U.S. Coast Guard reduces training time and improves performance with the Information Mapping® method

coastguardThe U.S. Coast Guard’s mission addresses issues of national defense, maritime safety and natural resource protection. With about 42,000 personnel on active duty, the Coast Guard’s training needs are extensive and often highly specialized.

Since the mid-1980’s Coast Guard trainers have been using Information Mapping techniques to ensure the effectiveness of their training programs.

Challenge: Performance support for new Boarding Officers

Coast Guard Boarding Officers board and inspect commercial vessels in accordance with detailed and complex regulations. Inspection policies and procedures vary, depending on factors such as the vessel’s length, tonnage, number of persons aboard, and the type of commercial activity in which it is engaged. Boardings and inspections often take place on the high seas, under less-than-ideal conditions.

Coast Guard trainers faced the challenge of creating training that would help inexperienced Boarding Officers perform inspections in accordance with regulations, regardless of conditions.

Solution: Job Performance Aid and User Guide

Coast Guard trainers developed the Coast Guard Boarding Officer Job Performance Aid (JPA) to provide Boarding Officers with the information they need to achieve efficient, accurate inspections. The JPA enables a Boarding Officer to enter data about a vessel under inspection into a hand-held Personal Digital Assistant. The JPA then guides the Boarding Officer through an appropriate inspection process based on the applicable regulations.

The members of the Coast Guard training design team that created the JPA applied Information Mapping principles to design a highly effective User Guide. The Guide features

  • integrated screen shots
  • separation of information types
  • consistency in terminology and presentation, and
  • a constant focus on the user’s needs.

It is an excellent example of how the Information Mapping method can simplify complex procedures.

Resuits: improved performance and reduced training time

The JPA and accompanying User Guide have proven to be extremely successful performance support tools. Initially introduced in the Coast Guard’s 13th district, the JPA was quickly adopted by adjacent districts and then throughout the service.

Coast Guard trainers credit the JPA with “substantially reducing improper application of regulations” and with “real reductions in training time for new Boarding Officers.”

The JPA has also received an Award of Excellence from the International Society for Performance Improvement.

“The Information Mapping method gave us what we needed—replicable strategies for presenting training-related information. It’s a great tool that’s proven very effective for us.”

-- Commander Daniel Hardin, Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator, 13th Coast Guard District, USCG