Following on from differences in learning gaps: part 1 (knowledge, skills and motivation gaps), we can also take a look into what learning gaps there are in relation to habits, environmental issues and communication:
In some cases, a learner may have the knowledge, skills and motivation but there may still be a gap. A recently promoted manager for example, may have gone through the process of understanding the importance of constructive feedback. They may have learned the method for delivering feedback and truly believe in it but then still struggle to deliver it when it’s needed, because it isn’t yet a habit.
A large part of our everyday lives are habit-driven, and so, the difficulty of habits as a learning gap is that the most traditional learning solutions have only mixed results at their best. This is when we start to say phrases like “that’s easier said than done”. Turning something new, or even old, into a habit through learning is a difficult task because there is a lot of dependency on the learner’s ability to transform something from a one-off task into understanding, and then into a habit.
Your learner could have all they need to learn the new material but their learning path isn’t always in place. This could be as plain as missing software, misdirection or limited resources. To be more specific, a learner requires references, job aids and technology - without these already paved out in front of them, their learning process will come to a halt or at least slow down. Another type of environment gap is incentives, are learners being rewarded for progress and are they aware of the potential perks? This can also relate to whether or not these are being reinforced over time - if something is addressed well and solved in Q1 and then forgotten about by Q2 this environmental gap will still remain.
Failure to perform can be due to a lack of instruction or direction, regardless of if the learner has great knowledge and application. This gap is a case of miscommunication rather than a learning issue, and it can take it’s form in many ways:
- The communicator doesn’t quite know where they want people to be, thus they do not know the goal
- The communicator knows where they want people to be but they can’t adequately communicate that knowledge
- In some cases the directions may not be supported or the intention is actually for something else
Unfortunately, miscommunication is a difficult issue to navigate and is sometimes unavoidable. It is how we deal with miscommunication that bridges the gap between resolving a misunderstanding and complete abandonment. One effective method is documentation. Information may come in different forms and at different times but as long as it is all recorded consistently it can be referred back to and nothing will be missed.
Learning gaps can arise in different forms and at different times during a learning process, but careful preparation and acknowledging when they do present themselves is the key to dealing with them before they distract the learner. Being able to identify the difference between them is the first step, and adapting a learning experience to account for any gaps is how we keep learners on track, from beginning their learning journey right through to application.