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close this book Community Nutrition Action for Child Survival
close this folder Part III - Project management systems
close this folder Unit 1: Training community nutrition workers
View the document Session 1: Introduction
View the document Session 2: Assessing training needs/writing objectives
View the document Session 3: Choosing training methods
View the document Session 4: Scheduling training content

Session 2: Assessing training needs/writing objectives


In this session, trainees use the job description for a community nutrition volunteer to list the information and skills the volunteer will have at the end of training. Using this list, they work in small groups to write training objectives for a three-day workshop. (An actual job description for a project worker can be substituted for the hypothetical description provided.)

Time: 1 hour


- Trainer's Reference - "Sample Job Description"

- Handout - "Writing Training Objectives"


- Write or select a description of the work of a community nutrition worker.

- Make copies of the Handout - "Writing Training Objectives."


1. Introduction: Tell participants that their task is to plan a three-day training seminar for a nutrition worker. The seminar is to be held during the first month of a year-long project and will be followed up with monthly in-service meetings.

2. List knowledge and skills required: Distribute or display the job description for a typical community nutrition worker. Review the job description together. Then, divide participants into small groups and ask them to list the information and the skills that the worker will need in order to perform the job as it is described. Have groups present their lists when they finish. Or, you may want to work with he entire group to brainstorm the information and skills the worker will need. This requires less time than working in small groups.

Summarize: "Listing the skills and knowledge a worker must have is the first step in assessing training needs."

3. Assess existing knowledge and skills: The next step is to consider what skills and knowledge the nutrition workers already have. We can do this by interviewing them before planning the training to find out about their knowledge, attitudes and especially their expectations for training.

4. Read the passage below to the trainees. It describes the nutrition workers they will be training.

In the village of (name of village), the community nutrition volunteers are women group members. All of them are functionally literate, and most have had from three to six years of formal schooling. They are mothers, and each has had a lot of experience taking care of her own children. When the nurse comes to the community every other month, they attend the education sessions she conducts with the community's mothers. They know a little about nutrition and are familiar with the three food groups, but sometimes they confuse the foods that belong in each group. While they take their children to the clinic when they become very sick, they also follow traditional practices for treating illnesses like diarrhea. They are eager to know more about nutrition but feel shy about trying to teach other mothers. When asked why so many of the children in the community are sick and malnourished, they said that it was because of ignorance, because the parents of these children are ignorant.

5. Compare existing skills to those required: Ask trainees to compare the list of required skills and information made earlier to what they now know about the educational level and the experience of the nutrition workers to be trained. This will help them decide what they can realistically expect to accomplish in the first three days of training.

6. What are the most important skills for the nutrition workers to have as they begin their activities in the community? Give trainees five minutes to write individually what they would expect to achieve by the end of the three-day training.

7. Writing training objectives: Distribute the Handout "Writing Training Objectives." Tell participants that we describe or write our expectations for any training activity as behavioral objectives. Review the description of a behavioral objective and practice writing several objectives with the group.

8. Divide into the same small groups as before. Ask the groups to (1) share their individual expectations for the three-day training, (2) decide which ones they agree on, and (3) rewrite them in the form of behavioral training objectives for the three-day training program. They should be written on newsprint for later presentation to the entire group.

When they have finished, ask the groups to report on their objectives.

9. Summarize the steps covered:

Assessing training needs including:

- listing knowledge and skills required;

- assessing existing knowledge and skills;

- comparing existing knowledge and skills to those required.

Writing training objectives in behavioral terms that describe what trainees will know and what they will be able to do by the end of training.



Community Nutrition Worker

Selection Criteria:

Community Nutrition Workers will be women of reproductive age with children of their own. They will be selected by the women in their villages. They must be literate.


1. Inform families about planned nutrition activities.

2. Work with other Community Nutrition Workers to plan and conduct monthly growth monitoring activities. (Use weight-for-age and the Road to Health Chart.)

3. Make home visits to follow up sick and malnourished children.

4. Teach families how to make improved weaning foods.

5. Make and give Oral Rehydration Solution in cases of diarrhea.

6. Keep records on sick and malnourished children identified in growth monitoring sessions and home visits.



Training objectives, also called behavioral objectives, are statements about the expected results of training activities. Training objectives are most often written in terms of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes the trainee will acquire during training. For example:

1) By the end of the training workshop, participants will be able to teach small groups of mothers how to prepare and give at least two improved weaning foods.

2) By the end of training, participants will be able to weigh and complete growth cards successfully for children 0-5 years.

Now, write your own training objectives.

By the end of training, participants will be able to


Ask yourself: Are these objectives realistic given the educational level of the participants, the length of training and the resources available? If not, you may want to change them.