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Ronald Jacobs

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University, 1980
  • M.S., Educational Technology, University of Toledo, 1975
  • B.F.A., Film Studies and English Literature, Ohio University, 1973

Key Professional Appointments

  • Professor, Workforce Development and Education, College of Education, the Ohio State University, 1997-2011
  • Associate Professor, Adult and Vocational Education, College of Education, the Ohio State University, 1992-1997
  • Assistant Professor, Adult and Vocational Education, College of Education, the Ohio State University, 1985-1992
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 1980-1985

Activities & Honors

  • Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University, 2011-present
  • President, Academy of Human Resource Development, 2012-2016
  • Awardee, Hall of Fame, International Adult and Continuing Education, 2013
  • Distinguished Expert Foreign Professor, State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), China , 2013
  • Editorial Board Member, Human Resource Development Quarterly, 2011-2013
  • President-Elect, Academy of Human Resource Development, 2011-2013
  • Issue Editor, 22(2), Human Resource Development Quarterly, 2011-

Research Statement

Ronald L. Jacobs is professor of human resource development and director of international programs in the College of Education. Ron’s current research topics of interest include formal learning in the work setting, employee competence, and adapting HRD practices to the societal level. Ron has written over 100 journal articles and book chapters, and has authored or edited six books that address a broad range of topics in the human resource development field.

Ron is particularly known for his research and development work on structured on-the-job training (S-OJT), a training approach that he first introduced to the HRD literature in 1987. He is the author of the book, Structured On-the-Job Training: Unleashing Employee Expertise in the Workplace (Berrett-Koehler, 2nd edition), which has become the standard guide to help managers and national policy officials to implement this training approach. There are now Chinese-Complex, Chinese-Simplified, Korean, and Arabic language editions of the book. Much of his research on this topic has been on determining the financial benefits of using S-OJT, information that has been critical for making more informed training decisions.

Ron is also known for his writing and perspectives on the HRD research process, system theory applied to HRD, performance consulting, and introducing the ISO 10015 training guideline to the field.

Since 1980, Ron has been responsible for the graduate training of over 300 HRD professionals. More than 30 of his Ph.D. graduates now teach HRD and HRM-related subjects in universities globally. Ron has been an invited professor at numerous international universities, including the University of Utrecht, National Taiwan Normal University, and he was the Shaw Distinguished Professor of Human Resource Management at Nanyang University, Singapore. He currently holds an adjunct professorship in human resource development at East China Normal University, Shanghai. He is professor emeritus of workforce development and education at the Ohio State University.

Ron has extensive consulting experience in global organizations including General Motors, KLM Airlines, Abbott Laboratories, Seagate, Morton Salt, Rohm and Haas, Kuwait National Petroleum Company, Biomet, ARAMCO, Hyundai Motors, among others. Common across all projects is the goal to help develop and improve workplace performance systems that respond to changing demands on employee competence. Dr. Jacobs actively integrates information from these various projects into his scholarship through partnership research projects and to his university instruction.

Ron enjoys sailing, golfing, and spending time at his summer home on Lake Erie.

Select Publications

  • Jacobs, R. System theory and human resource development. Handbook of Human Resource Development. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, US.
  • Huang, W., Jacobs, R. A comparison of the influences of different training approaches on trainees’ perceptions of self-efficacy to achieve training outcomes. Human Resource Development International.
  • Jacobs, R., Munn, S. Developing a dissertation research problem: A guide for doctoral students in human resource development and adult education. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development.
  • Jacobs, R. Perspectives on adult education, human resource development, and the emergence of workforce development. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, 26(1).
  • Chang, J., Jacobs, R. (2012). The Relationships Among Participants’ Characteristics, Perceptions, Nature of Involvement, and Outcomes in Strategic Community of Practice Programs in a Large Electric Utility Company. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 23(3), 341-362.
  • Jacobs, R. (2011). Editorial: HRD and management. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(1).
  • Park, Y., Jacobs, R. (2011). The relationships among investment in workplace learning, organizational perspective on human resource development, organizational outcomes of workplace learning, and organizational performance in Kor. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22(4), 437-458.
  • Choi, W., Jacobs, R. (2011). Influences of formal learning, personal learning orientation, and supportive learning environment on informal learning. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 22(3), 235-257.
  • Jacobs, R. (2011). Developing a Research Problem and Purpose Statement. Demystifying the writing and publishing process: A guide for emerging scholars. Sage: San Francisco.
  • Jacobs, R., Park, Y. (2010). A Proposed Conceptual Framework of Workplace Learning: Implications for Theory Development and Research in Human Resource Development. Human Resource Development Review, 8(2), 133-150.
  • Jacobs, R. (2009). Training and learning in the workplace. International Encyclopedia of Education, 3rd ed. Elsevier: Oxford, England.

In The News

Gift from '77 COE alumnus MuKeun Lee assures topnotch research by doctoral students for years to come

Apr. 24, 2014

Dr. MuKeun Lee has accomplished many things in his life, and now he is making certain that future doctoral students in the College will be able to do the same thing. Read more...

Ronald Jacobs picture

EPOL professor inducted into International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame

Dec. 12, 2013

Ronald Jacobs, professor of human resource development in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, and director of the office of international programs at the College of Education, has been inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame at the University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education. Read more...