Human Performance Technology

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Human Performance Technology

Course Outline

3 credits

Prerequisites: EDCI 591E, 572, or equivalent from another program

Scott Schaffer, Ph D.
BRNG 3128
Phone: 496-3358 (O), 471-7813 (H)

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the field of human performance technology (HPT).  It examines basic concepts and principles of human performance, the theoretical underpinnings of the field, research and application literature, and various approaches to solving human performance problems.  A systematic approach to the analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of performance improvement interventions within organizations is emphasized.

Course Goals

This course provides students with the foundational and working knowledge necessary to initiate steps toward becoming a professional in the field of performance technology. Students explore various topics of the field, including having a hands-on experience with a real project.
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the major theoretical underpinnings of the field of HPT

  • Describe the relationship between the systematic development of instruction, learning theories and HPT

  • Discuss the relationship between theory and practice relative to performance improvement solutions

  • Identify the major phases of a framework for HPT

  • Describe tools and techniques related to each of the major HPT phases

  • Synthesize elements of major HPT concepts by applying them to case studies and real projects

Course Philosophy

This course is designed to provide a reasonable amount of structure so as to allow us to complete the material in one semester. Since this is an introductory course, it is important to introduce a wide range of topics. Nonetheless, it is often possible to adjust the course to meet individual needs. In order to do so, please communicate your needs. I will do my best to minimize the changes that need to be made, while maximizing the instructional benefits.


— Clark., R. & Estes, F.  (2002). Turning research into results A guide to selecting the right performance solutions.  Washington, DC: ISPI Press.  ISBN: 1879618281.

Robinson, D. & Robinson, J. (1995) Performance Consulting. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.

Supplemental Readings

Esque, T. ( 2001). Making an Impact. Washington, DC: ISPI Press.

Attendance & Communication

The design of this course emphasizes class discussions and small group activities. Consistent attendance is crucial to student success. It will be virtually impossible to complete various projects satisfactorily without cumulatively developing the knowledge base discussed during class meetings. Missed classes cannot be made up and will lead to a loss of participation points. Still, class attendance is a choice. Should you choose to come to class, I will do my best to help you learn. Should situations arise which prevent class attendance, you must do what is best for you.


Grades will be based upon in-class participation, learning activities, and assignments. The point values associated with each activity/assignment are delineated in the section on assignments. See the course schedule for activities and due dates.

Grades will be assigned on the basis of accumulated points as follows:

90-100%= A (270-300 points)
80 - 89%= B (240-269 points)
70 - 79%= C (210-239 points)
60 - 69%= D (180-209 points)

Written and oral communications are important aspects of this course. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively to a variety of people—clients, managers, design team members—is critical to success as a professional. Your assignments will be evaluated from this perspective. Proofread written assignments carefully. Assignments containing errors in spelling, punctuation, syntax, and so on, will receive a 10% score reduction.

Another key element to be considered is the importance of deadlines. In most work settings the ability to make deadlines is critical to the success of a project and your gainful employment. All late assignments will be reduced by 20%.


Questions and problems are likely to come up during the course. When they do, talk to the instructor as soon as possible. Problems are generally easier to deal with when they are small. For example, talk with the instructor when you are uncertain about how to get started on an assignment. Contact the instructor in person, by telephone, or by e-mail.

If you have any concerns with the planned assignments, please let the instructor know. The instructor may be able to suggest alternative ways to meet the course requirements.

Incomplete Grades

An incomplete grade will be granted only in unusual circumstances. You must submit a written request for an incomplete grade, describing the circumstances, and have it approved by the instructor. Requests must be made prior to 12-07-03.

Special Needs

If you have a disability that requires academic adjustments, please make an appointment with the instructors to discuss your needs as soon as possible. Students with disabilities must be registered with Adaptive Programs in the Office of the Dean of Students (SCHL 207, phone: 494-1747) before classroom accommodations can be provided.

Academic Integrity

All students, especially those in education, should aspire to high standards of academic honesty. This class encourages cooperation and the exchange of ideas. However, students are expected to do original work, to do their own work except for group projects, and to properly reference sources when using information from others. Any single instance of academic dishonesty will result in failure of the assignment in question. More than one instance will result in failure of the course.

591B Course Assignments & Grading

Course/Group Professionalism and Participation

(30 Points)

Ongoing throughout semester

A part of the final grade will be based on professional characteristics including:

  • Self Motivation

  • Ambition

  • Participation

  • Attitude

  • Accountability

Definition of the field

(10 Points)

Week 2

What is Human Performance Technology or HPT? To answer this question, you will 1) write a personal definition of the field and 2) explain your understanding of HPT by describing, in layman’s terms, what you believe a good practitioner of HPT does (i.e., what will your job be like?) Remember to use simple language that people outside the field will understand. Post definition to WebCT.

System Model

(20 Points)

Week 4

Create a visual model of a system you are familiar with. Include at least 3 subsystems and fully describe how the target subsystem is interdependent with other systems. This should be 2 or 3 pages.

Article Review

(20 Points)

Week 5

Review 2 articles from PIQ or Performance Improvement that specify a performance intervention. For each articles in this 2-3 page summary: 1) Identify the theoretical framework (systems, communications, psychology) 2) Identify the emphasis area using Foshay, framework, 3) Briefly discuss the research support for the intervention, i.e., what does Clark say about the type of intervention discussed in the article? Post review to WebCT.

Performance Models

(20 Points)

Week 6

Briefly review Clark & Estes and Robinson and Robinson’s HPT process models (5 points each). Then compare and contrast them to each other and to the ISPI HPT model (10 points).

Performance Analysis Report

(60 pts.)

Week 7

You will write a 3 page performance analysis report, based on a problem (or opportunity) from your personal or work life that you analyze using performance analysis techniques. You will 1) define the scope of the problem and target performer, 2) analyze causes and types of solutions that will address causes, and 3) articulate a solution system that will address the problem. A rubric is provided with grading criteria and a more complete description of the project.

Mid-Term Exam

(30 Points)

Week 8

The mid-term exam will test your comprehension of the content from class discussions and assigned readings.

Personal Reflection

(10 Points)

Week 13

  • Revisit your earlier definition of the field (attach first assignment as a point of reference)

  • Describe how your ideas/definitions about the field have changed (use the prompt: I used to think , but now I think .)

  • What key ideas have you learned about the field that you didn’t know before?

  • How will these new ideas impact your career path?

Final—Project Report and Group Presentation

(100 Points)

Finals Week

A final team project will also be completed that is intended to promote synthesis of course concepts. This project will focus on preliminary analysis of an organizational performance problem or opportunity.

Report (40 Points)

Submit the report prepared for your client. The report should have a special section with rationale for each performance solution identified within the report. Each team member should complete one of these rationales. See the rubric for more information on grading of this project.

Group Presentation (60 Points)

A 20-30-minute group presentation (5 minutes allowed per group member) about the topic should be created with all group members participating equally in the design, development, and presentation.

Grammar and Expression: The ability to present analysis findings and to effectively and efficiently relate information and instruction of various types to diverse audiences are critical competencies for success in the field of Educational Technology and the world of instructional design. Please ensure that the work you submit has been proofread for grammar, spelling, and clarity. The grade you are assigned will significantly reflect these critical competencies of instructional design.

Organization and Submission of Assignments: Instructional design practice often requires practitioners to streamline, condense, and selectively present their findings and instructional content. Knowing which “corners to cut” and how to organize information in logical and efficient ways are abilities instructional designers must possess. Please note each assignment’s page limit, then select and present the most appropriate findings. Use of headings, tables, and bulleted lists should guide your reader and increase your report’s impact; writing a “term paper” will likely accomplish the opposite.

EDCI 591B   Course Schedule – Fall 2003




1 - Aug 27

Introduction to the course

2 - Sept 3

History and theories of HPT

  • Pioneers / Influences

  • Roots: Systems, Communications, Psychology

  • Definitions

Foundations of HPT – Gayeski (on reserve)

Intro. & Ch 1 – R&R

* Personal Reflection

3 - Sept 10

Research and HPT:

  • Knowledge

  • Motivation

  • Organizational Environment

Ch 1 C&E

Research in HPT – Foshay, et. al. (on reserve)

4 - Sept 17

HPT Frameworks and Process Models

  • Organization

  • Process

  • People

Start Planning Individual and Final Projects

Wile (on reserve)

*Visual model of system

5 - Sept 24

Managing and Leading Change

  • Dealing with resistance

Defining the problem or opportunity

Ch. 2 RR

Skim RR 3-6

Skim Ch 2 CE
Rossett www site
* Article Review

6 - Oct 1

Gap Analysis

  • Collecting data

  • Exercise: Analyzing gaps

Ch 3 CE
Ch 7 RR

* Performance Models

7 - Oct 8

Cause Analysis / Solution Selection

  • Collecting data

  • Knowledge, Motivation, Organizational Environment

Ch 8 RR

Ch 4-6 CE

* Performance Analysis Report

8 - Oct 15

Solution Selection
Case Study: Matching Causes to Solutions

Ch 9 CE

9 – Oct 22

NO Class – AECT conference

10 – Oct 29

Evaluation of Performance Systems

Case study: Evaluation of impact

Ch 7 CE

11 – Nov 5

Putting it all together: Project Updates

12 – Nov 12

Open consulting session

13 – Nov 19

Open consulting session


14 – Nov 26

No Class – Thanksgiving Break

15 – Dec 3

Independent work on final project

16 – Dec 10

Course wrap-up; Resources and looking to the future
Final project sharing during scheduled final exam period

Final Group Presentations and Report

Reading List/Bibliography

Clark., R. & Estes, F.  (2002). Turning research into results A guide to selecting the right performance solutions.  Washington, DC: ISPI Press. 

Dean, P. (1995). Examining the practice of human performance technology, Performance Improvement Quarterly, 8 (2), 68-94.

Dickelman, G.J. (2000). EDIT 797: Performance-based design [Online],

Ellsworth, James B. (2000). A survey of educational change models. ERIC Digest: Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, Sept. 2000. EDO-IR-2000-07.

Esque, T. ( 2001). Making an Impact. Washington, DC: ISPI Press.

Gayeski, D. (1999). Frontiers in human performance technology in contemporary organizations. In H.D. Stolovich & E.J. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook of human performance technology (pp.936-949). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Gery, G. (1991). Electronic performance support systems: How and why to remake the workplace through the strategic application of technology. Boston: Weingarten Publications.

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1994). Evaluating training programs: The 4 levels. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler.

Raybould, B. (2001). Performance support engineering: building performance-centered web-based systems, information a systems, and knowledge management systems in the 21st century. Performance Improvement, 39(6).

Robinson, D. & Robinson, J. (1995). Performance Consulting: Moving beyond training. Berrett-Kohler.

Rogers, E. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Schaffer, S.P. & Keller, J. (2003). Measuring the impact of performance interventions. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 16(1), 73-92.

Schaffer, S.P. (1999). A review of organizational and human performance frameworks. Performance Improvement Quarterly,13(3) pp 220 243.

Senge, P.M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday-Currency.

Stolovich, H.D. & Keeps, E.J. (1999). Handbook of human performance technology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
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