chapter  5
18 Pages

Historical Case Study: TWI Training Practices

In the previous chapter, I described a number of ways empirical research can apply the new model, combining scholarship in multimodal rhetoric and neuro - biology. In this chapter, I provide a more detailed analysis that applies the model toward a particular historical case study related to hands-on training practices and in which an accident promoted revisions to training materials. I start with a description of the accident that prompted changes in approaches and then discuss findings related to preaccident training and postaccident training to show the changes in the ways the modes were presented, modifying some aspect of the sensory experience and cognitive process. As I do this, I link the model to that discussion. This includes references to social science scholarship and neuro - biological scholarship. While this is a historical study, the training program is used in the lean manufacturing programs that are esteemed in industry today. Much as was the case in the previous chapter, I apply the model theoretically because it is a historical study and because no neurological data about the experi - ence exists. However, much of what is understood about the effects certain practices and experiences have on cognitive development and cognition informs this application. In particular, I consider the approach to training applied in the Training Within Industry (TWI) program at a World War II arsenal in the United States. TWI was developed in partnership between government and industry, and it was utilized at arsenals throughout the country. I provide a case study of how TWI was implemented in a particular arsenal, including some background related to the program. While particular materials and approaches were used initially, a catastrophic accident at the arsenal affected changes in the materials used in training. This case is presented within a different theoretical framework in another book (Remley, 2014). However, it is useful in showing an appli - cation of the principles of the cognitive model here. This case study provides

information about the initial applications and the working out of some weak - nesses in the multimodal rhetoric to facilitate better cognition. As I pointed out in that previous publication, workers came from various backgrounds, and the TWI program attempted to address low literacy levels at the time and facilitate learning of how to manufacture war materiels quickly. However, there is evidence that a failure to balance effectively the literacy practices that were esteemed with those associated with the accommodations made for employees with low literacy levels contributed to a bomb accident that resulted in the death of 11 employees as well as destruction of a storage igloo and damage to several other buildings (Remley, 2014). Different neurobiological dynamics occur with different media to affect cognition, posing challenges in how best to present information for a given audience. Further, I describe changes made to print materials and other practices that suggest a refinement of the multimodal rhetoric provided in the materials and practices. In this discussion, I apply an understanding of neurobiology as I apply the new model. This discussion illustrates the application of the neurocognitive model of multimodal rhetoric introduced in the previous chapter, showing connections and interrelationships across the various modes used in the TWI training approach and neurobiological dynamics associated with them. There are substantive dif - ferences in the way instructional information was provided before the accident and afterwards that demonstrate recognition of the attributes of the theory. It is important to consider the various literacy practices that occurred at the Arsenal and implications thereof. Generally, a variety of literacy practices were used at the Arsenal, covering the range identified by the New London Group (1996): print-linguistic texts, aural, visual, spatial, gestural, and multimodal. Also, different forms of documents required different kinds of literacy skills, and I have noted previously (Remley, 2009) the appearance of a literacy-related hierarchy in which more print-linguistic skills are required of employees at higher levels. A study of the investigation report related to the accident offers insight into these practices as well as implications related to the separation of print-linguistic practices and oral/visual/experiential practices. A connection between literacy practices, training, and actual practice associated with this accident will be discussed throughout the chapter. I detail the methods that I used for the study in the other book, however, I present that information here as well, since the same methods can be used to collect information to facilitate study within the framework of this model.