Posts Tagged ‘make training stick’

Sheldon Teaches Penny Physics (Big Bang Theory)

November 6, 2013

I enjoy the TV sitcom Big Bang Theory.  Apparently a lot of other people do too because reruns seem to appear often – on several channels in different time slots.  Recently I saw a segment where Sheldon teaches – or tries to teach – Penny physics.  His teaching is a great example of how not to engage a learner as well as many other mistakes some instructors make.

The six-minute version on YouTube provides an opportunity to apply the before-during-after time periods related to transfer and also to apply some of my Training Transfer Process model.

Click here to watch the excerpt of the episode.  While you’re watching I hope you’ll think about what Sheldon should have done differently and what he could have done before and after the session with Penny that might have helped her apply her learning.

When you’ve finished viewing, read my comments about how Sheldon could have applied aspects of my Training Transfer Process….and share your comments too.


Until next time….



Effective trainers help make training stick.

March 21, 2013

Most research on training transfer has focused on strategies to increase transfer of training such as: instructional design strategies, content reinforcement, manager/peer support before and after, opportunity to use, and trainee accountability.  All of these are certainly important strategies to increase transfer of training.  But one thing has been mostly missing from almost all research and models on training transfer– and this has always puzzled me: the interpersonal dynamics of the trainer and participants.

…Mostly missing until now that is. A recent study by Paul Donovan and David Darcy reported in the International Journal of Training and Development found that in addition to the usual factors that support high levels of training transfer, their survey of participants identified trainer effectiveness as having a strong link to transfer of training.  Participants responded positively to statements about trainer preparation, enthusiasm, commitment to training goals, relating training to participant job needs, and providing good feedback.  Participants also responded positively to statements about participants working well together in the training and engaging in free and useful information exchange. 

In my dissertation research some 15 years ago I found links between transfer of training and the trainer interacting with individual participants, modeling skills being taught, demonstrating empathy, and appearing “genuine” and competent. 

With this research in mind, here are reminders for trainer actions in face-to-face and live virtual training that research shows will help make the training stick well.  Which 1-2 things do you see that you can to do more/better?

  • Prepare well.  Don’t skimp on prep time or try to fake it.  It shows, participants notice, and it can affect how well they apply what they learn as well as how well they learn it.
  • Be enthusiastic about the learning content. If you don’t feel enthusiastic, fake it.  Consider using caffeine or energy boosters to help.
  • Commit to the goals of the training – not just the learning goals but the overall reason for the training.  Show your commitment by making sure you communicate the link between your organization’s strategic mission/goals/plan and the training.
  • Be sure you understand the job role of each participant in the training and how the training can be applied in their job.  Do your homework ahead of time on this if necessary.  If this isn’t possible, at the beginning of the training discuss with participants how the training can be applied to each specific job.
  • Provide specific, relevant feedback to each participant.  Don’t use practice time to take a break.  Walk around, observe each individual participant, and provide feedbackon their practice.  Be available to answer questions during this time.  Talk with individual participants during practice time and/or on breaks.    
  • Make sure you model skills being taught. This is an especially critical factor for soft skills training.  More than once I’ve had trainees comment to me about a particular trainer who was teaching participative management, active listening, consultative selling, or similar collaborative skills but the trainer was directive and unreceptive to participant questions and input.
  • Empathize with participants.  If you have had a job similar to theirs, let them know this andshare a few “war stories”.  If you haven’t had a job like theirs, get input from people with similar job titles prior to the training and use what you learn in these conversations to relate with participants. 
  • Demonstrate self-confidence – verbally and non-verbally – in your ability to teach the class and to perform the skills.

Until next time…..



Use Threaded Discussions to Make Training Stick Better

April 5, 2012

Whether your training is face-to-face,  live virtual (“webinar”), e-learning, or a blend, a threaded discussion can be a valuable add-on or an integral part of the training that adds an element of participant interaction and critical thinking.

Research on training transfer has found that trainee interaction, especially in e-learning, increases learning and transfer.  Threaded discussions are a relatively quick and easy way to provide opportunities for interaction.  The written discussion also makes it easier for non-native English (or any other language) speakers to participate.  And, people can participate at their convenience.

An instructor training class really opened my eyes to the value of threaded discussions.  Skeptical at first, I soon began to see that these types of online discussions provide opportunities for more thoughtful responses and discussion than I saw in face-to-face classes.  There was no competition for “air time” and no limit as to how many students could respond.

What is a threaded discussion and how do you set one up?  A threaded discussion begins when a question is posed which starts the thread.  When responses are posted, they appear under the question, like comments to a blog.  Unlike a blog or any other social media, when responses are posted to the response, they appear “threaded” under that response.  In an active discussion, you will see responses to the original question, responses to the response, responses to that response, and so on – several levels deep.

Types of questions which work best as threaded discussion starters are open-ended:

  • Questions that ask about participants’ experience with something
  • Questions that pose hypothetical problem for them to solve
  • Short case studies for them to react to
  • Socratic questions that ask for an example, why something is important, or how one idea or technique fits with another one.

To get started:

  •  Identify key concepts in the learning content that may need further clarification or can be expanded with discussion.  Think about how participants should apply the learning.
  • Locate the best software platform to host the threaded discussion.  Many LMS platforms have threaded discussion features, although many times they have not been activated.  A Linked In group can also be created for this purpose since it is possible to restrict groups to “by invitation only”.  The threaded discussion should be accessible via an internet link for best results.
  • Determine who will moderate and lead the discussions.  This person can be a training instructor, course designer, subject matter expert, or line manager.  Since most of the discussion will be done by participants, the leader simply needs to respond to questions, pose follow-up questions, and make sure the discussions stay focused on the topic.
  • Require participation in threaded discussions as part of the class.  For example, to complete the class, each participant must post at least 3 times on 3 different days.
  • If participants have not been in class together, post an Introductions thread and ask people to share something specific about themselves – favorite hobby, what they do on Friday after work, if they have a pet, etc.  Be sure to share something about yourself.
  • Post suggestions and guidance for discussion posts, for example:

– Show you are reading others’ comments by

referring to them in your own posts.

– Agree/disagree and say why

– Share links, books, articles on the topic

– Keep comments constructive – no griping!

Do you use threaded discussions in your training? Please drop me a short note and let me know how you’re using them.

Until next time…