My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Brenda Sugrue

We begin the First Friday of this month, November 2015, with another of my Favorite Gurus, Brenda Sugrue.

G Sugrue

I first met Brenda via ISPI – the International Society for Performance Improvement – and got to know her when we served on the ISPI Board in 2000-2001.

She is all about The Research – or what’s known as Evidence-based Practice.

About Brenda Sugrue

From Learning Solutions Magazine:

Brenda Sugrue, PhD., is Vice President, Learning Innovation and Research, for Kaplan, Inc. She is responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based instructional design and delivery across Kaplan’s portfolio of educational products. This includes training and performance support for product developers; design of adaptive delivery platforms; quality control processes; and research on the effectiveness of learning innovations. In previous roles, Brenda led global learning programs at IBM and ITT Corporation, and was Director of Research for the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). She was also a professor of instructional design and technology at the University of Iowa.

From Training:

Sugrue, who grew up in Ireland, came to the United States in 1986 after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship. She chose to study at Iowa State University because at the time it was on the leading edge in the development of computer-based training, particularly simulations. From there she went to ucla to work at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing. She also taught at the University of Southern California and the University of Northern Colorado before returning to Iowa, this time to the University of Iowa.

One of Sugrue’s strengths is her ability to integrate ideas from numerous fields and create new theories and applications. “I taught my students the ‘party line’ of instructional design, as I call it, but I also taught them other ways of looking at learning and instruction based on cognitive psychology, research on intelligent tutoring systems, and the larger framework of human performance technology, so my students were always applying innovative approaches to performance analysis, instructional design, cbt and wbt. Several of her past students now work for eLearnia.

Articles by Brenda

My Lessons Learned From Brenda

To do this, I will merely lift this passage from the Problems With Bloom’s Taxonomy article … related to Objectives …

The Pure Performance Alternative

A more radical approach would be to have no taxonomy at all, to simply assume that all objectives are at the use level (i.e., “performance” objectives) and that learners will practice or be assessed on the particular performance in representative task situations.

If there are “enabling” sub-objectives, those too can be treated as performance objectives without further classification.

If, for example, a loan officer needs to be able to distinguish among types of mortgages and describe the pros and cons of each type of mortgage as an enabling skill for matching house buyers with mortgages, then we design/provide opportunities to practice categorizing mortgages and listing their pros and cons before practice on matching buyers to mortgages. If a car salesperson needs to be able to describe the features of different car models as an enabling skill for selling cars, then we design/provide opportunities to practice describing the features of different cars before practice on selling cars.

This “let’s get it right to the terminal Performance” is what I appreciated about this article – and the presentation she did at ISPI. I’ve been in way too many meeting where a swirl develops around Objectives, and (bogus) Learning Styles, and how to make the content generic, fitting everyone and then serving no one as a learning device – when the focus should have been on: “what do we want them to do with this new knowledge?” – the focus is on Performance Competence – back on the job.

And this, from her article Five Instructional Design Principles Worth Revisiting:

When approaching any of these design challenges it is sometimes easy to lose
sight of fundamental principles that apply to all learning and all external
conditions that support learning and performance.

This article revisits some of
those principles:

• Learning is not performance
• The medium is not the method
• Match external and internal conditions
• Authentic practice makes perfect
• One size does not fit all

By keeping these principles in mind, regardless of the context or final product,
designers can be more confident that their designs are based on sound theory
and research, and will maximize learning and performance.

Yes, yes, yes.

Brenda on Social Media


Share Your Stories

If the work of Brenda Sugrue has been a valuable influence and/or resource for you – please share your stories about that in the comments section below.

Or simply share a URL there that is relevant.

And – thank you – for sharing!

The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series

We each have many influencers, mentors, both active and passive, knowingly and unknowingly in their respective roles in our development.

This series is my attempt to acknowledge all of them… one by one… in no particular order… as I attempt to consciously reflect on what I have learned and whom I have learned it from, regarding all things “Performance Improvement” – my first focus.

I have a long list. See below.

Lucky me.

Next month: Eliyahu M. Goldratt.

Links to All of the Past Posts in the MFFF Guru Series

Here is a page with links to all of the Past Posts from this My First Friday Favorite Guru Series, as listed below – find that – here.

  • Eliyahu M. Goldratt – December 2015
  • Brenda Sugrue – November 2015
  • Karen Brethower – October 2015
  • Jim Pershing – September 2015
  • Timm Esque – August 2015
  • Ryan Watkins – July 2015
  • Ken Silber – June 2015
  • Roger Chevalier – May 2015
  • Darryl Sink – April 2015
  • Jeanne Farrington – March 2015
  • Don Clark – February 2015
  • Frank T. Wydra – January 2015
  • Philip B. Crosby – December 2014
  • Donald L. Dewar – November 2014
  • Joseph M. Juran – October 2014
  • W. Edwards Deming – September 2014
  • Bonnie B. Small – August 2014
  • Walter A. Shewhart – July 2014
  • Carl Binder – June 2014
  • Ruth Clark – May 2014
  • Rob Foshay – April 2014
  • John Carlisle – March 2014
  • Miki Lane – February 2014
  • Harold Stolovitch – January 2014
  • Bill Wiggenhorn – December 2013
  • Will Thalheimer – November 2013
  • Roger Kaufman – October 2013
  • Roger Addison – September 2013
  • Ray Svenson – August 2013
  • Dick (Richard E.) Clark – July 2013
  • Allison Rossett – June 2013
  • Carol Panza – May 2013
  • Jane Bozarth – April 2013
  • Judy Hale – March 2013
  • Margo Murray – February 2013
  • Neil Rackham – January 2013
  • Robert (Bob) F. Mager – December 2012
  • Joe H. Harless – November 2012
  • Thomas F. Gilbert – October 2012
  • Sivasailam Thiagarajan (Thiagi) – September 2012
  • Geary A. Rummler – August 2012
  • Dale Brethower – July 2012

Here is a page with links to all of the above Past Posts in My First Friday Favorite Guru Series – here.

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4 comments on “My 1st Friday Favorite Guru: Brenda Sugrue

  1. Pingback: T&D: Reflections on 40 Years in the Biz | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: L&D/PI: Thankful for My Many Mentors | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  3. Pingback: Review: The My First Friday Favorite Guru Series | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

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