Review of Write and Organize for Deeper Learning by Patti Shank, PhD

Patti Shank book signed for Cara North

This book review is extremely overdue.  I’ve had the luxury of taking the rest of the year off from work and since I hate to clean, the weather is perfect to curl up and read.  I took advantage of that today and finally got around to reading Patti Shank’s Write and Organize for Deeper Learning book.  I met Patti virtually earlier this year through my work with the TLDC and she’s a lovely person.  She sent me a copy of her book and I was not paid or required to review it.

I can remember the first learning and development book I was required to read.  My manager at Amazon purchased each of us a copy of “Telling Ain’t Training”.  I love “Telling Ain’t Training” because of the practical applications throughout.  Reading Patti’s book, I was reminded of this and enjoyed the practical tactics peppered throughout.  My co-worker calls these “pro tips” and they are presented in a way that can be applied regardless of your learning and development setting and background.

In Chapter 1, Shank asks the reader to summarize each section and provides points throughout the book to take notes.  I did not want to write in my book so I used my new Rocketbook to outline the science Shank says many do not use in building instructional materials.


My version of the exercise on page 24.

Shank argues that in order to develop instructional materials that lead to deeper learning, a learning and development professional should use four strategies:

  1. Understand your audience’s needs.
  2. Write for clarity.
  3. Make text readable and legible.
  4. Organize for memory and use.

I do not want to spoil the fruits of the book but if you are familiar with Quality Matters, many of Shank’s tips will be familiar.  Particularly the importance of knowing your audience and writing learning objectives from the audience’s point of view is imperative so there is an understanding of what is expected of the materials/training.  The material provided on avoiding wordiness was a good reminder for me.  I am spoiled by having access to an editor at work but I know it won’t always be that way.

I also enjoyed Shank’s perspectives on readability.  She even shares the readability score of the book at the end.  This was something that I first learned about at my tenure at Amazon.  Much of the Kindle training for the Tier II associates was technical and it was challenging to write materials at a level that is easy to read.  Additionally, Amazon has Kindle associates all across the globe, many of them were ELL.

The book was an easy read with tons of information that was presented in a way that made it easy to digest.  This book is great for someone transitioning into learning and development and also serves as a good reminder for those who have experience.




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