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Research Questions

  1. What individual and team outcomes is the Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program (AWALP) producing?
  2. What facilitators and challenges exist for implementing the program principles on the job?
  3. What instruments, tools, and protocols can be used to measure adaptive performance and to foster ongoing program assessment and improvement?

The Asymmetric Warfare Group offers the Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program (AWALP) — a 10-day course designed to enhance adaptive performance in leaders and promote innovative solutions in training in support of unified land operations. This report describes results of a systematic evaluation of AWALP, offers recommendations to improve the course, and provides recommendations for ongoing evaluation of AWALP and other courses or events that address adaptive performance and acquisition of other intangible skills. The study used a pretest-posttest design and collected data from 104 students who participated in AWALP. Results show substantial improvement in training outcomes, including students' self-efficacy for being adaptive and leading adaptive teams and knowledge of course concepts. Graduates also reported that they were applying course concepts on the job after returning to their units. In addition, students had exceptionally favorable reactions to AWALP and remained extremely positive about the course three months after graduation. Results indicate few needs for improvement in the course; the most important area to address is challenges in applying concepts on the job because of the command climate and entrenched leadership. Recommendations for ongoing evaluation focus on obtaining additional measures of adaptive performance, particularly to establish the impact of AWALP on subsequent job performance. The current success of AWALP suggests that its approach to training might be usefully expanded in the Army, and the authors discuss strategies to achieve broader dissemination. Finally, the authors describe how the methods used in this study might be applied to evaluating related training in other contexts.

Key Findings

Students Felt They Benefited from the Program

  • Students were extremely satisfied with the course structure, content, and delivery of the Asymmetric Warfare Adaptive Leader Program (AWALP).
  • Students not only sensed a change in their own capabilities and interests about adaptive performance but appeared to see their work contexts in a different light.
  • Results show substantial improvement in attitudes about adaptive performance even after accounting for students' characteristics that are associated with adaptiveness.

AWALP Was Successful at Fostering Knowledge Gain for a Wide Range of Students

  • Students demonstrated increased knowledge of adaptive performance concepts.
  • Students showed improved knowledge regardless of other characteristics associated with test performance, including general cognitive ability and level of education.

Team Adaptiveness Was Favorable Overall, but There Were Discrepancies Between Guides' and Students' Ratings

  • In general, both students and guides (instructors) gave favorable ratings of team adaptive performance.
  • However, students consistently gave higher ratings of team performance than guides did and appeared to become more confident about the level of adaptiveness in their teams as the course progressed.

Graduates Reported Applying What They Learned After Returning to Their Units

  • Graduates reported substantial application of AWALP principles on the job, especially in the areas of coaching, training, delegating to subordinates, and seeking subordinate input.
  • Graduates reported more successful dissemination of AWALP principles to subordinates than to peers and commanders.
  • Graduates remained positive about AWALP training but found command climate and entrenched leadership the biggest obstacles to applying adaptive performance principles.

Recommendations

  • Put more emphasis on anticipating and responding to potential challenges to implementing program principles on the job.
  • Enhance the curriculum by reinforcing important team-level concepts (e.g., mutual monitoring and backup behavior) and by providing instruction about the relationships among inputs to the team, throughputs, and team outcomes.
  • Conduct systematic behavioral observations during the course to further evaluate individual and team adaptive performance.
  • Assess transfer of training by measuring the association of performance in AWALP with subsequent job performance.

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by TRADOC and was conducted within the RAND Arroyo Center's Manpower and Training Program. RAND Arroyo Center, part of the RAND Corporation, is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the United States Army.

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