An Eight-Step Training Protocol
Arouse curiosity and prompt speculation.
Perform the task silently.
Describe the task and place it in context.
Perform and explain the task, step by step.
Exchange roles with the learner.
Observe the learner’s performance and give feedback.
Let the learner practice independently.
Conduct periodic checks and monitor progress.
Step One: Speculation
Human beings are naturally curious. We all possess internal motives that can be channeled effectively into educational pursuits. Intrinsic sources of motivation include curiosity, competence, and identification.
We are attracted by what is unclear or uncertain, and as we search for and achieve clarity, we experience satisfaction, which then promotes further curiosity.
At the same time, we’re driven to reach competence. We develop interest in areas where we achieve or excel. We also identify with people we respect and whose respect we want, and we subscribe to their standards.
In this first step, arouse the learner’s curiosity and help him or her establish a frame of reference for the actual training that will follow. Take advantage of natural motivation by asking the learner to guess how to do the task or procedure or about the particular things that should be considered when completing the task.
Step Two: Observation
Have the learner watch as you perform the entire task. Don’t explain or answer my questions during this step.
The learner is to focus attention visually on the task at hand. When people try to watch and listen at the same time, their concentration is diluted.
After you’ve completed the demonstration, ask the learner to explain what you did. If you have more than one learner, ask them to work in pairs and discuss what they saw, then share their observations with you and the rest of the group.
If a learner has difficulty understanding your demonstration of the task or procedure, repeat the process.
Step Three: Explanation
To reinforce the visual presentation, now explain the task or procedure, giving an overview of the entire job.
Explain the reason(s) for doing the task and how it fits into the big picture, including other people or departments that will be affected.
This step provides a framework by addressing both the what and why. Once again, the learner’s attention will be concentrated on one perceptual modality, the aural.
Step Four: Demonstration
In a step-by-step manner, show how the task is done, stressing key points along the way. Here you combine aural and visual as the learner listens and watches you perform the work.
The difference between this and Step Two is that you are now proceeding more slowly and methodically. Check for understanding by asking open-ended questions as you demonstrate.
Don’t ask, “Do you understand?” because that will elicit only a yes or no response. (Most likely yes, either because the learner believes he understands what you’re doing or because she’s afraid to admit she doesn’t understand.)
Questions that start with What or How are very effective in discovering whether the learner truly understands the procedure.
Step Five: Role Reversal
This step offers an interesting twist to the procedural training model. When you’re comfortable with the learner’s level of understanding, switch roles.
Ask the learner to become the ETD practitioner for this step. You follow the learner’s instructions on how to perform the work.
If the learner directs you incorrectly, either do the task as instructed and use the resulting negative consequence as a learning tool, or stop and explain why the instruction is incorrect and what could result from that action.
It’s an added plus that people are likely to master what they teach.
Step Six: Performance
Ask the learner to perform the operation while you watch. As needed, correct mistakes on the fly to prevent reinforcing bad habits.
Be sure to give specific feedback and positive reinforcement. Don’t just say, “Good job!” Tell the person exactly what he or she is doing well.
If the learner has not quite mastered the task, be patient and avoid critical, sarcastic, or demeaning comments such as “I can’t believe you’re having such a hard time with this” or “Everyone else I’ve trained has grasped this right away.” Be very careful in how you speak to your learners.
No matter what their knowledge or skill level, your learners are adults and will resent being talked down to or treated like children.
Also be careful not to communicate a negative reaction through nonverbal signals. Sighing or rolling your eyes can be just as damaging as negative words.
Step Seven: Practice
Once you are confident that the learner can perform the task and understands the reason for it, let the learner practice alone.
Encourage the learner to ask questions and seek any necessary help.
Offer words of assurance and encouragement and say that you’ll be checking back periodically.
This step is vital because it helps the learner become comfortable with the task by letting him or her make mistakes without the pressure of the ETD practitioner’s critical eye.
Step Eight: Monitor and Evaluate
When the learner has mastered the task, what remains is continued development of confidence and competency.
Conduct several progress checks, gradually tapering them off.
Monitor the learner’s progress by observing performance and asking open-ended questions.