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close this bookDesigning Human Settlements Training in African Countries - Volume 2: Trainer's Tool Kit (HABITAT, 1994, 182 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe lecture
View the documentVisual aids
View the documentQuestion and answer
View the documentDiscussion
View the documentDemonstration
View the documentSimulation
View the documentThe case method
View the documentCritical incidents
View the documentRole-playing
View the documentInstrumentation
View the documentBrainstorming
View the documentNominal group technique (NGT)
View the documentForce field analysis
View the documentAction planning
View the documentOther learning transfer strategies
View the documentPerformance analysis & needs assessment
View the documentTraining impact evaluation
View the documentTraining the staff to train
View the documentCoaching
View the documentTeam development
View the documentRole negotiation
View the documentIntergroup conflict intervention
View the documentOrganizational goal setting
View the documentA closing note

Instrumentation

Learning Emphasis




Organization Focus




The adult who tends to experience adequate and successful control over his own behaviour tends to develop a sense of integrity and feelings of self-worth.

- Chris Argyris

Information as a basis for learning new things can be derived from various sources. We have seen in previous methods for information production that some is derived from the trainer (lecture, demonstration) while some comes from the experience of the participants themselves (discussion, brainstorming). Now we turn to a different sort of information production where the information is derived from instruments. The so-called instrumented technique relies heavily on feedback of information about the behaviour of a group participant as derived from the summarized results of a reaction form, personal inventory or other type of instrument.

Instruments are forms or questionnaires to be completed by individuals or participants in a training group. When completed, the information produced by an instrument can help respondents learn about their own behaviour in certain situations. From what they learn, participants can make decisions about behaviour change. Instruments consist of statements written as instances of particular behavioural traits to be measured - openness to others, leadership strengths and weaknesses, problem-solving styles or learning preferences. They include scales that the participant can use to register and measure a response to each of the statements.

Instruments tend to be quite similar in design. They begin with an explanation of the instrument and instructions for completing it. The body of the instrument consists of statements that describe common behaviours or work conditions to which the participant is expected to react.

A sample statement from a management styles instrument:

“She reaches her decisions independently and then informs her subordinates of them.”

Scales are developed for the respondent to use to respond to each of the statements. The most common scales are

a. Yes, unsure and no;
b. True, unsure and false;
c. Agree, slightly agree, unsure, slightly disagree and disagree.

Some instrument designers omit the “unsure” category because they believe it allows the respondent to avoid committing himself.

Example:

Circle the response that most clearly reflects your feelings.

A = Agree

SA = Slightly Agree

U = Unsure

SD = Slightly Disagree

D = Disagree

1. The atmosphere and interpersonal relations in my work unit are friendly and cooperative.

A

SA

U

SD

D

Instruments may focus on the behaviour of individuals as employees, supervisors, leaders, managers, parents or spouses and in many other roles. They may focus on how people work together in organizations, on teams, in committees, on governing bodies and in informal groups. They may focus on how people feel about the conditions under which they work within their immediate work units or in the organization of which the work unit is a part.

There is a 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 training session, there are four steps in presenting an instrument properly: 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 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 group, 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. Post your own scores to indicate what a scoring sheet should look like. Form participants into small groups to discuss their scores. Special attention should be given to the meaning of low and high scores and to discrepancies between actual and estimated scores. Participants should be asked if they were surprised by the scores.

An interesting variation is to ask participants to predict their results by estimating the scales on which they expect to score high and score low. This additional step can have surprising learning value for participants who find that their actual scores are quite different from the scores they expected to have.

Some “dont’s” and “do’s” of instrumentation can be of value to the trainer who wishes to take full advantage of this powerful learning tool.

· Don’t use the word “test,”

· Don’t give instructions while participants are reading,

· Don’t pressure participants to reveal their scores,

· Don’t diagnose participants’ weaknesses for them,

· Don’t assign labels to participants,

· Do take the instrument first yourself,

· Do point out to participants how the instrument fits into the goals of the training,

· Do encourage participants to be honest and open in responding to statements on the instrument,

· Do allow plenty of time for processing scores, and

· Do help participants who are having difficulty reconciling their scores with their own self-perceptions.

Instruments may be purchased from commercial sources on a wide variety of individual, group or organizational situations. Normally, they are supplied with instructions on administration, scoring and interpretation. Some instruments come with information on the underlying theory, how the instrument was constructed and results of its use with various target groups over time.

An alternative to the commercial acquisition of instruments is for the trainer to create his own. This may be done when standard, commercial instruments are not suitable or when they cannot be obtained conveniently. An instrument developed by a team that included one of the authors is a case in point. As part of a training programme for public policy-makers, some method was needed to familiarize participating officials with their unique preferences for involving citizens in the decision-making process. No appropriate commercial instruments could be found. Therefore, an instrument called “The Participation Styles Inventory” was constructed. This instrument, complete with scoring instructions and interpretive information, is shown at the end of this section.

Sometimes, an instrument is constructed as an integral part of the training design itself. In an action-research programme, for example, a trainer might wish to demonstrate how to use an instrument to confirm the authenticity or generalizability of information obtained from a single source. The opportunity to do this occurs when, during an interview, one of the action researchers is told by an office worker that the supervisor doesn’t care what he or she thinks. The researcher wants to find out if the comment is the isolated opinion of one employee about a particular supervisor or if it is a reflection of employee feelings about supervision in general. To do so, the trainer and the action research team prepare an instrument containing statements about supervision. Opposite each statement they add an agree/disagree and an important/unimportant scale. Other employees are then asked to complete the instrument by circling the response in each case that most nearly corresponds to their feelings.

THE PARTICIPATION STYLES INVENTORY

By David W. Tees and Robert L. Wegner

Institute of Urban Studies
The University of Texas at Arlington

INSTRUCTIONS

Think of a recent situation or two in which citizens were involved in a decision you were making about a public policy or programme. Recall who was involved and how their involvement affected your thinking or actions. Was the involvement of the citizen(s) helpful or not helpful? Was it appropriate or inappropriate in your judgement? On the following pages are 12 statements that represent different opinions about citizen involvement in public decision-making. Please indicate the extent to which you share each opinion by circling the appropriate number on the scale.

Questionnaire

Strongly agree

Agree

Neutral

Disagree

Strongly disagree

Circle the number to the right of the statement that most nearly reflects how much you agree or disagree with the statement.






1. The values, goals and priorities of the local elected leadership should be the primary guide in making the decision.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

2. Community goals should be formulated by local elected leaders, based on input from organized and informed citizen groups.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

3. Responsibility for establishing community goals and priorities should rest with active, informed citizen groups appointed by local elected leaders.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

4. Local elected officials should put high priority on establishing goals that satisfy the expressed needs of various community interests.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

5. Decisions about programmes for meeting goals should be delegated to citizen groups most affected by the programmes.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

6. Once goals are agreed upon, programme options for meeting them should be selected by elected officials based on recommendations from staff.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

7. Data obtained from citizen input should be used by public officials, together with staff recommendations, in deciding among programme proposals.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

8. Programme options considered by elected leaders should be selected based on the extent of adverse or positive reaction at public hearings.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

9. The final stages of implementation and feedback should find public officials and citizens working together to review progress against planning goals.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

10. The monitoring of plan implementation by citizen groups is the best way to ensure that the performance of a programme is consistent with community values and goals.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

11. Firm control over the implementation of plans by public officials is necessary to prevent powerful neighbourhood groups from getting more than their share.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

12. Plan implementation will be acceptable to most citizen groups, if public meetings are held in neighbourhoods to explain the city’s reasoning and citizens are invited to react.

+5

+3

0

-3

-5

Scoring Sheet

In the open square opposite each number below; enter the number from the corresponding item on your questionnaire. Include plus and minus characters.


Figure

The Four Citizen-participation Styles

The Participation Styles Inventory is designed to assess an individual official’s preferences for the involvement of citizens in decision-making. The instrument produces four distinct participation styles which have the following characteristics.

Autocratic - The public official identifies a need using information supplied by staff, considers solutions and then argues for his or her position with other officials. The official may or may not consider what citizens will think about the decision; in any case, citizens are provided with no opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.

Accommodative - The public official seeks to weigh the strength of opposition and support for the issue at hand and attempts to find some expedient, mutually acceptable approach that will satisfy all parties concerned. The official sees maintaining the credibility of local government with various public-interest representatives as of utmost importance.

Consultative -The public official looks to the attitudes and ideas of the citizenry as a resource for enlarging the official’s ability to make responsible decisions. The intent is to capitalize on the knowledge and experience of those closest to the problems when attempting to reach a relevant decision.

Democratic - The public official delegates to responsible citizen groups the broadest possible authority to define problems, fashion solutions and monitor the progress of programmes. The official is guided by the proposition that people will tend to support what they help to create.

Interpreting Your Scores

The Participation Styles Inventory produces four summary scores which are shown at the bottom of the scoring sheet. The scores range from a high of +5 to a low of -5. The closer your score is to the extreme end of the range, the more you agree with (+) or disagree with (-) that particular style of involving citizens.

The instrument also produces four scores for each of the three stages in the decision-making process: planning and goal setting, choosing among programmes, implementation and monitoring. These scores range from a high of +5 to a low of -5, and have the same meaning in relation to the four participation styles as the summary scores described above.

After completing an instrument like this one, people are inclined to ask, “What style is best?” In the case of participation styles, there is no one best way. All four styles are useful, although more so in some situations than in others. Each of us is capable of using more than one style, and may choose to do so in different situations.

For example, an official who might want little citizen involvement in the selection of courses of action (autocratic) might want substantial citizen input in selecting community goals (consultative). In other words, the style of participation which an individual uses is a result of certain personal inclinations and the requirements of the situation.

To help you judge the appropriateness of various participation styles for different situations involving citizens, we have listed a number of uses for each style. We have also added some diagnostic questions that may help you judge the likely consequences of over-using or under-using a particular style.

Autocratic

Uses:

1. When quick, decisive action is imperative.

2. In handling important issues where unpopular courses of action must be taken - budget cuts, tax increases and discipline.

3. When the welfare of the community is at stake and the facts for decision-making are known.

If you scored HIGH: Are you often surprised by citizens reacting negatively to decisions that they were expected to accept readily? (If so, it maybe that they object to the way the decisions were made even though they approve of the decisions themselves.)

If you scored LOW: If there is evidence of strong public dissent, do you have trouble taking a firm stand, even when the need is clear to you? (Sometimes the risk of hurting someone’s feelings makes you vacillate or put off making a decision, which may mean postponing the inevitable and compounding the anxiety and resentment of all concerned.)

Accommodative

Uses:

1. When an issue under consideration means far more to one group than another, and a goodwill gesture will help to preserve harmony in the community.

2. When the position you have taken is unacceptable to everyone but yourself, and you can’t win.

3. To allow other positions to be presented and, thereby, demonstrate an open, reasonable attitude.

If you scored HIGH: Do you feel the demands of citizens get more attention than they deserve? (Public officials must be prepared to alter their implementation plans when they are resisted by influential community groups.)

If you scored LOW: Do you have trouble admitting that you are wrong and find yourself frequently at odds with colleagues and citizens? (Accommodating on minor issues is a way to preserve public goodwill and still retain a decisive voice in determining public policy.)

Consultative

Uses:

1. When your purpose is to learn - test your own assumptions and seek to understand the views of others.

2. To gain commitment by incorporating the insights of citizen groups in the decision-making process.

3. To demonstrate that you are actively soliciting participation even from potential objectors as a matter of principle.

If you scored HIGH: Do you spend more time investigating points of view and approaches than the issues deserve? (The inclusion of citizen input is not a necessity in all public decision-making. Consultation should be reserved for issues worthy of the time and energy required for citizens to be involved.)

If you scored LOW: Are you skeptical of the notion that differences are opportunities for learning and joint gain? (The prospect of debate and confrontation with citizens may be personally distasteful, causing you to avoid interaction with them unless unavoidable and blinding you to the benefits of participation.)

Democratic

Uses:

1. When the goal is to build a capacity for leadership among those often excluded from political and economic processes.

2. To cultivate political consciousness and local responsibility for public programmes and decisions.

If you scored HIGH: Are you frequently on the side of involving citizens in decisions at the risk of causing delay and ignoring the advice of staff? (Sensitivity to citizen needs, while important, should be balanced with carefully reasoned professional judgement and implementation strategies.)

If you scored LOW: Do you feel threatened by any suggestion of power-sharing with citizen groups? (Those who have power often want to keep it. They fail to understand that their power is increased by sharing and reduced by withholding.)

SUMMARY

Participants in training learn more when they are actively involved in the learning process. Instruments assure an active role for participants. They are a valuable source of personal feedback to individual participants through the straightforward completion, scoring and interpretation of scales.

Beyond personal insight, instruments can be a source of information for giving and receiving feedback among training participants. Participants can be asked to predict their own and other people’s scores and to become aware of the impact their behaviour is having on others.

Hundreds of instruments with a personal, interpersonal and organizational focus are readily obtained from commercial sources, complete with instructions for scoring and score interpretation.