COMS 4322-6-1 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? COMS 4322-6-2 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 COMS 4322-6-3 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. COMS 4322-6-4 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 COMS 4322-6-5 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.