Practice Makes Perfect: 7 Tips To Facilitate Contextual Application In Performance Management Courses
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How To Facilitate Contextual Application In Performance Management Courses

Context facilitates meaning. And meaning makes the online training experience more memorable for your corporate learners. When employees are able to apply what they’ve learned in a real-world context, they’re more likely to spot mistakes and improve proficiency. They can also connect all the dots in the mental schema to reinforce existing knowledge and retain new information. But it’s not simply about putting things into context and hoping that employees encounter similar situations or challenges on the job. This approach also allows them to use their knowledge base and skills to tackle other tasks that fall outside of the scope. Here are 7 top tips to foster contextual application in performance management courses.

7 Tips To Foster Practical Application

1. Team-Building Projects

Team building projects build teamwork skills and improve the dynamic. But they also immerse employees in a real-world setting that puts things into context. For example, they must work with their peers to solve the problem and tackle the task. Cooperating and collaborating are crucial talents in the workplace. Employees must play well with others and communicate effectively in virtually every aspect of their professional lives. Plus, team-building projects give them the opportunity to gather eLearning feedback that can be used in performance management courses.

2. Real-World Simulations

It doesn’t get more contextual than virtual simulations. Short of venturing into the workplace and learning from mistakes on the job, which also puts the organization’s reputation at risk. Real-world simulations enable employees to diagnose personal areas for improvement and skill gaps. For example, they discover that their active listening and interpersonal skills fall short. Or that they are unable to complete a task in a timely manner due to their lack of real-world experience. Thus, they can use the online training simulations to not only evaluate their performance but gain experiential knowledge.

3. Anecdotes With Self-Reflection Follow Up

Personal anecdotes and stories offer employees the chance to gain a firsthand perspective of how to contextually apply their performance management online training. Especially when it’s paired with self-reflection. Present employees with an anecdote that demonstrates how certain performance behaviors or habits benefit them in the real world. Then invite them to reflect on how they’ve handled similar tasks or situations in the past. Are there any mistakes they can learn from? Undisclosed gaps that they can bridge via microlearning online resources?

4. Self-Assessments That Center On Practicality Vs Theoretical Knowledge

Self-assessments help employees identify performance issues, particularly when they take the form of qualitative evaluations. Such as branching scenarios, online training simulations, or other interactive resources that focus on practicality rather than theory. In the realm of contextual learning, this is known as “authentic assessment.” It tests their ability to actually use their knowledge and skills to perform tasks instead of centering on their memorization abilities. For example, the employee knows how to process a sale or handle a customer complaint because they’ve memorized the step-by-step procedures. However, can they actually put their online training into practice and perform the steps in the correct order backed by the right skills?

5. Skill-Based Serious Games

Games are often viewed as being more fantastic or out of touch with reality. However, serious games that focus on relevant skills can help employees improve performance and tie online training to realistic concepts. For instance, each level tests their ability to handle a different customer service issue or task by applying their skills. You can even take it a step further by incorporating gamification into your entire performance management online training strategy. Employees who complete activities that tie into specific performance behaviors and showcase their skill mastery receive a badge or points. This not only facilitates contextual application by encouraging them to use their online training to achieve the best outcome but also boosts their motivation.

6. Branching Scenarios That Tie Into Pre-Existing Knowledge

Contextual application involves delving into pre-existing knowledge and connecting it to new concepts. Branching scenarios allow employees to draw on their knowledge base and apply what they’ve learned to assign meaning to fresh ideas. For example, the branching scenario features a difficult customer who wants to speak with a manager the second they walk through the door. It’s the employees’ task to diffuse the situation and try to appease the customer on their own, given that the issue falls within their job role. They need to dig into their memory banks and mental schema to determine which skills/information pertains to the situation. Then build new experiences based on the current context. This is yet another diagnostic tool they can use to pinpoint gaps for performance management online training to bridge, and gain more confidence on the job.

7. Cross-Contextual Task Walkthroughs (Hosted By Employees)

One of the most common misconceptions about contextual application is that it must pertain to a specific situation or setting. However, you should also encourage employees to transfer their knowledge to new applications or real-world challenges. Invite them to host their own cross-contextual walkthroughs where they get to share how certain skills or information can be used in novel ways. As an example, explore how their IT troubleshooting knowledge can apply in different departments and helps to complete tasks that are out of the usual context.


Contextual application moves your online training from theory to practice so that employees can translate it into the real world. They can also identify skill gaps and performance behaviors they need to work on. As well as reflect on their past performance to learn from mistakes and continually develop their talents. Use this article to facilitate contextual application and help your employees achieve their professional potential.

Are you looking for a learning management system to enhance your performance management online training program and facilitate real world application? Our online directory features the top workforce development LMSs, and you can narrow your results based on features, use case, pricing models, and other crucial stakeholder sticking points.

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