Training for improving teaching and educational innovation: A learning organisation perspective
This paper aimed to analyse the impact of training processes (training needs analysis, training application, and training evaluation) on improving education. In addition, it was proposed that the constructs ‘learning opportunities’ and ‘administrator school role’ moderated training process. A questionnaire was sent to a group of school administrators. The research model was tested using structural equation modelling and partial least squares. The study demonstrated, on the one hand, that training processes affected improving teaching and educational innovation and, on the other, that the constructs ‘learning opportunities’ and ‘administrator school role’ were moderators. This paper proposes a new measurement for training transfer focussed on training processes and confirms the importance of learning organisations in this process.
Keywords: training transfer, training process, innovation, learning organisation, school
Training is an important instrument for improving teaching and the development of school innovation (Zein, 2016), although training does not always imply a deepening of improvements in school practices (Badia and Becerril, 2016; Winokur and Sperandio, 2017). In other words, training does not necessarily imply learning (Antonacopoulou, 2001), so there may be a problem in transferring training (Gil, Molina, and Ortega, 2016).
Training has been considered as a process whose output is learning, understood as improvement or change at the individual, group or organizational level (Pilgrim, Hornby, and Everatt, 2017). This process is divided into different stages, for instance, Gómez-Mejía, Balkin, and Robert (2001) point out three fundamental: 1) training needs analysis, 2) training implementation and application, and 3) training evaluation.
This paper analyses the impact of training needs analysis and training evaluation in training realisation and application (in short, application), and how the training application affects training transfer. Training transfer is defined in terms of the training that is applied on the job and enhances job-related performance (Laker and Powell, 2011). In school contexts, training transfer refers to the improvement of teaching and educational innovation.
A learning organisation is identified as an expert organisation in facilitating learning (Gil and Mataveli, 2017) and creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge (Garvin, 2000). It is defined as follows: “A learning company is an organisation that facilitates learning to all its members and continually transforms itself” (Pedler, Burgoyne, and Boydell, 1991, p. 1). Therefore, we can expect that those organisations that show evidence of being learning organisations mediate or moderate training transfer (Gil and Carrillo, 2016). In other words, we expect that there is a greater impact on training transfer for this type of organisation, because it facilitates learning through training.
The informants of the study consisted of school administrators. In Spanish schools, there are two generic types of administrators: the principals, whose role is to represent and manage the educational institution; and the department heads who manage each school area more specifically. Therefore, it is possible that the visions of both administrators can mediate the perceptions of training effectiveness.
For the above reasons, this work has three main objectives. The first is to analyse the impact of the training process on training transfer in the context of a school. The second is to analyse the moderation of the variable ‘learning opportunities’ (Pedler et al., 1991) in the transfer of training. The concept of moderation is vital to the study of transfer, because the most serious problems related to training are the low percentages of training that are transferred (Gegenfurtner, Konings, Kosmajac, and Gebhardt, 2016) and the high investments made in training (Bjerregaard, Haslam, and Morton, 2016). An investigation of moderation is considered fundamental for increasing transference rates. The third objective is to analyse the moderation of administrators’ school roles (principal and head of department) to the proposed causal relationships.
Theoretical framework and proposition of hypotheses
This section explores: first, the impact of the training needs analysis on the training application; second, the impact of the training evaluation on the training application; and third, the impact of the training application on the training transfer. In this work is understood as training transfer the improvement of teaching and the development of school innovation. At the same time, the process of the moderation of learning opportunities and the responses of the types of informants in the proposed causal relationships are analysed.
Training needs analysis and training application
The training needs analysis is the first stage in the cyclic process that constitutes general training (Gould, Kelly, White, and Chidgey, 2004). In the model proposed by Baldwin and Ford (1988), and those proposed by other pioneers in the study of training transfer (Noe, 1986), the training needs analysis, which includes the analysis or evaluation of training needs, is a fundamental element of the transfer process.
The importance of training needs analysis is to ensure that the training is effective by meeting the present and future needs of the organisation. Diamantidis and Chatzoglou (2014) have highlighted the strong influence and key role of training needs analysis in training application and transfer. Furthermore, the analysis of training needs can facilitate the evaluation and control of the training once it has been performed. In the words of Adamson and Caple (1996), “The needs for training must be specifically considered in order that learning in organisations is effective, and this analysis allows the inclusion of evaluation processes in the design of the training process” (p. 6). In this regard, the need to conduct a training needs analysis is indicated in order to provide maximum benefit to both the employees and the organisations they work for (Carlisle, Bhanugopan, and Fish, 2012).
Training needs analysis is important for the success of training programmes and, therefore, for training application in the workplace (Nikandrou, Brinia, and Bereri, 2009). In fact, the training needs analysis facilitates training realisation and application (MacLean and Cahillane, 2015). Based on these assumptions, we propose the following. Based on these assumptions, we propose the following hypothesis:
H1: Training needs analysis has a positive effect on training application.
Training evaluation and training application
Training evaluation consists of collecting information about training results, with the purpose of analysing and evaluating them to facilitate the optimisation of training for the future (Pineda, 2010). An organisation can help to determine whether a training programme has had the desired effects, and can diagnose its strengths and weaknesses (Wang, Lin, and Hou, 2015). In this sense, organisations are able to evaluate training by means of standardised procedures that provide insights into training performance (Cervai and Polo, 2015). Such procedures make it possible to collect information that facilitates decision-making about the training process. Thus, the training evaluation can turn training into a powerful force for improving processes in organisations (Spitzer, 1999).
The different models proposed in the literature have shown that it is important to know the degree of satisfaction on the training that was received (Holton, 1996). Using the degree of satisfaction, one can measure trainee reactions towards the training (Kirkpatrick, 1998). This is because satisfaction is an element that directly influences trainee attitudes towards training; it is one of the most important determinants for training application (Colquitt, Lepine, and Noe, 2000).
Of the four levels of evaluation identified by Kirkpatrick (1996)—reaction, learning, behaviour, and outcomes—the evaluation at the level of reaction and learning is focused on what happened during the training experience (Long, Dubois, and Faley, 2008). This kind of evaluation is related to the implementation of improvements and the implementation of training. Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis:
H2: Training evaluation has a positive effect on training application.
Training application and training transfer: Improvement of teaching
Training programmes and their development include a series of steps that, as we have noted, start with a training needs analysis, continue with the design and creation of the training programme (which includes the development of training methods), and close with the evaluation of the training programme (Arthur, Bennett, Edens, and Bell, 2003). As pointed out by Nikandrou et al. (2009), when training is centred on the development of specific abilities at work, the training design strategies should be focused on the implementation of training content in the workplace, in order for a genuine transfer of training to occur.
With respect to training methods and their evaluation, a learning environment that allows training transfer should be ensured (Kissack and Callahan, 2010). In the study of training transfer (Baldwin and Ford, 1988), it has been said that the development of a learning environment is a significant element in the transfer (Alvarez, Salas, and Garofano, 2004). Two dimensions of this kind of environment have been defined: a learning culture (Gil and Mataveli, 2016) and an organisational climate for transfer (Velada and Caetano, 2007). Some indicators of there being an organisational climate for transfer are mutual support among workers and support by supervisors for the transfer, as Chauhan, Ghosh, Rai, and Shukla (2016) have found.
Supervisor support can be understood as the extent to which supervisors reinforce the utilisation in the workplace of the knowledge and abilities learned in training (Holton, Bates, and Ruona, 2000), and the degree to which supervisors contribute to the implementation of training. In the majority of cases, the supervisor intervenes directly in the training transfer in order to support workers’ learning processes. On other occasions, the supervisor intervenes in the transfer in an indirect manner in order to motivate trainees to transfer the training themselves (Cromwell and Kolb, 2004). For this reason, some respected authors (Baldwin and Ford, 1988) have regarded supervisor support as one of the most powerful tools for improving the transfer of training. We therefore present the following hypothesis:
H3: The training application has a positive effect on training transfer.
Training transfer in learning organisations
A learning organisation is an idealised concept of an organisation that develops its own ability to learn and, therefore, is an organisation that is open to change (Filstad and Gottschalk, 2010). This concept is based on the assumption that learning is not an end in itself, but is a means to achieve a goal.
The pioneering authors in the study of learning organisations (Pedler et al., 1991) have pointed out that a learning organisation is one that provides learning opportunities to all of its members. This statement is, in turn, linked with two constructs: the learning environment and the learning culture (Slater and Narver, 1995). The learning environment corresponds to a type of leadership facilitator for learning, with an organic structure that is open to change and a decentralised approach to planning (Lancaster and Di Milia, 2015). A learning environment facilitates the learning process and ensures that employees are comfortable about experimenting in the workplace and are likely to create (Garvin, 1993) and transfer knowledge (Maden, 2012).
A learning culture has been defined as a set of values that favours learning. An organisational learning culture refers to how individuals act and understand the daily reality of learning, and how the company sees the role of learning in its strategy (Gil y Mataveli, 2017). For Gil and Mataveli (2016), the learning culture in organisations has a double meaning. On the one hand, individuals are involved in training and their own development; on the other hand, the company provides opportunities for learning and development to employees and groups (see Figure 1).
(Insert Figure 1 about here)
The term ‘learning opportunities’ has a broad range of meanings, because it refers to a set of ways of learning. In our case study, we analysed training as a means of learning (Gil, Garcia-Alcaraz, and Mataveli, 2015). Thus, it is understood that the construct ‘learning opportunities’ moderates the relationships existing between the distinct stages involved in the process of training and the transfer of training. More specifically, it moderates the relationship between the fulfilment and implementation of training and the transfer of training, because fulfilment and implementation are essential processes for the transfer of training. Therefore, we put forward the following hypothesis:
H4: Learning opportunities moderate (reinforce) the positive relationship between the training application and the training transfer.
Figure 2 shows the general model for the hypotheses that were tested in the empirical study.
(Insert Figure 2 about here)
The moderating effect of the school administrator role
Differences have been noted in the implementation of tasks and decision-making between senior management and middle managers.
The work of Tappura, Teperi, and Kivistö-Tahnasto (2017) has shown occupational health tasks, and found that senior management focusses on goal setting and commitment to health. Middle managers monitor daily work and identify with the development of follow-up and then, it is emphasised the importance of the middle managers in the implementation of innovation and improvement processes (Resyani and Hudson, 2016).
Currently, middle managers are of great importance in decision-making and the management of educational organisations (Huang and Pang, 2016). Consequently, it seems necessary to know and contrast their opinions with the middle managers of educational organisations. Further, as noted, there are different related views on the influence of education and training in workplaces (Zwanikken, Alexander, and Scherpbier, 2016).
Leadership in schools are mediated with the perceptions of administrators (Liang and Peters-Hawkins, 2017). This type of leadership can influence the perception of administrative tasks as well as the perception of learning processes (e.g., learning effectiveness). As Leaf and Odiambo (2017) have noted, the perception of learning by leaders may be different depending on the school administrator role.
In Spain, there are two generic types of administrators: the principal team, whose main objective is to ensure the proper functioning of the Centre and to the head of which is the director whose main function is direct and coordinate all the activities of the Educational Centre; and the department head, whose main function is to coordinate the preparation of the teaching aspects of didactic programming in the academic areas. These functions lead to a different role for each type of administrator: the first more focused on general administration, and the second more focused on the coordination of areas and support of teachers and students. Given the different functions performed by the two types of managers, one can expect a difference in perception of the management of training. Therefore,
H5: The school administrator role moderates the relationship between training needs analysis and training application.
H6: The school administrator role moderates the relationship between training evaluation and training application.
H7: The school administrator role moderates the relationship between training application and training transfer.
The study was conducted with a sample of 17 secondary schools and high schools in the Spanish province of Valencia. The schools were chosen at random, with a stratification criterion corresponding to the region of the province where the school was located. We interviewed 116 administrators in the 17 schools by means of questionnaires. Table 1 shows the characteristics of the sample, and indicates the variables that were controlled during the study.
(Insert Table 1 about here)
As observed in Table 1, the percentage of women participating in the sample was higher than the percentage of men (56.90% versus 43.10%). Most of the respondents were department heads (66.38%) and the remainder performed principal functions (32.62%). The type of school corresponds: 49.13% primary and secondary schools (secondary schools) and 50.87% college preparatory schools (baccalaureate schools). As for the size of the schools, 35.30% had less than 49 teachers, while 64.70% had 49 or more teachers. In addition to the data shown in the table, the ages of teachers were controlled, with the average age being 49.62 years with a standard deviation of 7.73.
Procedure and tools
In order to conduct the study, the research team sought the permission of the Conserjería de Educación de la Generalitat de Valencia. Immediately after obtaining the authorisation, the research team proceeded with issuing the questionnaires to the teachers and collecting them back.
To obtain the data, an ad hoc questionnaire was prepared, in which we included 10 items that are considered in the literature to address the characteristics of the training process. In particular, we examined the work of Gómez-Mejía et al. (2001) and Kirkpatrick (1998). In addition, we considered the research of authors related to training (e.g., Adamson and Caple, 1996; Garavan and Sweeney, 1994). The training stages were considered in the questionnaire; in addition, it was considered an item to measure the learning organisation (total 11 items). The items were proposed through a 7-point Likert scale (1 represents the lowest agreement with the affirmation and 7 is the highest agreement with the affirmation).
Analysis and results
The research model was tested with a partial least squares structural equation model (PLS Path Modelling), utilising the SMARTPLS technique in its third version (Henseler, Ringle, and Sarstedt, 2015). In our study, the directions of causality between the constructs and their indicators were produced reflexively on the basis that the indicators were manifestations of the construct, since the measure is determined by the construct itself (Bagozzi, 2007).
Although the PLS method estimates the measurement and structural parameters simultaneously, the analysis was carried out in two stages: (1) measurement model; and (2) structural model.
For an analysis of a measurement model, four stages are required: (1) individual reliability of the indicators; (2) reliability of the construct; (3) convergent validity; and (4) discriminant validity. First, we analysed the Standardised Root Mean Square Residual (SRMSR) as a goodness of fit test of the model, by means of the PLS-SEM. The value 0.078 is considered adequate (Henseler et al., 2014).
The reliability of the model was also analysed. The reliability of the indicators should be compared through their loads (λ). In our case, all the factor loadings proved to be less than 0.4 (Hair, Ringle, and Sarstedt, 2011), which was a good reason to keep them in the model, and together they produced ten items (see Table 2).
(Insert Table 2 about here)
Secondly, the reliability of the construct was examined by means of Cronbach’s alpha and the composite reliability index (CRI). Thirdly, the existence of convergent validity was confirmed by means of the average variance extracted (AVE). The CRI alpha value exceeded the critical value of 0.8 for all variables (Nunnally and Bernstein, 1994), and the value of AVE was above 0.5 (Fornell and Larcker, 1981).
(Insert Table 3 about here)
Finally, the analysis of the measurement model consisted of verifying the existence of discriminant validity. A new approach to evaluating discriminant validity based on the variance is the Heterotrait–Monotrait (HTMT) relationship, a ratio of correlations proposed by Henseler et al. (2015). The discriminant validity for the inter-construct correlation was calculated based on the criterion that the HTMT should be less than 0.85. In all cases, they were below 0.70, as shown in Table 4.
(Insert Table 4 about here)
In order to determine the statistical significance of the coefficient paths, the bootstrapping technique was used, with 5,000 subsamples (Hair et al., 2011). Table 5 shows the basic model of analysis and the proposed model.
(Insert Figure 5 about here)
The three relationships we have proposed (H1 to H3) were significant. Thus, the training needs analysis had a significant impact on the training application (0.095*), training evaluation had a significant impact on training application (0.731***), and training application had a significant impact on the training transfer (0.598***). Therefore, the first 3 hypotheses we proposed were confirmed. In addition, the R2TA is considered high, as it has a value of 0.604; and the R2TT is considered too high, as it has a value of 0.357 (Wetzels, Odekerken-Schrode, and van Oppen, 2009).
Once the basic model had been analysed, we turned to the model arising from the proposed interaction, which allowed us to test H4—that is, the moderation in the model presented in Table 6.
(Insert Table 6 about here)
In this study, the coefficient TA x LO → TT (0.097*) was statistically significant (see Table 6). Therefore, we can talk about the moderation by the construct ‘learning opportunities’ in the relationship between the fulfilment and implementation of training and the transfer of training. Thus, H4 was confirmed.
Table 7 presents the multi-group analysis that was performed to verify the moderating effect of the administrator role in the proposed causal relationships. The relationship between the training needs analysis and the training application was significant (p = 0.025); the rest of the relationships were not significant. Therefore, H5 is accepted and H6 and H7 are rejected.
(Insert Table 7 about here)
Training promotes the optimisation of human resources; specifically, it helps people achieve the objectives of the organisation, as well as their own personal goals (Ghosh, Joshi, Satyawadi, Mukherjee, and Ranjan, 2011). Guzzo, Jette, and Katzell (1985) believed that training programmes are the most powerful intervention for the development of an organisation. Training plays a fundamental role in the improvement of an employee’s ability to adapt (Stummer and Gutjahr, 2012). Therefore, it is important that organisations keep their employees’ abilities in good shape.
In the school context, organizational development and individual development are related to innovation and the improvement of teaching. As Ebersöhn, Loots, Eloff, and Ferreira (2015) point out, the global transformation of education requires the development of innovation in the classroom, in response to changing demands, teachers necessity adapt to changes in classrooms and be generators change in their intervention contexts.
The results obtained in this study show, on the one hand, that the analysis of training needs and training evaluation affect training application; on the other hand, training application affects training transfer. The training evaluation has been particularly significant in the training application. These results have shown that evaluation is a key factor in training implementation (Alvarez et al., 2004; Kirkpatrick 1998).
This work has demonstrated that the term ‘learning opportunities,’ which has been considered a reflection of the learning organisation (Pedler et al., 1991), moderates, by reinforcement, the relationship between the implementation or applicationand the transfer of training, which contributes to knowledge transfer. These results are in line with the work of Rodríguez-Gómez and Gairín (2015), which distinguishes the importance of organisational factors, such as structure and culture, in the improvement of the management of knowledge in educational organisations. In general, it has been demonstrated that the actions carried out by an organisation to facilitate learning processes positively affect training transfer (Van den Bossche, Segers, and Jansen, 2010). This confirms the idea that learning organisations are characterised by their ability to facilitate learning, especially through promoting training (Nyhan, Cressey, Tomassini, Kelleher, and Poell, 2004), and generating knowledge (Santa and Nurcan, 2016).
It has also been proven that there is a moderating effect of administrator roles in the proposed relationships. This would point out that the perceptions of principals and heads of departments are not identical, because their functions and contexts are different. Therefore, it is important to analyse the specific function that each of these administrators meet in training transfer—in other words, in improving teaching at secondary schools.
This work has some limitations; for instance, the data obtained resulted from the administrators’ perception of training transfer. For that reason, other types of studies could be undertaken that use direct observation of the transfer process to corroborate these results. Another limitation that can be noted is the size of the sample; although it is a significant sample from a Spanish province, the sample is not very extensive. Future investigations can increase the sample size to collect a wider set of Spanish regions.
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Figure 1 Organizational learning culture
Source: Gil y Mataveli (2016)
Training needs analysis
Figure 2 Research model, learning culture as moderator
Table 1 Sample characteristics of administrators and school
|Job (administration role)|
|Type of school|
|College Preparatory School||59||50.87|
|School size (number of teachers in the school)|
|+ 49 teachers||75||64.70|
Table 2 Measurement model: cross-loadings
|Items||Training application||Training evaluation||Training transfer|
|Resources of training||0.828|
|Received of training||0.863|
|Time of training||0.572|
|Training evaluation process||0.870|
Table 3 Reliability and convergent validity
|Training needs analysis||1||1||1|
CRI: Composite reliability; AVE: average variance extracted
Table 4 Mean, standard deviation and discriminate validity
|Training need analysis||4.275||1.512||–|
SD: standard deviations; TNA: Training needs analysis; TA: Training application; TE Training evaluation; TT: Training transfer
Table 5 Structural model results (baseline model)
R²TA = 0.604; R²TT = 0.357
|Hypothesis||Suggested effect||Path coefficients||t-value (bootstrap)||Support|
*p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; not significant (based on t (499), one-tailed test); (0.05;499) = 1.64791345, t(0.01;499) = 2.333843952; t(0.001;499) = 3.106644601
TNA: Training needs analysis; TA: Training application; TE Training evaluation; TT: Training transfer
Table 6 Structural model results (learning culture – moderating model)
R²TA = 0.604; R²TT = 0.479
|Hypothesis||Suggested effect||Path coefficients||t-value (bootstrap)||Support|
*p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; not significant (based on t (499), one-tailed test); (0.05;499) = 1.64791345, t(0.01;499) = 2.333843952; t(0.001;499) = 3.106644601
TNA: Training needs analysis; TA: Training application; TE Training evaluation; TT: Training transfer, LC: Learning Culture
Table 7 Multi group analysis
|Hypothesis||Principal||Heard||Path Coefficints Principal-Heard||t value
*p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; not significant (based on t (499), one-tailed test); (0.05;499) = 1.64791345, t(0.01;499) = 2.333843952; t(0.001;499) = 3.106644601
TNA: Training needs analysis; TA: Training application; TE: Training evaluation; TT: Training transfer