim, poor team
morale, lack of knowledge about the business, etc. Do you know
what it costs to recruit each new employee (and what it costs to
lose one)? Linking the reasons for leaving to the costs of
recruiting a replacement could provide some clear data that you
could use to (a) confirm the things you wish to include in the
induction process versus (b) the net cost savings by doing this.

Tim Drewitt


The emphasis of induction training should be on introducing the
new employee to the organisation, not how to do the job.
Induction training aims to:

- orientate newcomers to their workplace and colleagues
- secure their acceptance by existing employees
- reduce their anxiety and insecurity
- develop a sense of belonging
- understand what's going on

The obvious question then is: why would any organisation want to
treat its newly recruited staff, often its most expensive asset,
in any other way?

Eddie Newall


Good luck with this. Have you thought about looking at customer
feedback, complaints etc. Is there any evidence that there are
more complaints or adverse comments from people new to the
organisation who may not have had an induction?

I am thinking of complaints relating to people not knowing
enough about the organisation rather than inability to do their
job effectively.

Gill Wright


A good induction programme saves money and in some occupational
sectors can save a heavy fine. The writer above says a good
induction introduces the employee to the organisation and plays
an active part in the 'settling in' process. This is absolutely
right and also cuts down the new employee interrupting other
workers constantly for as many weeks as it takes answers to come
if no induction process exists. This can result in friction as
new employees tend to have so much to take in less is retained so
questions can be asked more than once.

Robert Edwards


Do your Senior Management team have genuine aspirations of high
service quality, low staff turnover with control of the turnover
of the unsuitable new starters at an early stage, higher
productivity and if all else is not of interest are you going to
go for IIP. Perhaps get your Senior Managers to share good and
bad inductions they have received and how they felt when told
'that's how it works any problems see....'

Simon Hastie


Everyone is aware that Line Managers struggle to rationalise
training within the workplace. Not only is important to show them
the importance and benefits of an induction process, but
essential that it is painless as possible for them. I have
recently introduced a comprehensive formal Induction in my
workplace. This induction takes a day. To help the acceptance of
the Induction new employees are invited to start a day earlier.
If they are to start with us on the Monday, we complete the
induction on the Friday. This way Line Managers are not faced
with 'losing their employee' for a day.

Matt Young


Read the full discussion and add your own views at

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Any Answers Answered

This fortnight, new responses have been added to the following

Q - Does anyone know whether there is a 'cure' for people who are
totally exam or test phobic? If there is, what's the cure?, asks
Robert Anggono.

(edited responses appear - see site for full responses)

A - Have you tried the devious route?', asks Hilary Morrish
Allen. ' I had a similar situation in England a couple of years
ago. One candidate could pass mock exams in the 90 per cent +'s
but failed when sitting the real exam. I discussed this with the
examining board involved and got their agreement to set this
person up to do the 'real' exam at the same time others were
doing a 'mock' exam. The individual didn't know until the results
of the exams were announced, when they were then told about it.'

A - 'Have you thought about a self testing method?', suggests
Susan McGaughran. 'They will not get the ECDL from it but it is
designed to provide an immediate answer so the threat of failure
after 30 mins would be gone? This could build confidence over
time, to the extent that the student is able to take the ECDL
with confidence.'

A - 'EMDR might be of interest, though I think you need to be
properly trained to do it', says Bob Foley. 'Have you discussed
the problem with the employer? If bribery doesn't work how about

To read the full responses, see

Q - Help! All the testing that I do post courses (except for
software training) are questions set to people under exam
conditions. Can anyone offer me any alternatives, but still be
able to clearly assess knowledge?, asks Katy Horobin.

(edited responses appear - see site for full responses)

A - 'It really depends on the subject of what you are training',
says Lisa Birch. 'I personally would steer away from 'exams' as
this strikes fear in the heart of learners. However, I do
acknowledge that some topics will require exam follow ups.'

A - 'I'm working on focusing on the outputs of the training (the
application), more so than the inputs (the knowledge), so my
approach is to test the knowledge via traditional methods, but
then to assess the application of the knowledge and any newly
acquired skills via a series of timed follow-up activities', adds
Tim Drewitt.

To read the full responses, see

Any Answers would cease to function without all those who
regularly share their knowledge and experience. If you've
benefited from receiving advice from an Any Answers question but
have yet to post a response yourself, why not do your bit by
responding to one of the questioners now at

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May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes as
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