Re: Change vs. Development & Intro LO153
Sat, 18 Feb 1995 14:07:01 -0500

Hello, my name is Mike Price. I am a project director with the Research
Center for Continuing Professional and Higher Education at the University
of Oklahoma. I have been working with the American Institute of
Architects for the past five years on a number of research and development
projects concerning continuing education in the architecture profession.
Currently I am finishing my dissertation for the PhD in adult education
here at the U of O. My interst in LO is a natural extension of my adult
ed background, but my enthusiasm for it is the product of my first life as
a practicing architect.

My architect hero was Buckminster Fuller, one of the great system
thinkers of our time. Am enjoying the dialog on the list and would like
to offer a few observations of my own.

Re: changing and learning

I am not an expert on organizational theory, but I know something of the
process of changing and learning in individuals. Specifically I have
studied professionals (physicians and architects) as to how and why they
make changes in their practices or lives and the role of learning in that
process. It appears there are similarities in the behaviors of
organizations and individuals so perhaps the following changing/learning
model may be of some value. This model was developed by Dr. Robert Fox
and is based upon studies in which professionals were asked to identify
recent changes and describe the process they went through. The following
are key findings:

* Changes were catagorized as small (acommodations), medium (incremental
adjustments), and large (transformations).
* New learning was evident in over 90% of medium and large changes but only
about 60% of small changes. Learning tended to be more formal and passive in
small changes. Medium changes and large changes often involved a variety of
learning resources including both formal programs and informal resources.
The ratio of formal to informal learning appears to be about 20/80.
Learning associated with medium changes tended to respond to immediate
problem solving while large changes involved more conceptual learning.
* Forces triggering and sustaining change were catagorized as
social/regulatory, professional, and personal. Fox suggests that
professional forces are unique in that they not only mediate between the
purely external (social/regulatory) and internal (personal) forces but that
they have their own cultural influence. Social/regulatory forces were most
often associated with small changes and with short term formal learning.
Professional forces (competency, competition) was associated with medium
changes and greater learning. Personal forces (wellbeing, curiosity,
etc.) were associated long term conceptual learning. Note, these forces
are based upon the perceptions of the professional rather than the
judgements of others.

The Model:
* Internal, external, or professional forces initiate the change process.
* Professionals focus on a possible change and create an immediate image of
what it would be like to make the change. The degree of clarity of this
image affects the likelihood of change and the efficiency of the subsequent
learning activities.
* They then self-assesses their learning needs by comparing what appears to
be with what appears should be. A perceived small or large difference will
often discourage change and/or learning at this point.
* The professionals may choose to engage in learning to reduce anxiety
produced by perceived needs. This may be directed toward either further
assessment of the nature of the need, acquisition of competence/knowledge, or
application of competence into their practices. Resources to accomplish any
phase of this "self-directed curriculum" include formal programs, colleagues,
and reading (also observing in the case of architects). Any combination may
be used, and at any point in this curriculum profesionals may decide that
learning needs have been met and will discontinue the change process.

* The success of any educational intervention, especially formal
interventions, is dependent upon motivational factors unique to each
* Professionals (and perhaps organizations) are ultimately in control of the
change process. If they do not see the force for change as being a
professional or personal force, they will be less likely to change
significantly. Learning consultant must assess this condition at start and
take steps to raise level of commitment.
* Professionals need skills for reflecting on change and developing clear
images (visions).
* Professionals need help in assessing learning needs but the process should
be collaborative and, if possible, non threatening.
* Educators should take into consideration less formal and non traditonal
learning resources when planning learning programs. To the greatest extent
possible, the professionals should be encouraged to plan and conduct their
own learning.
* Educators (change agents) must address both real needs and perceived needs
of the learners when developing formal programs.
* Professionals benefit from feedback that helps them assess the success of
their learning and their image of change.

The value of this model and line of research is that key elements of learning
and changing processes can be connected. I find it useful in assessing
conditions of a group or individual learner prior to attempting to facilitate
a change. I would appreciate any feedback the members of the list may have
on this model and its possible application to organizations.

Mike Price aka