Designing Effective Training

TRAINING THAT WORKS: Teaching effectively and affectively

Training isn’t very different from teaching. Training generally has more skill components and fewer conceptual components but the learning process is the same. Training is more likely to provoke transformative experiences because it involves connecting the four key elements of learning:

  • Knowledge acquisition,
  • Emotional engagement or caring,
  • Skill development,
  • Integration with a person’s life narrative or metacognitive system.

clip_image002_0000When you train people they have to learn what to do, how to do it and why it matters.They also have to decide what skill to use under which circumstances and be able to think about their reasons for choosing that particular skill. This entire process engages learners and activates Zull’s “emotion molecules.” Experienced teacher/trainers can easily recognize the beginnings of a transformative experience. It’s called the Light Bulb Effect or the AHA Effect. When it happens, you can’t miss it.

Basic Principles…

  • FOCUS ON LEARNING- You can’t design any effective training program until you know what participants need to learn and be able to do.This is why so many “off the shelf” training designs are ineffective. They have generic learning goals and don’t take into account what your participants already know or care about.
  • Feelings- Ask yourself what feelings most effectively anchor this knolwedge in your participants’ heart/minds. These feelings should be positive and will probably come from previous experiences with the subject. Typical feelings are enthusiasm, curiousity, self-enhancement, self- confidence,  to name a few. Take a moment to think of an example from your own experience. For example, if you are teaching students active listening skills, ask them to recall the last time they spoke to somebody who listened to them with undivided attention. What did that feel like? How was it different from an ordinary conversation?
  • Information-  The students may need to place this learning in a broader context than the one they previously used  or make their information more accurate or complex. For example, if your are doing “training” about cross-cultural communication, you may want to give white students information about the reasons why the Black Lives Matter movement got started, or share some history about slavery or the civil rights movement.You may want to tell non-Asian students how the “model minority” myth got started. You may want to invite one or morepeople who are members of the group you are talking about to share their experiences with your students before you begin training. If people are learning to communicate about difficult topics, they need to have some understanding about the reasons for the difficulty and that usually involves some historical information or cultural analysis. There are large numbers of film clips on YouTube that can help with this process.
  • Skills –Identify the skills that students need to develop to anchor this learning in their own life experience. If you know the people you are training, you should have observed some of the skill deficiencies before you begin designing the program. Examples of skills are  self-disclosure (not blaming), non-judgmental feedback (I noticed that every time you talk about [whatever topic] your foot starts jiggling.) empathy, ability to reframe previous constructs or ideas, ability to manage personal discomfort,  to apologize for inadvertantly offenseive remarks and other microaggressions. Categories of skills include interpersonal, conceptual/analytic, manual and behavioral.
  • clip_image004Metacognition – Explore the range of reasons why this particular information and skill set might matter to students. Does it match their idea of who they are or want to be/come (identity/self), what they love to do (creative expression) , what beliefs they hold about the way the universe works ( spiritual or meaning making) or what they hope to contribute to the human community (vocation). If your trainees are student leaders of any sort, they may simply need these new skills and knowledge to be more successful in their leadership roles. Remember that nobody learns anything they don’t care about. You can’t train people if they don’t understand why they need to know whatever it is you want them to learn. It’s not a mechanical process.
  • Planning – The most important part of designing effective training programs is careful planning, based on adherence to these principles. After you have carefully considered what you want your trainees to learn, you can evaluate the relevance of prepackaged designed and decide if they will help you achieve your goals.
  • Planning sheet (make one for yourself. Use this as an example if you wish.)
Skills (be specific)
List what you want trainees to be able to do and why
1. 2. 3.
Information
What should they understand about this subject conceptually, historically and culturally?
1. 2. 3.
Feelings
Do you know what their attitudes and experiences are with this particular subject and skill set? Is it positive or negative?
     
Metacognition
Do they want to attend this program? Do they know why they need to know? Are they curious?
     

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