Many people create training or teach others how to do something. Typically instructors, need to keep learners interested, providing guided practice, offer feedback and praise good performance. The qualifications for “trainers” or “instructors” are all over the map (along with the pay); it depends on the context. However, most workplace trainers were often exemplary performers who were found themselves in training roles. Workplace trainers don’t typically require a university degree, though they usually have a strong background in the subject matter, along with the desire and ability to share knowledge or skills with others. Some people are naturally more engaging as facilitators than others, having an innate sense of what learners want and find useful. Others need guidance determining how to make learning fun and effective for participants.
No matter if you are delivering software training, staff orientation, or a workshop on proposal writing to non-profit staff, you want to keep learners interested so they make a sustained effort to learn. For training and educational programs we write objectives of some form, detailing what the intended learning and performance outcomes will be.
Objectives focus our efforts on desired results. When we are learning – in a formal class, from a colleague or in a facilitated meeting – maintaining motivation is key. As adults we’re pressed for time and direct our attentions to what’s most important or applicable. Whether we’re taking a cooking class, downloading an app for our iPhone, getting oriented by our new supervisor, or taking part in a workshop, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information or become intimidated by learning, resulting in the loss of motivation to learn.
John Keller saw this challenge and developed the ARCS model of motivational design to aid the learning process in instructional settings. His ARCS factors are: Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. His first principle, Attention, refers to arousing interest perhaps with a quote, a shocking statistic or a question to pique curiosity. Anything that gets people actively involved in the discussion, seems incongruous or funny, will get people’s attention. This principle is practiced by the best public speakers as well who draw the audience in at the beginning of their speech.
Relevance, the second principle, ensures that the subject and activities are meaningful for group members. Knowing your audience, their prior experience with the skills/information, and what they want to get out of something will help you target content relevance. Remember, no matter how engaging you are the content needs to fit with the audience’s interest and context. Teaching industrial workers at a camp how to make the perfect soufflé, likely won’t hold their interest. (They work long days and have their meals made for them!) However, educating them about various Avon products for purchase close to Christmas may just hold their interest if they need quick and easy gift ideas. In other words, the content must be linked to practical application, importance, or future usefulness.
During the learning session(s), participants should also gain Confidence (fourth principle) or feel “I can do this” (i.e. apply the skills or knowledge). Ideally the “doing” or “knowing” should seem easy, and the performance standards and measures clarified. For example, security guards taking training on how to write effective observational notes would benefit from practice scenarios and seeing what good notes look like. Guided practice with meaningful feedback – positive and constructive –helps build performance confidence. Participants should also see the connection between their efforts and the results they achieve.
After the learning, the learners should feel Satisfaction, or rewarded by the experience based on a feeling of achievement. If learning is tied to applying the knowledge or skills at work or in day to day living, all the more satisfying the learning experience will be. Ongoing feedback and positively reinforced performance sustains participant satisfaction and motivation.
The next time you to share your knowledge or skills with others – formally or informally, in writing or verbally – keep the ARCS principles in mind, and identify how you will help your group pay Attention, see the Relevance, feel Confidence and gain Satisfaction (from the learning). For motivating seminars and key notes on workplace learning and performance, contact Performance Solutions.