graphic showing how learning should be distributed - 70% through on-the-job experience, 20% informal and 10% formal

The Ohio State University supports a culture of learning. Individuals are encouraged to seek opportunities and partner with their managers to assess development needs, set goals and create development plans. On-the-job experiences and exposure to different people and learning opportunities should be considered as a part of each plan. Growth and development efforts are most effective with ongoing dialogue and collaboration between the individual and the manager.

We believe the best learning happens through a combination of experience, exposure and education. The acclaimed 70-20-10 framework based on years of research, shows that lessons learned by successful individuals:

  • Most development (70%) occurs through real life and on the job experiences (Experience)
  • About 20% comes from feedback and working with and observing role models (Exposure)
  • The final 10% comes from learning – course and reading (Education)

People learn by doing.

Concept of experience. Wordcloud on the transparent ball in the handWe learn from our experience and achieve mastery through practice. We learn more from making a mistake than from getting it right the first time.

Examples from learning by doing include:

  • Project involvement and leadership
  • Stretch assignments
  • Job shadowing
  • Experiential learning opportunities
  • Community service/volunteer opportunities
  • Delegated responsibilities as appropriate
  • Social Experience

Embrace experiential learning. Craft a mix of challenging assignments. Provide ample opportunities to help broaden and expand skills. Managers need to let staff learn and not always feel compelled to teach or tell. People are amazingly adept at rising to a challenge and figuring things out and often those challenges are what motivates individuals to elevate their performance.

People learn with and through others.

Group of designers using a laptop while brainstorming in the office.Employees learn more in an environment that encourages conversation. Create a culture where people are talking to each other and learning from one another. Provide opportunities for employees to cultivate internal and external relationships.

Examples of learning with and from others includes:

  • Feedback/coaching from manager and peers
  • Mentoring opportunities
  • Networking
  • Professional memberships
  • Access to newsletters and webinars
  • University and Community Board involvement and leadership

People learn through education.

Engineering apprentices stand at a training presentation, low angleIn order for formal learning to truly take hold, it needs to be reinforced with reflection and application. Well-designed training and learning programs have an amplifier effect – clarifying, supporting and boosting the learning from experience and others.

Examples of formal learning include:

  • Certifications/Re-certifications
  • Credit courses at Ohio State
  • Online and traditional classes
  • Workshops and courses
  • Conference attendance
  • Educational materials (books, articles)
  • TED Talks and other videos
  • Human Resources website & BuckeyeLearn
  • Freely available content at,, Degreed, Udemy, Coursera, and many others.

woman-thinking-of-ideas-at-the-office-pictureEmployee development begins with a two-way conversation between an employee and their manager. During the conversation, employees should express their interest in professional development opportunities through the lens of the 70-20-10 model. Managers should help employees define what they want to learn and then together identify growth and development opportunities. The development plan and the sample development plan listed here will provide employees with a tool to identify the skill they want to develop and the resources available to them.

Questions for employees to consider during a planning or development conversation include:

  • What new knowledge or skills do you think I may need to develop?
  • What development opportunities do you see for someone with my background?
  • Outside of my regular duties are there other things I can do (e.g. join a professional organization, lead a new project, etc.)
  • You’ve said I need to improve my ____ skills. Can you provide me with some resources to help me develop those skills?
  • I’m interested in attending this training class or professional development opportunity. Here’s how I think this opportunity will benefit me, the team and the university. Can the university pay for this?
  • You’ve provided me with some feedback but I feel like we need to meet more regularly. Can we plan to meet monthly?