June 9, 2014

Getting-into-it exercises

We used to start our training sessions with an extensive presentation on the topic of the training. The reason for doing this to give the participants could a good introduction to the topic so that they could get a good idea of what the training day was going to be about. Sometimes. during our presentation, after 20 minutes or so, we would notice that some participants' attention would drop a bit. But, hey, we thought, it would be better to finish the presentation anyway. Otherwise they wouldn't have heard the whole background story of the topic, which wouldn't be good, of course.

At one point, it must have been around 2007, we did a large scale evaluation among ex-participants of our training courses. The question we asked them was: which parts of our training course have you found most useful? We were somewhat surprised when we we looked at the results of that evaluation survey. The clear result was that all parts which involved practicing were seen as most useful; practicing with  other participants, with us as trainers and with a live-client. But that was not all that the survey revealed. It also showed that a disappointingly low percentage of the ex-participants had found the presentations about theory, which we used to do at the beginning of our sessions, useful.

After getting this feedback we have changed a few important things in our training courses. For one, we have put much more emphasis on practicing and a lot less on presenting. Also, we start our training sessions differently. We do this by what we have come to call getting-into-it exercises. Within one or two minutes after starting the session we ask the participants to form pairs with another participant whom they're curious about. We ask them to have a conversation which is related to the topic of the training course. First, one of the two will start to tell something, in about 5 minutes. After that, it's the other person's turn. Some examples of questions we may ask them in these getting-into-it exercises are:
  • Tell each other about a gratifying moment you have recently experienced in you work
  • Tell each other about some progress you have recently made in something which is important to you
  • Tell each other about a conversation you have had recently had which you were satisfied with
  • Tell each other about something you have tried and which went well
The advantage of this type of getting-into-it exercises is that participants do not have to listen to a long story by the trainer and perhaps get a bit bored or distracted after 10 minutes or so. Instead, they start to talk right away about something which is interesting or important to them with someone they like. The conversation are thus autonomy-supportive (because they can choose themselves what they talk about), competence-supportive (because they can talk about something that they have done well), and relatedness-supportive (because they can talk with someone they are curious about and whom they will probably like). Getting-into-it exercises will usually give participants a very pleasant start of their training day and will make them feel active and involved right away.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner