The purpose of this study is to address the void in the informal learning literature by developing and validating an instrument to measure employees' perceptions of informal learning work contexts. Under the assumption that qualitative research findings have provided the literature with sufficient insights into informal learning work contexts, it was time to generalize the findings across a larger population. Thus, the following four components of informal learning work contexts identified in the literature were empirically examined: (a) perceptions of management support; (b) perceptions of peer support; (c) perceptions of a supportive organizational culture; and (c) perceptions of access to work resources. There were four phases in the development and validation of the informal learning work context instrument. In the first phase, the initial item pool was created. In the second phase, content validity analysis resulted in the newly developed survey, which was administered to 2,500 working professionals online. A total of 477 participants completed the survey (a response rate of approximately19%). In the third phase, a combination of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) revealed a good model-fit for six final constructs: management support, peer support, a supportive organizational culture, access to work resources, impact of informal learning on performance, and impact of informal learning on engagement. In the fourth phase, correlation and multiple regression analyses revealed perceptions of peer support as the only construct of informal learning work contexts that was positively related to the impact of informal learning on performance. Management support, peer support, and a supportive organizational culture were positively related to impact of informal learning on engagement.
The findings of this study confirm the value of continuing exploration - using both quantitative and qualitative research methods - on informal learning work contexts. Knowledge about how informal learning can be promoted and leveraged in work settings will enable HRD practitioners to help organizations achieve the status of learning organizations. In turn, the HRD field will gain recognition and will be acknowledged as a significant force in business settings.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. August 2013. Major: Work and Human Resource Education. Advisor: Dr. Kenneth R. Bartlett. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 155 pages, appendices A-D.
Maringka, Jane F..
Development and validation of an instrument to assess employees' perceptions of informal learning work context.
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