Tip #86: Auditing Training: Looking at the Learning Facilitation Decisions

he third training decision category is what the trainer will do to facilitate the acquisition of learning. This includes group facilitation and stand up presentation activities.

The findings from an audit of the first three weeks of Motor Vehicle Services Specialist 2 classroom training will help to elaborate on the types of strengths and deficiencies I have observed in this category.

Learning Facilitation Strengths and Deficiencies:

Motivation, or the learner’s intent to learn, is one of the most important factors in successful accomplishment. Dr. Hunter has identified six professional techniques which have high potential for increasing a learner’s motivation or intent to learn: (1) Level of Concern; (2) Feeling Tone; (3) Success; (4) Interest; (5) Knowledge of Results; and (6) Intrinsic-Extrinsic Motivation. Both instructors use many of these techniques very effectively. This week, we will review the third and fourth techniques.

3. Success Strengths

In order to feel successful, one must expend effort and have a certain degree of uncertainty about the outcome. Learner success is responsive to two factors which the instructor controls: (1) the level of difficulty of the learning task and (2) the teaching skills which will make the learners’ learning more probable.

The training materials ensured that the level of difficulty of the learning task was not unreasonable. They were relevant, complete, well organized, easily accessible and well explained. The materials were organized in three groups according to priority of use and need. The training manuals included the actual registration forms, laws, rules and memoranda. Of particular use was the breakdown of the Application for Title/ Registration (MV 1) form, which had a clear and concise commentary that summarized the relevant information at the end of each section.

The computer information was also clear, well organized, and in a logical sequence to assist learning.

As previously mentioned, the use of small work groups and the pairing of weak with strong partners at the computer terminals increased the likelihood of success for the trainees. Because of the large amount of technical information and the number of steps involved (identify the issue or problem, find the right information, answer questions and enter the information into the computer), there was a certain built in level of difficulty. The use of real life situations in the work problems and the use of actual applications in the computer simulations also ensured a certain level of difficulty due to variation.

The instructor used a number of professional techniques which made the trainees’ learning more probable.

On the first day, he gave good real life examples concerning sales and use tax which elaborated on information in the answers to the group work problems and expanded the application of that information.

As he helped the group with the analysis of the work problems, he added pertinent information regarding how this would typically come up in counter situations. He also explained the rationale behind answers that initially appeared ridiculous, so that the trainees would be able to explain the intent to customers.

On the second day, he called on a trainee who had done very poorly on the second exam and prompted her in the correct answer to the question about who can use her license plates. This followed a fifteen minute lecture and directed group discussion of the answer, so her success was guaranteed and her confidence increased. (Her next exam score was eleven points higher).

After lunch, the instructor asked the question about who can use the license plates again. Since the beginning of any class session is a prime learning time, this was an excellent technique to reinforce learning.

On that date, the group had a lot of trouble remembering the cost for duplicate plates. The instructor asked questions, drew choral responses, kept asking until he got the answer he wanted, and then went over it again from the top.

On the third day, he gave good clear calm explanations and examples to clear up confusion regarding the one stop entry of specific data.

Success Deficiencies:

Each work group was given a card with the work problem on it. The only time the other trainees saw the work problem was when the instructor showed it on an overhead.

First, it would be helpful to have someone read the work problem from the overhead before having the work group give the answer. The pace was too fast for many, including the auditor, to simultaneously read the problem, catch the answer, and take pertinent notes.

Second, it would be helpful to give out the problems and answers later, for the trainees’ future reference. This would: (1) accommodate the learning needs of those trainees who need more time to review; (2) help minimize the level of concern about sufficient time to take notes; and (3) assist them in remembering the pertinent information. As one trainee noted to the auditor, her notes were useless without knowing the wording of the work problem.

4. Interest Strengths

Interest in the learning task has been demonstrated to affect a learner’s intention to learn. The instructor can promote interest in two ways. First, the instructor can use the learners’ interest in themselves, by relating the material to be learned to the learners’ life, use of the learner’s name, and examples that refer to learners or experiences in the class.

Second, the material can be made more interesting by accentuating the novel or vivid: that which is different or unexpected. This can be done by a change in the instructor’s voice or position in the room, changing from lecturing to questioning, from instructor decisions to learner decisions, from paper to overhead.

Both instructors used all aspects of this motivational technique superbly.

Next week, we will continue our look at the third training decision category and provide audit examples of strengths and deficiencies in the last two techniques to increase learner motivation: Knowledge of Results and Intrinsic-Extrinsic Motivation.

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