I first heard of HWP through a listserv posting about a pro-social movement in I/O psychology. I learned about this movement as I began researching pro-social I/O applications for a class paper. Recently, I worked with Tara Behrend, Alex Gloss, and Lori Foster Thompson on a project examining the role of information communication technologies in development efforts from an I/O perspective. We coded articles from a past Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) conference to identify places where I/O knowledge (e.g., selection, training, teamwork) could be applied to improve ICTD intervention efforts. Many of the articles we examined involved a small group of entrepreneurs who developed new, inexpensive technologies to address some major problem in a developing area. This experience led me to realize that I have an interest in studying the role of technology in development efforts.
My general research interests center very broadly on the self-regulatory processes (i.e., goal-setting, goal-striving) of how people learn to perform work. Although I am interested in these processes for formal, classroom training, I am also interested in self-regulated learning in day-to-day activities. For example, someone may struggle to use a certain function in Microsoft Excel. How do they learn to overcome this problem? Do they ask a coworker? Do they Google it? Do they use trial and error? I see these interests as relevant to HWP for two primary reasons.
First, many ICTD intervention efforts rely on introducing a new technology to people for the first time. The success of these interventions efforts hinges on teaching these people to first use the technology, which includes a large component of increasing motivation to learn. Thus, I see the study of self-regulated learning for ICTs in developmental efforts an important area of study. Second, I’m interested in the self-regulatory processes of the technology entrepreneurs introducing the intervention. It’s common knowledge that even successful entrepreneurs fail multiple times. What makes someone want to persist with intervention ideas when faced with difficulties, particularly when there may be little to gain financially from ICTD efforts? Are there certain lessons that to be learned through failure that can help someone become a better technology entrepreneur? Perhaps these individuals feel a closer connection to their stakeholders and are driven to persist by more intangible forces. These are HWP-related questions I find interesting.
I started graduate school at The George Washington University in 2009 and am currently working on my dissertation. I hope to finish within the next year and move on to an academic position and continue researching the ideas above. Although I am very much interested in the basic theoretical underpinnings of self-regulation and learning at work, I consider myself to be an applied psychologist and so I believe it is important to have meaningful applications of one’s work that can improve on the state of humanity. To throw a little self-regulation lingo your way, HWP and the study of self-regulation and learning in ICT4D/technology entrepreneurs is a great means to help me accomplish this goal.