Monday, September 13, 2010

Leadership Beyond the Office

A few months back I developed a crazy notion to further my professional development by heading back into the classroom--not at the role of instructor but as student. I took the challenge to be a student of fire seriously and enrolled in Boise State University's Instructional Performance Technology graduate program. I am now four weeks into my first course (Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology (IPT536) and have learned so much about myself and the Wildland Leadership Development Program in general.

I applaud all those who have contributed to the program. As I dig deeper into the foundations of what went into creating the curriculum and associated experiental learning tools, I more fully understand why students continue to provide positive feedback after attending courses.

Those who recognize the name Edward Lee Thorndike, educational psychologist, understand why the leadership curriculum produces results. Thorndike formulated three foundational principles of learning and teaching that are woven into the wildland fire leadership curriculum. The following descriptions were taken from "Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology" by Seung Youn Chyung.*

1. The law of effect. "An individual repeats responses that are followed by a satisfying effect, and tends not to repeat responses that are followed by an annoying state of affairs."

2. The law of readiness. "One should be ready to act in a certain way in order to take it as a satisfying effect; otherwise, having to act in that way would be considered an annoying effect."

3. The law of exercise. "To sustain the reaction ot a satisfying effect, it needs to be repeated."

Thorndike and others, like Ralph Tyler, strongly believed in a concept of "transferability of training." If you have taken a wildland fire leadership course, you quickly learn that most of the knowledge found in those courses are applicable to your job but can easily be transferred to situations outside the work environment. The transfer of knowledge to areas outside the classroom and work environment and into the personal life enhance the learning experience by creating relevance and fostering a more satisying effect.

Thorndike and those after him knew what they were talking about!

* Chung, Seun Youn. Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology. HRD Press, Inc. 2008.

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