Category Archives: training delivery

4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator: What if I only had a (left) brain?

The 4MAT Hemispheric Mode Indicator measures our preference for right-mode of left-mode thinking. With an awareness of your natural preference for one mode of thinking over another, trainers, instructional designers and learners can more readily recognize how to stretch into their under-utilized learning mode. Most of the participants in our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses share with us that the right-mode learning strategies are most likely to be missed.

We know now that the right brain plays an essential role in learning.  As recently as the early 1980’s, neuroscientists believed the right side of the brain was mostly unnecessary. Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Roger Sperry, shared in his 1981 Nobel lecture, the right hemisphere was “not only mute and agraphic but also dyslexic, word-deaf and apraxic, and lacking generally in higher cognitive function.” Sperry made it sound like our right brains might be non-essential.

What if you only had a left brain? If we look at patients who have suffered damage to the right brain, we will find a list of symptoms and inabilities that give insight into what would happen if you found yourself missing the right part of your brain. Here’s what that might look like:

  • You wouldn’t understand a joke.
  • You would have no idea what Forrest Gump meant when he shared the metaphor “life is like a box of chocolates.”
  • You would not be able to make sense of a map or any other visual tool.
  • A 2-year could draw a more realistic house, cat or dog than you.
  • You would have no concept of what Bob Dylan meant when he sang about “a rolling stone”:

              How does it feel

                           To be without a home

                           Like a complete unknown

                          Like a rolling stone?

All of the problems associated with right brain damage are related to the ability to relate one thing to another. The right brain enables us to make connections and synthesize which are essential acts in learning and innovation.

Without well-crafted right-mode learning strategies, learners have difficulty integrating learning into their lives. The 4MAT instructional model intentionally creates balance by moving the learner through a complete learning cycle while integrating both right and left-mode strategies.  We have to constantly ask ourselves, “How balanced are the learning experiences I am creating?”

What do you think gets in the way of effective use of right-mode instructional strategies?

Train-the-Trainer Tips: 7 Ways to Organize Lecture

In the 4MAT model, lecture happens in the step called “Inform”. In our 4MAT Train-the-Trainer sessions, we invite trainers and instructional designers to evaluate what it takes to deliver lecture well. “Well-organized” consistently shows up as the key criteria we all tend to use to evaluate lectures. Learners often describe painful lectures as “wandering”, “disorganized” and “all over the place”. There are many ways you can organize lecture. In this post, we will explore 7 Ways to Organize Lecture. Before we explore how to organize, let’s reflect on “How much is too much (lecture)?” and “How long is too long?”

How long is too long?

We explored the issue of “How Long is Too Long” when it comes to lecture in a previous post. According to brain expert, Dr. John Medina, we tend to drift off in lecture after the first quarter hour:

“Peer-reviewed studies confirm my informal inquiry: Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate.”

What trainers and instructional designers need to know about the limits of human attention :

-We tend to pay attention according to some “stubborn timing pattern”. In my experience, this pattern runs in 10-15 minute increments. Without some shift in delivery approach, learners tend to drift off.  Next to “organized”, the second most cited criteria by learners for evaluating lecture is “entertaining”. There are many ways to shift the delivery approach and increase the entertainment factor: stories, images, interactive processing, visual organizers, visual data presentation, and props all work to entertain and engage.

How much is too much?

 -Our working memory can only hold so much information. A good rule of thumb is 5 bits of information, plus or minus 2. When structuring your lecture, challenge yourself to identify the main topics and limit the total to 7 maximum. 5 is even better. Create an experience to reflect and process each of the main topics within your lecture.

Organizing Your Lecture

Once you focus the content, you can then think about how you will organize the delivery of the content. The most obvious way to organize delivery of content is by topics. For example, if you were teaching a product knowledge course, an obvious way to organize lecture would be by product categories.  There are many other ways that you can structure the organization of the information. Think about how the learner will use the information to help you determine the best way to structure the delivery of the content.

Here are 7 ways to organize lecture including examples of how this might look in a product knowledge course on  haircare products.

1. Topics-organize the training content by categories or subject

Example: The lecture is structured into “shampoos”, “conditioners” and “styling aids”.

2. Problem and Solution-organize the training content around common problems  learners face and how the content being explored provides a solution

Example:  The lecture is structured around the “5 most common complaints” customers have about their hair such as “My hair is flat.” or “My curl is frizzy.”

3. Cause and Effect-organize the training content around how specific actions create different results

Example: The lecture is organized around the causes of common hair issues and how the products work to address these issues. One cause might be “humidity” with illustrations of how some products attract humidity to produce more curl and others decrease humidity to maintain straightness of hair.

4. Pros and Cons-organize the training content by comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of one thing over another

Example: Products can be compared and contrasted to competitive products with highlights on what makes “our” product better.

5. Acronym-create acronyms to help the learner understand the structure of the content delivery and to improve retention of the information

Example: The acronymn “ESP” might be used to organize the lecture.

E-Engage the client by asking the right questions.

S-Share the right product solution, linking the product to the client’s needs based on the client’s answers.

P-Provide the client with product usage information and tips.

6. Timelines-organize the training content in past-present-future orientation.

Example: Products can be explored based on when they were introduced.

7. Visual-organize the content using a visual organizing structure such as icons or color coding.

Example:  Visual icons are introduced at the beginning of the lecture which represent the different needs of different haircare clients. The icons are used as a coding system to identify the type of clients which would find each product appealing.

What other organizing structures would you add to the list?

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

coaching questionsIn our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses, we often hear trainers share how difficult it can be to focus and sustain learner attention. Let’s explore how you can use 25 Coaching questions to focus the attention of the learner during the 4MAT Practice step. First, let’s explore why questions are important in the coaching process.

The neurons in your brain communicate with each other through electrochemical signals. These signals are triggered by incoming sensory information. What you notice and pay attention to over time shapes the neuronal connections in your brain.  In the article, A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching, Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., shares:

“The questions you ask of your brain significantly affect the quality of the connections it makes, and profoundly alters the patterns and timings of the connections the brain generates in a fraction of a second. Now, substitute the concept of ‘attention’ for the phrase “the question you ask,” and you get the statement “Where you focus your attention, you make connections.”1

If you want to create sustained behavioral change, you must generate focused attention on the behaviors that must be executed consistently to generate the desired training result. In the 4MAT model of instruction, the third part of the learning cycle is “Practice”. In this step, the learner applies the content and the trainer moves into the role of “Coach”.

The questions the trainer asks in this step should be aimed at focusing the learner’s attention on the quality of the practice application of the content being learned in the course.  To help you increase your inventory of coaching questions, here is a list of 25 Coaching Questions you can use to focus the learner’s attention during practice training activities:

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

1. What worked?
2. What could have worked better?
3. What do you notice about your application?
4. If you were your own coach, what coaching would you give yourself on this?
5. How could you turn this around?
6. What are three things you would improve?
7. What would you do again?
8. What would you not do again?
9. If you were a customer, how would you evaluate your approach? Your results?
10. What are three actions you might take to apply this with different results next time?
11. On a scale of 1-10, where is your application?
12. What would it take to move from a 5 to a 9?
13. Where are you comfortable? least comfortable?  Why?
14. What can you learn from this?
15. How else might you approach this?
16. What do you notice?
17. What could you pay more attention to?
18. What themes do you see showing up in the work of the group?
19. What differences do you notice in your application and others?
20. What one behavior (or thought) if executed consistently would make the biggest difference in your application?
21. What insights have you gained through this practice?
22. What do you think you should do first? next?
23. What would you do if it was entirely up to you?
24. If you saw someone else in this situation, what would you suggest that they do?
25. If you weren’t holding anything back, how might this look differently?

What other questions would  you add to the list?

1David Rock and Jeffrey M, Schwartz, M.D. Journal of Coaching in Organizations,  2006, 4(2), pp 32-43.

4MAT Train the Trainer: How to Reach Every Learning Style

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer workshops, the question is often raised of whether we should simply match the training style of the trainer to the learning style of the learners in every class. Imagine training breakout sessions formed with an invitation that sounds like, “If you are a Type Three learner, please report to Doug’s session which will focus on how you will actually apply this information with minimal dialogue and interaction. If you are a Type One learner, go to Susan’s session where we will explore personal stories related to the content and spend a good portion of our time in partner exercises. ”  While this seems like an efficient solution that would allow both trainers and learners to operate from their learning style preferences, there are two reasons that this does not work:

1-Every learner, regardless of learning style, moves through a four-step cycle when learning new information. To learn something, we must move through the complete learning cycle that engages us at a personal level, shares the necessary information, allows for practice and equips us to assess and adapt the information in the real world.

2-Our research confirms that organizations, as a whole, represent a composite of learning styles. In other words, when you look at the whole of an organization, you will find a balanced mix of  learning style preferences and hemispheric mode preferences (right- and left-brain) . Equally, if not more importantly, you will also find a balanced distribution of least preferred learning style preferences.

These two factors are critical to consider when designing learning experiences. To effectively reach every learning style, we must design with intention.

In any well-designed training program, there should be a finite number of learning outcomes with supporting learning content that delivers on each outcome.  To reach every learning style, the outcomes must be directly linked to activity choice. The activities should be chosen to allow the learners to process the necessary learning topics in multiple ways that appeal to different learning styles.  

If you were delivering a course to leaders and managers on how to effectively address performance issues, how might you vary the activities so that they appeal to all learning styles while also reinforcing the desired learning outcome? Below are some examples of training activities that appeal to all learning styles that collectively address the desired outcome of equipping managers to lead performance conversations. The number indicates the 4MAT learning style that would most prefer this type of activity.

Personal Reflections-Participants are asked to individually reflect on a recent performance issue they have dealt  with then share their stories with a partner(1)

Group Exercise-Participants collectively define what works and doesn’t work in performance conversations, based on their previous experiences (1)

Advance Organizers-A visual organizer of the content to be covered is sent out, prior to the session, which illustrates how the content and topics to be covered fit together (2)

Video of Effective and Ineffective Performance conversations-Participants view demonstrations of real-world conversations (2)

Scripting Your Conversation-Participants take a real-world conversation they need to have and develop a script, using the model shared by the trainer (3)

Practice Conversations-Participants apply the model shared by the trainer to lead a converstion using real-world scenarios (3)

Self-Assessment of Practice- Participants assess the effectiveness of their role-play using criteria provided and adapt, as needed.

Follow-Up Plan-Participants develop a 30-day plan for application (4)

Notice how each activity reinforces the desired outcome. The key to reaching every learning style lies in intentionally choosing activities and placing them in the right sequence to move learners through the complete learning cycle.

If you haven’t experienced 4MAT, you may enjoy one of our free train the trainer web classes which explain the 4MAT 8 Steps of Design.

Lecture: How long is too long?

In our 4MAT train the trainer live and web classes, we facilitate an exercise where each of the four learning style groups gives examples of painful learning situations particular to their style.  There is only one painful learning situation that is common to all learning styles: boring lecture.

We all recognize that boring lectures are painful, because we’ve all experienced the pain. As trainers, we want our audience to be engaged and we are constantly looking for ways to avoid being that boring trainer. This explains why two of the most frequent questions we get asked regarding lecture are:

-How do you make lecture interesting?

-How long is too long?

On his blog (which we love) Dr. John Medina shared the following:

“Peer-reviewed studies confirm my informal inquiry: Before the first quarter-hour is over in a typical presentation, people usually have checked out. If keeping someone’s interest in a lecture were a business, it would have an 80 percent failure rate. What happens at the 10-minute mark to cause such trouble? Nobody knows. The brain seems to be making choices according to some stubborn timing pattern, undoubtedly influenced by both culture and gene. This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to arouse and then hold somebody’s attention for a specific period of time.”

There are two points at which we naturally tune in during a presentation: the beginning and the end. Why? At the beginning, we are checking in to see if this is going to be interesting. We go to sleep in the middle and then wake up at the end to find out what we need to do and where the snacks are located.

If you want to keep attention high, you need to shift gears every 10 minutes or so. When you do this the attention remains higher throughout the entire presentation.

In the next blog post, we’ll explore some ideas for increasing attention in lecture. Stay tuned.

4MAT Image Step: Using Metaphors to Create Training Impact

Many train the trainer programs encourage the use of games that serve as metaphors for the content being learned. Why and how does this work to enhance learning? For most people, metaphors are seen as a device to creatively articulate some idea. Poets, musicians and creative storytellers are often perceived to be the masters of metaphor. On the contrary, we are all quite masterful at using metaphors.

In Metaphors We Live By, authors George Lakoff and Mark Johnson share, “…metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.”1

We think in metaphors. Lakoff and Johnson illustrate brilliantly the many ways we think in terms of metaphors:

We think of time as money2:

“How did you spend your time today?’

“There was just not enough ROI on my time on that project.”

“You need to budget your time wisely.”

We think of an argument as a container3:

“That argument has holes in it.”

“Your argument won’t hold water.”

As trainers, we need to understand that a difference in metaphor will create a difference in understanding and approach. For example, many people perceive conflict as a “battle” to be won:

“I’m prepared for battle.”

“I’m going to take him down.”

“He won’t know what hit him.”

What if that metaphor were shifted? What if conflict were viewed as a creative process? as a collaboration? as a dance with each party taking turns leading? How might that shift the way we prepare for, approach and resolve conflict? A shift in the metaphor we use to understand, shifts the way we think and they way we act.

As trainers, the metaphor is a powerful tool for understanding the concepts that guide the learner’s understanding and approach. If we want to shift behavior toward a desired outcome, we must identify what metaphor will best guide the thinking and action of the learner. In the 4MAT model, the Image step creates an opportunity for the trainer to explore and, if necessary, shift the metaphors learners use to understand and approach the learning content.

Imagine that you are leading a workshop for department managers on the strategic planning process. Which of the following visual metaphors would you use to create a shared understanding of the process you are leading the group through?

Telescoping spyglass-illlustrating how the individual, team, department and division objectives must be integrated and focused on the long-range vision

Mason jar with rocks, pebbles and sand-illustrating how we must allocate space for the big initiatives (rocks), then secondary initiatives (pebbles). Otherwise, all of our resources (the space in the jar) are consumed with low impact initiatives which generate minimal return (sand).

Pie-illustrating that there is a limited budget and limited resources (pie). Each department’s allocation of budget (slice of the pie) will be determined based on the merits of plans submitted.

What metaphors have you used in training design and delivery to shift thinking?

1Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark. 1980. Metaphors We Live By Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, p. 3.

2 Ibid, p. 7.

3Ibid, p 92.

4MAT Interactive Lecture: Teach like Socrates

In the 4MAT learning model, the trainer designs a learning experience that taps into what the learner already knows about the subject. Thousands of years ago, Socrates was putting 4MAT into action. Socrates believed that every learner brought knowledge into the learning experience. And, it was the teacher’s responsibility to bring forth that knowledge.

Here’s a training activity idea to put the Socratic teaching method into action. You might try this to liven up Inform, the lecture portion of the 4MAT training design model:

Socratic Circles

Socratic circles can be used with any subject matter. Typically, learners first read information with an eye toward critically analyzing the content. Then, learners form into two concentric circles. First, the inner circle explores and discusses the text while the outer circle makes notes and later comments on the quality of the dialogue. Next, the two circles switch places and roles. The process is repeated, based on the dialogue of the second group. Each group is quiet while the other group shares.

Socratic circles are effective in developing the critical thinking skills of the group. Through this process, the learners develop shared meaning around the content being presented.

Directions:

1.  Facilitator shares reading assignment (typically, prior to the session).

2. Learners analyze and take notes to prepare for dialogue.

3. Learners form two, concentric circles.

4. The inner circle shares their comments and observations for 10-15 minutes,  while the outer circle silently observes.

5. The outer circle listens and evaluates the inner circle’s dialogue.

6. The outer circle provides feedback on the dialogue, emphasizing what they observed.

7. Learners switch circles and roles.

8. The new inner circle shares their comments and dialogues for approximately 10-15 minutes.

9. The new outer circle shares their observations on the inner circle’s dialogue.

Training Assessment: 3 “On-the-Way” Tools

Last week, I joined the ASTD Baton Rouge chapter to share a quick icebreaker on  4MAT Learning Styles in their “Show Not Tell” conference. Fellow speaker, Kent Blumberg, showed us how to assess the learning transfer before the learning is complete. This is referred to as “formative” assessment. In our 4MAT Train the Trainer programs, we call this “On the Way” assessment. On-the-way assessment is in-the-moment and provides the trainer with an opportunity to adjust, as needed.  Here are four easy-to-use  ideas shared by Kent:

One Minute Paper

Provide participants with an index card. In one minute, answer the following two questions related to the content shared:

“What’s the most important idea shared?”

“What questions do you still have?”

The feedback shared allows the trainer to assess if the big ideas are clear. The questions shared can be divided into two categories: “moving forward” or “moving backwards”. Moving forward questions indicate that the learner is thinking about what’s coming next in the learning process. For example, “How can I apply this to….” is a moving forward question and a good sign that the learning is on track. Moving backwards questions indicate that the learner needs to revisit content previously shared. For example, “Can you explain what you mean by ….?” is a moving backward question that indicates content needs to be revisited.

Application Cards

Provide participants with an index card. Encourage participants to write down two ideas for implementation of the content shared. Ask participants to partner up and share their application ideas.

RSQC2

At the end of a  learning module within a larger course offering, you can use RSQC2*. Encourage participants to complete the following reflections:

Recall:  Brainstorm key words or phrases of what you recall from this course. Choose three to five main points,

Summarize:  Using as many of these 3-5 points, write a summary sentence that describes the essence of what you learned.

Question:  Jot down one or two questions that remain unanswered, at this point.

Connect:   Explain in one or two sentences the connections between the main points today and the overall objectives of the course.

Comment:  What I enjoyed most (or least) about this session was….

Please share strategies you use to assess learning “on-the-way” in the comments below.

*Kent Blumberg shared the following source for this exercise:

Angelo, T.A & Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. (2nd ed., pp. 344-348). San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

Increase Interactivity in Training Using Text Polling

This week, I headed to Chicago to share the 4MAT approach to integrating needs analysis with training design at the ASTD International Conference and Expo. The rest of the time, I had the chance to attend some great train the trainer sessions. Mike Fredericks of Farmers Insurance Company led a session titled Fast and Furious: Creatively Building High-Impact Training. Mike had some great ideas to share on increasing interactivity in training delivery. Mike opened the session by introducing us to the Poll Everywhere tool (www.polleverywhere.com). Before a training session, you can load up polling questions on the site. Participants can answer poll questions by texting responses with their cell phones. In Mike’s session, the entire audience was participating in text-based polling in minutes. Lots of fun!

live audience polling image

3 Things Every Trainer Needs to Know About Learning Styles


Three Things Every Trainer Should Know About Learning Styles Any trainer who has logged a few hours in front of a classroom or read through the diverse spectrum of responses that show up on a post-training reaction survey recognizes that learning differences are real.  A Google search on “learning styles” recently displayed over 16,500,000 results. Clearly, there are many people out there talking about how to address learning styles. What should a trainer know to address learning differences? There are three things every trainer should know about learning styles:

What is a “learning style”? Learning style refers to personal preference for how you like to take in and process information.  The most recent brain research confirms that when we learn new information, the activity in our brain follows a defined cycle. This path is universal, regardless of learning style.  Your learning style describes the part of the learning process you enjoy most and default to in new learning or problem-solving situations.

 How should I address learning styles? When you first discover that different people have unique preferences, you might think it would be advantageous to group learners by style and teach to their preference. Some learning styles models advocate this.  Brain research shows us that for learning transfer to occur, the learner must move through all four parts of the learning cycle. The 4MAT model provides a framework for addressing the needs of all learning preferences while also ensuring learning transfer.

There is a difference between using “style strategies” and brain-based teaching. In the recently released book Evidence-Based Training Methods: A Guide for Training Professionals by author Ruth Clark, learning styles are referred to as a “myth”.  The idea that we should group learners by style and teach only to their preference is indeed a myth. This book brings forth a healthy distinction in the conversation around learning styles. To engage each learner, we must address their unique needs. To fulfill the learning objective, we must lead the learner through the learning cycle. When you apply the 4MAT model, you accomplish both.