The role of learning agility in workplace performance and career advancement.

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The role of learning agility in workplace performance and career advancement.

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The present study sought to examine Learning Agility as a construct. This construct stems from a growing body of literature in the area of adult learning, career development, and industrial and organizational psychology. Learning Agility refers to an individual's ability to learn from experience in the workplace and to figure out which skills and abilities are necessary to be successful (Eichinger & Lombardo, 2000; London & Maurer, 2004, McCauley, 2001; Van Velsor, Moxley, & Bunker, 2004). This study considered the impact Learning Agility has in job performance and potential for career advancement, and examined personality traits and cognitive abilities of those who are adept at learning from experience. A Learning Agility scale was developed based on the extant literature. The scale was embedded in a larger questionnaire that managers used to evaluate the workplace behaviors and job performance of 294 participants in the study. Personality and cognitive ability data were collected for each participant as part of an employment selection or development process conducted at an industrial and organizational psychology consulting firm in a major midwestern city. Personality traits were measured by the California Psychological Inventory (CPI; Gough, 1996) and the Hogan Development Survey (HDS; Hogan & Hogan, 1997). Cognitive abilities were measured by two forms of the Employee Aptitude Survey (EAS; Ruch, Stang, McKillip, & Dye, 1994), and the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA; Watson & Glaser, 2008). Learning Agility scores were calculated and correlated with managers' assessments of their subordinates' current performance on the job and their potential for advancement. Then relationships between Learning Agility scores and personality trait and cognitive ability data were examined. Results of the study indicate that Learning Agility is highly correlated with job performance and potential for advancement. However, multiple regression analyses indicated that Learning Agility was significantly predictive only of potential for advancement and not of current job performance. Further analyses to identify cognitive abilities and personality traits correlated with Learning Agility yielded no significant results, suggesting that Learning Agility may be a construct distinct from personality and cognitive ability.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2011. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Thomas M. Skovholt, Ph.D., 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 116 pages, appendices A-D.

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Bedford, Christopher Lee. (2011). The role of learning agility in workplace performance and career advancement.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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