Solutions Designed Using Evidence-Based Practices Help Employees Improve Performance-- and Organizations Achieve Goals


PERFORMEX's mission is positioning employees and their organizations for success through the collaborative development and implementation of evidence-based performance solutions.  To this end, PERFORMEX applies evidence-based practices to all aspects of training and non-training solutions. Each design element is carefully chosen to support the cognitive processes of learning, retention, and transfer.


Training Tale

Watch this cautionary tale about the systemic consequences for organizations when they implement solutions that are not evidence-based… 

Part I: Company's Goals

When organizations are switching to a new business system, Brown (2016) cautions,

Assumptions are made on how quickly and thoroughly the users of the application will be able to use it efficiently and effectively.  These expectations can be jeopardized if the technology roll-out is delayed or slowed because the users are not ready to meet these assumptions.  If a company wants to achieve its business case goals, they need to ensure they get maximum end-user adoption with skilled, competent users. (p. 1)

Part II: Performance Improvement Conference

Below is the file the training and development team kept on what they learned during the conference.  Click on the tabs to see what they learned.  Then move on to the next part of the story to see if they apply what they learned to support employees during the biggest change in the history of the company.

Multimedia Principle

What does the principle say?

According to the Multimedia Principle, people learn better from words accompanied by graphics-- rather than words alone.  Clark (2002) asserts,

Research has shown that graphics can improve learning.  The trick is to use illustrations that are congruent with the instructional message.  Images added for entertainment or dramatic value not only don’t improve learning but they can actually depress learning. (p. 1)

What is the cognitive science behind the principle?

Malamed (2015) explains,

Dual coding states that people process information through two distinct systems, one for verbal information (written and spoken words) and one for nonverbal information (images). According to this theory, pictures have an advantage over words by being encoded into long-term memory through both the visual and verbal channels.  That is, pictures are encoded as an image as well as spontaneously given a verbal label.  In contrast, words are encoded with just one verbal code. Two codes written to memory increases the chance of retrieving the information compared to information that is coded in only one way. (Chapter 1, Possible Reasons for Picture Superiority, para. 1)


Videos (to the right)

Video #1: Picture Superiority Effect

Watch this video to see the research on how much information is remembered from words compared to a combination of words + visuals after three days.

Video #2: Illustration & E-Learning (Dual-Coding Theory)

Watch this video to see dual coding in action.


Modality Principle
Visuals vs Text
Mirror Neuron System
Give it a try...

Click on the two other tabs below. Which description results in instant understanding?  Which is more memorable?

Textual Description
Graphic Description

Part III: Training / Performance Support Solution

Part IV: Consequences for the Company When Evidence-Based Practices Are Ignored

Part V: Projecting Consequences Beyond the Story to Three Different Sectors 

Part VI: Moral of the Story

Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick (2015) assert,

Critical behaviors are the few, specific actions, which, if performed consistently on the job, will have the biggest impact on the desired results. There are perhaps thousands of behaviors a given employee might perform on the job; critical behaviors are those that have been identified as the most important to achieving organizational success. (p. 7)

Tale Debrief

Other Factors That Impacted Performance 

As you witnessed during this imaginary company's ordeal, employees' efforts to improve performance are severely impeded when performance solutions ignore the cognitive science and multimedia principles that support learning, retention, and transfer. Of course, this tale simplified the cause of the company's failed change process. Other factors beyond the poorly designed job aids would have contributed to the negative outcome. Go ahead and project beyond the end of the story and imagine the rest of the findings in the performance consultant's report:

  • Perhaps the new system itself was not user-friendly, and the company did not act on user feedback.
  • Despite the poorly designed job aids, maybe some employees did quickly get up-to-speed with the new program.  However, their supervisors did not take the time to acknowledge their effort and accomplishments.  So, they decided, Why go the extra mile?
  • It is also conceivable that the system HelpDesk was understaffed.  As a result, employees became frustrated by long wait times for assistance and just gave up.



Company Culture

Also of concern was a company culture which seemingly did not have any expectations or accountability regarding the use of evidence-based practices.  The organization had invested a lot of money sending the entire training and development team to a week-long conference. During the story, you witnessed the lack of return on that investment.

From the point of view of the performance support solution, the story would have ended very differently had the implementation of research-based practices been a cultural norm.  Perhaps the training and development team would have shared their learning from the conference at a staff meeting and outlined how they planned to apply that new learning to their projects moving forward.  Most importantly, the team would have been held accountable for ensuring that the resources for the new repository were developed using evidence-based practices that would help employees to efficiently learn to use the new system.

What if the team did work in a company culture that valued evidence-based practices, and team members themselves believed in this approach?  However, the team was too overwhelmed with projects to take the time necessary to apply what they had learned at the conference?  In the context of a culture focused on producing observable results, the team could have prepared a presentation for senior management on the need to hire more staff for the department.  They could have provided data demonstrating that additional salaries would be more than paid for by increased productivity across the organization made possible by efficient and effective training and performance support solutions.





PERFORMEX's mission is positioning employees and their organizations for success through the collaborative development and implementation of evidence-based performance solutions...  To this end, PERFORMEX applies evidence-based practices to all aspects of training and non-training solutions.  Each design element is carefully chosen to support the cognitive processes of learning, retention, and transfer.

As this site evolves, more specific research-based practices used by PERFORMEX will be explained.  To experience a learning environment which maximizes engagement, deep learning, and transfer to the workplace, click the button below to participate in the Demo version of the eLearning module Supporting Students With Learning Disabilities for Success or visit the Photo Gallery.

As of October 2016, the full version of the module is about 90% complete.  The final version will be ready in December 2016.  Right now you can preview an excerpt from the in-progress version by:

  1. Trying out the interactive demo.
  2. Checking out the photo gallery.
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Brown, T. (2016). How the learning organization can affect enterprise ROI [White paper]. Retrieved from 
Clark, R. (2002, September 10). Six principles of effective e-Learning: What works and why. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from 
Clark, R. C., & Chopeta, L. (2011). Graphics for learning: Proven guidelines for planning, designing, and evaluating visuals in training materials [Kindle version]. Retrieved from 
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foxondavid. (2014, July 22). What do chameleons, brands and mirror neurons have in common? [Web log message]. Retrieved from 
Kirkpatrick, J., & Kirkpatrick, W. (2015). An introduction to the new world Kirkpatrick® model [White paper]. Retrieved from
Malamed, C. (2015). Visual design solutions: Principles and creative inspiration for learning professionals [Kindle version]. Retrieved from 
Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school [Kindle version]. Retrieved from
Medina, J. (2015). Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses. Retrieved from
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