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


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

Awards, Honors, Associations

Distinguished Expert Foreign Professor State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), China, 2015 - 2015

Awardee, Hall of Fame International Adult and Continuing Education, 2013 - 2013

Professor Emeritus The Ohio State University, 2011 - present

Research & Service

Ronald L. Jacobs is professor of human resource development 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. His current work investigates how to address the development issues of knowledge workers.

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.


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

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. (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

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

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)

Jacobs, R.. System theory and human resource development. Handbook of Human Resource Development Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, US


President Academy of Human Resource Development, 2012 - 2016

President-Elect Academy of Human Resource Development, 2011 - 2013

Editorial Board Member Human Resource Development Quarterly, 2011 - 2013

Issue Editor, 22(2) Human Resource Development Quarterly, 2011 - 2011


Principles of HRE Study of the basic concepts and practices of education for and about work: its philosophical foundations and historical development, mission and goals, structure and function, curricular areas of emphasis, learner audiences served and settings in which programs are conducted, and issues and trends affecting program change. Course Information: 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.: its philosophical foundations and historical development, mission and goals, structure and function, curricular areas of emphasis, learner audiences served and settings in which programs are conducted, and issues and trends affecting program change.

Work Analysis The ability to analyze work is a fundamental skill for individuals interested in human resource development. Work analysis is necessary for identifying job standards, designing training programs, performance support systems, evaluating work performance, and perhaps most importantly improving performance. This course will provide students with the opportunity to learn and use range of work analysis techniques and to apply this information in service to an organization. Course Information: 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: HRD 400 or consent of instructor.

Strategic HRD Study of the theories, research, and applications of strategic human resource development in a variety of organizational settings.

Consulting in HRD Analysis of key elements of consulting in the human resource development profession. Emphasis is placed on subject matter expertise, consulting skills, marketing, organization, business management, communication, and life/work balance. The course examines both the internal and external consulting practices. Issues of education and training of consultants for work in industry, business, government, and non-profit sectors are covered in detail.

Learning on the Job Research and practice suggest that individuals learn most of what they know and can do while on-the-job, not in a corporate classroom or some other formal learning setting. This seminar will provide opportunity to examine the literature on this topic and consider how they also might contribute to the literature through their own research. The seminar will also provide the opportunity to experience how to design a workplace learning system, such as structured on-the-job training. Course Information: Prerequisite: HRD 400 and HRD 411 or consent of instructor.

Scholarly Perspectives in HRD Introduction to significant problems, points of view, and trends in the field; explores significant research relating to organization, content, and techniques. Topics vary; consult Class Schedule for specific section offerings. Course Information: May be repeated with approval.

Ron Jacobs

Professor, Education Policy, Organization and Leadership



358 Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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