Happy students make (not) good learners

“What do you want to tell me?” might be a common reaction from people in charge of training courses. “Nobody doubts this. Of course, people who enjoy a seminar and like their instructor will learn much more than others.” After all, such satisfaction is being tracked in almost all organizations and the findings sold as education controlling. Adherents of the legendary four-step model of Kirkpatrick (1976) would go even further and say that satisfaction is a sine-qua-non for successful learning, successful application, and commercial success. That might sound plausible, but it is wrong. At least, it is not always right, if empirical findings are to be believed. Studies have struggled with confirming this link (Noe & Schmidt 1986). The opposite might be true: A trainer who irritates people, who gets people to think, can kick-off even more lasting learning processes than everybodys darling. However, such trainers are too often lost because of their poor “controlling” performance. The end result: removing the rough edges might make things more pleasant, but also takes away some bite. The question is how to strike the right balance in practice.