Tip #565: The Power of Six in Training

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.” Abraham Lincoln

According to the Mastery Teaching Model designed by Dr. Madeline Hunter of UCLA, trainers make three decisions: (1) what content will be taught, (2) what the learners will do to learn and demonstrate their learning, and (3) what the trainer will do to create a positive and motivational learning environment.

The number six occurs during each of these decisions.

Within the content decision:

  • There are six basic steps in the design of a lesson plan for a training program:

(1) conduct a needs assessment to determine if training is needed and, if so, what needs to be covered and who needs to be in the target group.

(2) identify the learning goals: what general content will be covered in the program and what benefits of attending the training will accrue to the target group from their perspective.

(3) create the learning objectives, which identify in specific, observable and measurable language: what the participants will learn, what level of learning will be necessary, and how they will demonstrate that they have learned it.

(4) outline the agenda, which involves grouping contiguous learning objectives that share a commonality into discrete modules. The titles of these modules will comprise the training agenda.

(5) select the learning activities, making sure that they will achieve the desired learning levels, provide variety and meet the needs of different learning styles.

(6) plan how to evaluate if learning has occurred during the training. This may involve observing the results of learning activities during the training as well as any quiz at the end of the training session.

  • There are six levels of learning identified in Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy of Behavioral Learning Objectives, more easily referred to as the building blocks of learning:

(1) Knowledge: retrieving, recognizing, and recalling relevant knowledge from long-term memory.

(2) Comprehension: constructing meaning from oral, written, and graphic messages through interpreting, exemplifying, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, and explaining.

(3) Application: carrying out or using a procedure through executing or implementing.

(4) Analysis: breaking material into its constituent parts, determining how the parts relate to one another and to an overall structure or purpose through differentiating, organizing,and attributing.

(5) Evaluation: making judgments based on criteria and standards through checking and critiquing.

(6) Creation: putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing.

Within the learner activity decision:

  • The Perceptual Learning Styles model contains six different learning style preferences that should be taken into consideration when selecting and designing learning activities:

(1) Print: a person who learns best through reading books, journals, or magazines, and writing assignments.

(2) Aural: a person who learns best through listening to lectures and audiotapes.

(3) Interactive: a person who learns best through verbalization in small group discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and debate activities.

(4) Visual: a person who learns best through observation of films, videotapes, pictures, slides, graphs, tables, and demonstrations.

(5) Haptic: a person who learns best through the sense of touch in a “hands on” approach to learning, such as project construction, drawing, and model building.  

(6) Kinesthetic: a person who learns best while moving, by participating in simulations, physical motion activities, and physical games.

Within the trainer activity decision:

  • Madeline Hunter of UCLA also identified six learning techniques that have a high potential for increasing a participant’s motivation to learn.

The following techniques are intended to move participants from viewing learning as a means to an end (such as a grade or certification) to viewing learning as something satisfying in itself.

One or more of these techniques may be applied, depending upon what will be most appealing to and effective with the participants.

(1) Set learners up for success. Participant success is responsive to two factors which the trainer controls: (a) the level of difficulty of the learning task and (b) the teaching skills that will make the participants’ learning more probable.

(2) Give the learners knowledge of results. The amount, specificity and immediacy of the feedback that participants receive directly affects their performance of a newly learned skill or technique. When participants find out they are doing well, what needs to be improved, what to do to improve it, and then feel that there is a reasonable probability that they can improve it- they are motivated to try to accomplish that improvement.

(3) Build the learners’ confidence. If participants are to succeed, they must believe that when they expend effort- something they completely control- they will experience success. If, however, participants believe that success or failure is the result of ability, task difficulty, or luck- factors over which they have limited control- then there is no point in putting forth a lot of effort.

(4) Engage the learners’ interest. The trainer can promote interest in two ways. First, the trainer can use the participants’ interest in themselves. Second, the material can be made more interesting by accentuating the novel or vivid – that which is different or unexpected.

(5) Raise or lower the learners’ concern. The participant’s level of concern relates to how much the participant cares about learning. A moderate level of concern is necessary to increase the participant’s effort to learn. The level of concern can be raised or lowered as needed to increase the learning effort.

(6) Establish a positive feeling. Participants are most inclined to put forth effort to learn if they find the learning situation pleasant and if they anticipate that they will be successful (a pleasant feeling).

May your learning be sweet.


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