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Stage 2: design training

Stage 2 of the training cycle involves the design of the training programme itself.

To prepare and deliver a successful training programme, knowledge of how individuals learn is needed. This can be provided by some general laws of learning, also known as principles of learning, giving insight into how people learn and what makes them learn most effectively.

Three laws of learning

Thorndike (1932) outlined three basic laws for learning: readiness, exercise and effect.


Individuals must be physically, emotionally and mentally ready to learn. They need to understand the purpose of the training and be able to take ownership of their need to learn the specific KSAs targeted by the training.

For example, training focused on developing assertiveness could enhance trainees’ communication and presentation skills for long-term benefits in their personal and professional development


This refers to practising new skills. It was argued by Thorndike that if individuals repeat and practise a particular skill, they are more likely to retain that skill. Therefore, practice opportunities should be built into the design of a training programme.


‘Effect’ means the emotional reaction to the training or how satisfied individuals felt with their training experience. If a trainee feels very satisfied, this represents positive reinforcement of the behaviours they learned and practised during training. Due to this positive reinforcement, they are then more likely to repeat the new skills or procedures they have learned within the context of their job.


Thorndike, E. L. (1932) The Fundamentals of Learning. New York: Teachers College Press

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This article is from the free online course:

Training and Development at Work: An Introduction

Coventry University