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‘The Theory and Practice on Training’ – review


The Theory and Practice of Training (4th edition)
by Rober Buckley and Jim Caple
Published by Kogan Page
ISBN 0-7494-3199-7
Price: £22.50

This fourth edition of Roger Buckley and Jim Caple's book is described as a newcomer's introduction to the topic. In fact there is much in the 274 pages that is of equal value to the "practised" trainer. Packed with a host of useful models, checklists and tips, the book offers trainers a useful refresher and some new ideas, as well as providing a solid grounding to the newcomer.

Divided into eleven chapters, the book starts by defining basic terms and the distinction between training and education, discusses theoretical models of training and compares proactive vs reactive approaches. It then considers the identification of training needs, setting training objectives, programme design and delivery and the validation of success. A particularly useful chapter on the role of the trainer includes a checklist on the characteristics of good and bad trainers (not for the feeble hearted).

In addition, five detailed appendices cover job analysis, sampling, learning journals, course review and trainer assessment. And finally, if the text sparks a desire to read further, Buckley and Caple offer almost six pages of further reading and references.

Delving into the book, I generally found the style easy on the eye and accessible. The use of short explanatory text, ample bullet lists (although I accept that you either love them or hate them) and thoughts on the "advantages/disadvantages" of techniques are particularly useful. Whilst it doesn't pretend to be an academic text (that's what the ample referencing is there for), it nevertheless offers sufficient underlying theory to allow the reader to grasp the essentials of most key learning theory and concepts. It also opens up debate on individual topics, such as the value of training objectives and the practical implications of Honey and Mumford's much used and abused concept of learning styles. This is a refreshing change from the more usual approach of solely giving the current dogma or one single theory. (In fact, in the latter context, it was nice to see Kolb's original learning styles put in context against H&M).

However, on the downside, it must be said that for a book which aims to give a "comprehensive outline of major instructional and training concepts" it is disappointing to find just over one page on competence based approaches and, as far as I could find, no reference at all to occupational standards, NVQs or competence assessment. Consideration of the training practicalities and issues around both the NOS/NVQ and attitudinal schools of "competence" surely call out for further discussion, perhaps as an extended appendix. Instead we get a throwaway line to the effect that concern and debate about the competence approach continues... tell us more!

Presentationally the book also suffers slightly. The aforementioned bullet lists occasionally become excessive (at one stage four solid pages of bullets- excessive, even for me!) and many of the charts and diagrams could be improved upon.

Nevertheless, I feel that the book is well worth the asking price of £22.50 and whether new to training, an experienced trainer wishing to widen your horizons, or a trainer of trainers the book offers lots of interest and value, much able to be taken straight off the page and put to immediate use.

Neil Wellman
NetWork Associates

Many Kogan Page titles are available at discounted prices in their bookshop.


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