Help Your Employees in Day-to-Day Operations With Luma

What does professional development look like at your organization? Is it effective? Is it engaging? Luma is committed to helping organizations design programs that best support employee education.

This case study illustrates an exemplary blended program at Notre Dame’s Research Administration. Consider how it might apply to your own organization.

Case Study

During the 2013-2014 academic year, members of the University of Notre Dame Research Administration, Research and Sponsored Programs Accounting, and other University units worked with Luma to design and develop an interactive blended training program for research administrators. They wanted training that was different, one that moved away from lecture-based PowerPoint sessions and engaged their trainees with a combination of face-to-face and online training.

The Result?

ResearchLifeCycleThe result is a program that helps trainees perform better in their day-to-day operations. As one trainee put it, “I believe I will be able to provide better support to the researchers and [principal investigators] as a result of this program.”

For the past two years, the Notre Dame Research Administration has offered the blended training to their unit, and beyond, with great success. The trainees are research administrators, business managers and staff who support researchers in the academy. The training focuses on the Research Lifecycle and is designed to help the trainee understand the entire Research Lifecycle and how he or she supports it, while also promoting empathy for the faculty’s role in research.

To date, over 80 people have been trained. Because of the training’s success, it is now offered beyond the research office to the broader academy. And trainees say they welcome the opportunity to participate in training like this more often. How often do you hear that at your organization?

So what makes this program unique?   

The overall training is comprehensive; it is composed of four structured, in-person training days and includes a networking lunch. Following the in-person training days, the trainees are invited to contribute to the research training community by developing eNuggets®. Each trainee plays an important part of the Research Lifecycle and is able to contribute their expertise for the benefit of the whole community. Check out their eNuggets® at the ND Research Administration Training Program Showcase website.

The following highlights the key elements and results of this training.

Faculty Perspective

Each session includes a faculty member or member of university leadership that provides his or her perspective on the relevant session topic, as well as videos that follow two fictitious researchers through various challenges and issues with their funded projects.

Instructional Design Research

Activities that result in application and integration of knowledge in real-world tasks are most useful to learners (Herrington & Oliver, 2000).


Trainees report that having faculty come in and share their perspectives is one of the highlights of the program.

“Speakers from different areas illustrate different perspectives on the same topics, which is very helpful.”

Content Relevance

The overall training is very comprehensive (more than 200 topics) and focuses on topics that are relevant to the research field today.

Instructional Design Research

Building relevance is key in design (Jonassen, 1999).


The trainees receive information, knowledge and tools that enable them to do their job more efficiently and effectively. They build confidence in their abilities to answer the most common questions encountered in research administration.

“Very informative and engaging. I learned something new.”

Active Participants

The four sessions include instructional hands-on sessions where trainees become active participants. In groups, through case studies, challenges, games and interactive activities, trainees are immersed in situations where they must think like research administrators.

Instructional Design Research

Providing opportunities for trainees to engage in problem-solving and decision-making skills within a content domain provides opportunities to transfer learning to real-life situations (Savery, 2009).


Administrators report that trainees are more active participants now. Prior to training, trainees were more passive participants.

“I appreciate the mix of methods/materials. The discussions during each class really help illuminate the different issues.”


Each session includes time for informal communication and networking. During this time, trainees can build connections with fellow professionals across campus that can continue to serve as resources beyond the training.

Instructional Design Research

Networking has the potential to foster meaningful relationships (Lowstuter & Robertson, 1995). For decades, the value of teams for learning and increased productivity has been discussed (Johnson & Johnson, 1996).


Trainees gain exposure to the high-caliber training on campus that has traditionally only been available by travelling to major universities or professional conferences. This helps to preserve universities’ limited travel budgets while also providing the opportunity for trainees to network and collaborate across units.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with people in other departments and roles from my own. The team building element of this training was invaluable.”

Project-based Collaboration

Trainees learn the term eNugget and work on creating content for an eNugget in support of the research administrator’s learning site. The OnDemand learning site is made up of topics the trainees feel are important, and they can access and use it as a resource after the training session.

Instructional Design Research

Providing adult learners choice over their learning and the opportunity to contribute to a broader purpose can increase engagement (Brookfield, 1986).


More than 30 training eNuggets® to date have been developed by groups to support research administration. The research administrator’s online learning site analytics show the site continues to be used after the face-to-face trainings.

“I thought the eNuggets® were one of the best methods of the program.”

Ongoing Opportunities to Learn

A celebration and eNugget® showcase event is held at the end of the program to share everyone’s hard work. This session also provides an opportunity for networking, reflection and celebration.

Instructional Design Research

Learning is ongoing. Thus, it is important to help trainees make their thinking explicit; help them see how much they have learned; and provide ongoing opportunities for reflection and growth (Schwartz, Lin, Brophy, & Bransford, 1999).


Trainees see the results of the training through the visual display of their eNuggets. They have the opportunity to access their work and the work of their colleagues.

“I am learning a lot about what my colleagues do and how I can support them.”

Want to explore how Luma can help your employee’s day-to-day operations? Feel free to contact us at any time!

Please contact Karen Pace, Director of Research Administration Policy, Training and Communications at or 574-631-8305 for more information on the Research Administration Training Program at the University of Notre Dame.


Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1996). Cooperation and the use of technology. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology: A project of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2nd ed., pp. 1017-1044). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Jonassen, D. (1999). Designing constructivist learning environments. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models (Vol. 2, pp. 215-239). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Lowstuter, C. C., & Robertson, D. P. (1995). Network your way to your next job … fast. McGraw-Hill.

Savery, J. R. (2009). Problem-based approach to instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth & A. A. Carr-Chellman (Eds.), Instructional-design theories and models (Vol. 3, pp. 143-165). New York, NY: Routledge.

Schwartz, D. L., Lin, X., Brophy, S., & Bransford, J. D. (1999). Toward the development of flexible adaptive instructional designs. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models (Vol. 2, pp. 183-214). Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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