Workplace Learning in China: Transferring Training Into Practice to Improve Performance




Transfer of Training, Performance, Workplace Learning, Self-Directed Learning, Vocational Education and Training, VET


Purpose: The present study seeks to examine the efficacy of different training modalities on increasing workplace learning, representatives' intent to transfer what they learned into their work, and importantly how training impacts actual work performance. These relationships are tested in the context of a Chinese division of a multinational pharmaceutical company, where pharmaceutical representatives are tasked with relaying relevant efficacy and safety information on pharmaceutical products to health care professionals who prescribe them to patients. 

Methods: The present study employed a three-group between-subjects experimental design. Representatives received varying forms of training (instruction only, instruction plus reflection, and instruction, reflection, plus direct feedback) based on experimental conditions. After three training sessions over the course of six weeks, representatives were assessed on how much they learned in the training and their actual work performance through observer assessment of meetings with health care professionals, facilitated by the representatives. 

Findings: In this study, it was found that the process of actively reflecting on what was learned in training led to increased learning, as well as increased performance, compared to simply studying the material. However, receiving direct feedback on training performance, combined with active reflection training, did not provide any further benefits in terms of learning or work performance. Notably, there were no differences in intent to transfer learned material to work, as all conditions reported high levels of transfer intention. 

Conclusion: The finding provides insightful evidence to support the benefits of fostering trainees' active reflections for work-based learning in the Chinese industry training scenario. In contrast, receiving direct comments on how students performed from a manager or trainer, as well as advise on how do better in the future, had no effect on increasing learning or performance. Although the effect of direct feedback is not statistically significant in this context, further research should be done in understanding individuals' thoughts and behaviors when received direct feedbacks received in workplace training. Relatively little workplace research has assessed both workplace learning and performance in the same study, specifically in the Chinese context. While training efficacy likely varies across cultures to begin with, compensation structures in China do not provide the same monetary incentives for workplace learning (i.e. chance to increase income) as Western culture. This means that any way to increase workplace learning should be of extra value, as employees otherwise may not engage in it at all. 


Final Publication Date


How to Cite

Wang, X., Lin, W., Xue, T., Green, A., Gu, L., He, Y., Huang, X., Jin, Z., & Wu, Y. (2022). Workplace Learning in China: Transferring Training Into Practice to Improve Performance. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 9(3), 294–315.