Often times reinforcement objectives are confused with learning goals. However, in many cases these 2 are the exact opposite. To determine your training goals and reinforcement objectives, the first step is to identify the problem.
Identify a Specific Problem
A common issues is that the goal or the objective is too large, broad or general. For example you wouldn't tell someone to meet you in China because knowing your destination doesn’t help you to plan your agenda, book a flight, and arrange transportation.
Once you start determining the critical elements like flight, hotel and transportation you can formulate a much more specific plan, outline your route, and map out where you need to go.
Reinforcement programs should focus on behavior change. Therefore your reinforcement objectives should be based on action. With reinforcement, the focus shifts away from the model of knowing how to do something and towards a more sophisticated model of evaluation, application, and mastery. Verbs accompanying the reinforcement model should include: DO, USE, MASTER, EVALUATE, or ANALYZE.
When determining your reinforcement objectives, we recommend you consider the following elements:
- Remember / Understand
- Explain / Define
- Apply / Do
As you can imagine remembering is easier than evaluating. Many reinforcement specialists see this list as a progression. First you must make sure your learners understand before you can analyze results.
Too often I see that the development of reinforcement courses starts with training goals instead of defining the real issues. This could create a situation where you are solving problems that are not there. In order to address the real problem ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want learners to take away from your training?
- Do you want learners to leave your training with a new model of behavior or a new set of skills?
- Are your objectives focusing on achieving the desired behavior change?
- Is each reinforcement objective measurable?
- Will each reinforcement objective drive the desired impact in the organization?
What is the gap between the learners' current situation and where you want them to be? When creating your training reinforcement program, Mindmarker addresses the 5 reinforcement gaps:
- Knowledge gap (is the information enough?)
- Skills gap (don’t know how)
- Motivation gap (not motivated by emotional ties)
- Environment gap (enough support to be successful and enough time)
- Communications gap (enough directions, procedures, etc.)
So which comes first? The reinforcement objectives or the gap? There is no clear answer to that question. In daily practice, we notice that the best training reinforcement program is reached by constantly deepening the gap analysis and intensifying the reinforcement goals.
Looking for help defining your reinforcement goals and objectives? Download the 10-Step Guide to Determine Your Reinforcement Objectives.