Engaging leadership training – fostering social interaction skills through e-learning and blended solutions


  • Kirsti Lonka
  • Elina Ketonen
  • Kitte Marttinen
  • Markus Talvio




e-learning, blended learning, leadership, training, social interaction skills, online learning


The Engaging Learning Environment (ELE) model was introduced into a company’s work-place to support the learning and well-being of the employees. The participants were 107 middle managers: E-learning group (n = 42) and a comparison group (n = 42) as well as a blended ELE intervention group (n = 23) assigned by the company that combined e-learning and face-to-face sessions. All groups participated in pre- and post-tests. The participants’ knowledge was assessed by 16 MCQs and their application skills by the Dealing with Challenging Interaction (DCI) method which consisted of case studies. The descriptions of how to act in case situations were content analysed. A repeated measures GLM was used to determine whether knowledge and skills changed during the leadership training, and whether their belonging to one of the groups had any bearing on this. The analysis showed that the e-learning group improved their performance more than the comparison group and the results of the ELE intervention group improved even more. Therefore, it is possible to learn communication skills online.


Download data is not yet available.


A rnold, K. A., Turner, N., Barling, J., Kelloway, E. K., & McKee, M. C. (2007). Transformational leadership and psychological well-being: The mediating role of meaningful work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12(3), 193–203. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8998.12.3.193

Aspegren, K. (1999). BEME Guide No. 2: Teaching and learning communication skills in medicine: A review with quality grading of articles. Medical Teacher, 21(6), 563–570. https://doi.org/10.1080/01421599978979

Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

Batalla-Busquets, J.-M., & Pacheco-Bernal, C. (2013). On-the-job e-learning: Workers’ attitudes and perceptions. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 14(1), 40–64. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v14i1.1304

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1993). Surpassing ourselves: An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise. Chicago: Open Court.

Bonk, C. J., & Graham, C. R. (2006). The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Brown, R. F., & Bylund, C. L. (2008). Communication skills training: Describing a new conceptual model. Academic Medicine, 83(1), 37–44. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e31815c631e

Cegala, D. J., & Broz, S. L. (2002). Physician communication skills training: A review of theoretical backgrounds, objectives and skills. Medical Education, 36(11), 1004–1016. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01331.x

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

Ericsson, K. A., & Lehmann, A. C. (1996). Expert and exceptional performance: Evidence of maximal adaptation to task constraints. Annual Review of Psychology, 47(1), 273–305. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.47.1.273

Ericsson, K. A., & Smith, J. (Eds.) (1991). Toward a general theory of expertise: Prospects and limits. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ericsson, K. A., Prietula, M. J., & Cokely, E. T. (2007). The making of an expert. Harvard Business Review, 85(7/8), 114–121.

Frey, L. R., Botan, C. H., Friedman, P. G., & Kreps, G. L. (1992). Interpreting communication research: A case study approach. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Gegenfurtner, A., Veermans, K., Festner, D., & Gruber, H. (2009). Motivation to transfer training: An integrative literature review. Human Resource Development Review, 8(3), 403–423. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534484309335970

Gordon, T. (2001). Leader Effectiveness Training (L.E.T.): The proven people skills for today’s leaders tomorrow. New York: Penguin Putnam.

Gordon, T. (2003). Teacher effectiveness training. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Grant, A. M., Christianson, M. K., & Price, R. H. (2007). Happiness, health, or relationships? Managerial practices and employee well-being tradeoffs. Academy of Management Perspectives, 21(3), 51–63. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2007.26421238

Grossman, R., Salas, E., Pavlas, D., & Rosen, M. A. (2013). Using instructional features to enhance demonstration-based training in management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(2), 219–243. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2011.0527

Hakkarainen, K., Palonen, T., Paavola, S., & Lehtinen, E. (2004). Communities of networked expertise: Professional and educational perspectives. Amsterdam: Pergamon.

Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 111–127. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4102_4

Hlupic, V. (2014). The management shift: How to harness the power of people and transform your organization for sustainable success. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137352958

Hodges, B. (2006). Medical education and the maintenance of incompetence. Medical Teacher, 28(8), 690–696. https://doi.org/10.1080/01421590601102964

Hotho, S., & Dowling, M. (2010). Revisiting leadership development: The participant perspective. Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, 31(7), 609–629. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731011079655

Ketonen, E., Talvio, M., & Lonka, K. (2014). Engaging Learning Environment (ELE) for leadership training: Fostering interest and epistemic change. 2014 International Conference on Advanced Education and Management (ICAEM2014) (pp. 104–111). Lancaster: DEStech Publications.

Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. New York: Cambridge Books.

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Leader effectiveness training L.E.T. (n. d.). Retrieved from http://www.gordontraining.com/leader-effectiveness-training-l-e-t/.

Lonka, K. (2012). Engaging learning environments for the future: The 2012 Elizabeth W. Stone lecture. In R. Gwyer, R. Stubbings, & G. Walton (Eds.), The road to information literacy: Librarians as facilitators of learning (pp. 15–30). Berlin, Munich: De Gruyter Saur.

Lonka, K. (2018). Phenomenal learning from Finland. Keuruu: Edita Publishing.

Lonka, K., & Ahola, K. (1995). Activating instruction: How to foster study and thinking skills in higher education. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 10(4), 351–368. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03172926

Lonka, K., & Ketonen, E. (2012). How to make a lecture course an engaging learning experience? Studies for the Learning Society, 2(2/3), 63–74.

Lonka, K., Olkinuora, E., & Mäkinen, J. (2004). Aspects and prospects of measuring studying and learning in higher education. Educational Psychology Review, 16(4), 301–323. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-004-0002-1

Marton, F., Dall’Alba, G., & Beaty, E. (1993). Conceptions of learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 19(3), 277–300.

Marttinen, K., Patala, T., Ketonen, E., Ruusunen, R., & Lonka, K. (2012). Students’ and teachers’ perceptions of an innovative blended learning environment – Case Porvoo Campus. Open learning generations. Closing the gap from “generation y” to the mature lifelong learners. Paper presented in EDEN Annual Conference. Porto, Portugal.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mortagy, Y., & Boghikian-Whitby, S. (2010). A longitudinal comparative study of student perceptions in online education. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning & Learning Objects, 6(1), 23–44. https://doi.org/10.28945/1128

Muis, K. R., Pekrun, R., Sinatra, G. M., Azevedo, R., Trevors, G., Meier, E., & Heddy, B. C. (2015). The curious case of climate change: Testing a theoretical model of epistemic beliefs, epistemic emotions, and complex learning. Learning and Instruction, 39, 168–183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.06.003

Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Connelly, M. S., & Marks, M. A. (2000). Leadership skills: Conclusions and future directions. Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 155–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1048-9843(99)00047-8

Paavola, S., Lipponen, L., & Hakkarainen, K. (2004). Modeling innovative knowledge communities: A knowledge-creation approach to learning. Review of Educational Research, 74(4), 557–576. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543074004557

Paechter, M., & Maier, B. (2010). Online or face-to-face? Students’ experiences and preferences in e-learning. Internet & Higher Education, 13(4), 292–297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.09.004

Pekrun, R. (2005). Progress and open problems in educational emotion research. Learning and Instruction, 15(5), 497–506. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2005.07.014

Renkl, A., Mandl, H., & Gruber, H. (1996). Inert knowledge: Analyses and remedies. Educational Psychologist, 31(2), 115–121. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3102_3

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). Overview of self-determination theory: An organismic-dialectical perspective. In E. L. Deci & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of self-determination research (pp. 3–33). Rochester: University of Rochester Press.

Sandström, N., Eriksson, R., Lonka, K., & Nenonen, S. (2016). Usability and affordances for inquiry-based learning in a blended learning environment. Facilities, 34(7/8), 433–449. https://doi.org/10.1108/F-12-2014-0097

Talvio, M. (2014). How do teachers benefit from training on interaction skills? Developing and utilising an instrument to evaluate teachers’ social and emotional learning (Doctoral dissertation). Helsinki: University of Helsinki. Retrieved from http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-0188-4.

Talvio, M., Ketonen, E., & Lonka, K. (2014). How long lasting are the effects of training on interaction skills? Teachers’ sample. In 2014 International Conference on Advanced Education and Management (ICAEM2014) (pp. 125–131). Lancaster: DEStech Publications.

Talvio, M., Lonka, K., Komulainen, E., Kuusela, M., & Lintunen, T. (2012). The development of the Dealing with Challenging Interaction (DCI) method to evaluate teachers’ social interaction skills. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69(24), 621–630. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.11.454

Talvio, M., Lonka, K., Komulainen, E., Kuusela, M., & Lintunen, T. (2013). Revisiting Gordon’s teacher effectiveness training: An intervention study on teachers’ social and emotional learning. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 11(3), 693–716.

Talvio, M., Lonka, K., Komulainen, E., Kuusela, M., & Lintunen, T. (2015). The development of teachers’ responses to challenging situations during interaction training. Teacher Development, 19(1), 97–115. https://doi.org/10.1080/13664530.2014.979298

Teacher effectiveness training T.E.T. (n. d.). Retrieved from http://www.gordontraining.com/school-programs/teacher-effectiveness-training-t-e-t/.

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our times. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Tynjälä, P. (2008). Perspectives into learning at the workplace. Educational Research Review, 3(2), 130–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2007.12.001

Tynjälä, P. (2013). Toward a 3-P model of workplace learning: A literature review. Vocations and Learning, 6(1), 11–36. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12186-012-9091-z

Vaara, L. J. (2018). Young business generations – a technology-mediated application of the Engaging Learning Model. K. Lonka (Ed.), Phenomenal learning from Finland (pp. 154–155). Keuruu: Edita Publishing.

Van Dierendonck, D., Haynes, C., Borrill, C., & Stride, C. (2004). Leadership behavior and subordinate well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 9(2), 165–175. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8998.9.2.165

Vermunt, J. D. (1995). Process-oriented instruction in learning and thinking strategies. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 10(4), 325. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03172925

Wall, J., & Ahmed, V. (2008). Lessons learned from a case study in deploying blended learning continuing professional development. Continuing professional development. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 15(2), 185–202. https://doi.org/10.1108/09699980810852691

Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic content analysis (2nd. ed.). Beverly Hills: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412983488

Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




How to Cite

Lonka, K., Ketonen, E., Marttinen, K., & Talvio, M. (2019). Engaging leadership training – fostering social interaction skills through e-learning and blended solutions. Eesti Haridusteaduste Ajakiri. Estonian Journal of Education, 7(1), 28–49. https://doi.org/10.12697/eha.2019.7.1.02b