Train the Trainer concept
What Is the Train the Trainer Model?
The Train the Trainer model is a training strategy widely used in the workplace. The trainer, a subject-matter expert, trains other employees – in the use of a new sales program, for example – and simultaneously teaches them how to train others in the use of the program. The method offers distinct advantages over other training models because trainees typically learn faster and retain the information better than in other teaching models.
Advantages of the Model
It turns out that the Train the Trainer model, where participants learn a subject and simultaneously learn how to teach others provides feelings of satisfaction and fulfilment better than other teaching models.
In the corporate environment especially, this model provides distinct advantages over other training methods and has been widely adopted by prominent corporate training companies, such as Langevin Learning Services, The Ken Blanchard Companies and The Training Clinic.
Corporate programs using the model are typically concise, lasting from a day or two to one or two weeks. From a corporate viewpoint, this has the added advantage of minimizing the time managers and others entering these programs spend away from the workplace.
The model is well-suited for disseminating specific information quickly. One Train the Trainer program cited in a Forbes article is a one-day course that teaches individuals with no previous military background how to understand and speak the language of the military when selling to Department of Defence customers. Other Train the Trainer models teach leadership skills to employees preparing to enter management.
In the 1970s, educational institutions were influenced by noted psychologist Abraham Maslow’s analysis of the learning process. Maslow determined that how well students learned depended on the degree of satisfaction both teachers and students took in the learning process. When students and teachers enjoyed the process, and felt fulfilled by it, students learned faster and retained the information better. The Train the Trainer model reflects this finding.
Limitations of the Model
One analysis of the Train the Trainer model conducted by The California Endowment, where the model was used to teach organizing and other skills to community activists, shows that although all the participants’ levels of satisfaction were generally high – confirming Maslow’s theory – they were higher for trainer respondents than for those taking the courses.
One criticism of the model is that it can be a top-down teaching method. The complexity of both teaching a subject and simultaneously teaching others to teach the same subject leaves a limited amount of classroom time for participant self-expression or for trainees to gather and organize the subject material themselves. Many courses using the model include interactive activities, but they are essentially organized as lectures.
Essential Elements of a Train the Trainer Process
While we are thinking to implement the train the trainer approach we must consider the following:
Principles of (adult) learning
Teaching and training is only effective if it promotes learning.
As instructors we are expected to be not only highly competent in our subject areas but also have sound knowledge concerning how student s learn. This reflects a shift away from the traditional role of the teacher as primarily a provider of subject knowledge to a facilitator of learning – whereby we manage student learning, using a variety of instructional methods, information sources and media.
We now have a solid body of knowledge concerning how we learn, the different processes involved and significant factors that affect learning. This knowledge can increasingly contribute to all aspects of teaching and course planning.
- identify the key components of effective learning
- analyse factors that promote and inhibit effective learning
- evaluate the impact of principles of learning for practical teaching.
Lesson Planning and Preparation
Planning and preparation are a crucial part of effective teaching, especially for those new to the profession. If you have planned your lessons effectively, you are less likely to experience difficulties and will feel more confident in the teaching situation.
- produce a structured lesson plan for a range of lessons you teach
- learning objectives
- lesson content
- instructional methods
- teaching and learning resources
- assessment of learning
- prepare classroom arrangements and teaching facilities.
It is the teaching methods and communication skills of the instructor that translate the plan into an effective learning experience for the trainees. The instructor can make the subject interesting and alive for the learner.
- compare and contrast a range of instructional methods
- select appropriate instructional methods for the specific content you teach
- use a range of instructional methods in your teaching role.
What do we mean by an instructional method?
An instructional method, in the broadest sense, refers to any planned activity on the part of the teacher that seeks to promote identified learning.
Teaching and Learning Resources
In the broadest sense, teaching and learning resources refer to any stimulus material that the teacher uses in order to promote effective learning. This includes everything from a website, blog or the learning management system. E.g.:
- projectors / presentations
- supporting notes – ‘handouts’
- interactive learning resources
- compare the range of teaching and learning resources
- select the appropriate learning resources specific to the content and venue of your training
- use a range of learning resources to enhance your training and to facilitate your trainees’ understanding.
Assessing Learner Performance
The assessment of learner performance is perhaps the most important part of the training process. In assessing the performance of your trainees, you are making a judgement about whether or not they have met the objectives of the module, i.e. their level of competence. The assessment process, therefore, must be conducted as systematically and objectively as possible.
- identify the criteria for good assessment
- plan a scheme of assessment
- identify appropriate assessment methods for specific learning outcomes
- design a range of assessment items
- produce a marking scheme for open-response items
- identify common pitfalls in conducting assessment.
Evaluating Teaching and Learning
Evaluation is essentially concerned with judging the worth or value of an activity or event. This is usually with a view to identifying ways in which such activities or events can be improved in future. However, evaluations can equally lead to decisions to terminate existing activities. An evaluation should seek to:
- identify and illuminate what is occurring in the area or activity that is the subject of evaluation, and
- produce sufficient information to enable the evaluator, using agreed criteria, to make valid and useful judgements about what is being evaluated.
- identify different types of evaluation and evaluation data
- conduct an evaluation of a module
- prepare an end of course report
- identify and plan self-development needs as an instructor.
Source: Train the Trainer – Training Fundamentals – Instructor’s Reference Manual, ST/ESCAP/2158, United Nations
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The consortium was developing an example curriculum which is very detailed and filled with worksheets. Please download it here.
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