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Organizing Training for Different Learners

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Organizing Training for Different Learners

When you are considering developing a training program for your employees, you would primarily focus on designing a training program that would impart the desired skills to your employees. Your primary focus would be on the ‘what to teach’ aspect of it. And you may overlook the other crucial aspect, i.e., ‘how to teach’. However, you need to respect the fact that a single pedagogical strategy cannot cater to the needs of all learners. You need to devise a multi-pronged instructional strategy to suit your learners’ learning styles and preferences. In short, if you want your training program to be effective, you need to recognize the different types of learners.

Types of Learners

Though there are different ways to differentiate learners, they all broadly distinguish learners as:

  • Doers: These people learn best by doing. They take interest in applying what they learn. In other words, they prefer hands-on experience to theory.
  • Feelers: These learners are outgoing. They prefer unstructured learning environments. They focus on emotions and feelings.
  • Observers: These people learning by watching and listening. They prefer learning by exploring.
  • Thinkers: These are independent learners. They like to analyze and discuss ideas and concepts with others.

Know Your Learners

Now, as part of designing a suitable training program for your employees, first attempt to know what type of learners you have. For this, make a suitable questionnaire and elicit responses. This will give you a fairly good idea about your learners. Depending on whether you have a homogeneous or heterogeneous learning group, you can adopt suitable training methods.

Decide on Suitable Learning Activities

Implement your pedagogical strategies depending on the various types of your learners. For instance, if you have a large number of doers in your learning group, provide lots of practice-based learning models. Present them real-time examples and hands-on activities. Couple them with short lectures, role plays, group discussions, and take-home exercises to suit other learning styles. It will balance your training program.

Adopt Positive Reinforcement

A training program should make sense to both the organization and the trainee. As the promoter of the training, you expect certain positive change in the performance of your trainees. Your trainees should feel that the training will add to their skill set and make them more productive in their work. You can achieve this when you fill your training with rich content and positive instruction.

You need also be able to evaluate whether your employees show the desired performance change. When they show it, you should compliment them and reinforce it. Otherwise, you need to guide them. For this you need flexible pedagogy and expert trainers. Ensure that your training program has that kind of flexibility.

As adults, your employees have already developed their own learning experiences; your training should complement these experiences by providing learning processes that suit their learning styles.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    Add a comment…The first step is to do a true Job and Task Analysis.

    In a Job Analysis you ask the following questions:
    1) What tasks will my people perform?
    2) Which job classification will perform those tasks?
    3) At what progression level will that person be expected to be able to perform that task?

    In a Task Analysis you would ask the following:
    1) What does successful performance of that task look like? (To answer this you would ask the following support questions)
    a) What does the person need to know?
    b) What skills does the person need to possess?
    c) What attitudes do they need to demonstrate?
    From this analysis process the basis for effective training can be established.

  • Koh Niak Wu

    Good article. We carry out training programmes to PMETs and a varied mix of these approaches usually work. Having said that, it is always difficult to yield the desired results across the board.

  • Mary Kay Wagner

    Effective training focuses primarily on the learners and secondarily on the content. The driving force is the goals, which are the answers to the questions, what do the learners need to be able to do when they have completed this training? and How will I know that they can do it?
    Knowing who your learners are; their needs, capabilities, preferences, and even the equipment they have access to, will give you the boundaries within which you need to design instructional strategies. The content then becomes the means to the end; answering the questions Michael posed in his post.

  • Robust training for adult learners always incorporates hands-on-practice and opportunities for adults to share their experiences, regardless of learning style or type.

    Even with a well balanced design, the facilitator must be knowledgable of learning styles as well, because rarely does a facilitator know ahead of time the types of learners that shall arrive at class. Keen observation of participants early on should help a facilitator know what approaches are effective with whom.

    Solid instructional design can overcome a weak presenter, much more so than an experienced presenter can compensate for a poor design!

  • The first thing to do is not to think about the different types of learners, and I am assuming you mean learning styles (Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist). Be aware of them and be aware of your learning style to as it will impact how you deliver training.

    To ensure that you cover all the learning styles you need to change your delivery style. That is deliver in a style that suits each learner, change style every 20 minutes or so, include doing activities for the activists and pragmatists and discussion and reading for the reflectors and theorists. Ask questions a lot so that all can participate, use visual aids – PowerPoint, flipchart, handouts and games to involve and motivate.