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Chapter 6. Training > Types of Training

Types of Training

There are two distinct types of training: knowledge training and skills training. In knowledge training, participants don't learn to complete a development activity; instead, they gain an appreciation of the need for usability engineering, understand what it is about, and can identify the types of tasks required. With skills training, the participants get a good basis for doing actual tasks. They learn what to do and how to do it, and they get to practice it: how to accomplish a task analysis, detailed design review, or usability test. They may need some coaching to get comfortable with the task and fine-tune their skills, but they will have the basic capabilities after completing the skills training.

The Difference between Knowledge and Skills Training

By Dr. Phil Goddard, Director of Training and Certification, Human Factors International

There are two types of long-term memory: there's declarative memory and there's procedural memory. Declarative memory is a repository for facts—things that you learn about, that you can recite—it's information about things. The other memory repository is procedural memory. Procedural memory stores procedures or processes that you perform or do, and once learned they become automatic and are done unconsciously. In fact, you can't describe them verbally; you often have to struggle to describe them and resort to hand waving.

Expertise requires both knowledge and skill. For example, consider riding a bike—with a little knowledge (rest both hands on the bars, maintain steady speed, keep your feet on the pedals) and lots of practice, you learn how to do it—automatically. Once you've created the procedure for bike riding, it's ready for use anytime. So at the core, knowledge is often a combination of factual information and procedural skill that must be developed over time to result in expertise.

When developing a training program, we should recognize as user-centered designers that we can state factually some things we learn about design. For example, left alignment of all field labels and edit fields on a screen reduces the visual complexity of a page. But there are certain kinds of knowledge that aren't factual—they're more procedural—like performing a usability test. How to perform an effective test that doesn't give away the answer to a specific question, how to actually practice active listening—these things need to be learned over a period of time and assimilated, and sometimes they're just things that take more time to learn.

You have to have both skills training and knowledge training if you want your training program to be powerful.



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