Supporting the transfer of learning

September 09, 2022

Supporting learning is an important component of capacity-building projects, which is often neglected. The aim of this post is to situate the learning transfer in capacity-building projects, justify its importance, and talk about how it can be best implemented. This discussion calls for the following questions:

  • When does the transfer of learning start?
  • What are the tools that are used to transfer learning to the workplace?
  • Why should the learning transfer be supported?
  • Whose responsibility is it to support the transfer of learning?

The answers to these questions start from situating the learning transfer in the training project cycle:

training lifecycle

When does the transfer of learning start?

Learning transfer is included into the design of training solutions (step 2) and development of training solutions (step 3). Through training delivery (step 4), learning solutions are delivered and transferred to workplace.

What are learning transfer tools?

Tools that are used to transfer learning to the workplace include:

  • Simulation of real workplace problems that led to the need for the training can be used as case studies and solutions found by learners during group and individual activities. Learners own the solutions and transfer these skills to the workplace. Learners themselves will be able to transfer learning to the workplace.
  • Practice activities enhance learners’ skills and confidence to transfer and implement solutions.
  • Action plans developed by learners with the support of the trainer are actionable activities with resources, tools, and timeframes to guide effective implementation of solutions.

Why should learning transfer be supported?

Some capacity-building projects have been unable to produce expected impacts due to absence of post-training support. This happens when coaching is not built into monitoring. In such projects, monitoring visits are meant to carry out interim evaluations and not supportive monitoring. Classroom practice activities and simulation case studies solutions can never sufficiently include real life work environment solutions implementation challenges. These challenges, quite often require support in the form of coaching and other resources to address them. Thus, there is a strong case for learning transfer to be supported.

Who is responsible for the support of learning transfer?

Effective support of learning transfer requires synergies from the project stakeholders:

  • Learner/trainee must be committed to his/her action plan and its implementation. The first step is by engaging management and peers through timely production and sharing of training report and securing management support in its implementation.
  • Trainer/project team: offering and being available for post-training support.
  • Management/project sponsor: building post-training support into the project budget and actively collaborating with the trainee and trainer to assure successful implementation of action plans.

In conclusion, support of learning transfer is a component of capacity building projects that is often neglected but which has been demonstrated to have a considerable impact on projects outcomes and impact.

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