Shirley J. Caruso, Ed.D.
What is Human Resource Development?
Human Resource Development, or HRD, is often difficult to explain to others and is often confused with Human Resources. HRD is a practice that combines training, organization development, and career development efforts to encourage improvement of individual, group, and organizational performance. Its purpose is to enhance employee performance/productivity, which leads to employee and customer satisfaction and an increase in the profitability of the organization. HRD is comprised of four basic sections: personal development, professional development, performance administration or management, and organization development. Each section will differ in significance from one organization to the next. The significance of each section within an organization may depend upon the extent of the organization’s focus to improve human resources. Personal and professional development concentrate on the growth and development of the individual, while performance administration or management and organization development place their focus on a whole system approach to the effectiveness of the organization.
HRD, TD, and OD
HRD by definition is both a field of discipline and a professional field of practice. In practice, it is a process within the organization that encompasses Training and Development (TD) and Organization Development (OD). Training and Development refers to the harnessing of human expertise in order to improve performance, and Organization Development refers to the empowering of the organization so that it can take advantage of its human capital. TD when alone, can result in untapped human knowledge and skills. OD alone, on the other hand, can result in an oppressed and frustrated workforce. Thus, it is the aim of HRD to make TD and OD fit together with each other in order to provide a strong foundation for the workforce. As such, it seeks to improve or develop and deliver expertise to enhance the performance of individuals in their jobs, team and organizational process in a given organization. To accomplish this, there are three areas on which Human Resource Development training is focused, namely; the improvement of human relations within the workplace, improvement of work processes, and systematic performance-based training. These three areas correspond to the core beliefs of HRD as a discipline. The field of HRD is undergirded by systematic performance-based training, or instructional design.
What is Instructional Design?
Instructional design is a multistep, systematic, and reflective process (traditionally including five phases of activities: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) based upon principles of learning that fosters the creation of a plan for activities, materials, information resources, media, and evaluation that increase knowledge, enhance skills and competencies, enrich attitudes, and improve behaviors by maximizing the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of instruction and other learning experiences. This definition of the field of instructional design provides an overview of the field by breaking down its many components. This definition implies that instructional design is a reflective process. There are multiple steps in the process, and the foundation for the processes are the principles of learning. Instructional designers apply these steps to plan for activities, materials, information resources, media, and evaluation. The output for the learners is an enhancement of knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes. And the ultimate result of the combined components is instruction that is effective, efficient, and appealing.
Instructional Design Criticism
A key criticism to the traditional approach to instructional design, such as the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) model of instruction design, has been that these traditional approaches emphasize breaking complex skills down into their component parts, and designing instruction that initially focuses on teaching those component skills. The whole task models of instructional design prescribe that throughout a sequence of instruction, learners should be presented with a series of progressively more difficult whole task problems of the type that the learners will be expected to solve by the end of that instructional sequence.
Even though the whole task models of instructional design have been proposed in response to criticism of the traditional approaches, many HRD professionals remain proponents of the traditional approaches. They neither think the whole-task approach is an improvement over traditional instructional design models, nor do they think traditional approaches should reign over whole task models. They merely think the two approaches are different approaches and should be utilized according to the defined learning objectives of the program they will help to design. In some instances, increasing the difficulty or complexity of problems for learners to solve would, in many instances, frustrate learners if they are not ready, or haven’t mastered the knowledge and skill to be taught to the degree which would enable them to problem solve at a higher level. The reason many HRD professionals remain advocates for the traditional instructional design models is because they believe scaffolded learning is provided to learners by emphasizing breaking complex skills down into their component parts, and designing instruction that initially focuses on teaching those component skills.
Traditional Instructional Design Models Provide Scaffolded Learning
Traditional instructional design models provide scaffolded learning to learners by emphasizing breaking complex skills down into their component parts, and designing instruction that initially focuses on teaching those component skills. Similar to the scaffolding used in construction to support workers as they work on a specific task, instructional scaffolds are provide learners with the temporary support they need to successfully accomplish new tasks and concepts they could not typically achieve on their own. Once students are able to complete or master the component parts of a task, the scaffolding is gently removed, and the responsibility of learning shifts from the instructor to the student. In other words, the student is left with the confidence he or she needs to perform the task without support of the instructor, and is ready to learn the next component part of the whole task. Without this intermittent support, the student may fail and lose confidence and ultimately, their motivation to learn. Failing to help students understand their likelihood for success by failing to support or scaffold their learning will decrease their motivation because they may feel they are unlikely able to meet the objectives. Learning must be rewarding or satisfying in some way. If it is not, learners are likely to become unmotivated.