A completed START has scores for eight separate scales (seven items per scale), each of which relates to an important aspect of readiness to profit from training experiences. START provides diagnostic information about participants’ learning strengths and weaknesses that every training program developer or trainer needs. This information is necessary to plan both the content and presentation of any instruction. Descriptive statistics and psychometric properties of each of the scales can be found in the START Trainer’s Guide.
The Strategic Assessment of Readiness for Training (START) is a powerful assessment tool designed to diagnose adults’ learning strengths and weaknesses and to provide prescriptive information and guidelines for both trainers and learners. Each individual scale relates to an important aspect of an adult’s readiness to profit from training and other learning experiences. The focus is on both covert and overt thinking, beliefs, and behaviors that relate to successful learning and that can be altered through educational interventions. START has excellent psychometric properties and is based on a model of strategic learning which represents the latest thinking of specialists in the areas of adult learning, cognition, and performance. More than 60 specialists nationwide participated in the development of START. These specialists included educational and cognitive psychologists, experts in adult development and education, experts and practitioners in human resource development, and professional trainers.
START is designed to:
- Provide a diagnostic assessment of adults’ strategic learning strengths and weaknesses in a work setting;
- Provide baseline data about adults’ readiness to profit from training or other learning experiences early in a training needs assessment process;
- Increase individuals’ awareness of their strategic learning strengths and weaknesses;
- Provide individuals taking the measure with valuable feedback about each scale, what it measures, their individual scores, and suggestions for ways they can improve their strategic learning knowledge, attitudes, and skills;
- Help trainers understand the individual and group learning strengths and weaknesses of participants;
- Provide concrete suggestions to trainers for ways to design, modify, or enhance instruction to adapt it to the strategic learning strengths and weaknesses of the participants;
- Help trainers design, develop, and implement effective and efficient training for a targeted population;
- Increase the application of ideas, knowledge, attitudes, and skills presented during training into the work setting.
START was developed at the University of Texas at Austin by Claire E. Weinstein, Ph.D. and David R. Palmer, Ph.D.
Along with attitude and motivation, this scale may give some indication of the overall level of participation in training activities that can be expected of an individual. Someone with a low score may be reluctant to speak up, take risks, and be an active participant. They may also be hesitant to share and contribute to group activities and be overly concerned about demonstrating their skills in front of others. They may have trouble concentrating on the material and keeping their attention focused on training activities. They may doubt their abilities to learn, remember, or use the new things they are learning.
Along with Anxiety and Motivation, this scale may give some indication of the overall level of commitment and participation in training activities that can be expected of an individual. Someone with a low score may be resentful about having to participate in the training program and may not want to be an active participant. They may be resistant or closed minded to the content you are trying to present rather than seeing training as a resource to help them develop new skills or to advance within the organization. They may have trouble concentrating on the material and keeping their attention focused on training activities. Since they may not see any value of the training for them, they may have negative feelings about being there and can be disruptive to other participants who have more positive attitudes about the training
Along with the Anxiety and Attitude Scales, this scale may give some indication of the overall level of commitment and participation in training activities that can be expected of participants. Someone with a low score may not realize that there could be negative outcomes (e.g., poor performance assessment, lower salary, and missed promotions) associated with poor performance or negative behaviors exhibited during the training program. They may be closed to trying new techniques or approaches, or applying them to their work setting. They may have difficulty maintaining interest and persisting in training tasks, particularly if they encounter problems or the work becomes difficult. They may experience difficulty taking any responsibility for their performance or learning outcomes.
The scores on this scale may give some indication of participants’ attentiveness and ability to focus on training programs. Someone with a low score may have difficulty keeping their attention focused on training activities, particularly when they are complex or time consuming. They may be easily distracted by daydreams, thoughts about work or home responsibilities, or personal problems. It can be very difficult for low scorers on the Concentration Scale to keep up with the material and flow of the training program. Often, individuals who have short attention spans in a training setting feel embarrassed, guilty, or defensive about the holes in their learning or the problems they have transferring what was presented to the work setting. Concentration problems can also result from material that is either too easy or too difficult, uninteresting, or perceived to be irrelevant.
Identifying Important Information
Scores on this scale give some indication of the ability of the participants to identify the key ideas in the instruction. Someone with low scores on this scale may have a hard time picking out the important ideas from the supporting ideas and didactic information which do not have to be remembered. It may be hard for them to learn and integrate the new information and skills, particularly in a way that will help them remember and use their new learning in the job setting. They may also experience frustration at the amount of effort they must expend to try to learn all of the material. In training sessions where START profiles indicate a number of participants with low scores on the Identifying Important Information Scale, training might incorporate one or more of the following suggestions.
Knowledge Acquisition Strategies
Scores on this scale give some indication of the ability of the participants to build meaning for key ideas in the instruction. Someone with low scores on this scale may have a hard time learning and remembering the information and skills they will need for the job setting. It will be difficult for them to relate their existing knowledge and past experiences to the new material. They may not know how to think about and analyze new information to make it more memorable and available for later use. Sometimes these individuals will experience frustration with their learning problems or have a difficult time keeping their attention directed toward the training activities. In training sessions where START profiles indicate a number of participants with low scores on the Knowledge Acquisition Scale, training might incorporate one or more of the following suggestions.
Scores on this scale give some indication of the ability of participants to monitor their understanding of new material on a routine basis during training. Someone with low scores on this scale may have a hard time learning and remembering the information and skills they will need for the job setting. They may have gaps or holes in their understanding and have difficulty integrating and organizing their knowledge for future use. They may suffer from what is often called the "illusion of knowing" thinking we know something when we really do not. Sometimes these individuals will experience surprise and frustration during a final performance evaluation or when they go into the job setting and discover that their knowledge is not as complete as they thought it was.
Scores on this scale give some indication of the ability of individuals to manage their time so that they can attend and participate fully in training. Participants with low scores on this scale may have a hard time making training a priority for them. They may be derailed by problems with procrastination or over commitment. They may also be unclear as to why they are participating in the training and how it can help them in their job setting. These problems could lead to incomplete learning and difficulties transferring this new knowledge to the job setting. It could also lead to negative feelings about training or increased anxiety over performance outcomes.