Reflection without action is not learning. The first two parts of the 4MAT cycle, Engage and Share, emphasize the importance of reflection. In Practice, the learner moves into action.
Effective practice activities emphasize the development of the skills the learners will need to successfully apply the information in the real world. To determine the most effective activities to include in your training design, focus on the skills required to deliver the desired performance. Ask yourself: What behaviors must be executed consistently to deliver the desired results? What skills must the learner possess to competently execute these behaviors?
For example, if you are designing a product education course, the activities chosen should directly link to the desired outcome. In the left-hand column of the table below, you will find three variations of a skills outcome statement for a product education course. On the right, you will find a practice training activity that aligns with each outcome. Notice how the activity links to the outcome focus.
If the desired skill outcome defined for the course requires that learners adapt the information shared, learners should have an opportunity to practice adaptation. You will want to check the learners’ fundamental understanding of the content before creating an opportunity for creative adaptation.
Source: Engage, The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles (Wiley 2012)
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What makes a trainer great? Are they excellent at every role a trainer plays: facilitator, presenter, coach and evaluator? In observing many trainers and teachers, it is obvious that even the best have weaknesses. Sometimes they explain things poorly. Or, sometimes they tend to answer their own questions rather than waiting for responses. Or, their organization could use some help. What differentiates great trainers from mediocre ones is an awareness of their strengths and how to capitalize on them. And, most importantly, the ability to apply those strengths to weaker areas to achieve a “threshold” level of ability in the essential training skills.
If you want to create a team of transformative trainers or you yourself are on a mission to make an impact, worry less about every weakness and focus your energy on applying strengths to leading the four critical parts of the learning cycle.
- Discover your strengths. You can begin with the online Training Style Inventory.
- Practice applying your strengths in new contexts to deepen and broaden the ability.
- Notice what others do well. Model their ability through the lens of your own strengths.
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