Thursday, February 17, 2011

Section 4: Human Performance Technology

1. Human Performance Improvement
In teaching Career and Technical Education courses, I have found that throughout the years the one major performance problem in my area is and has been student accountability for their own performance. To analyze this performance problem, I used the HTP model of the International Society for Performance Improvement for performance analysis.
Performance Analysis:

My classroom goal is for each student to be accountable for their own performance in order to be successful in class. The desired workplace performance is for students to be accountable by keeping track of assignments and due dates, completing all assignments on time, and coming in for tutorials when assignments are missed due to absences. The gap in the desired workplace performance and the actual state of workplace performance is that only about 60% of students in each class actually meet these performance goals. The other 40% do not keep adequate track of assignments and due dates, turn in work on time half of the time, and usually do not come in for tutorials when they have missed assignments. About 20-25% of these students are failing or on the brink of failing because of these performance issues.
Cause Analysis:
In evaluating the causes for this low performance issue, I have found that lack of information, feedback, tools, resources, expectations, and consequences have been the major contributors.
Lack of Information and Feedback: In past years, students would not ask for missed work when returning to class. I tried to rectify this problem by creating an assignments website several years ago. The problem is that most students still would not actually get on the website to get their missed assignments. Students also do not adequately keep up with their graded work and really have no clue about their grade average until the three week progress report time or the end of the six weeks.
Lack of Resources and Tools: I have found that most students do not keep track of assignments and due dates. Last year, I started requiring students to keep a class folder which contained the course outline, assignments log, notes, and graded work. Most students have utilized the folder for class notes, but still are not keeping their assignment log updated regularly.
Lack of Expectations: I feel that student expectations for their own performance in technology based classes are not always very high due to their level of experience with technology. That has improved over the years, but I still find that there are many students whose expectations are too low.
Intervention Selection and Design:
After analyzing the causes, I have found several non instructional ways to try to improve this low performance issue. They are as follows:

·      Electronic Performance Support: To get students to utilize the class assignments website, I have started putting the focus activity on the website instead of on the board. At the beginning of each class period, students must log onto the class assignments website to complete their focus activity and see their assignments for the day. Each week’s focus activities and assignments are posted daily and remain on the website. I have also added my PowerPoint lesson presentations to aid students who missed class. I also plan on including short how-to videos by either using YouTube or creating my own using Jing to demonstrate concepts taught. Students can use this as a review or as a lesson if they missed class. I have found that requiring students to access the site daily, has improved their own use of the site to get missed assignments when they have been absent.

BIM Class Web Site Home Page

·      Job Aids: Students are required to maintain a class folder which includes an assignment log. To motivate students to utilize the assignment log in keeping track of assignments, I added a column for due date and a check mark column for students to check off assignments as they had been turned in. I also added a column for students to track the grade of each assignment to have a better idea of their grade in the class. This year I have started taking a major grade (instead of just a daily grade) each six weeks on the folder. In order to get full credit, the assignment log must be up to date and complete.  This becomes a reward in a sense, because it can actually be an easy way for the student to improve their test average if they will keep their folder maintained adequately (including their assignments log).

·      Electronic Performance Support: Last year, our school implemented a system for parents to be able to access their child’s grades online. Parents have to come to the office to request their log-in and password to access the online grade book. Some parents have taken advantage of this and have even given their child the log-in and password so they can check their own grades. I have talked to our administrators about the possibility of allowing all students the ability to access their own grades online as well as their parents. I know that the students who have access to their grades have become more accountable for their own performance. I really believe that if every student had access, more students would take more initiative in becoming more accountable for the completion of their assignments. This would force them to see the effects of their performance on a daily or weekly basis rather than just at the three week or six weeks mark; which can sometimes be too late.
2. Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS)

In Chapter 15 Reiser and Dempsey (2007) explain the ideas and definitions of an electronic performance support system since its materialization in the late 1980’s. In researching EPSS, I found several other definitions that were beneficial in reviewing the purpose of an EPSS.
  • A former Nortel Networks executive, William Bezanson (2002) provided this definition: “A performance support system provides just-in-time, just enough training, information, tools, and help for users of a product or work environment, to enable optimum performance by those users when and where needed, thereby also enhancing the performance of the overall business.”
  • In the book Electronic Performance Support Systems: How and Why to Remake the Workplace Through the Strategic Application of Technology, Gloria Gerry (1991) provided this definition: “A system that provides electronic task guidance and support to the user at the moment of need. EPSS can provide application help, reference information, guided instructions and/or tutorials, subject matter expert advice and hints on how to perform a task more efficiently. An EPSS can combine various technologies to present the desired information. The information can be in the form of text, graphical displays, sound, and video presentations.”
  • In the book Fundamentals of Performance Technology, VanTiem, Moseley, and Dessinger (2004), had the following definition: “An electronic performance support system is a highly sophisticated technological job aid, with the following advantages: Access to large databases of information; designed to coach the user through questioning, assessing answers, evaluating responses and to offer recommendations, and user-friendly.”

My EPSS Definition Preference:
With my interest in accounting, I found that I prefer William Bezanson’s definition best. JIT (Just-In-Time) is a familiar accounting acronym that refers to a management philosophy that strives to eliminate waste by providing the right amount of inventory at the right time. I feel that an EPSS should provide an employee or student with the right information, tools, training, and help at the point that it is needed to enable them to improve their performance. I also agree with Laffey (1995) in that the EPSS should be a dynamic, ongoing synergistic input from users to keep the information that is provided current and relevant to the problems or situations at hand.

 EPSS: Past, Present, and Future:

Microsoft Office Clipart Image
Even though electronic performance support systems have been implemented by several companies, it is still a fairly new, emerging field. Gery (2002) states that job aids such as job training, peer and advisory support, and reference materials are still the predominant methods used to enhance human performance in the workplace. One of the main drawbacks of setting up an EPSS is the fear of risk associated with developing and maintaining this system that could be very expensive. Most companies that have begun using an EPSS, have not created an evaluation system to report the return on investment. Without knowing the cost effectiveness, companies are still leery of incorporating such an expensive system. Another deterring factor is simply resistance to change. With any new system, alterations must be made in the work environment to accommodate and encourage employees to use the system. This becomes a challenge for managers.  
With society relying more and more on the use of technology, the realization that electronic performance support systems are the best way to train and support human performance in the workplace will not only become fact, but the norm in the future for businesses. Already, the companies that have begun to utilize the EPSS have reported savings (Hewlett-Packard) and increased sales (Payless Shoe-Source) due to the implementation of the system. I believe that as today’s digital natives become tomorrow’s workplace managers, technology will inundate the workplace. As the EPSS evolves with new technologies, the use of an EPSS will become more efficient and effective in supporting the performance of groups and more widely recognized as an integral part of improving performance in the workplace.
3. Blended Learning Approach and Knowledge Management
The Problem
Changes in Career and Technical Education that were initiated this year have been astronomical. New TEKS, new courses, new clusters, and new ideas have some teachers scrambling to keep up. Many of the new course names are just new faces for the old courses that were offered previously, however there are a great number of courses that are brand new with no real textbooks or curriculums currently in place. Teachers who have had to start teaching these new courses this year have had to face starting the year with no textbooks and no real curriculum.
The Solution
The Career and Technical Education unit of TEA answered teachers’ cries for help in a sense by using blended learning and knowledge management to aid CTE teachers. Most CTE teachers were required to go to workshop this past summer for training in their particular cluster. In the workshop, we were given a CTE manual with the new TEKS and resources for our cluster’s courses. We were also introduced to the CTE website that was created on the University of North Texas educational site. The site provides access to each cluster with TEKS, resources, and curriculum that teachers have created. Not all courses have curriculum yet, but we have been told that as soon as it is created, it will be posted to this site. The site also offers CTE teachers a CTE Community Forum to ask questions and share ideas and lessons as well as a blog for teachers to collaborate. The CTE website has become in a sense the knowledge management system for CTE teachers. It provides access and information to all CTE teachers, collaboration through an online community forum and blog, and codification through links that contain specific information for each cluster, tools for instruction, and training programs offered through workshops at our summer conference.

Knowledge Management Components

4. My Informal Learning Experiences
In attaining my teacher certification, I was trained through formal learning in my undergraduate classes. These classes helped me learn my content and how to devise a lesson plan, but that was really the extent of my learning. I really learned how to teach through informal learning experiences. These learning experiences came through my teaching internship, mentor teachers, watching other teachers teach, talking with other teachers at conferences and workshops, gaining ideas online through looking at strategies and methods other teachers were using, and especially through trial and error. Each experience gave me insight into the art of teaching. I was engaged in learning because I wanted to become the best teacher that I could possibly be. I am still learning informally. My role was and still is that of a student who is willing and excited about learning. There were never any real instructors in any of my informal learning experiences; just individuals who had expertise in the field that I came into contact with throughout the course of my teaching career.

UIL Accounting
Although I have been a teacher for many years, I have only in the last eight years had the opportunity to be a UIL Accounting coach. When I started my current teaching position, I was told that I would be responsible for coaching a UIL event. I was given some old accounting tests without any instruction or training on what to do next. I started by taking the tests myself. This taught me what content to prepare my students for, but it didn’t teach me how to build a winning team. This I learned through informal learning experiences at UIL meets. I began talking with other UIL Accounting coaches at the meets. We shared ideas, challenges, and strategies for getting students prepared for the event. After every meet, I learned a little more about becoming a better coach. I remember meeting one particular UIL coach who has successfully had a state winning team for many years. She has shared with me her “secrets”, and she became my mentor. We communicated at meets and through email. Last year, my team won 2nd place in State. I contribute much of the success of my team to the tips and tricks that this accounting coach has shared with me through informal instruction.


  1. I really like your graph on knowledge management components. Nice job on the post overall. I enjoy reading your post.

  2. We can tell you're a dedicated teacher. With the accounts you've mentioned, especially in this post, your dedication is needed to challenge students to high levels of success. Keep up the good fight! BTW, your posts are always a great way of providing information learning opportunities for your peers in this course and for me as well. :-)