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September 2018
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TD Magazine

The Rule of Law

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The Rule of Law

Learning laws have been on the books, so to speak, since the early 1900s, when psychologist Edward Thorndike published his research about what he called the law of effect and the law of exercise. Back then, he had studied animals and subsequently applied what he gleaned from them to adult learning.

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More than a century later, talent development practitioners are still referring to—and applying—Thorndike's learning principles to design and deliver training. Our cover story makes the case that trainers and instructional designers should use Thorndike's laws of readiness, exercise, and effect as a foundation for personality assessment debriefs and training sessions. The result? The article's author, Thomas Frazier, says learners will be more likely to change their behavior.

But, as Frazier admits, being told to apply theories to your work may feel somewhat abstract. That's why he lays out steps to get you started. In his experience as a trainer, Frazier learned that he can't give learners "a toolbox full of cool tools but no direction or training about how to use them." In the same way, his article doesn't leave you without guidance on using the learning laws to design and facilitate an effective training program. Laws are meant to be followed, so why make it difficult to do so?

About the Author
Vanessa St. Gerard is editor-in-chief of TD magazine.
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