Association Learners Want to Learn from Each Other

Now comes some quantitative confirmation that association members prefer to learn from other practitioners and they enjoy collaborating and sharing knowledge with one another.  The new ASAE Decision to Learn does have a few nuggets to be mined beyond the stunningly obvious finding that association members pick association providers over others because of their affiliation.

As a consultant to associations and a one-time education director, I have long suspected members prefer to learn from their peers. Now nearly 8,000 respondents from 12 cosponsoring associations have ranked their preferences on who they want to learn from on a 1-5 Likert scale:

  • Practitioners, 4.63
  • Academics, 3.58
  • Professional speaker/trainer, 3.53
  • Supplier, vendor, 2.54

The research also checked out people’s intrinsic motivations for engaging in education. Not surprisingly, the top motivation was to keep up-to-date professionally.  But they also expressed strong interest in collaborating and sharing knowledge and interacting with others—some evidence that collaborative learning matters.  Millennials who are just beginning their careers, found their motivation in the need to increase competence in their jobs and seek a pay raise or promotion.  

People are likely to latch onto the finding that respondents strongly preferred in-person learning over distance learning. Even Millennials prefer face-to-face learning and rely on technology for entertainment and social networking.  But when the researcher looked at how all respondents actually behaved, she discovered almost 2/3 reported participating in an online learning experience in the last year. As one of the research co-sponsors said August 22 at the ASAE annual conference session on this research, online learning may not be the preference but it is certainly the “modality of convenience” for many people.

That association members are more likely to seek their education through their associations is important reassurance for associations. The barrier to entry into continuing education is very low and most fields now face intense competition from consultants, suppliers and vendors, and online learning resources.   

Another useful tidbit from the research is that none of the perceived barriers to participating in learning were viewed as significant.  Even the top reason, lacking money to travel, only garnered a 3 score from the respondents on the 5 point scale.

If you do spring for the $70 purchase price, please post a few more research tidbits for the rest of us interested folks. I don’t have any real problem with charging something for targeted information, but I am just too thrifty to risk the disappointment I think I would feel after flipping quickly through the book in the onsite ASAE bookstore. Can’t ASAE set a price that would give more of us a chance to benefit from more than just a brief glimpse at the goodies through magazine articles and education sessions?