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AHRD Excellence in Scholarly Practice Awards

The awards are given for excellence in applying scholarly HRD theory and research to practice in a manner that brings measurable improvement to an organization and/or has the potential to advance the field of HRD.

The awards recognize HRD projects or interventions that exceed a total of 50 people days of work effort, and that have been completed within the last two calendar years or are still underway.

Submissions must come from named individuals (i.e. not a whole organization). A submission can name one or more people, but each must have had a substantial contribution to the project or intervention. In addition, a submission must contain the name of at least one AHRD Full Member with an active membership status at both the time of submission and at the time when the award winners are announced. (Note: non-members may join at No individual can be named in more than three submissions per calendar year.

Organizations described in the submission must be named (i.e. cannot be anonymous). However, those submitting control how much organizational information is shared outside of the review process by drafting an abstract that AHRD uses on its website if the submission is selected as an "Award Winner" (see details below).

  • Award Winners are recognized at the following year's AHRD International Research Conference in the Americas, receive a plaque, and are listed on the AHRD website together with an abstract of their submission.
  • Award Finalists are recognized at the following year's AHRD International Research Conference in the Americas, receive a certificate, and are listed on the AHRD website

Chair: Jason Moats

Submission Due Date: Wednesday, November 11 at 5:00pm Central time. There will be no extensions on the submission deadline this year.

Award Decisions to the Office: All awards winners are due back to by Monday – January 13, 2021 at 5:00pm Central time.

Award Criteria

Submissions are reviewed against four main criteria:

  • The organization – this covers:
    • Organizational setting
    • Process used to determine the organizational need and appropriate HRD response
    • Organizational need
    • History of relevant past interventions
    • Key stakeholders, and roles and responsibilities
    • Evidence of the positive and sustained results, and impact on the organization
  • Research – this covers:
    • Organizational information used in determining the HRD response
    • Extent of use of published research, theory and other scholarly HRD information
    • Specific research and theory used, with details on how it influenced design, development and implementation
  • Quality of the practice – this covers:
    • Goals and objectives of the HRD project/intervention, and metrics used to track impact
    • Design
    • Implementation
    • Outcome and results
  • Implications – this covers:
    • Lessons learned
    • Implications for HRD research, theory and researchers
    • Implications for HRD practice and practitioners
    • How implications have been shared with HRD practitioners and researchers

Nomination Process

The Award has clearly defined criteria and a submission must contain information for each specific criterion. Each section of the submission form has a word count limit. Typically, complete submissions are in the 4000-8000 word range. Each of the four sections should contains 1000-2000 words, so the total for all four sections is 4000-8000.

Review Process

Submissions are blind-reviewed by a panel of leading AHRD scholars. All submissions are reviewed by at least two academics and at least two scholar-practitioners. All reviewers have been published in refereed HRD journals and have been a member of AHRD for at least three years. See below for a list of the reviewers.

The review process consists of two stages, both of which are blind (i.e. the reviewers are not given any information about the organization or the names of those who submitted):

  • Stage 1 – every submission is assessed by four reviewers to identify those who meet or exceed the required standard. Those selected are "Award Finalists".

  • Stage 2 – all "Award Finalists" are reviewed by a panel of six reviewers (three academics and three scholar-practitioners) to determine the top three, which become the "Award Winners."

Award Winners


The 2018 winner will be announced at the 2019 Conference in the Americas.


No Award Given


Title of Submission: Flipping the Corporate Training Classroom: Challenging the Norm in Legal Technology Training

Names of Those Recognized: Crystal L. Fernandes-Harris, Learning & Development Specialist II, Day Pitney LLP; Carrie E. Kirby, Learning & Development Manager, Day Pitney LLP; and Robin S. Grenier, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership; University of Connecticut


Title of Submission: Harnessing a Learning Culture: Creating Strategic Alignment in Learning through a Strategic Imagining Process

Names of Those Recognized: Ann Herd, University of Louisville; Rod Githens, University of the Pacific; Brad Shuck, University of Louisville; and Al Cornish, Norton Healthcare


  • Ann Herd, University of Louisville
  • Rod Githens, University of the Pacific
  • Brad Shuck, University of Louisville
  • Al Cornish, Norton Healthcare


No Award Given


Title of Submission: Implementing 3D Virtual World Learning Environments at Avanade

Names of Those Recognized: Darren Short, Mahnaz Javid, and Danielle Livingston, Avanade, Inc.


No Award Given


Title of Submission: Formal orientation and learning programs and value of HRD

Names of Those Recognized: Tara D. Gray


Research indicates training and development is strongly linked to higher individual and organizational performance. Yet, many organizations forego formal orientation, training, and learning programs for reasons such as cost, time, lack of resources, focus on short term business results, poor understanding of benefits, and lack of skilled resources to identify needs for, develop, and sustain effective learning and development interventions. Instead, many organizations only provide their associates the minimum information needed to function in their roles. By not offering formal orientation and learning programs, organizations are neglecting to help associates become comfortable and confident with their new role; in addition to, hurting individual and organizational performance. This is a case study of an HRD practitioner assessing HRD needs of an organization followed by recommending, developing, and implementing learning and change management interventions to help improve individual and organizational performance. Specifically, the case study focuses on new hire orientation and on the job learning programs.

2010 Finalist

Title of Submission: Guiding Principles for Learning at Vanguard

Names of Those Recognized: Catherine Lombardozzi, Mary Ammerman, Lisset Avery, Carlla Archer Carr, Pamela Faust, Celeste Fornicola, Jean Grace, Andrew Hallman, and Gerald Rawson


The Guiding Principles for Learning project established a set of principles that are used to underpin the design, development, and implementation of learning and development projects at Vanguard. The project team also created resource materials and workshops for learning professionals to deepen their understanding of the principles.

The need for a set of guiding principles came out of a confluence of feedback and management observations. A focus group of corporate university managers agreed that designers and trainers needed to develop a deeper understanding of adult learning, but they did not want to create another formal program. Instead, the group chartered a team to create a Vanguard-specific list of core principles that could form the backbone of our learning and development work and be embedded throughout the university employees’ training and development experiences as an underpinning theme.

To establish the core principles of adult learning, the project team researched and analyzed 22 adult learning theories and drew on the practical experiences of professionals in the university. Based on these inputs, team members enumerated practical standards, which were categorized and refined to form a one-page chart of specific guiding principles. These principles (45+ statements) encompassed the areas of learner motivation, design characteristics, facilitation techniques, and manager support for learning.

In this case, impact is defined primarily by usefulness. The Guiding Principles became the core adult learning principles taught to learning professionals at Vanguard (in courses on design, facilitation, and consulting). They describe key criteria on which we judge our work, and underpin continuous improvement efforts. In a follow-up survey, employees in the University validated that they use the Guiding Principles in their day-to-day work, and we have evidence that management uses the principles in evaluating quality of design and facilitation. Clients have appreciated having insights into why we make certain learning recommendations.

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