A revolution is coming to the world of measurement and evaluation of learning. With CEOs under increasing pressure to drive growth and deliver results, Learning & Development (L&D) professionals must find a way to “cut the scrap” and ensure their training programs contribute to productivity and growth. Rob Brinkerhoff, professor emeritus Western Michigan University and noted L&D expert, makes this very point when he said: “The goal of L&D is to help learners achieve great results, not merely provide great training.”

“Scrap learning,” a term coined by KnowledgeAdvisors (now Gartner), describes the wasteland of training that is delivered but not applied back on the job. It’s the flip side of training transfer and is a critical business issue because it wastes two precious organizational resources — money and time.

Unlike traditional measurement and evaluation of learning with its focus on producing metrics that assess programs or cohorts and describing what has already happened, Predictive Learning Analytics™ or PLA for short is a methodology designed to pinpoint the underlying causes of scrap learning associated with a training program so that targeted corrective actions can be taken to maximize training transfer.

The mission of PLA is to provide L&D professionals with a systematic, credible and repeatable process for maximizing the value of learning and development investments by measuring, monitoring and managing the amount of scrap learning associated with those investments.

Another unique feature of the PLA methodology is that it uses predictive analytics and data not personal opinion to pinpoint the underlying causes of scrap learning. Jim Blankenship, the former CEO of Netscape, best captured the significance of this when he said: “If we have data, let’s look at the data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” 

The PLA methodology consists of three phases and nine steps and is described in the model below.


The PLA Methodology

The Benefits of Using PLA

The benefits associated with implementing the PLA methodology are significant and many, and include benefits for both you and your organization or your clients if you are a consultant:

  • Less money and time wasted on learning that is delivered but not applied back on the job.
  • Increased personal credibility in eyes of the business executives you support with training.
  • More effective and efficient use of reinforcement activities by targeting participants who are at risk and least likely to apply what they learned in a program back on the job.
  • An objective way to identify managers who are likely to do a poor job of supporting learning so that their approach can be improved.
  • An objective way to assess the contribution to training transfer made by each of the three training transfer components – Learning Program Design
  • Learner Attributes and Learner Work Environment – and the twelve factors associated with the components.
  • Enhanced reputation among L&D colleagues.

For more information about the PLA methodology, select the Resources tab at the top of this page where you will find an ebook describing the methodology, articles, case studies, and job aids to help you learn more about how PLA can help you maximize the value of your learning and development investments.


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