Training & Development For Dummies
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The Training Cycle is so orderly and straightforward, it seems like it would be impossible to miss anything important. That's true, but keep in mind that training is really about the learner.

Adults learn differently. Learners have different preferences for recognizing and processing information. If the experts can't arrive at one model for how people learn, how can you be expected to train people with vastly different learning preferences in the same group? You can!

Variety and flexibility

You can successfully get in touch with all learning preferences in your group if you remember two things:

  • Add variety. Lots! Research suggests that varying your delivery methods and using different training methods enhances learning for everyone. In fact, most recent research goes even further to say that training that affects more than one preference actually has a greater impact than focusing on the one preference for each specific learner (as if you could do that, anyway!) Lots of variety has a greater payoff. Therefore, you should also vary the delivery itself, changing pace, control, complexity, and timing.

  • Be flexible. Just as your learners have a preference for learning, you also have a preference for training. You may prefer small group activities or informal discussion or even lectures. You may tend to be more people focused or content focused. You may prefer to be entertaining or professorial, coaching, or directing. Whatever your preference, be flexible. Move outside your comfort zone at times to improve learner comprehension and retention.

Conditions of learning

Robert Gagne identified nine instructional events as his and his Conditions of Learning. Applying these events to your training helps to ensure learning occurs. Here are Gagne's Instructional Events:

  • Gain the learners' attention.

  • Share the objectives of the session.

  • Ask learners to recall prior learning.

  • Deliver the content.

  • Use methods to enhance understanding — for example, case studies, examples, graphs.

  • Provide an opportunity to practice.

  • Provide feedback.

  • Assess performance.

  • Provide job aids or references to ensure transfer to the job.

If you've been around the training field for a while, you know that these events are commonplace and are assumed to be a part of any effective ­training program.

As a trainer, you're responsible for doing everything you can to ensure that learning takes place: Use a theory-based design model like The Training Cycle presented in this chapter, adapt to learners' preferences, and incorporate conditions of learning. Yet remember these words from Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), an Italian astronomer and physicist: "You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself."

About This Article

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Elaine Biech is president and managing principal of ebb associates inc, an organizational and leadership development firm that helps organizations work through large-scale change. Her 30 years in the training and consulting field include support to private industry, government, and non-profit organizations.

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