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Running head: ADMISSIONS REPRESENTATIVE TRAINING CHANGE PROPOSAL

Admissions Representative Training Change Proposal:


LDRS 802 Applied Final Project
Amy Gade
Fort Hays State University

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for


LDRS802: Organizational Systems, Change, and Leadership
Dr. Michael DeGrosky

Abstract

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Adequate training of staff is an essential aspect of creating an effective organization. Because of


the fast-paced nature and travel component of many positions within higher education
Admissions, training of new Admissions Representatives poses many challenges. The author
identified areas of weakness in the training of Admissions Representatives at Wayne State
College. Drawing on extant literature on the topics of training theory, preferred training delivery
methods, leadership and team development in training, and systems thinking, the author of this
research attempts to identify training best practices. In interviewing a sample of current
Admissions professionals regarding training processes at their respective institutions, the author
identified several effective, ineffective, and nonexistent training processes. By including aspects
of existing literature and responds by the sample participants, the author created a change
proposal for the training of Admissions Representatives at Wayne State College.

Introduction

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Adequate training of staff is an essential aspect of creating an effective organization.


Effective training leads to effective employees and effective employees lead to a more effective
organization. Ensuring training is effective for new staff members requires consideration of
several things such as existing training theory, or learning approach theories and preferred
training delivery methods. Also important to consider when developing an effective training
program are important aspects of the position in which the training applies, which could in turn
affect position effectiveness.
Because of the fast-paced nature and travel component of many positions within higher
education Admissions, training of new Admissions Representatives poses many challenges. It is
often essential these new Admissions Representatives receive training quickly, so they become
effective in their role and for the team as soon as possible. Leadership and team development are
important aspects of an Admissions Representatives role often not included in initial formal
training. The author of this research identified several weakness in the training of Admissions
Representatives at Wayne State College. In reviewing themes from existing literature on the
topics of training theory, preferred training delivery methods, leadership and team development
in training, and systems thinking, the author of this research identified some training best
practices. By interviewing a sample of current Admissions professionals regarding training
processes at their respective institutions, the author identified several effective, ineffective, and
nonexistent training processes. In culmination, the researcher reflects upon the extant literature
and perspectives of current Admissions professionals to propose changes to improve training of
Admissions Representatives at Wayne State College.
Background of Organization

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Wayne State College is a 4-year public institution of higher learning. Located in Wayne,
Nebraska, Wayne State College enrolls approximately 3,600 students annually and offers both
undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The mission of Wayne State College is three-fold
with a focus on: Learning Excellence, Student Success, and Regional Service. A 5 member
executive administration team, which includes the President, Vice President of Administration
and Finance, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vice President and Dean of Students, and Vice
President of Development, operates as senior leadership for the College.
The Office of Admissions at Wayne State College is responsible for the recruitment and
admission of undergraduate and graduate students. The Office employs 11 full time staff,
including the Director of Admissions, two Coordinator of Admissions Services, two Office
assistants, and six Admissions Representatives, as well as one part time Office Assistant. The
Office also staffs several student workers, including a 32-member campus tour guide team, 8member telecounselor team, and several work-study students. The Director of Admissions acts as
the direct supervisor of all staff members within the Office. The Director of Admissions reports
directly to the College President.
Overview of Problem
Training of new staff, specifically Admissions Representatives responsible for the
recruitment of new students, is always challenging. Because the nature of the recruitment and
admissions cycle is extremely fast-paced and often involves extensive travel for staff members,
there seems to be limited time to train new staff members before they need to fully take on their
role. Typically, training focuses primarily on learning information about the institution necessary
to present to prospective students a high school visits, college fairs, and campus visits. While this
seems to be adequate for new staff to begin their duties, it seems to be lacking in some areas

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related to other aspects of the job. Traditionally, there was very little in the sense of leadership
and team development included in training of new staff. Because many of the recruitment staff
hires are often also fairly new to the working world in general, adding general professional skill
development training poses benefit.
In the past, training was primarily top-down, with the Director responsible for much of it.
Because the Director has many other things to focus on and accomplish at the same time new
staff are joining the team, much of their training consisted of meetings, shadowing, reading from
a manual, asking other staff questions, and figuring out things on their own. This led to many
frustrations amongst both current staff members, who feel the new member/s are not able to be
active in the team dynamic until far too late, and the new staff members, who feel there were
many important things held from them at the time of training. Because the Office of Admissions
will be having two new Admissions Representatives join the staff in the coming months, it is
crucial that training become more all-encompassing.
Feasibility
It is likely an adequate solution for the training obstacles is identifiable because training
is a common element of all organizations. Any research found regarding training theories,
leadership development, and/or team development will add new elements to the training. When
combined with the current training pieces for the actual position, a dramatically improved
training process will become available for the newest team members and for use with future
additions to the team. Preparation for training of new team members in the past happened within
the course of a week or two, so by having research on various training elements completed and
available for use, the remaining preparation time is available to update timely and personal
information for new staff. Likewise, all preparations in the past happened internally with what

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knowledge was available, so looking to outside research provides additional rich opportunities to
enhance current practices.
Leadership Audience
Because the Director of Admissions is the direct supervisor responsible for all members
of the Office of Admissions, he is in charge of their training and development. He would hold the
power necessary to implement the suggested training recommendations. On the surface, the
Director of Admissions is responsible for deciding to implement the training solutions proposed.
Should he find benefit, he may also choose to include other veteran members of the Admissions
staff to assist in the implementation of these solutions and the training of new members.
The remaining audience includes all other members of the Admissions staff whose
primary objective is likely thorough training of their newest team members. The author expects
that their priority is to assist new team members in learning the information and skills necessary
to become effective members of the team as quickly as possible. Because current staff
experienced various degrees of the training methods currently in place, it is likely they
acknowledge weaknesses in the current training and would support any improvements made to
future staff training and development.
Topics Investigated
Questions answered in this report include:
1. What training theories exist?
2. What do training theories suggest in regards to training delivery methods?
3. How can leadership development and team development be included in training?
4. How is systems thinking related to the preparation of Admissions Representatives?

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The researcher selected the above mentioned topics specifically because either they are
lacking entirely or are areas for improvement in current training materials and procedures used.
The researcher believes further developing these areas will significantly improve the
effectiveness of the training provided to new Admissions team members. Improved training
effectiveness is an essential aspect of training as it could lead to increased productivity, better
understanding of the actual position and its responsibilities, as well as more general employee
development. Likewise, improved training effectiveness may lead to smoother transitions into
the team for new Admissions staff members. Understanding the position and preparation of an
Admissions Representative from a systems perspective is beneficial in helping gain full
understanding of the scope of position and the range of training topics and activities needed to
adequately prepare new staff.
Training Theory
Much of the current literature on training theory ties directly into the topic of learning
styles. As can be deduced, the general principle behind training for new staff members is to help
educate them on job specifics. Buck and Bartley (2002) describe learning styles as categories
developed to classify learners based on their preferred approach for receiving and processing
information. While there is an abundance of literature regarding learning styles, little of it relates
specifically to learning through the training process. Buck and Bartley (2002) noted, however,
because of the successful use of learning styles to determine proper teaching methods in a
traditional classroom, the concept of using learning styles in training is receiving some new
attention.
Recently, researchers introduced some advances to training and development approaches,
which received the label of scenistic methods approach. Lyons (2010) describes the word

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scenistic as representing a class or group of methods, approaches, guides, or processes that are
centered on the use of scenarios, incidents, case studies, episodes, stories, and the life that offer a
particular context or setting (p. 416). These approaches propose to stimulate interest in an issue,
need, or deficiency related to performance and to develop a script-based solution for use in
certain situations. While the use of scenistic methods in the training of Admissions
Representatives is likely limited only to certain contexts, it is the theory bases of the scenistic
approach that helped the author gain some knowledge on existing training or learning theories.
Lyons (2010) first identified situated learning or situated cognition theory as central to
the scenistic approach. The very essence of this theory uses learning materials to put the learner
in the midst of the context in which they operate. Lyons (2010) noted a Kirshner and Whitson
article in which situated cognition theory regarded learning as more of a social or sociocultural
phenomenon in contrast to the effort by an individual to acquire information from some source
that is not part of the context in which the learning will be applied (p. 422). Situated learning
theory suggests the best way to learn is to learn within the context to which you will be applying
the new knowledge. As it relates to training for an adult learner, Lyons (2010) says, the idea is
to create conditions in which the learners can directly experience the issues, complexities; the
ambiguity presented in a real, operating environment (p. 422). This reinforces learning with real
application of the knowledge, learning based fundamentally within the appropriate situation.
Another frequently discussed learning theory is that of constructivism or experiential
learning. In relation to learning, constructivism suggests that learning is an intellectual process in
which the learner is creating new knowledge over the foundation of what they previously knew
(Lyons, 2010). The constructivism approach to learning creates the expectation that there are
many ways in which to enhance what one knows and what one is able to do (p. 424). Adult

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learners may use constructivism to understand there may be more than way to do something or to
get a certain result. When used with situated learning, constructivism can emphasize realistic
tasks in the contexts of the organization the learner understands (Lyons, 2010). In working
through a new situation within a familiar context, individuals may discover gaps and
inconsistencies in what one things is known about skillful performance in a particular domain
(p. 425). The experiential learning model is a little more widely understood. It is a cyclical model
in which learning begins with an experience, followed by reflection/s on that experience. A
personalized theory of the reflection develops, that is then tested within new situations. Lyons
(2010) says, The model demonstrates recurring cycles of mental effort whereby new concepts
are tested, reflected upon and so forth (p. 425).
Transformative learning theory is a concept of critical reflection. Lyons (2010) explains,
The mental effort of critical reflection is the process of reflecting back on prior learning to
determine whether what we have learned is justified under present circumstances (p. 425). The
process of critical reflection allows a learner to review assumptions to allow in new perspectives.
In training activities, the idea of transformative learning is to invite learners to shape the content
and execution of the process activities (Lyons, 2010, p. 426). Transformative learning theory
relates to training a lot in the sense that a transformative learner allows learning to change their
previous assumptions with new perspectives on how or why things are a certain way.
Training Methods
Because people vary in how they digest new learning and process that information into
meaning, Buch and Bartley (2002) used the experiential learning theory to discuss four proposed
learning styles, which influence a persons preferred learning method: (a) convergers, (b)
accommodators, (c) divergers, and (d) assimilators. Convergers prefer to abstractly conceptualize

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new information and experiment with their new learning. Buch and Bartley (2002) report that,
convergers find small-group discussions and classroom participation helpful, but dislike
lectures (p. 7). Convergers see in black and white, but prefer an experimental environment
where they can fail safely. Convergers tend to prefer computer-based learning (Buch & Bartley,
2002). Assimilators also conceptualize abstractly, but like to process perceptions through
observation they can reflect upon. Assimilators prefer private learning activities, such as reading,
case studies, or opportunities to think and reflect independently. According to Buch and Bartley
(2002), Assimilators report that group exercises, simulations, and the sharing of personal
feelings about a subject can hinder rather than enhance their learning experience (p. 7).
Assimilators respond best to printed delivery of new information (Buch & Bartley, 2002).
Divergers are learners who prefer apprehend and then comprehend new information and
enjoy reflective observation. These learners enjoy idea generating activities like brainstorming,
reflection activities, lectures, and questions they can ponder. Because divergers are more social
through the learning process, online training is not preferred, whereas, traditional classroom
learning is (Buch & Bartley, 2002). Information presentations are a common form of traditional
learning. Carter (2002) says information presentations are most useful when the learners are
capable and highly motivated. Lastly, Buch and Bartley (2002) say, Accommodators perceive
information concretely and process what they can through active experimentation (p. 6). Handson activities and self-directed learning opportunities tend to be the preference of accommodators.
Buch and Bartleys (2002) research helped deduce that while each type of learner has
their preferred method of information delivery, learners, in general, still tend to prefer a
traditional approach to training. While many assume face-to-face delivery is outdated due to such
rapid advances in technology, it is still the preferred method across all learning styles. Korte

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(2006) echoes the idea of classroom-based training, while declining in use, being the most
dominant form of training used. While training content is most often the determinant when
selecting training methods, Buch and Bartleys (2002) makes an important case for the
consideration of individuals learning styles. Various learning assessments are available to
administer to new or current staff members for developing the most effective training delivery
model. Korte (2006) discusses some things the most effective trainers do, one of which is to
acknowledge the diversity of learners and their preferences, and a second is to create an
environment that is conducive to learning. One way to create a learning environment is to
attempt to address the learning preferences of all trainees, if possible. Korte (2006) suggests
blending the classroom training method with other more active methods to address as many
learning styles as possible.
Korte (2006) also suggests the trainer share control of the learning transaction with the
learner, a principle largely grounded in the constructivist learning theory. In sharing control, the
trainer helps learners acquire the information and knowledge desired (Korte, 2006, p. 519).
One way a trainer might do this is by suggesting what information the trainee should seek out
and helping provide the resources to do so, which allows the trainer to become more of a
facilitator of learning. According to Korte (2006), this shared learning method prescribes a
facilitative learning environment in which participants share responsibility for their learning (p.
520). A facilitator may still provide some content, but more so, the facilitator helps guide the
trainees to learning outcomes through active learning.
Leadership Development
Today, leadership is vital in helping to achieve organizational objectives, to create
organizational change, and to create an organizational learning environment (Aasen & Stensaker,

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2007). In order to address leadership needs, many organizations are creating training programs
for newly appointed or potential upcoming leaders. When designing leadership training
programs, most emphasize both change and continuity concepts (Aasen & Stensaker, 2007).
While almost anyone can identify the benefits of leaders within an organization, some wonder if
it is only current leaders than can have influence in shaping attitudes and creating organizational
values. Because others beyond current organizational leaders are capable of influence, its
important leadership development be offered to all organizational members. In order to address
the needs of leadership extending beyond just leaders, (Aasen & Stensaker, 2007) suggest a
leadership training program be set up one of two models. Model one emphasizes leadership as a
position, therefore, behavior norms attach to the respective leader giving them prescriptive
actions for various situations. For the second model, leadership is seen more as a process of
social interaction guiding individuals and groups toward particular goals (Aasen & Stensaker,
2007, p. 373). This more relational leadership perspective helps leaders to understand the context
in which they are leading when making decisions.
Team Development
Team development, as a human aspect of management, is a growing area of interest.
Akande (1992) says, People management skills such as group decision making, teamwork,
motivation, communication between employer and employee, and interviewing are seen as
making important contributions to organizational success (p. 10). The newfound correlation
between team development and organizational success leads to more people considering it as a
component of training programs. Discussing team traditions, norms, culture, and expectations
may help new and current members of the team gain a more mutually accepted understanding of
the team atmosphere. Likewise, in displaying and describing the team dynamic, a newcomer may

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more easily determine each persons place in the team, including their own. Leaving a new
member to perceive team dynamics poses challenges and allows for misperceptions, which can
equate to negative experiences for both. Focusing on team development as an aspect of new
employee training sets the entire team up for the most success possible. Akandes (1992) study of
a team development training program noted improvements in the team dynamic in these
respective categories: relational facility, meaning team members were more cooperative in their
interactions, increased interdependence and earlier on, increased self-confidence, and more
insight into self, as it relates to the team, and role, as it relates to understanding their job more.
Systems Thinking
Meadows (2008) defines a system, as a set of things-people, cells, molecules, or
whatever-interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over
time (p. 2). According to Meadows definition, the role of an Admissions Representative, and
therefore it is training, identifies as a system because the position involves many different layers
of knowledge and/or skill that interconnect to form the function of the position. Likewise, those
knowledge and skill interconnections produce their own pattern of behavior, in this case the
success of the individual in the role, over time. Outside forces can batter, bound, prompt, or even
motivate systems (Meadows, 2008). This seems to be extremely true for the position of
Admissions Representatives, in which outside forces might include the prospective student,
parents or guardians, school counselor, or even things happening at the very institution they
represent. All of these potential outside forces can either motivate, prompt, or negate various
actions of the Admissions Representative.
Central to a system are three identifiable things: elements, interconnections, and a
function or purpose (Meadows, 2008). In order to best understand the Admissions Representative

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role and its training, the author of this research completed a concept map activity, which is
available in Appendix A. As it relates to what an Admissions Representative is ultimately
responsible for, the author of this research identified six main elements: relationship manager,
territory manager, public speaker, team member, numbers manager, and information manager.
Elements are the primary activities of someone in an Admissions Representative position, and
therefore, should be the primary focus of training activities. An important note to stress about
these elements, which the author of this research intended to display, is there interconnectedness,
which is key to systems thinking. An Admissions Representative is all of these things, all of the
time. The function or purpose of a system is often harder to identify, only noted through the
operation of the system (Meadows, 2008). Function or purpose of a system is not likely
identifiable through a concept map. However, simple, logical deductions from aspects of the map
may help someone identify the function or purpose. For the scenario of Admissions
Representative, deductions lead one to believe the function or purpose of this system is to recruit
and enroll new students.
Stock is another important element of any system. Stock is the foundation of any
system. In the system of an Admissions Representative, the stock is prospective students.
Subsequently, there is also flow, which causes the change to stocks over time. Meadows (2008)
defines, a stock is the memory of the history of changing flows within the system (p. 18). Flow
in Admissions, is likely the various actions that will happen throughout the admissions funnel, an
example is in Appendix B. First, a student starts as a prospect, meaning the institution knows of
the student on some level. Next, some students will move into the inquiry level, which means
they initiated some kind of contact with the institution. This can happen at many different levels,
perhaps they submitted an information request, or chatted with an Admissions Representative at

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their high school or a local college fair. From the inquiry level, some students move to the
applicant stage, which means they applied for admission to the institution. Those that complete
their admissions process by submitting all required documents move to the admit stage. Lastly, a
select number of admits move to the enrollee stage by enrolling for classes at the institution. It is
important to recognize that not all students move through the funnel, some may drop out of the
funnel at any given time if they request removal from the institutions contact list. Likewise, not
all students enter the funnel in a traditional way and move directly through each various level.
Students may enter the funnel directly as applicants. In admissions, we coined the term stealth
applicant to describe the students who the institution did not have any previous contact with
until the point of application.
As more students progress through the admissions funnel, the stock rises, producing an
inflow. As students remove themselves from the funnel or forgo their admission to that
institution, the stock decreases, producing an outflow. It is the Admissions Representatives job
to monitor the inflow and outflow of students within their own recruitment territory. The Office
of Admissions establishes a recruitment territory for each Admissions Representative, which is
comprised of various high schools that the Admissions Representative serves. The Admissions
Representative is also an active part of the feedback loops within the system. Meadows (2008)
defines a feedback loop as, a closed chain of casual connections from a stock, through a set of
decisions or rules or physical laws or actions that are dependent on the level of the stock, and
back again through a flow to change the stock (p. 27). In viewing the preparations of an
Admissions Representative as a system, it is each element of the position that can help an
Admissions Representative successfully create balancing or reinforcing feedback loops. For
example, if an Admissions Representatives stock is low due to cancelled applications, their

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ability to effectively build relationships with those students at the inquiry level, which leads to
new applications, therefore creating a reinforcing or even balancing feedback loop.
Training an Admissions Representative properly will help them gain skills necessary to
creating feedback loops. Someone who is good at his or her job can make all the difference in
keeping a student engaged throughout the admissions funnel. What makes someone good at the
job of an Admissions Representative? Someone who can effectively balance all the elements
identified on the concept map: relationship manager, territory manager, information manager,
public speaker, team member, and numbers manager. All of these elements positively or
negatively affect the stock and flow within a respective territory. Minor changes to the stock and
flow in one territory can greatly influence the overall recruitment and enrollment goal of the
entire institution. Understanding the system of an Admissions Representative, its elements,
interconnections, and function or purpose is crucial to identifying the proper ways to train
someone new to this position.
Methods/Procedures
The author of this research investigated the above-mentioned topics by examining the
existing scholarly research available through database searches on engines such as
ABI/INFORM Complete, Academic Search Premier, and others. Use of Fort Hays State
Universitys Forsyth Library provided access to various scholarly journal databases and other
resources that provided insight into these topics. Keyword searches using the phrases training
AND theory, training theory, training delivery methods, leadership development AND training,
team development AND training, and recruitment staff AND training on multiple databases
resulted in research the author evaluated for relevancy. Only pertinent and applicable articles
received consideration in preparing this proposal.

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To get a better, more practical understanding of some of the best practices in the training
of Admissions Representatives, the researcher interviewed six colleagues at other Admissions
Offices across Nebraska to discuss their current training practices. The researcher also
interviewed two current Admissions Representatives at Wayne State College as it related to
current training practices, areas of weakness, and suggested areas of improvement. The author of
this work references interview participants by the title Interviewee and carry the distinctive
numberings of 01-08. The researcher also explored national organizations related to Admissions,
such as AACRAO (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers) and
NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) for any applicable resources
regarding the topics of training theory, training methods, and recruitment staff training.
Surprisingly, the author found no relevant resources available from the national Admissions
organizations.
Findings and Results
The authors research on existing training theories lead to several important discoveries.
First, it is important to understand the relationship between training theories and learning styles
or theories. Because training is a process of learning that happens within an organization related
to a certain position, a review of learning approaches probably provides the most research in
terms of understanding the various types of learning, how to approach learning, and what
delivery methods are most effective. The three learning approaches most notable for their
relationship to training are situated, constructivism or experiential and transformative learning
theories (Lyons, 2010).
Situated learning theory suggests the best way to learn is to learn within the context to
which you will be applying the new knowledge (Lyons, 20102). An appropriate method of

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training, which reflects the situated learning theory, would be hands-on learning, such as
shadowing experiences. Constructivism suggests that learning is an intellectual process in which
the learner is creating new knowledge over the foundation of what they previously knew (Lyons,
2010). The experiential learning model is a little more widely understood. It is a cyclical model
in which learning begins with an experience, followed by reflection/s on that experience. A
personalized theory of the reflection develops, that is then tested within new situations. The
process of critical reflection allows a learner to review assumptions to allow in new perspectives
(Lyons, 2010). Buch and Bartley (2002) used the experiential learning theory to determine four
different learning types, which each have different learning preferences from classroom-based
learning to print-based learning and from computer-based learning to hands-on activities.
Transformative learning theory is a concept of critical reflection. Based on the transformative
learning concept, a learner receives an invitation to shape the learning content and feels
empowered to execute activities that encourage reflection (Lyons, 2010). Shared learning
environments that provide opportunities for feedback and reflection are likely most applicable to
the transformative learning theory.
Likely, the most important thing to reflect on from the authors research on training
theory, learning approaches, and training delivery methods are that these things can affect
training effectiveness. Prior to determining training delivery methods, it is important to consider
the diversity of learners and their preferences, and a second is to create an environment that is
conducive to learning. One way to create a learning environment is to attempt to address the
learning preferences of all trainees, if possible. Korte (2006) suggests blending the classroom
training method with other more active methods to address as many learning styles as possible.

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More recently, leadership appears as vital in helping to achieve organizational objectives,


organizational change, and an organizational learning environment (Aasen & Stensaker, 2007).
Many organizations are attempting to address leadership needs by creating leadership training
programs. Unfortunately, where most leadership training programs miss the mark is in only
offering this type of training to new leaders and not all staff members. There is significant
research available on leadership training models; however, most of it fails to address use for new
team members. Nonetheless, it is a hugely crucial aspect of staff training that if included will set
the organization up for more quality leaders at all levels.
Team development is a growing area of interest in training programs, because people
management skills are likely contributors to organizational success (Akande, 1998). Discussing
team traditions, norms, culture, and expectations may help new and current members of the team
gain a more mutually accepted understanding of the team atmosphere. Team development
training programs noted improvements in the team dynamic in these respective categories:
relational facility, meaning team members were more cooperative in their interactions, increased
interdependence and earlier on, increased self-confidence, and more insight into self, as it relates
to the team, and role, as it relates to understanding their job more (Akande, 1998).
Understanding systems thinking is essential in understanding the role of training in
respect to any position. According to Meadows (2008), a system involves three identifiable
things: elements, interconnections, and function or purpose. In viewing an Admissions
Representatives role as a system, one is able to identify elements as the various things their
position is responsible for, interconnections in that each responsibility relates to another, and
function or purpose, which involves recruiting and enrolling new students.

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Because an Admissions Representative is responsible for many areas, the systems


perspective helps one see their role as cyclical. Stock, flow, and feedback loops are also aspects
of systems thinking (Meadows, 2008). The stock for any Admissions Representative is their
prospective students. Flow is likely the admissions funnel, which inquires pass through. The
various elements of the Admissions Representatives role and responsibilities create feedback
loops that can balance or reinforce the stock. The more skilled an Admissions Representative is
at the various elements of their role, the greater the stock of prospective students that person will
have to work with. The idea of systems thinking directly relates to the preparation of Admissions
Representatives because effective training will help new staff succeed in the various elements of
their role, which in turn influences the stock and flow of prospective students.
As it relates to organizational learning, the preparations of Admissions Representatives
have the potential of helping to create an environment of constant learning. According to Yeo
(2005), learning organizations embrace the importance of collective learning as it draws on a
larger dimension of internal and external environments (p. 369). New staff training is a perfect
opportunity to introduce or reiterate a culture of learning within the organization. While new
staff are learning from the internal and external environments around the organization, they have
the opportunity to become accustomed to absorbing and seeking out new information. As new
staff learn, an opportunity for current staff to revisit information and let new perspectives creates
itself.
To further understand current training practices for Admissions Representatives within
the Wayne State College Office of Admissions versus other Admissions Offices, the author
conducted interviews with colleagues from various institutions across Nebraska. In all, the
researcher interviewed two current Wayne State College Admissions Representatives and six

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other Admissions staff members of various titles at Nebraska institutions. The sample
participants include four staffed by 4-year private institutions, three staffed by 4-year public
institutions, and one staffed by a 2-year public community college. Participants tenure ranges
from less than one year to seven years at their respective institution. Some have recent new staff
training experiences and for others, it has been some time since they last received new staff
training. Nonetheless, their experiences and perspectives are invaluable for understanding
training topics, methods, activities, and timelines relevant to Admissions Representative
positions.
Please give a general breakdown of how Admissions Representatives at your institution are
trained (i.e. training manuals, computer trainings, shadowing, etc).
Sample participants identified a range of training methods. All mentioned the use of
training manuals, shadowing, and meetings with various campus departments. Half of sample
participants stressed that much of this job involves hands on training. Because every interaction
with students is slightly different, there is no way to train someone for all experience. Two
interviewees said it is usually best to observe briefly and then jump right in, asking questions
along the way. Interviewee 04 said their school uses a basic training module for admissions staff
with a coinciding manual. New hires work through the modules one at a time and take a test at
the end of each section to evaluate their learning.
What elements of the training for Admissions Representatives at your institution work really
well?
Overwhelming, the most successful training method identified was shadowing. Three
interviewees also mentioned on the job training as an important method for training Admissions
Representatives. While observation is key initially, at some point, it is best to jump right in to
various activities, like hosting a campus visit or making student calls. Two respondents
mentioned one-on-one training, which allowed them to feel more comfortable asking questions.

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Two interviewees acknowledge meeting different people across campus to hear about their
departments was key. Interviewee 03 said that meeting campus staff helps in making
connections.
What elements of the training for Admissions Representatives at your institution are not
effective?
The most ineffective training element according to respondents was the training manual,
whereas, one identified it as crucial in keeping all policies and procedures for new staff in one
place. Two respondents admitted to never opening their training manual. An additional two
interviewees mentioned that it was not clearly identifiable as to who was responsible for their
training, which left them wondering who ask with questions. One respondent identified the lack
of cross training amongst various programs or student populations as being the biggest weakness
of their training.
Does training for Admissions Representatives at your institution include aspects of leadership
and/or team development? If so, what activities are utilized to train in these respective areas?
It appears, according to respondents, that leadership and/or team development are not
directly included into initial training activities. Three respondents mentioned various team or
office retreats held throughout the year that include these components. Interviewee 04 said some
of their team building exercises have structured activities, whereas others specifically focus on
casual team bonding and may include social activities, like attending baseball games as a team.
Although not included directly in training, three interviewees said statewide or regional
involvement or attendance at conferences offers a way for new staff to get more involved and
seek leadership opportunities that may not exist within the scope of the Admissions ladder at
their institutions.
Are any basic professionalism skills included in the training of Admissions Representatives at
your institution? (i.e. appropriate attire, dining etiquette, phone answering, handshaking, etc)

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Five respondents admitted outright to the lack of basic professionalism as a component of


new staff training at their institution. Two of the five who said it is not included felt they learned
it through the shadowing of other more experienced staff, one felt they learned it from colleagues
at other institutions they observed or model themselves after. Interviewee 03 said while it is not
included in training at their respective institution, I think those kinds of things are incredibly
important especially for new counselors right out of college. Three respondents felt basic
etiquette topics like proper attire, phone answering, and making a first impression were covered
in their training.
If you could add any one activity to the training of Admissions Representatives at your
institution, what would you add?
Most respondents offered different suggestions for what their training may have lacked.
Three interviewees mentioned more team building activities as a beneficial addition to training
for a team-cultured department like Admissions. Others offered the suggestions of a longer
training period, more robust call training activities, better training on customer relationship
management software, or StrengthsFinder activities as additions to training. Interviewee 05
suggested offering a stronger push for professional development and more access to professional
development activities, as ways for people to get more involved, which may reduce staff
turnover. Interviewee 03, after moving to another institutions Admissions Office, said, I would
have liked more clarification on the Admissions Office culture at this respective school. I think
schools assume the process/routine is the same everywhere and that was a huge learning curve
for me.
Please identify the major topics included in the training of Admissions Representatives at your
institution.
All respondents identified common themes to training topics, including high school
visits, college fairs, academic programs, campus facts, processes for application, scholarship,

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financial aid, and travel documentation and processes. Two interviewees stressed time spent
learning their institutions story from the experiences of their students and staff.
Please identify the timeline for the training of Admissions Representatives at your institution.
Two respondents stated that the training timeline is dependent upon when the new staff
are hired and how quickly they may need to begin various functions of their role, like travel to
high schools and college fairs or presenting for campus visitors. Other responses ranged from
one week to one month. Respondent 02 said, I dont think someone really knows how this
whole process works until theyve been through an entire recruitment cycle. Respondent 07 said
training is continuous within Admissions, but stated, After the two year mark, I feel like any
Rep is official ready.
Implications
Like any research, the author of this work admits there are implications. The first
implication is the correlation of learning approach theories to training theories. Because the
author was unable to uncover any concrete training theory, the correlation to learning approach
theory was the closest association available. Because the research on learning theories and
learning styles is so vast, the existing literature review in this research is likely somewhat
limited. The second implication is the correlation between the use of learning style to training
delivery preferences. While the two seem to be synonymous, the author made assumptions that
the existing literature implied the preferences of adult learners, an assumption that is not clear.
The next limitation is the lack of research as it relates to leadership development or team
development training programs. Some of the extant literature discussed leadership training as it
relates to already named leaders and team building as it relates to existing teams. A probable area
of future research is to see how leadership development or team development training is viable in
new staff training. Another limitation is the authors use of systems thinking as it applies to the

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position of Admissions Representative and not as clear of application to the preparations of


someone within this role. Lastly, there are limitations to the interviewing done by the researcher.
Interview participants largely represented 4-year institutions, received training a considerable
time ago, and were entirely from Nebraska institutions. Perhaps a more diverse participant
sample may have shed light on different topics.
Recommendations
Based on the extant literature on the topics of learning approach theories, training
delivery methods, leadership and team development in combination with research on systems
thinking and learning organizations, the researcher proposes several changes to the training of
Admissions Representatives at Wayne State College. First, the author of this research suggests a
concept mapping activity, such as the one included in Appendix A, to help identify all aspects of
the Admissions Representative role. Having a true understanding of the various elements of the
position, how they interconnect and influence each other, as well as how they may affect an
Admissions Representatives effectiveness on the job will provide a solid systems perspective of
what the training program should include. The author suggests the training outline based on the
concept maps various elements receive ranking in terms of priority or the timeliness to which a
new staff member will use skills learned in each element.
Next, training theory alluded to the connection between it and learning approach theory.
Because the research indicates value in identifying learning style preferences, the author suggests
use of a StrengthsFinder activity, which new hires can take to identify their strengths and
learning style preferences. Identified strengths and preferences need consideration when
formatting delivery of various training elements. Research suggests the traditional classroombased delivery mode is still the most effective, so the author encourages use of it when possible

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(Buch & Bartley, 2002). Research suggested the most effective trainers blend the classroom
training method with other more active methods to address as many learning styles as possible
(Korte, 2006). Based on interview responses from those currently working within the Admissions
field, use of shadowing and one-on-one meetings are the most suggested active delivery
methods. The researcher suggests use of training manuals only as it relates to policies and
procedures of the College. Interviewees overwhelming stressed the ineffectiveness of manuals
when it comes to general training concepts.
Extant literature identified both leadership and team development as areas of interest in
more recent training research; however, sample participants largely stated it was not included in
training of Admissions Representatives at their institutions. The author of this research
encourages the implementation of team building activities in new staff training. Suggests include
casual team bonding opportunities, like lunch or after hours activities, combined with structured
team building activities. Another opportunity to provide team bonding opportunities is using
various Admissions team members to lead aspects of new hires training. The author suggests
identifying components of training that each staff member can lead independently, providing a
one-on-one opportunity for new hires to interact with each Admissions team member. Likewise,
in identifying who leads various components of training, both new hires and current staff know
who is responsible for training elements. These interactions will help new hires more clearly
identify with the dynamics of the office, including its hierarchy and its culture. Because
leadership opportunities are not always in the scope of a new hire, the author suggests general
training of leadership opportunities within the campus or state and/or regional Admissions
organizations. While the leadership ladder in Admissions is often quite small, promoting
professional development provides opportunities for staff to seek leadership opportunities

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outside of the Office, but still in the scope of Admissions. The author suggests including
professional and leadership development as a discussion point in Admissions Representative
training.
While most sample participants said basic professionalism is not included in Admissions
Representative training, one alluded to its importance, especially for younger hires. Many
interviewees stressed the benefits of attendance at the New Counselor Workshop program hosted
by the Nebraska Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers annually in
August. Not only does this workshop provide some basic professional skill development, but it
also includes networking opportunities and potential future involvement opportunities. One
survey respondent felt they learned a lot of basic professionalism in their interactions with and
by modeling themselves after those they met at the workshop.
Lastly, the author of this research proposes the addition of training evaluation processes.
The author believes that new hires should complete a training evaluation immediately after
formal training ends. An initial training evaluation asks for evaluation regarding the following
topics: completed training activities, training delivery methods, as well as the trainers. Initial
training feedback is available to help fill the gap of any potential missed training components.
The author suggests a second training evaluation administered at the sixth month mark, which
allows the new hire time to put into practice most of the things learned in training. The second
evaluation should address completed training activities, things learned since formal training
ended, and things not included in formal training. This second evaluate is available to assess
training practices and begin necessary alterations. The researcher suggests a final evaluation
completed after one year on staff. The final evaluation gives the new hire the scope of a full
recruitment cycle to reflect on their training, helpful information and activities included,

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anything information or activities missed, any unnecessary components, and any suggestions to
training. The final evaluation is available for a very critical review of training materials and
procedures. Analyzed evaluations provide opportunities to revise or restructure training in order
to create the most effective training possible.
Implementation of the proposed changes are available immediately following the receipt
of this proposal. The Wayne State College Director of Admissions is responsible for training of
new staff members, therefore, can implement any changes necessary and as quickly as desired.
Because many of the elements of training are already in place, focus can fall on those newly
proposed aspects, such as leadership and team development activities. Training manuals are
largely identified as ineffective training tools, so time previously spent updating the entire
manual is available to update only essential process and procedure portions and for
implementing some of the proposed changes. Many training guides are available to help identify
beneficial team development activities for implementation. Current staff members are available
and willing to help in training new hires, so involving current staff is as easy as identify areas
they are competent and capable of training in. Creating a training schedule to share with both
new hires and current staff is a simple way to ensure everyone is included and understands what
training includes.
Conclusions
Adequate training of new staff members is essential for success in any organization. The
world of higher education Admissions is fast-paced and includes extensive travel time for
Admissions Representatives. Ensure Admissions Representatives are properly trained before they
are called to travel ensures their effectiveness in the office, on the road, and as a part of the team.
In evaluating extant literature on the topics of training theory, training delivery methods,

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leadership and team development, and systems thinking as it relates to the preparation of an
Admissions Representative, the researcher was able to identify various aspects necessary for
proper training. Interviewing a sample of current Admissions professionals regarding training
processes at their respective institutions, the author identified several effective, ineffective, and
nonexistent training processes. By including aspects of existing literature and responds by the
sample participants, the author created a change proposal for the training of Admissions
Representatives at Wayne State College. Accepting and implementing the proposed changes
ascertains a higher quality training and better preparedness of new Admissions Representatives at
Wayne State College, which should in turn increase their effectiveness in their position and for
the College overall.

References

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Aasen, P., & Stensaker, B. (2007). Balancing trust and technocracy? Leadership training in
higher education. The International Journal of Educational Management, 21(5), 371383. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513540710760165
Akande, A. (1992). Team skills development: An experience-based framework for management
training. Journal of European Industrial Training, 16(1), 10. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/215394564?accountid=27424
Buch, K., & Bartley, S. (2002). Learning style and training delivery mode preference. Journal of
Workplace Learning, 14(1), 5-10. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/198447829?accountid=27424
Carter, S. D. (2002). Matching training methods and factors of cognitive ability: A means to
improve training outcomes. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 13(1), 71-87.
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/234904922?accountid=27424
Korte, R. F. (2006). Training implementation: Variations affecting delivery. Advances in
Developing Human Resources, 8(4), 514-527. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/221181404?accountid=27424
Lyons, P. (2010). Scenistic methods in training: Definitions and theory grounding. Journal of
European Industrial Training, 34(5), 416-431.
doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03090591011049792
Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking In Systems: A Primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea
Green Publishing.
Office of Enrollment and Retention Management (n.d.). The Enrollment Funnel: Understanding
the Admissions Process. Retrieved from
http://www.stonybrook.edu/ugadmissions/erm/funnel.html
Yeo, R. K. (2005). Revisiting the roots of learning organization: A synthesis of the learning
organization literature. The Learning Organization, 12(4), 368-382. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/215659286?accountid=27424

Appendix A: Admissions Representative Concept Map

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Created by Amy Gade

Appendix B: Admissions Funnel*

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*
Office
Enrollment
Retention
Management

Appendix C:
Representative Training

of
and
(n.d.).

Admissions
Interview Form

Name:
Title:
1.) Please give a general breakdown
Representatives at your institution are
computer trainings, shadowing, etc)

2.) What elements of the training


at your institution
well?

of how Admissions
trained (i.e. training manuals,

for Admissions Representatives


work really

3.) What elements of the training for Admissions Representatives at your institution are not
effective?

4.) Does training for Admissions Representatives at your institution include aspects of leadership
and/or team development? If so, what activities are utilized to train in these respective areas?

ADMISSIONS REPRESENTATIVE TRAINING CHANGE PROPOSAL


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5.) Are any basic professionalism skills included in the training of Admissions Representatives at
your institution? (i.e. appropriate attire, dining etiquette, phone answering, handshaking, etc)

6.) If you could add any one activity to the training of Admissions Representatives at your
institution, what would you add?

7.) Please identify the major topics included in the training of Admissions Representatives at
your institution.

8.) Please identify the timeline for the training of Admissions Representatives at your institution.