This is an attempt to define what an attendee really gains by at various courses, seminars, or ‘training classes’ including offerings here when it comes to becoming, ‘certified’ or ‘qualified.’
As you can see by the above graphic, Content (Subject) and Skill Mastery are gained by hours of instruction per month which is measured by Content & Skills learned per Hour of Instruction. Post mastery, retention becomes an issue.
So, unless a specific POI (Plan of Instruction) or detailed ‘syllabus’ is available to the prospective student before hand that demonstrates the course/seminar in question starts at mid or advanced level performance or knowledge, and requires pre-requisite training, it’s all familiarization training designed to get the attendee started down the long and rewarding road of achieving subject or skill mastery. The exception are courses modeled on the ‘Building Block Concept” mentioned later, and even then, those may only go so far in helping the student attain mastery.
Further, attending one, two, or ten classes repetitively isn’t going to necessarily lead to mastery insofar the course/seminar’s Desired Learning Outcomes (DLO’s) may demonstrate. Conversely, attending several classes that are building block oriented (where one class leaves off, the other starts) will typically only bring the attendee to Task Maturity level 2 (possibly TM 3..)(Willing/Unable or Able/Unwilling if TM3) at the conclusion of the class unless it is a series of several class blocks. Example: Widget Building 100, 200, 300 and 400. Additionally, if further study/practice isn’t diligently pursued by the attendee post class, the old adage of, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it…” goes into action exacerbated by the fact that most students do not retain near 100% of what they are taught or learn without reinforcement (see graphic at top of post).
So, let’s say that you decide to go to 4 classes in a year. These classes are weekend seminars, and all told provide you with 80 contact hours of learning. Let’s add in that those 80 hours are all ‘building block’ oriented, and that one class builds upon another (a good example is MDT’s, “Regional Security Force” series, here. Another is our , “Essential Skills” series). Now, let’s add in for generosity’s sake, that you’ve taken notes, kept all the class handouts, and have reviewed what you’ve learned for another 40 hours in that year. So, you’ve got 120 hours in on a particular subject.
Are you much better at what you’re doing than you were when you started? Without question. Can you help pass along what you’ve learned to others in your NPT? Most assuredly. Are you a certified or qualified _____________?
Certainly not if you’re spending all that time an money on a complex subject or skill set. You may be, depending on POI breakdown and the knowledge/skills you’re looking to learn. Here’s why:
In the .mil world (at least the one I came out of) ‘qualification’ or ‘certification’ courses, depending on the subject, lasted from 40 contact hours (contact hours are instructor led and may include practicums on skill sets, but the key is the instructor is there to correct error) to upwards of 240 – basically one work week to about 6 weeks, sometimes longer to achieve basic ‘certification’ or ‘qualification.’
That’s basic mastery in the skill/subject being taught. The former’s evidence of mastery obtained is usually gauged by performance based evaluations (but may have written ‘tests’ intermixed to judge concept and principle retention), and the latter by academic written tests,
Then, upon return to the parent unit, the troop undergoes localized training for as long as the NCOIC (Noncommissioned Officer In Charge) or unit training SOP’s require to get the individual beyond ‘basic skill mastery’ to acceptable performance (something we used to call ‘Task Maturity Level 3’ – (the troop actually knows what he/she knows) (and if the trainee was really good, possibly even Task Maturity Level 4 – second nature development – but this achievement was rare).
Now, think about the time for a 6 week course, in say, Basic Operations and Cantonment Area Defense – Level 1(civilianized translation of the course required to get someone to basic level skill performance capability for SUT) and compare that to a weekend at any course you care to name from, say, Friday afternoon for Administrative processing (release forms, gear checks, safety, etc) lasting 2 hours and the class starting the following morning at 0700 and going until 1800 – a 10.5 hour day with a 30 minute lunch break – and continuing on Sunday from 0700 until afternoon about 1600 (with a 30 minute lunch break).
Now, let’s compare that to the 120 hours in the above example. After one full year of training and practice, you’ve been able to get to about half of what a .mil troop does in a month and a half. And this is a superb accomplishment on your part if you’re the person in the example! (I’d be ecstatic if my NPT members were able to train that much! The problem is that our lives get in the way. We have to pay the bills, spend time with our kids, the spouse, and friends. We have to keep everything in balance. So, it’s difficult at best. This is another reason I have been known to say that study never stops; training is on-going. Reading is a constant in life. TV? Not so much.
Just think about that for a bit.
Then, consider these facts when you choose to attend any course the information provided above. Are they offering a ‘certification’ for a weekend’s introduction with the implication of certification, or are they offering a building block concept in the subject or skill area you’re interested in that may eventually lead to subject or skill mastery?
Then, when you do lay out your hard-earned cash, you at least know what you’ll be getting before you go.