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A love letter to learning transfer

Research in the area of learning design and the effect it has on learning transfer typically focus on what happens before, during, and after training. With regard to post training interventions, learning action plans have been shown to be effective, as well as feedback and coaching from managers. But what effect would writing a letter to ourselves have?

That was the interesting approach taken by Shantz and Latham (2012). The researchers split learners attending an interview skills training into two groups, asking one group to write a letter to themselves. In the letter the learners wrote about the things that really stood out for them from the training, the parts they found most valuable, etc.

The learners re-read the letter before participating in a mock interview. The result? Those who wrote a letter scored significantly higher on transfer metrics than those who did not write a letter!

Such a simple yet effective method for turning learning into action.

Key takeaways:

For learning leaders, vary your approach to post-training interventions. If learners are attending onboarding training and completing training after training, learning action plans will likely lose their impact. Throw a curveball at your learners and ask them to write a letter detailing their takeaways for improved learning transfer.


Read the original study:

Shantz, A., & Latham, G. P. (2012). Transfer of training: Written self‐guidance to increase self‐efficacy and interviewing performance of job seekers. Human Resource Management, 51(5), 733-746.


About Fergal:

Fergal is a learning transfer expert who shares his evidence-based learning transfer approaches with the learning community. Fergal has worked across the spectrum of L&D in training delivery, learning design, and learning consultancy, and holds an MSc in Education and Training, and a BSc in Psychology. Contact Fergal for speaking engagements, writing opportunities, or learning transfer consultancy by visiting


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