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Training Strategies to Maximize Results

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” - Lee Iacocca

Training for the sake of training will not produce effective results. Exercises in training programs must be designed properly to maximize the desired results. To do so, consideration needs to be given to the audience type, size, venue for delivery and desired results from the training program. Your class should incorporate the appropriate level of exercises for you to achieve those results. The four levels of learning exercises are Awareness, Comprehension, Skill, and Mastery.

Awareness

Awareness is having or showing realization or perception. Enhancing skill sets through education and training cannot effectively begin without the student first being aware of the need to change. Awareness exercises are generally used to introduce new topics and require the student to empathize with others to appreciate the need for new and learned skills. Awareness exercises are often times included in course pre-work. The benefits of this strategy include:

  • Lay the foundation for learning new skills with the student
  • Effectively establishes the gap between current and desired skills
  • Spotlights skill areas that require improvement
  • Creates “buy in” from students before delivering comprehension and skill

Comprehension

Comprehension is the significance or meaning of facts or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, or experience. Comprehension takes place once the student becomes aware of changes that need to be made. Once awareness sets in, the student must take on the task of learning and understanding what must be accomplished in order to adopt that new skill. Comprehension is achieved through observation and participation exercises. Comprehension is often times conveyed through process maps, business models and graphical explanations. The benefits of this strategy include:

  • Reinforces the key elements of a topic by soliciting thought and feedback
  • Encourages group interaction to learn from others
  • Requires analysis of a situation and application of newly acquired information
  • Applies process and business models to solve an issue

Skill

Skill is the ability to use one's knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance. Skill level exercises are quite often based on interactive situational exercises. However, “role play” exercises are not the only form of reinforcement; skills can be developed through other forms of interaction. The objective of a skill level exercise is to establish a level of comfort with applying the comprehension of a subject. The benefits of this strategy include:

  • Establishes a comfort level with applying the newly acquired subject knowledge
  • Allows testing and applied learning in a safe environment
  • Synthesizes the information learned into a tangible and productive skill
  • Lays the foundation for success and the motivation to practice the skill to mastery

Mastery

Mastery is the possession or display of great skill or technique. Working from initial skill acquisition to mastery involves in-depth practice sessions, coaching, feedback, mentoring, and individual projects. Once a skill is mastered, maintaining and further enhancing that skill will require continual applications and feedback for fine tuning. At this level, the student possesses the capability and skill to now become the teacher. The highest form of learning is being able to teach that skill to others. The benefits of this strategy include:

  • Develops skills to their highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency
  • Increases productivity to their highest levels with fully developed skill sets
  • Incorporates skills and knowledge with business applications for further development
  • Creates a level of expertise that permits the student to become the mentor

So how do you teach these levels of learning? You might picture yourself lecturing and students listening. Lecture is definitely a part of training, but how much can a student handle before they stop listening? There are many studies on the attention span of students, which will explain the difficulty adult learners have in traditional lecture training programs. The average adult learner’s attention span is only 18-minutes. What does this mean? The best approach is when the trainer uses a combination of training methods to keep the attention and interest of adult learners. The following are a few examples:

Lecture

This is the most common, and often times, most overused method of transferring information. This training format is traditionally delivered to the entire class and can typically achieve the awareness or comprehension level of learning. You can vary your lecture by incorporating the following:

  • Share a personal story related to the topic
  • Use visuals to assist in making a point
  • Have students read from the workbook

Games

Games in the classroom can be an effective and fun method of transferring information. This training format is traditionally delivered in teams and can achieve a comprehension level of learning. Types of game shows you can emulate in the classroom include:

  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire
  • Jeopardy
  • Family Feud

Discussions

Adult learners tend to enjoy discussions with colleagues for transferring information. This training format is facilitated most effectively in small groups and can achieve a skill level of learning when given the opportunity to practice the new ideas. Types of information to share in a group discussion include:

  • Best practices
  • Pitfalls to avoid
  • Brainstorms on new methods

Projects

This method is time consuming for transferring information. Classroom projects can be completed by an individual, partners or teams. This method of teaching can achieve a mastery level of learning over time. Types of projects in the classroom include:

  • Class presentation
  • Case study
  • Interactive situational exercise

A good trainer understands that their job is to impart knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes. You must start by accurately documenting the goals, expectations and desired results of the training program. When adult learners understand the objectives for the training and the expectations of their performance after the training, they are more inclined to participate and learn from the course. Effective training is based on the formula that Information plus Inspiration from the class will lead to Implementation of the new skills, all of which results in performance Improvement.

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