Workplace learning measures for human resource development: review and summary

Sunyoung Park (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Jae Young Lee (KT&G, Seoul, The Republic of Korea)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Publication date: 3 September 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the existing workplace learning measures used in empirical studies in human resource development (HRD).

Design/methodology/approach

By reviewing 141 studies on workplace learning published in six journals in the field of HRD, we identified nine measures for workplace learning. Tynjälä’s (2013) 3-P model of workplace learning was adopted as the framework to analyze the features of each measure in terms of presage, process and product.

Findings

Workplace Climate Questionnaire, Learning Opportunities Questionnaire, Approaches to Work Questionnaire and Self-regulated Learning in the Workplace Questionnaire belong to the presage category. Small Business Workplace Learning Survey and Workplace Learning Activities are categorized as the process dimension. The Questionnaire on Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes is in the product dimension. Informal Workplace Learning Survey and Workplace Adaptation Questionnaire are across the three categories.

Research limitations/implications

The authors identified the issues of existing workplace learning measures to emphasize the importance of reliable and valid measures for workplace learning and to gain the attention of researchers concerning these issues.

Practical implications

The findings can provide organizations and practitioners with insights and ideas on how to prepare employees to engage in diverse learning activities, how to support their learning activities and how to combine their learning activities with the existing job structure and work system.

Originality/value

This study is the first to review workplace learning measures in the field of HRD. The authors review the dimensions, items and reliability of each measure, and summarize the features of nine measures in terms of presage, process and product of workplace learning.

Keywords

Citation

Park, S. and Lee, J. (2018), "Workplace learning measures for human resource development: review and summary", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 50 No. 7/8, pp. 420-431. https://doi.org/10.1108/ICT-08-2018-0068

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited


Workplace learning has been regarded as a critical process that develops employees’ professional skills and knowledge, solves organizational issues, and adopts changes in organizations (Clarke, 2005; Hafler, 2011; Jacobs and Park, 2009; Tynjälä, 2013). Facing rapid technological challenges and diverse labor market changes, organizations have increasingly tried to use workplace learning as a significant strategy for their sustainable development (Noe et al., 2014). This is because learning enhances employees’ ability to adapt to changes and increase their performance. Given the importance of workplace learning, many human resource development (HRD) scholars have conducted extensive research on workplace learning from exploring the definitions and scope of workplace learning to investigating the antecedents and consequences of workplace learning (e.g. Manuti et al., 2015; Rausch, 2013). According to Tynjälä (2013), previous workplace learning research can be categorized into six areas: studies describing the nature of workplace learning; research on work identities and agency in workplace learning; studies on the development of professional expertise; analyses of competence development in education–work contexts; research on communities of practice; and research on organizational learning.

Although these studies have contributed to the theoretical foundation in the HRD field, little attention has been given to measurements of workplace learning. HRD professionals need reliable and valid measurements that capture the features of workplace learning to balance perspectives between what practitioners want to know about workplace learning and what scholars examine about workplace learning. Little research, however, has thoroughly examined how deeply the features of workplace learning can be investigated using the keywords and their connections in the main research topics related to workplace learning. In particular, more researchers need to pay attention to how existing workplace learning measures reflect the true nature of workplace learning. Specifically, research on workplace learning measures is important in that these measures can help researchers and practitioners estimate the amount or degree of workplace learning as learning outcomes by providing information about: changes in knowledge, skills or attitudes that result from learning processes and activities; and personal and contextual factors directly related to work or workplace learning. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to review the existing workplace learning measures in the HRD field. The following research questions guided this study:

RQ1.

What types of workplace learning measures have been used in empirical research?

RQ2.

What are the main components of workplace learning measures?

RQ3.

What are the features of each measure?

This study makes three meaningful contributions to the literature on workplace learning. First, our study is the first to review workplace learning measures in the field of HRD. Specifically, we review the dimensions, items and reliability of each measure, and summarize the features of nine measures in terms of presage, process and product of workplace learning. Second, we focus on the key components of workplace learning such as learning context, learners, learning process and learning outcomes. Our study will help HRD scholars and practitioners develop more comprehensive measures of workplace learning and help researchers consider the various aspects of workplace learning in depth. Third, we identify the issues of existing workplace learning measures to emphasize the importance of reliable and valid measures for workplace learning and to gain the attention of researchers concerning these issues.

Methods

To address the first and the second research questions, the authors searched workplace learning measurements that have been used in the articles that were published in six major HRD peer-reviewed journals: Human Resource Development Quarterly, Human Resource Development International, International Journal of Training and Development, Journal of Workplace Learning, Performance Improvement Quarterly and European Journal of Training and Development. Since we were looking for empirical studies that used workplace learning measurements, review-oriented journals such as Human Resource Development Review and Advances in Developing Human Resources were excluded when we searched for articles.

Researchers have described workplace learning in various ways including workplace learning (Watkins, 1995), work-based learning (Raelin, 1997), learning in the workplace (Marsick, 1987), workplace-based learning (Garrick, 1998), work-related learning (Doornbos et al., 2004; Westbrook and Veale, 2001) and learning at work (Boud and Garrick, 1999). Some of them classified workplace learning as formal and informal learning (Jacobs and Park, 2009), and others further refined it as formal, informal and incidental learning (Matthews, 1999; Watkins and Marsick, 1992). Thus, the authors searched for the following comparable terms in the titles of the journal articles: workplace learning, workplace-based learning, work-related learning, self-regulated learning, informal learning, formal learning and incidental learning. The authors did not limit the published year of the articles.

The results of the search identified 141 workplace learning articles from five journals. Then the second author read titles and abstracts of the articles and excluded: articles that were not peer-reviewed (i.e. editorials and book reviews); qualitative studies (i.e. literature reviews, conceptual papers, and case studies); and studies that were conducted in a school context using student or teacher samples.

Finally, 22 articles were selected for the final review. The authors read the method section of each article to identify the workplace learning measurements. The authors found 13 measurements from the articles and listed them in an Excel spreadsheet. In the 22 articles, seven measurements were developed according to the purposes of each study, and six measurements were borrowed from other studies. When measurements were borrowed from other studies, the information about the measurement items, reliability and validity was not adequately provided, so the authors searched the references to identify and read the original articles using the six measurements. After reviewing all 13 measurements, the authors chose 9 measurements for the final review. Four measurements were not chosen because of one of the following reasons: the measurement did not describe all items of the measurement; the author did not demonstrate appropriate reliability and validity of the instrument; or the original paper was written in a foreign language the authors could not interpret.

Literature review and theoretical framework

Scholars have defined workplace learning in various ways (see Table I). Although the concept of workplace learning is still being developed, researchers seem to largely agree that workplace learning is individual learning in the environment of work and workplaces and involves deliberate and conscious learning activities to reflect on actual workplace experiences (Marsick, 1987; Raelin, 2000). In addition, workplace learning could be characterized as developmental activities and educational efforts within the organization to help it establish a culture of organizational learning (Raelin, 2000). The primary unit of workplace learning must be the individual worker.

Broader definitions of workplace learning, including the contexts and processes of learning, were introduced by Marsick (1998) and Matthews (1999). Marsick (1998) argued that workplace learning refers to the way in which individuals or groups acquire, interpret, reorganize, change or assimilate related information, skills and feelings. Workplace learning is the primary way in which people construct meaning in their personal and shared organizational lives. Matthews (1999) proposed that workplace learning involves the process of reasoned learning toward desirable outcomes for the individual and the organization. These outcomes should foster the sustained development of both the individual and the organization, within the present and future context of organizational goals and individual career development.

In short, workplace learning is a learning process with diverse activities and approaches that encourage employees to engage in and share conscious reflection and development based on actual experiences and knowledge for both individual and organizational goals in the workplace or in a work context. A key defining feature of workplace learning is that participation in the workplace and learning are seen as inextricably linked within the same process because learning cannot be separated from working (Clarke, 2005; Eraut et al., 2002).

To analyze the features of each measure, we chose Tynjälä’s (2013) 3-P model of workplace learning as a framework because the 3-P model of workplace learning captures the holistic phenomenon of workplace learning. The 3-P model of workplace learning consists of the three basic components of learning – presage, process and product – based on Biggs (1999) 3-P model of learning in school. Presage emphasizes two factors affecting workplace learning: learner factors (e.g. prior knowledge and experience, ability and motivation); and the learning context (e.g. organizational structure, HRD and networks). Process refers to a major part of the learning process which includes informal, unintentional, intentional, non-formal and formal learning. Product means learning outcomes such as performance, personal development, knowledge and problem solving.

Review of workplace learning measures

By reviewing the selected measures, we cataloged the name of each instrument, as well as the authors, dimensions, number of items and reliability. Table II presents a summary of the workplace learning measures that were reviewed in this study.

The Workplace Adaptation Questionnaire (WAQ) was initially developed to assess socialization-related learning experiences of new employees (Morton, 1993), but Reio and Wiswell (2000) operationalized socialization-related learning experiences as workplace learning in their study. By reflecting on the importance of people, the organization and the job in workplace learning, the WAQ emphasizes how to establish relationships with coworkers; how to acculturate organizational norms, cultures and values; and how to master the tasks and job. Organization socialization and adult education were used as the theoretical framework of this measure. The Small Business Workplace Learning Survey (SBWLS) was developed to measure the extent of workplace learning in small- to mid-size businesses (Rowden, 2002). Based on Watkins and Marsick’s (1992) workplace learning theory (informal and incidental learning) and Rowden’s (1995) qualitative study, SBWLS included formal, informal and incidental learning activities in the workplace.

Approaches to Work Questionnaire (AWQ) was developed to measure a worker’s motives, strategies and preferences about work (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003). By adapting Entwistle and Ramsden’s (1983) Approaches to Studying Questionnaire (ASQ) for higher education, the AWQ focused on employees’ intrinsic motivation to achieve performance and their work habits and work preferences. Workplace Climate Questionnaire (WCQ) has been used to access employees’ perceptions of social support, workload and work characteristics (Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003). The WCQ was adapted from the Course Perceptions Questionnaire (CPQ; Ramsden and Entwistle, 1981) highlighting a formal learning environment. In a similar way, the WCQ has measured workplace learning environments, including three scales: good supervision, workload and choice-independence. The last scale (choice-independence) is more related to workplace learning (e.g. Does the organization provide a chance to go about your work in ways which suit your own way of learning? And do employees have a great deal of choice over how they learn new tasks?).

Informal Workplace Learning (IWL) Survey was developed to measure informal learning activities, environmental inhibitors to informal learning and personal characteristics influencing informal learning in the workplace (Lohman, 2005). All items were developed based on qualitative study findings in light of Jarvis’s theory of adult learning and McClusky’s theory of margin (Lohman, 2005). The Learning Opportunities Questionnaire has assessed the degree of learning opportunities related to jobs in the workplace on the basis of the concepts of lifelong learning and the psychological contract (Schalk and van Woerkom, 2009). This questionnaire focused on the extent to which employees have opportunities to develop skills and themselves through their job and work. Although researchers have used questionnaire to measure the workplace learning context (Fontana et al., 2015; Milligan et al., 2015), Schalk and van Woerkom (2009) did not explain the validation process of the measure.

Self-regulated Learning in the Workplace Questionnaire (SRLWQ) was developed to cover a broad range of learning behaviors that are relevant to intentional informal learning in the workplace (Milligan et al., 2015). Based on Zimmerman’s (1989) self-regulated learning model, SRLWQ highlighted relationships among the workplace learning context and activities, and self-regulation learning (Fontana et al., 2015). Workplace Learning Activities (WLA) was developed to measure informal learning activities for knowledge workers based on work from Gijbels et al. (2012), Schulz and Roßnagel (2010) and Crouse et al. (2011). WLA emphasized diverse formal and informal learning activities in the workplace.

The Questionnaire on Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes was developed to measure informal learning outcomes (Kyndt et al., 2014). The questionnaire consisted of three parts: generic learning outcomes (that are applicable to a wide variety of professional groups); job-specific learning outcomes (that are characteristics of the job of socio-educational care worker); and organizational-level outcomes (concerning the learning outcomes of workers who take on wider organizational and social responsibility). The questionnaire has been used with various professional groups including nurses, police, social workers and teachers.

Workplace learning measures: features

Based on the presage, process and product categories in the 3-P model (Tynjälä, 2013), we compared the selected measures, as shown in Table III.

As shown in Figure 1, four questionnaires are associated with presage, four are related to process, one questionnaire is related to product and two questionnaires are related to multiple categories. Specifically, the WCQ (Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003), Learning Opportunities (Schalk and van Woerkom, 2009), AWQ (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003) and SRLWQ (Milligan et al., 2015) belong to the presage category. SBWLS (Rowden, 2002) and WLA (Milligan et al., 2015) are categorized as the process dimension. The Questionnaire on Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes (Kyndt et al., 2014) is in the product dimension. IWL Survey (Lohman, 2005) and WAQ (Morton, 1993) are across categories.

Presage

Among the four questionnaires in the presage category, WCQ (Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003) and Learning Opportunities (Schalk and van Woerkom, 2009) focused on learning context, and AWQ (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003) and SRLWQ (Milligan et al., 2015) measured learner factors. IWL (Lohman, 2005) partially covered contexts and learner characteristics for workplace learning.

Learning contexts

The contexts of learning included contextual and environmental factors influencing workplace learning. For instance, WCQ covered social support, work expectations, work characteristics, workload and multiple options available in doing work as learning contexts (Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003). The Questionnaire on Learning Opportunities addressed the extent to which employees have opportunities to develop abilities and skills (e.g. creativity, higher level of skill, autonomy, diverse options for assignments and new knowledge) by doing their required jobs (Schalk and van Woerkom, 2009). IWL asked about environmental inhibitors to informal learning such as lack of free time, access to technology, rewards and recognition (Lohman, 2005).

Learners

AWQ (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003) and SRLWQ (Milligan et al., 2015) regarded learners as a critical factor for workplace learning. Both measures emphasized motivation and learning strategies of learners. AWQ asked about intrinsic motivation to achieve performance, undesirable work habits, and preferences for work that is accurate, detailed and structured (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003; Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003). SRLWQ addressed individuals’ goal setting, strategic planning, self-efficacy, task interest, task strategies, elaboration, critical thinking and level of self-evaluation and self-satisfaction (Milligan et al., 2015). IWL partially covered personal characteristics influencing informal learning such as initiative, self-efficacy, love of learning and interest in profession (Lohman, 2005).

Process

SBWLS and WLA emphasized the process as major learning-focused activities in the workplace. SBWLS categorized workplace learning into three learning activities: planned, organized training activities (formal learning); unstructured activities or spontaneous demonstrations that lead to perceived learning on the job (informal learning); and normal workplace activities that result in learning even though that was not the purpose of the activity (incidental learning) (Rowden, 2002). WLA asked about diverse learning activities such as knowledge acquisition, collaboration, idea development, seeking advice, attending training, independent study, observation, trial and error, reflection and feedback (Fontana et al., 2015).

In addition, IWL and WAQ partially covered the process. For instance, IWL asked about diverse informal learning activities, including dialogue, collaboration, observation, sharing, searching, trial and error, and reflection (Lohman, 2005). WAQ addressed learning processes on how to establish relationships with coworkers and how to be familiar with the norms, culture and values of the organization (Morton, 1993).

Product

Kyndt et al.’s (2014) questionnaire emphasized Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes, including generic, job-specific and organizational-level outcomes. Generic outcomes were related to reflecting autonomously, critically and constructively on professional activities, and developing individual talents and competences to achieve goals and professional development. Job-specific outcomes included outcomes after doing specific jobs such as building up and maintaining a counseling relationship with the customer in order to offer the requested assistance and services, or guiding clients in a respectful manner in their cognitive, emotional and social development. Organizational-level outcomes were expanded to learning outcomes gained through daily work, such as learning to participate in policy development and policy implementation or to pay attention to the broader context in which employees work (Kyndt et al., 2014).

WAQ also partially covered job knowledge as a learning outcome. By doing their work, employees are able to acquire job knowledge, including how to perform their jobs in their organizations, how to take shortcuts on their jobs, how to prioritize assignments, judging which projects are really important and knowing what resources are available to help them do their jobs (Morton, 1993).

Discussion

This study identified the existing workplace learning measures in the field of HRD and the features of each measure based on Tynjälä’s (2013) 3-P model of workplace learning. By reviewing the components of the nine measures, we provided information about key characteristics of workplace learning measures in light of the presage, process and product of learning.

Our findings showed that eight of the nine measures were related to the presage or process of workplace learning. In other words, researchers have more focused on the presage (learning contexts and learners’ characteristics) and process (diverse learning activities) aspects of workplace learning. The presage-focused measures emphasized the personal and environmental factors related to the employees themselves and their work, affecting workplace learning (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003; Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003; Schalk and van Woerkom, 2009). The process-focused measures categorized learning activities as formal, informal, or accidental learning to identify the type of workplace learning (Fontana et al., 2015; Morton, 1993; Lohman, 2005; Rowden, 2002). Among the nine measures, IWL was the only measure to cover both the presage (contexts and learners) and process (learning activities) of workplace learning (Lohman, 2005).

Interestingly, although WAQ partially covered job knowledge as a learning outcome (Morton, 1993), only one measure focused on learning outcomes in the workplace. This finding indicated that there could be challenges to develop an instrument to cover and measure learning outcomes of workplace learning. Researchers have discussed workplace learning as a significant antecedent of job performance (e.g. Kanten et al., 2015; Reio and Callahan, 2004). Although Kyndt et al.’s (2014) questionnaire emphasized Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes, the range of learning outcomes included generic, job-specific and organizational-level outcomes, but it is still unclear as to whether these learning outcomes are directly related to job performance. In addition, research needs to re-examine the scope of learning outcomes in workplace learning measures since many organizations have heavily invested in workplace learning to gain better organizational outcomes and financial benefits.

Finally, some studies using these measures have indicated that they could suffer from reliability and validity issues. For instance, the dimension of informal learning activities in IWL (Lohman, 2005) had low reliability (Cronbach’s α=0.63), which implies the lack of stability and consistency of the questionnaire. Schalk and van Woerkom (2009) did not explain how they developed the items for the Learning Opportunities Questionnaire and how they validated it, even though the result of the initial reliability test was good (Cronbach’s α=0.84). Additionally, AWQ (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003; Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003) and WCQ (Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003) were developed by adapting existing questionnaires, ASQ (Entwistle and Ramsden, 1983) and CPQ (Ramsden and Entwistle, 1981), respectively, for higher education. Although AWQ and WCQ went through the validation process, their presage-focused aspects of measures came from the original versions.

Implications for research and practice

This study contributes to the literature and practice in several ways. First, our study is the first review of workplace learning measures in the field of HRD. We reviewed the dimensions, items and reliability of each measure, and summarized the features of the measures in terms of the presage, process, and product of workplace learning. By examining 22 empirical research studies on workplace learning, our study provides a comprehensive summary of nine workplace learning measures in the field. Specifically, our study stresses that personal and contextual factors play a significant role in workplace learning, and learning activities are critical in the process of workplace learning. Based on our findings, researchers could develop further instruments of workplace learning that reflect the critical dimensions and diverse features of workplace learning in terms of the learning process and influential factors.

In addition, we identified the issues of existing workplace learning measures to emphasize the importance of reliable and valid measures for workplace learning and to gain the attention of researchers concerning these issues. By identifying the challenges of the four measures, our study could urge researchers to design and develop instruments for workplace learning through rigorous developmental and validation processes from methodological perspectives. Moreover, our findings could prompt scholars to examine the scope and types of workplace learning outcomes and to develop outcome-focused measures for workplace learning by understanding the features, strengths and limitations of the current workplace learning measures.

From a practical perspective, our findings can provide organizations and practitioners with insights and ideas on how to prepare employees to engage in diverse learning activities, how to support their learning activities and how to combine their learning activities with the existing job structure and work system. Practitioners could apply job, group or organizational features to prepare for interventions to enhance employees’ learning in the workplace. For instance, employees could be exposed to diverse cases, examples and scenarios that reflect critical aspects to perform their jobs through training programs (such as communicating with colleagues and supervisors, performing new tasks, and engaging in decision making, and problem solving). By allowing employees to experience real situations, practitioners could facilitate and enhance training transfer and the learning process to produce expected learning outcomes after the training.

Limitations and recommendations

There are several limitations in this study. Above all, our analysis focused on nine measures used in empirical research published in the six HRD-related journals. Workplace learning measures in other journals (e.g. Journal of Vocational Behavior) were not included as part of our analysis. In this regard, our findings might not be generalized to all contexts. In addition, our framework, Tynjälä’s (2013) 3-P model of workplace learning, might not reflect all aspects of workplace learning measures. Our findings showed that most measures in this study were presage- or process-focused, which might have other dimensions of workplace learning in different frameworks. Moreover, we focused on workplace learning at the individual level, and did not include other aspects and levels of workplace learning such as learning transfer, team learning, organizational learning, internationalization learning and technology-based learning. Finally, we did not analyze the contexts of each study in depth (e.g. industry type, occupation and country).

In the future, more diverse workplace measures should be examined by expanding the scope of the search, research and fields. Based on our findings, specific contexts of empirical studies that have used each measure could be analyzed in more detail to understand different situations and settings. Researchers could conduct and expand the research to observe different results of using multiple workplace learning measures in the same context, see how these measures are related to each other and extract key components of workplace learning. Different frameworks could be adopted to understand the diverse dimensions of workplace learning. For instance, Nikolova et al. (2014) identified two core components of workplace learning: task-based learning (learning through reflection and doing the job) and interactional learning (learning from colleagues and supervisor). Nikolova et al.’s (2014) category could provide alternative insights to analyze the features of workplace learning measures. Researchers also could develop more comprehensive workplace learning measures covering the presage, process and product dimensions of workplace learning by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each measure.

Figures

Comparison of workplace learning measures

Figure 1

Comparison of workplace learning measures

The definition of workplace learning

Author Definition
Fenwick (2008) “[…] expanding human possibilities for flexible and creative action in context of working” (p. 19)
Jacobs and Park (2009) “[…] the process used by individuals when engaged in training programs, education and development courses, or some type of experiential learning activity for the purpose of acquiring the competence necessary to meet current and future work requirements” (p. 134)
Kyndt et al. (2016) “[…] the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for improving the quality and progress of work in situations at or near the workplace” (p. 436)
Lohman (2005) “[…] structured and unstructured on-the-job activities that result in the development of new capabilities required for effective work practice” (p. 86)
Matthews (1999) “[…] the process of reasoned learning towards desirable outcomes for the individual and the organisation. These outcomes should foster the sustained development of both the individual and the organisation, within the present and future context of organisational goals and individual career development” (pp. 19-20)

Summary of nine workplace learning measures

Measurement Authors Dimensions No. of items Reliability (α)
Workplace Adaptation Questionnaire (WAQ) Morton (1993) 1. Establishing relationships: employees’ ability to identify coworkers who could provide useful information and who know their way around the organization 5 0.83
2. Acculturation to the company: the extent to which the employee reported having learned the norms, culture, and values of the organization 5 0.82
3. Job knowledge: the extent to which the employee reported mastering the tasks of the job 5 0.81
Small Business Workplace Learning Survey (SBWLS) Rowden (2002) 1. Formal learning: planned, organized training activities 6 0.81
2. Informal learning: unstructured activities or spontaneous demonstrations that lead to perceived learning on the job 8 0.73
3. Incidental learning: normal workplace activities that result in learning even though that was not the purpose of the activity 7 0.78
Approaches to Work Questionnaire (AWQ) Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle (2003) 1. Deep approach: a mindful approach to work. Intrinsically motivated and interested in achieving performance 10 0.72, 0.71
2. Surface-rational: preference for orderly, accurate, detailed and structured work 10 0.72, 0.73
3. Surface-disorganized: disorganized, impulsive or ineffective work habits 10 0.74, 0.75
Workplace Climate Questionnaire (WCQ) Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula (2003) 1. Good supervision scale: a supportive and receptive work environment, consisting of good supervision combined with clear work expectations 5 0.84, 0.87
2. Workload scale: heavy and demanding workloads 5 0.80, 0.78
3. Choice-independence scale: choice and independence in the workplace 5 0.80, 0.74
Informal Workplace Learning Survey (IWL) Lohman (2005) 1. Informal learning activities: talk with others; 2) collaborate with others; observe others; share materials and resources with others; search the internet; scan professional magazines and journals; trial and error; and reflect on one’s own actions 8 0.63
2. Environmental inhibitors to informal learning
  Lack of free time 8 0.79
  Lack of proximity to colleagues’ work areas 8 0.84
  Lack of access to computer technology 8 0.93
  Lack of monetary rewards 8 0.94
  Lack of recognition 8 0.96
3. Personal characteristics influencing informal learning
  Initiative 8 0.89
  Self-efficacy 8 0.93
  Love of learning 8 0.85
  Interest in profession 8 0.88
Learning Opportunities Schalk and van Woerkom (2009) Learning opportunities: how much I can have opportunities to develop skills and myself through job and work 6 0.84
 1. My job requires me to be creative
 2. I can choose my job assignments
 3. I have an opportunity to develop my own special abilities
 4. I can vary how I do my work
 5. My job requires a high level of skill
 6. My job requires me to learn new things
Self-regulated Learning in the Workplace Questionnaire (SRLWQ) Milligan et al. (2015) 1. Forethought: goal setting, strategic planning, self-efficacy, task interest/value 17 0.89
2. Performance: task strategies, elaboration, critical thinking 19 0.88
3. Self-reflection: self-evaluation, self-satisfaction/affect 6 0.86
Workplace Learning Activities (WLA) Fontana et al. (2015) Workplace learning activities 11 0.85
 1. Acquiring new information (e.g. by searching the internet)
 2. Working alone or with others to develop solutions to problems
 3. Working alone or with others to develop new ideas
  4. Following new developments in the field
  5. Performing new tasks
  6. Asking colleagues for advice
  7. Attending a training course or using self‐study materials
  8. Observing or replicating colleagues’ strategies to complete a task or solve a problem
  9. Finding a better way to do a task by trial and error
 10. Reflecting on previous actions
 11. Receiving feedback on tasks from work colleagues
Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes Kyndt et al. (2014) 1. Generic learning outcomes: learning outcomes that are applicable for a wide variety of professional groups. 8 0.87
2. Job-specific learning outcomes: learning outcomes that are characteristic for the job of socio-educational care worker 10 0.76
3. Organizational-level outcomes: learning outcomes of workers who take on wider organizational and social responsibility 4 0.78

Note: aKirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle (2003), Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula (2003) calculated Cronbach’s α twice by dividing the data set into two groups

Features of workplace learning measures

Tynjälä’s (2013) 3-P model
Presage
Measurement Dimensions Context Learner Process Product
Workplace Adaptation Questionnaire (WAQ) (Morton, 1993) 1. Establishing relationships
2. Acculturation to the company
3. Job knowledge
Small Business Workplace Learning Survey (SBWLS) (Rowden, 2002) 1. Formal learning
2. Informal learning
3. Incidental learning
Approaches to Work Questionnaire (AWQ) (Kirby, Delva, Knapper and Birtwhistle, 2003) 1. Deep approach
2. Surface-rational
3. Surface-disorganized
Workplace Climate Questionnaire (WCQ) (Kirby, Knapper, Evans, Carty and Gadula, 2003) 1. Good supervision scale
2. Workload scale
3. Choice-independence scale
Informal Workplace Learning Survey (IWL) (Lohman, 2005) 1. Informal learning activities
2. Environmental inhibitors
3. Personal characteristics
Learning Opportunities (Schalk and van Woerkom, 2009) Learning opportunities
Self-regulated Learning in the Workplace Questionnaire (SRLWQ) (Milligan et al., 2015) 1. Forethought
2. Performance
3. Self-reflection
Workplace Learning Activities (WLA) (Fontana et al., 2015) Workplace learning activities
Informal Workplace Learning Outcomes (Kyndt et al., 2014) 1. Generic learning outcomes
2. Job-specific learning outcomes
3. Organizational-level outcomes

Note: The gray areas shows that each measure has covered which areas in the 3-P model

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Further reading

Bierema, L.L. and Eraut, M. (2004), “Workplace-focused learning: perspective on continuing professional education and human resource development”, Advances in Developing Human Resources, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 52-68.

Biggs, J.B. (2011), Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student does, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.

Ellstrom, P.-E. (2001), “Integrating learning and work: problems and prospects”, Human Resource Development Quarterly, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 421-35.

Knapper, C.K. (1995), “Approaches to study and lifelong learning: some Canadian initiatives”, in Gibbs, G. (Ed.), Improving Student Learning through Assessment and Evaluation, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, pp. 11-23.

Noe, R.A., Tews, M.J. and Marand, A.D. (2013), “Individual differences and informal learning in the workplace”, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Vol. 83 No. 3, pp. 327-35.

Wang, J., Tolson, H., Chiang, T.L. and Huang, T.Y. (2010), “An exploratory factor analysis of workplace learning, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment in small to midsize enterprises in Taiwan”, Human Resource Development International, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 147-63.

Corresponding author

Sunyoung Park can be contacted at: sunypark@gmail.com

About the authors

Sunyoung Park is based at the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

Jae Young Lee is based at KT&G, Seoul, The Republic of Korea.