I did a terrifying thing recently. I opened the door to our attic. After living in the same house for nearly 20 years (we never got into the trend of buying and selling houses) it would be fair to say that a lot of stuff has been accumulated. Not exactly junk (although there is plenty of that too) but also a lot of family memories. It has taken most of the winter to slowly clear it out. It’s not that our attic is that big, it’s just that there have been many distractions along the way: reading old letters, looking at photos and school books. In the process I came across some old text books from my first efforts at tertiary study. After picking up the books and sweeping the dust away I realised two things. One is that although the language is dated, the principles are still relevant and secondly, that many of those principles have become inherent learning for me and form much of my work practice today. The principles were about the teaching learning process (thanks to Anne Cronin Mosey) and form the basis of the skills that our training presenters at BDC possess.
The Teaching-Learning Process
Firstly, there’s the process before the training course commences:
- Learning goals set by the learner are more likely to be attained than goals set by someone else. In other words, the manager and the course participant together identify the learning needs and goals.
- The learner should understand what is to be learned and the reasons for learning.
Then there’s what happens in the training course. The presenter:
- Begins where the learner is at and moves at a rate that is comfortable for the learner.
- Takes into consideration the learner’s inherent capacities e.g. age, interests, gender, assets and limitations and cultural group membership.
- Actively encourages the learner to be an active participant in the learning process.
- Recognises there are individual differences in ways that anxiety affects learning.
- Reinforces understanding of the context or the big picture to enhance learning.
And just as importantly what happens after the training course influences whether the new actions or behaviours are adopted.
- The consequences or outcomes of learning the new skill or behaviour is important i.e. whether the new action is positively reinforced in the workplace.
- The opportunity for trial and error and imitation enhances learning i.e. whether trying out the new skills or behaviour are supported in the workplace or whether existing policies and procedures prevent this.
- Frequent repetition or practice facilitates learning.
- Practice in different situations encourages generalisation (applying the new skills to a new situation) and discrimination (determining the appropriate behaviour for one situation as opposed to another).
- Inventive solutions of problems should be encouraged as well as more usual or typical solutions.
Best Training Outcome
What strikes me as I look at the list is that the number of principles that affect learning is just as long for what happens in the training course as what happens after the training. In other words, it’s not just what happens on a training day that’s important but what happens both before and after the training.
So herein lies the lessons:
- The degree to which an employee is supported to identify training needs, learn new skills and be given opportunities to try them out is a responsibility not just for the employee but also for their managers or supervisors.
- Don’t open attic doors.
Posted by Julie Varney