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close this bookAquaculture - Training Manual (Peace Corps, 1990, 350 p.)
close this folderChapter ten: Program design - week one
View the documentSession I-1: Trainee arrival
View the documentSession I-2: Orientation
View the documentSession I-3: Expectations, rules and norms
View the documentSession I-4: Individual focusing
View the documentSession I-5: Pond observations
View the documentSession I-6: Processing - pond observations
View the documentSession I-7: Personal Interview - week one
View the documentSession I-8: Processing of week one - bridge to Peace Corps, goal setting

Session I-6: Processing - pond observations

Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes


· Share feelings experienced during the Pond Observation exercise;

· Discuss Pond Observation exercise from non-technical standpoints including learnings about trainees' own reactions, problem-solving approaches and perspectives;

· Share some of the technical observations made about pond systems;

· Apply this experience to the development of strategies for observing unfamiliar pond systems;

· Develop clear, specific questions based on knowledge gained from this exercise.

Overview: The Pond Observation exercise is the first technical exercise in the program. It involves working individually and dealing with a fairly ambiguous task, a very new kind of challenge for many trainees. In addition to its technical aspects, this exercise provides an adjustment period for the trainees and a transition to a new way of learning. In processing the Pond Observation exercise, trainees have an opportunity to share some of their feelings while going through this adjustment, and to think about what they learned about their own reactions to new situations, as well as how they approach problem-solving. In addition, this session helps clarify and reinforce some of the technical [earnings, and provides an opportunity to think about the application of these [earnings to future situations.

5 minutes

1. The trainer briefly reviews what happened during the Pond Observation exercise, and tells the trainees that, in this session, they will have a chance to discuss the exercise.

5 minutes

2. The trainer points out that there were actually many aspects to this exercise, and asks the trainees from what standpoints it could be discussed? (For example: technical, dealing with frustration/ambiguity, observation skills, approaches to problem-solving, working independently, working in physically demanding conditions, etc.) The responses of the trainees are recorded on the board or newsprint.

15 minutes

3. Once there is a list on the board, the trainer assigns some order to them for the following group discussion, going from the non-technical aspects to the technical ones. The trainer then facilitates a group discussion among the trainees to allow them to share their experiences related to each of the aspects listed. The trainer can pose some of the following questions to stimulate the discussion:

· How did they feel when they first went out into the field? (frustrated, bewildered, confused, nervous, lonely?);

· What were some sources of frustration?

· How did they deal with or react to what they were feeling?

· Did they set goals?

· How did they go about developing a way to tackle the job?

· What did they learn about their own observation skills?

· What did they learn about their own perspectives?

· How many looked at the area from the point of view of their academic background or other experiences? (Ask for examples of people seeing something, but not seeing something else. For example, "I saw all the different species of plant life but didn't even notice the pipes going into the ponds");

· How long did it take before you looked at the ponds as a system?

5 minutes

4. The trainer asks the trainees to individually write down three to five things they learned about fish ponds based on their observations that they didn't know before.

20 minutes

5. The trainer tells the trainees that they will be dividing into small groups (four to six trainees per group). Once in their groups, they have a two part assignment. They are to spend the first ten minutes comparing the things they wrote down about what they learned about fish ponds. They are to spend the second ten minutes developing, as a group, a strategy to address this question:

· If you were to go visit a pond system now that you had never seen before, describe, step-bystep, how you would go about studying it, and briefly give the reasons for each step.

The strategy each group develops should be recorded on newsprint.

10 minutes

6. The large group reconvenes and a representative of each small group presents their group's strategy.

5 minutes

7. The trainer gives the following homework assignment, to be turned in the following morning, then returned to the trainee to keep in his/her notebook: List fifteen questions you now have as a direct result of your observations of the pond system you studied.

The trainer concludes the meeting by making a few final points to remind the trainees that, since most of them are still unfamiliar with fish ponds, haven't yet fully developed their "eye", and still lack a great deal of technical information, they had to make some assumptions in processing what they observed. This is an important first step that assigns some order to their thought processes, but they should be sure to make a point of taking opportunities to test their assumptions and verify the accuracy of their conclusions as they go through training and gain more information. They should also be encouraged to recognize how much they were able to learn on their own, and to note their own progress and accomplishments as they went through this exercise.

Resources and Materials:

· Blackboard, chalk, eraser;

· Newsprint pads, markers, masking tape.

Trainer Notes:

· This occurs early in training at a point where trainees may still be unclear about the Individual Training aspect of the program. To avoid confusion and/or mixed messages, it may help to acknowledge this. The trainer can remind the trainees that they were told in orientation that training is individual unless otherwise specified and that they were told there would be opportunities to share ideas built into the program. Point out that this meeting is one of those times, but that once leaving this session, individual training is to be resumed and the subject matter covered here is not open for further discussion among them;

· An alternative approach to processing the Pond Observation exercise is to do it with small groups of trainees as they complete their observations. In this case, the processing takes place every time about four to eight trainees have completed the observations. The design remains essentially the same, except that in step number five it will probably not be necessary to break into even smaller groups (if there are more than six trainees, however, it may be worthwhile to break into groups of four or five). Although this approach is labor intensive for the Master Trainer (or whichever staff member is facilitating the processing), it has been very successful since it provides more immediate processing, thus making the trainees aware of the value of the exercise while it is fresh in their minds and other activities have not superseded this experience.