Instructional Design – What Impact Does It Have?

Written by Tammy Netherland, Senior Manager, Technical and Safety, SOCMA
December 8, 2021

Mapping New Lesson Objectives

Have you ever been in a class, wondering what you’re supposed to be learning? Instructional design can make all the difference when putting together any type of curriculum. As you may already know, SOCMA released a new and improved chemical operations curriculum in June with many enhancements, including:

  • Record keeping
  • Ability to customize lessons
  • New EHS unit
  • Additional plant equipment lessons
  • A new diaphragm pump.

In mapping out these new features, we spent considerable time contemplating the instructional design, which, when done well, will combat inconsistent training, target learning efficiencies and align the learner, trainer and other stakeholders.

Where Did We Start?

When developing the ChemOps Training curriculum, the first questions we considered were:

  • Who is our target audience?
  • What do we want this audience to learn once they’ve completed the training?

These two simple questions guided our design and development of the learner experience. Key learning objectives anchor all aspects of the training process. Without them, training is like a sailboat adrift in the wind, and the learner is blown about with little direction.

Each learning objective within ChemOps Training includes:

  • An explanation of what the learner will be able to do when they complete each module.
  • A description that is measurable and observable.
  • A statement that is clear and comprehensible by all parties involved.

These statements clarify the material that must be included in the curriculum. But how do they help the learner, the trainer and all stakeholders?

Supporting the Learner

The learner –  our target audience – is the person everyone is focused on. For learners, the objectives function as the compass of training. Objectives are intended to explicitly guide the learner in the right direction and specifically identify what the learner should be able to do once training is complete. Well-designed training demonstrates these objectives from the onset and reinforces them throughout the content. Each module contains practice questions of each objective, ultimately helping the learner manifest them on the assessment. ChemOps Training uses this precise design model in all modules, allowing the learner to understand exactly what is expected and demonstrate practical application.

Learning Objectives for the Trainer

Not only do our learners need guidance, but trainers do as well. Most trainers take on this role because they are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about their jobs and the related information. They not only understand the basics of what an operator needs to perform on a daily basis, but they also intricately know the nuances and deviations within such processes. We celebrate this, however, sometimes these very qualities function as a fatal flaw of streamlining knowledge sharing. Learning objectives provide boundaries for what must be covered. They keep topics focused and help cut through the extra information, alleviating the learner from becoming overwhelmed by superfluous data and detail. These extra details are beneficial to the trainer once the leaner demonstrates comprehension of the objectives and is ready for the next level of data.

Benefits for Stakeholders

Stakeholders, such as supervisors, plant managers and all other decision-makers, benefit from understanding of the knowledge and skills the training brings to the workforce. By grasping the learning objectives, stakeholders can be assured new operators will meet on-the-job expectations related to specific objectives. By building the skill set of their team members, managers’ and supervisors’ confidence is in turn increased by knowing their workforce is fully trained in their facility’s processes, chemistries and equipment.

Instructional Design Makes all the Difference

Back to where we began. Instructional design makes ALL the difference! By clearly defining learning objective and cutting through extraneous information, training is optimized with explicit expectations, and helps focus the learner, trainer and all stakeholders, thus providing organizational alignment and helps keep your metaphorical sailboat on the charted course.

To learn more about how ChemOps Training incorporates robust instructional design, contact Joe Dettinger, Senior Director of Technical and Safety, jdettinger@socma.org, or Tammy Netherland, Senior Manager of Technical and Safety Education tnetherland@socma.org.

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