|Trainer's Guide for Training of Elected Officials (HABITAT)|
|Part III - Workshop learning components|
The design of a workshop on elected leadership, or on anything else for that matter, involves putting together exercises or other learning components sequenced to meet the objectives of the workshop and the needs of participants. The trainer's design challenge is shown below graphically. We have selected eight components for use in the series of workshops on Training for Elected Leadership. Our purpose in this section of the guide is to provide you with information on each of these learning components that will enable you to use them more effectively.
A training design model showing planned training activities in order of increasing participant involvement
The least involving form of learning is reading. When reading, participants are inclined to be in a reactive mode, receiving information passively and experiencing vicariously through the ideas of others. In the essays that comprise Part I of each handbook, we have provided readers with a way to make the experience of reading more proactive. By providing questions from time to time about ideas covered by the reading, we provoke readers to ask, "So what?" We want them to focus on situations in their own experiences as councillors similar to the ones described in the reading and to consider how what they have read might be applicable to certain aspects of their councillor role performance.
There are at least two ways that reading the essays can be used to promote councillor learning. In some instances, you might suggest the use of essay material as a substitute for participation in workshop training. For some councillors, reading about them may be as far as they are willing to go in exploring new role behaviours. For councillors who are ready to take part in workshop training, the essays can be promoted as pre-readings to provide these councillors with a conceptual framework and heighten their interest in a more intense, prolonged involvement with the subject.
Somewhat higher on the ladder of participant interaction is the presentation. You can take advantage of the essay material in each handbook to create your own presentations for furnishing information needed by workshop participants to carry out planned learning activities. You will find the presentation useful for explaining new concepts and subject-matter details and to stimulate critical thinking. Used in conjunction with other learning methods, your presentations will get workshop participants informed, involved, and comfortable with learning new things.
Presentations are more than just a way of presenting information. You can use them at the start of a workshop to establish a proper learning climate, promote interest in learning, and reduce participant anxiety. You may present information spontaneously at any point in the workshop to stimulate thought, introduce exercises, clarify or interpret a new concept, or test for comprehension. Finally, you can take advantage of presentations at the conclusion of a workshop to summarize important [earnings and encourage learning transfer.
Many trainers see the presentation only as a form of information delivery. Viewed from a broader perspective, the presentation is an opportunity for the trainer to get a group of participants involved in their own learning. This is more likely to happen when a presentation includes planned or spontaneous participant-involvement techniques such as the following:
· Ask participants to think about and discuss situations in their own work experiences that illustrate a concept you have just introduced to them as a way of helping them see its practical application to their own work;
· Ask participants to answer prepared questions about material just covered or to paraphrase (restate in their own words) what they just heard you say about the subject as a comprehension check before going on to new material;
· ive participants a handout that covers some aspect of the material being presented orally and include some blank spaces in the handout for their use in writing down their own interpretations or possible job applications of the material being discussed;
· Most important, use visual materials to supplement your oral presentations (primarily, flipcharts, chalkboards, and overhead projection equipment), thereby lengthening participant attention span, increasing the retention of new information, adding realism, and lessening the chance of your being misunderstood.
In summary, successful presentations are thoughtfully planned with four considertions in mind.
· First, they are brief, focused on a few key ideas from the essay material and paced to deliver the selected information in "bite-sized" chunks.
· Secondly, they are carefully designed to include provocative beginnings, convincing middles, and strong endings.
· Thirdly, they give participants ample opportunity through question and answer techniques to demonstrate their comprehension and to compare viewpoints and experiences with the trainer and with one another.
· Finally, successful presentations recognize the need of participants for multiple ways of accessing information by supplementing oral forms of information delivery with audio-visual aids;
One of the most effective methods available to you to get your participants more deeply involved in their own learning is through group discussion. Discussion is any interaction between two or more people on a topic of mutual interest. The types of discussion used in the Elected Leadership series are of two kinds depending on the role played by the trainer. In trainer-guided discussions, you take an active and direct part in guiding and directing the discussion. In what is sometimes called a structured discussion, you will be letting participants manage their own discussions following your guidelines.
In the trainer-guided discussion, the objective is to encourage participants to think about, relate to, and internalize new ideas related to a particular topic. These discussions are based on a predetermined set of questions which you prepare ahead of time to lead participants, one question at a time, toward a desired learning outcome. While usually planned as a way of processing case-study data, role-playing experiences, or other exercises, such discussions may occur spontaneously during a presentation or near the close of a workshop. How productive these discussions will be depends, to a great extent, on how experienced you are with the question-and-answer method and your knowledge of the subject under discussion.
In the so-called structured discussion, the objective is to engage participants in idea generation or problem solving relative to an assigned topic and to demonstrate the value of teamwork - interdependence. You need little subject-matter expertise to initiate a structured discussion. Normally, you will divide the participant group into several small groups of about equal size and assign the same or different tasks to each group. After tasks are assigned, a period of time is allowed for the small groups to discuss the task. You might want to give instructions to the small groups about appointing a leader, a reporter, and a timekeeper. At the end of the discussion phase, small groups are asked to come back together and to report their findings, sometimes written on flipchart paper which can be taped to a wall of the training room.
Sometimes, the focus of small group discussions is on the process of working together as well as the product of the group effort. There is much learning value in exploring relationships (patterns of interaction) among participants as they work together to solve a problem, decide on a course of action, or carry out some other task. You might decide to select one or two participants to be observers. They would be asked to monitor the process of interaction among participants as they work together on tasks, with the knowledge and consent of other group members, of course, and to feed back their observations and conclusions to the group when it has finished work on its assigned task.
In summary, the discussion method can stimulate participant involvement in the learning process. Trainer-guided discussions are of value principally in stimulating logical thinking. However, subject-matter expertise is required if you plan to lead such a discussion. Structured discussions, on the other hand, help participants become selfreliant, to develop team thinking and approaches, and to be less dependent on the trainer. Your role in discussions of this kind shifts to coach and interpreter. Through mutual exploration, struggle, and discovery, participants in small groups gain insight and the satisfaction that comes from having attained these insights.
Each of the handbooks in the Elected Leadership series consists of exercises and activities developed and sequenced to provide a comprehensive learning experience for councillors. A variety of activities (role plays, case studies, simulations, instruments, and so forth) have been put together in various combinations. This has been done to help councillor participants make sense out of the concepts and ideas being presented and heighten the probability they will be persuaded to use them to improve their performance in their many councillor roles. Developing and sequencing exercise material ahead of time has been done for another reason - to simplify your life as a trainer by providing you with a starting point for the design of workshops to train councillors in your own part of the world.
Later in this guide we will be discussing some of the specific types of structured exercises mentioned above. At this point, however, we want to share some perspectives on the use of exercises in general and to talk about three types not covered in detail elsewhere: (a) the warm-up exercise; (b) problem solving exercises; and (c) the learning transfer exercise.
The exercises of which the handbooks in this series are comprised, despite marked differences in subject matter, are all structured in the same way.
· Each exercise begins with an estimate of the time required. The times or time ranges are a generous estimate of the time it takes to complete the exercise based on actual field-test results. While staying with the published times is important, even more important is to be sure enough time is allowed for sharing and processing of information arising from the exercise. If it takes longer to complete an exercise than scheduled, you may be able to make it up elsewhere in the workshop or perhaps negotiate with the participants for additional time.
· The time estimate is followed by the exercise objective. Each objective is performance oriented; that is, it is meant to be a specific, realistic appraisal of what participants will know or be able to do as a result of their active participation in the exercise. The test of a good objective is that participants can understand it and see themselves capable of achieving it.
· Following the objective is a step-by-step procedure to be followed, indicating in detail what you are to do and say and what participants are to do in the appropriate sequence. We call this the process. Occasionally, the process will include variations or alternatives for your consideration, particularly if the exercise is to be used with participants who work together and may be interested in improving their team performance. A time estimate may be provided for various steps in the process.
· The process description is followed by any worksheets which are to be read or on which participants are expected to write. Typical worksheets are cases, role-play situations and role descriptions, instruments to be completed, questions to be answered by small groups, and other participant-involving things. Worksheets should have clear instructions and be easy for participants to read. All worksheets included in the handbooks are designed and intended for mass duplication.
Each workshop begins with a warm-up exercise. These exercises are transitional experiences, meant to serve as a bridge between the new ideas being presented in the workshop and the pre-existing knowledge and points of view that participants bring with them. A warm-up exercise in The Councillor as Policy-maker, for example, asks participants to reflect on their past experiences as councillors with making policy. Another in The Councillor as Communicator uses a puzzle to demonstrate the value of sharing different perceptions of the same situation. Still another in The Councillor as Decision-maker is to help participants interpret their own unique, personal ways of making a decision. Warm-ups, in other words, are the means by which you begin moving participants from the known to the unknown - to start the process of getting them acquainted as early into the workshop as possible with one another, the learning process, and you.
Several of the exercises make use of one of several well-known methods of group problem-solving. In each case, the intent is to pass along to workshop participants a working knowledge of a useful process and, at the same time, experience in using the process to carry out a role-relevant learning task. In The Councillor as Communicator, participants are introduced to brainstorming, perhaps the best known method in the world for generating ideas to solve a problem or make a decision. Participants in The Councillor as Leader are encouraged to use force field analysis as an analytical aid in planning ways to remove obstacles to the attainment of a leadership objective. And another well known method for idea generation called the nominal group technique is suggested to participants at the workshop on The Councillor as Financier as a useful structure for creating a list of ideas to raise revenue and lower cost.
Several of the workshops make use of councillor-relevant problems to stimulate the reasoning process. In several instances, participants are asked to read the problem or situation on their own and then, in small groups, to analyse the situation and to reach a decision or course of action which is reported during a plenary session. Examples include: evaluating the usefulness of a conventional negotiating strategy - The Councillor as Negotiator, resolving a potentially destructive interpersonal conflict - The Councillor as Facilitator, reviewing a financial statement for evidence of inconsistencies and speculating about their causes - The Councillor as Financier.
In several workshops, problem-solving activities are supported by worksheets that are to be filled out by participants working in small groups as an aid to analysis and for later reporting. Worksheets are useful for at least two reasons: (a) they provide a record of small group reactions to the assigned tasks, and (b) they give participants a written record of their small group's results to take home with them. Examples of worksheets used in the workshop series are: the generation of ideas for optional ways to deliver local government services - The Councillor as Enabler, a list of strategies for recognizing and lowering barriers to communication between councils and community groups - The Councillor as Communicator, and the development of a plan for monitoring the effectiveness of a local government service programme - The Councillor as Overseer.
At the other end of each workshop is a skill-transfer exercise. The exercise is the same for all the workshops. The intent is to reverse the process and begin the transition from the workshop environment back to the "real world" of participating councillors. It is important that before leaving the workshop participants begin making definite plans for trying out or changing certain aspects of their role performance as councillors. These plans are stronger to the degree that they are made in writing, realistically critiqued, and shared openly with other participants.
Under this heading we are placing two types of exercises used extensively in this handbook series: (a) the traditional case study as first used at Harvard University late in the nineteenth century, and (b) an abbreviated but potent version of the case study called the critical incident.
Traditional case studies
The case study is an actual or contrived situation, the facts from which may lead to conclusions or decisions that are generalizable to the real-life circumstances of those taking part in the exercise. Put another way, a case study is a story with a lesson. Cases used in training can take many forms. They may be quite long, complex, and detailed. Or they may be short and fairly straightforward similar to the one- to three-page variety found in the handbook series.
The case method assumes group discussion. The well constructed case stimulates participants to take a spirited role in analysing and offering opinions about: (a) who was to blame, (b) what caused a person to behave as he or she did, and (c) what should have been done to prevent or remedy the situation. The more important contributions of the case method to training include:
· Discouraging participants from making snap judgements about people and behaviour.
· Discouraging a search for the one "best answer."
· Illustrating graphically how the same set of events can be perceived differently by people with similar backgrounds.
· Encouraging workshop participants to discuss things with each other and to experience the broadening value of interaction.
· Emphasising the value of practical thinking.
Closely related to case studies, critical incidents are brief, written descriptions of difficult situations faced by people in their work or their personal lives. Because they involve real problems, problems of vital and immediate concern to people, processing of critical incidents can have enormous learning value for the individuals concerned and for others who are likely to face similar problems.
Critical incidents used in workshops come from several sources: (a) the workshop participants themselves; (b) participants in earlier workshops; (c) anecdotal information collected by the trainer through interviews and surveys; (d) secondary source material (journals, books, and manuals) on the topic; and (e) the trainer's fertile imagination. The critical incidents used in the workshop on The Councillor as Power Broker, for instance, were suggested by a trainer from Uganda who was involved in the initial field testing of the Elected Leadership training materials. His source was situations revealed to him by participants at other workshops in which he served as an instructor.
When preparing a critical incident for use in a workshop, there are several design ideas to keep in mind:
· Keep them short (several sentences is usually enough) and simple so they can be read and understood quickly by workshop participants.
· Because incidents are short, they need to be tied directly to the workshop's objectives.
· Irrelevant facts often added to case studies to help participants learn to separate important issues from unimportant ones should be omitted from critical incidents.
· Nevertheless, be sure to include enough detail about the problem to make the point the incident is meant to emphasize.
Workshop participants may be asked to write and discuss critical incidents of their own during the programme itself or in advance as a pre-training assignment.
The content of each incident is expected to have a direct relationship to the training topic. For example, the handbook on The Councillor as Negotiator includes a warm-up exercise which gives participants the task of recalling, writing down, and sharing their experiences (incidents) in negotiating something.
When asked to write a critical incident, participants usually are given a worksheet and instructions by the trainer. They are told to think of a difficult situation related to the training topic in which they were involved personally. They are asked to describe the situation in detail, who was involved in it, and the role they played. Depending upon how the incident is to be used, participants might be asked to explain what was done about the situation, the consequences of this, and how they felt about it.
In summary, case studies and critical incidents present workshop participants with examples of actual work situations with which they are familiar. The realism of the more extensive case studies and the direct involvement of participants in them can serve as a powerful inducement for the acceptance of new ideas and ways of thinking. Critical incidents, whether created on the spot or provided by the trainer, have highly relevant learning value for workshop participants who face similar challenges in their own roles.
Role playing involves asking workshop participants to assume parts of other real or imaginary persons and to carry out conversations and behave as if they were these individuals. The intent is to give participants the chance to practice with new behaviours believed appropriate for their work roles, and so they can experience the effect of behaving this way on themselves and on others who are playing related roles. It is generally believed that on-the-job application of new behaviours increases to the extent that people are willing to try out and evaluate the new behaviours under supervised training conditions. Few training methods offer so effective a way to encourage experimentation with new behaviours than role playing.
To help role playing achieve its greatest benefit as an inducement for genuine behaviour change is to couple it with the case study method. After reading and discussing a case, participants can be invited to step into the roles of the individuals introduced to them in the case situation. Realism is enhanced when detailed role descriptions are developed for each of the role players. Examples of role-playing case studies with detailed role descriptions that were developed for the Elected Leadership series are: (a) a situation involving privatization of public markets in The Councillor as Facilitator, and (b) a situation concerning a dispute over use of a bulldozer in The Councillor as Negotiator.
Most people feel some discomfort in a first experience with role playing. But, in time and with experience, most begin to enjoy the process. Some people, however, seem to be unable to play roles. The best they can do is talk about what a person in that role might do or say. When these people are found during a workshop, do not compel them to participate or embarrass them for refusing to do so.
In other words, you set the tone for role playing. It is your job to provide firm direction when moving a group into role playing. You establish ground rules and the boundaries of good taste. It is up to you to cut off the role playing at any time that it begins to lose its realism and, hence, its learning value. Here are some useful steps to take in setting up and directing a role play.
Introduce the setting for the role play and the people who will be represented in the various roles. If names are not given, encourage role players to use their own names or provide them with suitable names for the roles they will be playing (e.g., "The Allocation Decision," in The Councillor as Decision-maker).
Check to be sure participants are found to play the various parts. Coach them until you are satisfied they understand the "point of view" represented by each part. Participants may be asked to volunteer for roles, or you may attempt to volunteer them for roles in a good-natured way.
Ask participants who play roles to comment on what they have learned from the experience.
Ask other participants to give critical feedback to the role players.
In summary, role playing is a highly interactive, participant-centred activity that, combined with the case-study method, can yield the benefits of both. When the case situations and role descriptions closely represent real-life conditions, role playing can have a powerful impact on a councillor's perception of a challenge or opportunity. The new attitudes and behaviours that may result have a good chance of being carried over by participants to their roles as councillors.
An effective way to dramatize real-life situations is to simulate or recreate them in a workshop setting. Simulations are simplified models of a process that is to be learned. Through simulation, workshop participants can experience what it is like to take part in the process and can experience their own behaviours relative to it in a safe environment, thereby avoiding many of the risks associated with real-life experimentation.
Simulations are sometimes used to involve participants in the manipulation of physical objects to study how they make decisions. One example is being asked to work as a team member on the construction of a tower under time and resource restrictions in competition with other teams. The intent is to examine questions of planning, organization, and the assumption of leadership within newly-formed teams. Another example is being asked to make quick decisions, as a newly-appointed manager, on how to delegate or otherwise dispose of a stack of correspondence left behind by a previous manager (an in-basket exercise). The intent of this kind of simulation is to investigate how an individual sets priorities, delegates authority, and generally manages time.
In The Councillor as Decision-maker, workshop participants are confronted with a simulated town council meeting at which a decision must be made on the use of a large sum of money in the face of strongly contrasted and competing demands from various community groups. This simulation is meant to explore the way decisions are made in relation to certain models of decision-making. As with role plays and case studies, simulations depend for their learning value on the authenticity of the situations and the degree of realism provided by participants taking part. What has been said earlier in the guide about setting up the situation and being sure everyone knows what he or she is supposed to be doing applies equally to your trainer role in producing successful simulations.
In summary, simulations are workshop representations of situations likely to face participants in their real-life roles. They allow participants to practice with new ways of doing things and learn more about their own behaviour in role-relevant situations with a minimum of personal or professional risk.
An instrument is any device that contains questions or statements relative to an area of interest to which participants are instructed to respond in some way. Instruments are quite versatile. They include questionnaires, checklists, inventories, and other non-clinical measuring devices. Normally, instruments focus on a particular subject about which workshop participants have an interest in learning. They produce a set of data by which participants can study themselves, intra- and interpersonally, toward the discovery of new behaviours they may want to investigate further during the workshop.
The handbook series on Elected Leadership is replete with instruments of many types and for many purposes. For example, a checklist on preferred modes of decision making is provided as a warm-up exercise for participants at a workshop on The Councillor as Decision-maker. In The Councillor as Policy-maker, participants are asked to decide whether each of 16 statements are problems, goals, policies, or strategies. In another 16-item instrument (checklist), participants at a workshop on The Councillor as Overseer are asked to identify overseer behaviours they believe should be practiced by their own councils. In a more complex questionnaire, participants at a workshop on The Councillor as Financier are asked to rate 16 statements about revenue and expenditure problems on a high-low numerical scale including factors of urgency and importance and to sum the results for each statement.
There is a major distinction between just "giving" an instrument and using it properly - getting the most value out of it in relation to the goals of the learning experience and the needs of the participants. In a workshop, there are four steps for making effective use of an instrument: administration, theory input, scoring, and interpretation.
Step 1: Administration
Distribute the instrument and tell the participants that you will read the instructions to them. Read the instructions out loud while the participants read along silently.
Step 2: Theory input
When participants have completed the instrument, discuss the theory underlying the instrument and what it measures.
Step 3: Scoring
A common way to score an instrument is to read the correct answers to the participants, tell them how to combine the numbers, and, in general, talk them through the scoring procedure.
Step 4: Interpretation
It is generally effective to have participants post their scores on chart paper. They may be formed into small groups to discuss their scores. Special attention should be given to the meaning of low and high scores and discrepancies between actual and estimated scores, if estimating is done. Participants may be asked if they were surprised by their scores or other participant's scores.
In summary, instruments are used to derive information directly from the experience of workshop participants themselves. Owing to the personal nature of the feedback, instruments are an extraordinarily high-voltage method for focusing participants on specific behaviours and the impact of these behaviours on others and on the situations they face in their councillor roles.
To conclude Part I of this guide, we have included the following table that cross references the seven training methods described above with the 11 role-specific handbooks that comprise the Training for Elected Leadership series.
Training methods used in the handbook series shown by method and councillor role