Introduction to Training

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                                         Using Training Methods
                                          COMS 4322--Chapter 6

Classroom Training Approaches or Methods—Refers to the procedures used to present
training material. Normally done outside the work setting. For example, a classroom can be any
space away from where the employees typically work. It is best to do training away from the
working area for several reasons:
1. A classroom setting allows for a variety of training techniques like video/DVD, lecture,
     discussion, etc.
2. The environment can be designed or controlled to minimize distractions and create a climate
     conducive to training.
3. Classroom settings normally can accommodate a larger number of trainees than a job setting.
4. As a result of all this, a classroom is usually a more efficient locate to deliver training.
     But there are disadvantages as well:
          Having a separate classroom can increase the cost of training (travel, rental or lease of
             room, extra equipment, etc.)
          A different location can make the transfer of training a bit more difficult for some
             (moving people away from their areas of comfort can be a distraction).

The primary categories of classroom training are:

1. The Lecture Method—The oral presentation of information by a subject matter expert to a
     group of listeners. A very popular means of presentation for training and can be used for any
     size of training class (lecturing is flexible). Able to reach large numbers of trainees in a short
     amount of time (lecturing is economical). Best used in some combination with a variety of
     audio-visual aids. But there are certain realities that need to be considered before using this
     method:
 Emphasis on one-way communication, giving the trainer nearly total control over what occurs
     in the session. Just as the trainer has control (which can be good), it tends to keep the training
     “trainer-centered”, which is bad. Other negatives to using the lecture method are:
 Minimal interaction between and among trainees
 Often creates passivity and boredom amongst trainee
 Trainees must be motivated to learn since there is little impact on attitudes/behaviors (often
     fails to engage the trainees).
A recent survey finds that only 17% of trainees believe this is an effective delivery method.
All that being said, the evidence also suggests that if the lecturer is interesting and shows the
trainees how the material is relevant to their needs (provides value) and combines lecture with
other means of delivery (role plays, audio-visual, case studies, etc.) this can be an effective way to
train.

The lecture/Discussion concept: not true lecture and not true discussion. But it takes the idea of a
lecture and attempts to bring the trainees into the mix. When done right, this creates the
perception of more interaction with the trainer and less chance of boredom creeping in. In reality,
it’s the perception that counts. For if the trainees feel included in the training then we don’t have to
worry if it is truly lecture or truly discussion.

If you need to use the lecture method, consider several basic points:

       Anticipate your audience and what is relevant to them, as well as their learning styles. You
        must show trainees why this training is important for them to know. How can they use this
        in their jobs and how can it help their careers?
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        Develop a partial outline (schema) of what you want to cover. And make note of where
         the visual support needs to do. This can be effective if you are teaching something new
         and the trainees need some structure to start with. This provides them a starting point to
         build from.

        You need your content to be well organized with previews, main ideas, transitions, etc.
         This is true for just about any message you deliver, training-related or not. When any form
         of communication is poorly organized it puts excessive burden on your audience.
         Consequently, the communicator will lose the interest and attention of members of the
         audience due to this.

        Build in redundancy. Reiterating main points is not the same as simply repeating yourself.
         When your primary delivery method is oral, you will need to restate and reemphasize key
         concepts in order for you audience to comprehend what they need to know. In short, it
         takes more time to deliver a lesson orally than it does in written format. And the so-called
         “feed-forward message” is a tactic used to alert your audience that what is to come is very
         important and they need to pay attention.

        Be sure to deliver this with an extemporaneous speaking style and anticipate obvious
         questions from your trainees. The term “immediacy” refers to the idea of making your
         lecture come alive and be interesting. You’ve all had boring professors drone on and on
         and you know how hard that it becomes to pay attention. Movement, eye contact,
         personal interaction with the trainees, etc. can aid in immediacy. But this must be genuine.
         Never try to fake immediacy or you’ll likely be perceived as a phony.

        Engage the trainees and encourage them to share with you what they learned or wanted
         to learn from the session. Trainers cannot afford to have their trainees mentally “check
         out” so here are a few suggestions to stop that from happening:
              1. Use a stimulus-prompt—a partial statement or question that requires the trainees
                 to complete the response. (Page 115)
              2. Use rhetorical questions—need to be a bit provocative or reflective; to get trainees
                 to think and become more interactive. Often used as a means of misdirection.
              3. Consider PTI (personal thought inventory) feedback—if attention is lagging a
                 trainer might have trainees write down what the concept is that they are studying,
                 why it’s important, and how they can use it in their jobs. This helps keep them
                 involved and gives the trainer some feedback in the process.


2. Experiential Methods—this requires the trainee to be more active; to participate in the training
   to a greater degree. Trainees get first-hand experience in dong what you’re training them to
   do. Communication kinds of experiential training are case studies, business games, and role-
   plays.

    Case studies help develop analytical problem-solving skills. They can be based on real (Project-
     based learning—PBL) or fictional problems, but they must be seen as realistic or they will fail.
     They can also fail if the members develop groupthink and just “go along to get along.” There is
     a potentially big upside to this method, but fraught with dangers if the trainees perceive the
     case study to be unrealistic or not pertinent to the workplace situations.
    Business games/simulations also help develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. This
     differs from a case study in that business games focus primarily on business management
     decisions. A rather specialized version of a case study.
    Role Playing is used by about one-third of all businesses that train. They can provide a real-life
     situation and offer insights for handing problems. If the role-plays seem hokey or phony, it will
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    fail quickly. Not every person feels comfortable doing this. And if the role-play can’t be linked
    or related to the workplace, it will have no value to the trainee.

  Advantages of Conducting Experiential Activities:
       Engages the trainees in the learning and they remember considerably more material.
       Bolsters the trainees’ self-confidence; the immediate feedback can be significant. (land-
         navigation example from long ago)
       Can help the trainees transfer the activities to their real working life
  Disadvantages of Conducting Experiential Activities:
       If underdeveloped the objective will fail or fall short and value is diminished.
       If they seem gimmicky and not realistic, the adult learners will dismissed them as a
         waste of time.
       May appear to be artificial—not realistic and same problem results as noted above.
       Can be seen as threatening or embarrassing if the trainees struggle with completing the
         activities correctly.

  Managing Experiential Activities: Five stages need to be conducted when using this training
  method.
            1. Planning—don’t use this unless you can meet your training objectives, which
                need to be observable, measurable, attainable, and specific.
            2. Preparing—Do your research, be ready to go and your instructions clearly
                delineated so the trainees can follow what you want them to do. Additionally,
                have your content and supplies organized
            3. Presenting—deliver your instructions clearly, get the people started in the
                training and stay active in the process; be a part of the training.
            4. Unpacking—this is the process of asking the trainees to make sense out of what
                you taught them. This may be the most important step in experiential activities
                since this is where the trainee sees how the training was relevant to their job or
                career needs. Our text describes the Experiences, Describe, Infer, and Transfer
                (E*D*I*T) steps in how unpacking may be accomplished (pages 122-123).
            5. Assessing—this is when you determine if you have reached your learning
                objectives. Chapter 11 discusses assessing methods in detail and will be covered
                then.

3. Facilitating Group Discussions—involves the trainer in two-way communication with the
   trainees and with each other. Participation is obviously encourages and this offers trainees an
   opportunity for feedback, clarification, and sharing points of view. This more dynamic style of
   training can overcome some of the limitations of straight lecture. Trainers must bring out
   opinions of trainees, and get them to learn through discussion. Necessary to provide a safe
   and open environment where trainees can speak without fear of ridicule or retribution. This
   method tends to be good for affective (feelings) dimensions of learning. When we can get
   people to talk about and share experiences, there is a greater chance of affective change in
   people’s attitudes.

  Advantages of Facilitating Group Discussions: (page 125)
      Involves all trainees
      Allows trainees to learn from other’s experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and values—the
         preferred way for most adult learners
      Often creates a perceived “safe environment” for sharing

  Disadvantages of Facilitating Group Discussions (page 125)
       Not always easy for the facilitators (trainers) to stay focused on keep the objectives in
         sight.
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            Some members withdraw and do not participate as much as they should
            Emotions can run hot depending on the topic and that is not always easy to control or
             manage

   Managing Group Discussions: The trainer always has be alert and watching for trouble signs that
   the groups are drifting away from the objectives. The trainer needs to be able to manage the flow
   of the discussion; keep the group on track, play the role of gatekeeper (shutting off some of the
   more talkative members while encouraging the less talkative ones to speak up more). Using this
   method requires one be skilled with groups and that can take time. This can be time-consuming to
   get the groups in full discussion mode. And trainees need to discuss topics they all know and can
   relate to or it becomes dominated by one or two members. But with experienced trainers and
   willing trainees, this can be an excellent method for delivering training.

     The group discussion is developed around certain stages: (pages 126-127)
     Present Stimulus—a set of trigger questions to provoke a reaction from the trainees.
     Set the Ground Rules—Do not interrupt others, describe rather than evaluate, and remain
     nonverbally responsive.
     Facilitate Group Interaction—use threaded discussion; shut down those who talk too much, and
     provide summaries.

The success of this method, however, depends on the ability of the trainer to initiate discussion and
manage the flow of it by asking one or more of the following types of questions:
    Direct or closed questions to illustrate or produce a narrow response
    Reflective questions used to mirror what was said and make sure the message was received as
      intended…and
    Open-ended questions allow trainees to express views and demonstrate that they know the
      material being taught.

Three common techniques used to facilitate group discussions:
          1. Threaded discussion—a question is asked, then responses are carefully integrated into a
               discussion or conversation with the members.
          2. Round-robin technique—each member goes in order; each participating so as to ensure
               all members make reasonably similar contributions.
          3. Computer-mediated communication—an on-line class or chat room discussion would be
               examples of this.

   4.        The Audio-Visual Method—this can bring complex events to life by showing and
   describing details that are often difficult to communicate in other ways. We can consider this
   method to consist of static media, dynamic media, and telecommunications:
                    Static Media—fixed illustrations that use both words and images. Examples are
                        such things as overhead transparencies, handouts, charts, guides, pamphlets,
                        etc. Computer-generated slides like Microsoft’s® PowerPoint® have gained
                        enormous popularity in recent years. While this is an excellent support vehicle
                        it tends to draw the users into more elaborate special effects (the bells and
                        whistles) and the message or substance can get lost in the form.
                    Dynamic Media—includes such material like compact discs, DVD’s, videotape,
                        film, etc. To be effective this needs to do more than simply reproducing
                        printed material of traditional lectures. Just showing a person on tape
                        delivering a lecture is hardly using this media effectively. Younger people
                        often like this style of training but it must have valuable content or don’t
                        bother with it.
                    Telecommunications—with the rise of gas prices, this might become more and
                        more popular since the audience does not have to be in one place at the same
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                  time. Increased access to satellites and cable options make this more
                  attractive. Teleconferencing is now being used by such companies as JC
                  Penney, IBM, AT&T, Domino’s Pizza and Texas Instruments.

Selecting the Best Training Method: Which training method noted above is best depends on
a number of variables. In order to make the right choice you need to consider the following:
    1. Your Trainees—their ages, their depth of experience, their personal characteristics, and
       more factors need to be considered before making your choice.
    2. Your Learning Objectives—Cognitive objectives may be served best with lecture format;
       behavioral objectives, however, are likely to benefit more from experiential activities, etc.
    3. The Advantages and Disadvantages—Every method has pros and cons and you need to
       decide if one outweighs the other. Nothing is perfect or flawless, so pick the one with the
       fewest drawbacks.
    4. Your Level of Comfort—We all have methods we prefer over others, and there’s nothing
       wrong with that. But do not become a slave to one method over others when logical and
       evidence dictates you need to use another style. Become versatile; expand your training
       skills to benefit your trainees.

				
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