Talent Development Glossary Terms
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Talent Development Glossary Terms: A-L


ADDIE is an instructional systems design model. It is composed of five phases:
Analysis is the process of gathering data to identify specific needs—the who, what, where, when, and why of the design process.
Design is the planning stage.
Development is the phase in which training materials and content are selected and developed based on learning objectives.
Implementation occurs when the course is delivered, whether in person or electronically.
Evaluation is the ongoing process of developing and improving instructional materials based on feedback received during and after implementation.

Adult Learning Theory is a term that encompasses the collective theories and fdn principles of how adults learn and acquireknowledge. Popularized by Malcolm Knowles,adult learning theory provides the foundation that training and development professionals need to meet workplace learning needs.

Affective Learning is the acquisition of knowledge based on Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy in which he identified three learning domains: cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitude), and psychomotor (skills). This taxonomy or classification of the processes of thinking and learning provides the framework for the creation of instructional strategies, materials, and activities used to improve individual workplace learning and performance. Affective refers to the learners’ outlook or mindset.

Analysis is the breaking up and examining of parts of a whole. In workplace learning and performance, analysis is the process of determining the following:
Gap, which identifies the discrepancy between the desired and actual knowledge, skills, and performance, and specifies root causes.
Job, which identifies learners’ workplace duties and responsibilities, and tasks done on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.
Needs is the process of collecting and synthesizing data to identify how training can help an organization reach its goals.
Task is the process of identifying the specific steps that need to be taken to correctly perform a job function.

Andragogy (from the Greek meaning “adult learning”) is the adult learning theory popularized by Malcolm Knowles, based on five key principles that influence how adults learn: self-concept, prior experience, readiness to learn, orientation to earning, and motivation to learn.

AOEs (Areas of Expertise) are the specific technical and professional skills and knowledge mastery areas for success in the WLP profession.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) Theory is an approach to large-scale organizational change that involves the analysis of positive and successful (rather than negative or failing) operations. The AI four-D cycle (discovery, dream, design, destiny) includes identifying problems, analyzing causes, searching for solutions, and developing an action plan.

Asynchronous Learning is a form of learning in which interaction between instructors and students occurs intermittently with a time delay.

Authoring Tools are special software programs that allow a content expert to interact with the computer in everyday language to aid the development of computer-based training courseware.


Balanced Scorecard is a model for measuring effectiveness from four business perspectives—the customer perspective, the innovation and learning perspective, the internal business perspective, and the financial perspective. Behavior is one’s response to an environment or stimulation—a measurable part of learning that describes what a participant is able to do following instruction or training.

Behavioral Coaching assumes that human beings respond to stimuli, sustain behaviors that are pleasurable, and cease behaviors that produce pain. The role of the coach is to ensure the employee understands the performance that is expected, the rewards that will come from satisfactory achievement, and the penalties that will come with failure to achieve.

Benchmarking is the practice of measuring an organization, department, or process by its strengths and weaknesses against similar organizations, for the purpose of objectively defining and improving the work of trainers and HRD professionals.

Blended Learning describes the practice of using several training delivery mediums in one curriculum. It typically refers to the combination of classroom instruction and any type of training that includes self-directed use of online resources.

Bloom, Benjamin (Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning) developed the three learning outcomes based on three domains: cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (attitude); these domains are sometimes referred to as KSAs.


Career Counseling is the direct application of career-development theories and approaches. It aids individuals in setting career and life goals, preparing job-search materials, and interviewing. A career counselor can provide individual and group counseling sessions to enhance career skills and employability, as well as ongoing
counseling to help individuals reflect on current and future career objectives.

Career Development is a planned process of interaction between an organization and an employee that allows the employee to grow within the organization.

Case Study is an example of an event or situation that can be used to model new processes, practices, and behaviors. Case studies frequently are used in training to illustrate preferred learner performance, or by training managers to emulate best practices.

Coaching is a process in which a more experienced person, or coach, provides a worker or workers with constructive advice and feedback with the goal of improving performance.

Collaborative Learning is an instructional approach in which learners and instructors share the responsibility for learning, and work together to determine how the session should progress.

Community of Practice is a group of people who share a common interest in an area of competence and are willing to share the experiences of their practice.

Competency is an area of personal capability that enables one to perform. For example, competency can be knowledge, a skill, attitude, value, or other personal characteristic. Competency is necessary for the acceptable performance of a task or achievement of a goal.

Competency-Based Learning focuses on the learner, with heavy emphasis on individual learning plans. Features of competency based learning are occupational analysis of competencies required for successful performance, validation of competencies, learner awareness of criteria and conditions for adequate or excellent performance, and planning for individual instruction and evaluation for each competency.

Compliance Training describes mandatory requirements for workplace regulatory training as required by law or professional governing standards. OSHA, HIPPA, and Sarbanes-Oxley are three examples of regulations that require compliance training.

CBT (computer-based training) is an umbrella term for the use of computers in both instruction and management of the teaching and learning process.

Certification is the awarding of a credential acknowledging that an individual has demonstrated a minimum level of knowledge or competence, as defined by a professional standards organization. Professional certification can be used as a screening tool and as verification of an individual’s skills and knowledge.

Change Agent is any person or group responsible for initiating or implementing organizational change. It is also a person who understands organizational and personal change dynamics and seeks to affect a different condition in an organization.

Change Management is the process of guiding people affected by change from awareness through engagement to commitment to the change.

Cloud Computing is a model for enabling shared network access of computing resources. It is a concept still in the early stages of development, and its definition and potential effects are still evolving. It is the driver of an important shift in information technology, one that will affect everyone who uses computing and telecommunications technology.

Conflict Management Theory shapes processes designed to resolve disagreement between two or more individuals. Two strategies in line with the conflict management theory are settlement driven and relationship-focused. Both assume that the individuals involved in the conflict are the people best positioned to resolve the situation. If an agreement cannot be reached, an outside party, or mediator, may be called in to facilitate a resolution.

Corporate University is a learning organization with a governance system that aligns all learning with the corporate or agency mission, strategy, and goals. The governance system typically includes a governing board consisting of the CEO and other senior executives, as well as a chief learning officer (CLO) who has overall
responsibility for managing the organization’s investment in learning. CEOs of best-practice learning organizations leverage their corporate university to achieve performance goals, drive cultural transformation, reform and integrate training departments, and establish and sustain competitive advantage through learning.

Courseware is any type of instructional or educational course delivered via a software program or over the Internet.

CPLP™ (Certified Professional in Learning and Performance) is the acronym for the Workplace Learning and Performance credential offered by ATD' Certification Institute. (See also, Certification.)

CPM (Critical Path Method), used in project management, is a method of tracking project elements with the longest duration—or number of calendar days—to complete in order for organizations to calculate total project time. CPM was invited by the DuPont Corporation.

Criterion Reference is an objective evaluation that focuses on assessing, analyzing, and reporting what learners have achieved based on the combination of performance standards and program objectives.

Crowdsourcing is a term referring to the ability of many to accomplish what has been traditionally accomplished by a smaller, more specialized group. The attraction of crowdsourcing is the idea that it calls to action people who are best able to solve problems, channel creativity, and do smart work.


Data Collection refers to the collection of all facts, figures, statistics, and other information that are used for various types of analyses. Some examples of data-collection methods or tools are examinations of in-house and external written sources, questionnaires, interviews, and observation of trainees or jobholders.

Delivery is any method of transferring content to learners, including instructor-led training, web-based training, books, and more.

Design Matrix is a framework or skeleton for a course that enables course designers to visualize learning outcomes. The design matrix consists of four parts: duration, content or learning points, methods or activities, and materials or aids. It is used to identify and sequence content subtopics, estimate the amount of time devoted to each subtopic, consider the methods to communicate the content, and identify potential training materials and aids.

Development consists of learning activities that prepare a person for additional job responsibilities and enable him or her to gain knowledge or skills. It may also refer to the creation of training materials or courses. (See also, ADDIE.)

Distance Learning is an educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous instruction.


E-Learning (Electronic Learning) is a term covering a wide set of applications and processes such as web-based learning, computer-basedlearning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration.

Energizer is an activity designed to invigorate a group.

Enterprise-wide E-Learning is e-learning that is intended for all or most employees within a company. It is often part of a strategic change of direction with a very short time line, but is also used to support a core process such as sales.

Evaluation of training is a multi-level, systematic method for gathering information about the effectiveness and impact of training programs. Results of the measurements can be used to improve the offering, determine whether the learning objectives have been achieved, and assess the value of the training to the organization.

Experiential Learning occurs when a learner participates in an activity, reviews the activity, identifies useful knowledge or skills that were gained, and transfers the result to the workplace.


Facilitation refers to the trainer’s role in the learning process—helping learners acquire, retain, and apply knowledge and skills.

Feedback is advice or information given from one person to another about how useful or successful an event, process, or action is. Feedback is given to participants after training regarding their progress, which helps with retention and behavior.


Gagne, Robert was a pioneer in the field of instructional design. He is best known for popularizing the theory that there are nine instructional steps that help ensure learning occurs.

Goal refers to an end state or condition toward which human effort is directed.

Group Dynamics refers to the interaction ofindividuals working or learning together and includes communication, goal-setting, decision making, providing leadership, and resolving conflict.


Hard Data consists of objective quantitative measures that can be stated in terms of frequency, percentage, proportion, or time.

Hard Skills are technical skills or skills that resultin a tangible product. The term is more frequently used in the manufacturing and production environment. An example is the skill to produce widgets that conform to the exact size and weight requirements on a manufacturing line.


Icebreakers are activities conducted at the beginning of training programs that introduce participants to one another and may introduce content, to help participants ease into the program.

IDPs (Individual Development Plans) are plans for improvement in a current job or job advancement. These plans may or may not be tied to a performance appraisal system; however, a good plan usually is integrated with a performance appraisal.

ILT (Instructor-Led Training) usually refers to traditional classroom training, in which an instructor teaches a course to a room of learners.

Informal Learning refers to anything that is not easily recognizable as formal training and performance support (such as organized classes, workshops, individualized instruction, job aids, and just-in-time, on-the-job learning). It may be individualized to meet specific needs, is personal and limited in scope, and usually occurs in small chunks.

Information Mapping is a method for communicating information in a structured way. It provides an organized approach for presenting new information, ideas, and relationships between information.

Instructional Designer is an individual who applies a systematic methodology based on instructional theory to create learning content.

Instructional Systems Development (ISD) is a systems approach to analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating any instructional experience. It is based on the belief that training is most effective when it gives learners a clear expectation of what they must be able to do as a result of training and how their performance will be evaluated (sometimes also referred to as instructional systems design)

Instrument is a Human Resource Development (HRD) device such as an assessment, checklist, inventory, questionnaire, survey, or test used to gather information.

Integration involves combining hardware, software (and, in e-learning, content) components together to work as an interoperable system. The process of integration may also include front-end planning and strategy.

Intellectual Property is an idea, invention, formula, literary work, presentation, or other knowledge asset owned by an organization or individual. Intellectual property can be protected by copyrights, patents, trademarks, or service marks.


Job Aids provide guidance or assistance, either audio or visual, to the performer about when to carry out tasks and steps, thereby reducing the amount of necessary recall and minimizing error. Usually tasks that are performed with relatively low frequency, are highly complex, are likely to change in the future, or have a high probability of error are good candidates for job aids.


LCMS (Learning Content Management System) combines the most essential pieces of the learning puzzle—namely, courses and learning materials. LCMSs package content for print, CD-ROM, or electronic publication, and
most are capable of importing prepackaged content from other learning content development tools, such as Microsoft Word and Macromedia Dreamweaver.

Learning Community is a network of constituent groups or sub-communities who represent multiple functions, levels, and geographies. The community and its supporting network draw upon the diverse perspectives of members to encourage creativity, generate better decisions, and improve program and project implementation.


Kirkpatrick, Donald is considered the father of training evaluation, which he first postulated in the 1950s. He created the four levels of evaluation: reaction, behavior, results, and business impact.

Knowledge Management is the explicit and systematic management of intellectual capital and organization knowledge, as well as the associated processes of creating, gathering, organizing, disseminating, leveraging, and using intellectual capital for the purposes of improving an organization and individuals within the organization.

Knowledge Mapping is a process that connects information, education expertise, and practical application of knowledge.


Learning Style describes an individual’s approach to learning, which is shaped by the way he or she behaves, feels, and processes information.

LMS (Learning Management System) consists of software that automates the administration of training. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalog, records data from learners, and provides reports to management. An LMS typically is designed to handle courses by multiple publishers and providers.