“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” Arthur Ashe
If learners lack confidence in their mastery of new learning when they leave the classroom, they are much less likely to apply this new learning back at their work site. As a result, the prime mission of every trainer should be to build the learners’ confidence in their own competence.
There are three closely related approaches that a trainer can take to accomplish this. Together, all three approaches will ensure that the learners have the preparation they need.
First, plan for the learners to demonstrate their learning in the classroom. When designing the curriculum, the learning objectives should identify what the learners will do both to learn and to validate their learning during the learning session.
For example, the learning objectives for a program on coaching might include that the participants will: explain how to prepare to conduct a coaching session, discuss how to script the coaching conversation, outline the steps involved in conducting the coaching conversation, and prepare, script and conduct a coaching session.
The learning objectives for a program on sexual harassment might include that the participants will: describe examples of sexual harassment, and outline what to do in different situations that result in sexual harassment.
Second, ensure that the learners are able to get immediate feedback regarding their mastery of the new learning.
By definition, participatory learning activities enable learners to practice and, at the same time, assess their ability to use new learning.
For example, learners can check their level of comprehension by responding to a questionnaire, quiz, or case study, completing a writing assignment or giving a short report or presentation on the topic.
They can test their ability to apply the new learning by using it in a hands on exercise, problem solving activity, simulation or role-play.
Third, provide practice opportunities for learners that require them to assume increasing responsibility for their learning.
Brain studies have found that learners need three examples or iterations to learn new skills or concepts. Therefore, ideally they should have at least three practice sessions.
In the first practice session, the trainer can walk the entire group of learners through a new process or procedure. In the second practice session, the learners can work in small groups so that they can support each other. They still have access to the trainer if they have any questions. In the third practice session, the learners should work independently or, if that is not practical, then in pairs or triads.
The learners’ reliance on the trainer will be gradually decreased as the learners’ confidence in their own competence increases. By the time of this third practice session, the learners should be sufficiently prepared to perform without the assistance of the trainer
Planning for learners to demonstrate their learning in the classroom, using learning activities that provide immediate feedback regarding learner mastery, and providing for practice that gradually increases learner responsibility and independence will help to build the learners’ confidence in their own competence.
May your learning be sweet.