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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

Unit 1: Training community nutrition workers

SESSION 1: Introduction

SESSION 2: Identifying Training Needs/Writing Objectives

SESSION 3: Choosing Training Methods

SESSION 4: Scheduling Training Content

SESSION 5: Preparing a Training Session


Managers of community nutrition projects are frequently called upon to help workers and community members meet their needs for new information and skills. As such, they must often plan and participate in training workshops and in-service training activities. In larger projects, they may be responsible for training project supervisors as well as field workers and community volunteers.

This unit introduces a step-by-step method for planning training activities. It also reviews some of the techniques that are useful in the training of adults and presents guidelines for choosing techniques to meet training needs. By the end of the unit, participants will have planned a training program for community nutrition workers, complete with training objectives, schedule and sample lesson plans. The methodology introduced can be used by participants during or after training to develop training plans for their own community projects.

Session 1: Introduction


Trainees discuss the functions of training and the instances where training is necessary for the implementation of community nutrition action projects. They also discuss the composition and qualifications of training teams.

Time: 1/2 hour


- Newsprint and marking pens or chalkboard and chalk


1. What is training? Begin by writing the words "training" and "education" on newsprint or on the chalkboard. Ask participants: " Is there any difference between training and education?" If they say yes, ask them to describe the difference. Or, ask them to say what they think of when they hear each of these words. Allow five or six responses.

2. Stress the unique characteristics of training:

- Training prepares a person for specific kinds of action

- Training deals mostly with developing skills or teaching "how to do" something

- Training improves performance in an activity

- Training motivates or changes attitudes

- Training should lead to sustained, self-generating development

(Adapted from Training Manual for Helping Professions by Kiron Wadhera)

3. Ask: "When is training necessary in community nutrition action projects?"

Answers should include:

- before a project to raise community awareness about nutrition programs;

- in the early stages of a community action project for training community volunteers or workers;

- periodically throughout the life of the project.

4. Ask: "Who should plan and carry out project training?" Discuss with participants the role of the manager in guiding and organizing training to meet community needs

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of enlisting other technically-trained resource specialists to work on training activities.

5. Ask: "What are the desired characteristics of training team members?" Ask participants to write down the kinds of individuals they would ask to work with them on the training of community nutrition volunteers. Make a master list of the types of individuals on newsprint, i.e., nutrition worker, agricultural worker, artist, health education person, trainer, family planning specialist, etc.

6. Ask: "What personal characteristics would you look for in training team members?"

List the answers:

- Training experience

- Understanding of local problems

- Good rapport with community members

- Reliability, willingness to work

- Etc.

7. Summarize: The size of the training team depends on the length of training, the number of participants and, of course, resources. The training team should be involved early on in the planning process.

Tell trainees that we are going to use a step-by-step process in this unit to plan a training activity. The process includes the steps below. It can be used by teams or individuals for planning training workshops, in-service training and on-the-job training. The same process can be used to plan training for community nutrition workers, supervisors, and a wide variety of individuals and groups from other types of programs.

8. Write the steps in planning training activities on newsprint and display:

a. Assessing training needs

b. Writing training objectives

c. Choosing training methods and content

d. Preparing a schedule

e. Preparing session plans

f. Planning how to evaluate trainee knowledge and skills

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.

Session 3: Choosing training methods


Trainees compare didactic and participatory training approaches and discuss their usefulness in the training of community nutrition workers. They also discuss the characteristics of community workers and review general statements about adult learners. The session ends with a review of specific participatory training techniques.

Time: 2 hours


- Trainer's Reference - "Role Play: Training Styles" with copies for role players

- Handout - "Characteristics of Adult Learners"

- Handout - "Participatory and Experiential Training Methods"

Preparation :

- Copy the description of the role play and the handouts.

- Assign roles and practice the three role play situations.

- Select five or six trainees or trainers to participate in the role play.

- Prepare questions for discussion.


1. Introduction: Introduce this session by telling participants that we are now at the stage in the planning process when we need to decide on the exact information to be included in each of our training programs and the training techniques we will use. In this session, we will take a look at several different training approaches and the techniques appropriate for use in community training activities.

2. Role Play: Training Styles. Role players assume the roles of Trainer and Trainees to demonstrate three different types of training: didactic, participatory and experiential. (See instructions attached.)

3. Discussion: Ask participants to comment on the role play by asking the following questions:

- What happened in each of these three situations?

- What was the role of the facilitator in each of the situations?

- What were the differences in the three approaches to teaching the same subject?

- In which one do you think the participants learned more about the topic?

4. Write participants' comments about situations 1,2,3 on separate sheets of newsprint. When you have finished the discussion, write at the top of the sheet for situation 1, didactic; situation 2, participatory; and situation 3, experiential.

5. Give examples of training situations in which each of these styles might be appropriate. Ask trainees to describe the type of training that would be most effective with the community nutrition workers they want to train.

6. Distribute the Handout - "Characteristics of Adult Learners, " and review the eight points about how adults learn. Encourage trainees to use participatory and experiential techniques in their training as much as possible. Write the following information about retention of knowledge on the flipchart and discuss.

We retain


10% of what we hear,

20% of what we hear and see,

30% of what we do, and

40% of what we do in a real situation.


7. Distribute the Handout - "Participatory and Experiential Training Methods, " and review with participants.

8. Close the session by telling trainees that while we would like to use highly participatory techniques whenever possible, there are certain things that determine which techniques we choose in our training. To select training methods, we must answer the following questions:

- What method or combination of methods will insure that trainees learn the necessary information?

- Will trainees be able to understand the training method and participate fully?

- How much time do we have? Is the time required for a certain method justified by what the trainees will learn?

- What resources are required (materials, money) and can they be made available?




1 Trainer


3-4 Trainees


Choose a nutrition topic that will involve trainees in a practice activity, e.g., making weaning foods, growth monitoring, promoting family planning.

This role play is done in pantomime (without speaking) by having players wear name cards "Trainer" and "Trainee." This helps focus the participants' observation and discussion on the training approach used instead of training content.

Situation 1

The Trainer, standing in front of the seated Trainees, presents the topic in lecture form. He/She may use visual aids. Trainer does not ask questions of the Trainees. Occasionally Trainees raise hands to ask questions which the Trainer answers.

Situation 2

The Trainer, seated with the Trainees, presents the same topic using visual aids which are passed around. Trainer asks many questions of Trainees, which they discuss among themselves and respond to. Trainer may demonstrate something, asking Trainees to help.

Situation 3

The Trainer and Trainees are working together on a project, moving around the room, discussing visual aids and reference materials, making weaning food, weighing children in role plays, etc.


1. Roles should be assigned and the three situations should be practiced prior to the session.

2. Tell Trainees they will be watching three role plays and that you want them to observe the interaction between the Trainer and Trainees in each of the cases.

3. Each situation should last 3-4 minutes with players leaving the room and re-entering for each new situation.

4. Discussion

(Adapted from Bridging the Gap, Save the Children)



1. Adults must want to learn.

2. Adults will learn only what they feel a need to learn.

If an adult does not feel dissatisfied with his/her own performance or deficient in a given area, he/she will not learn what is needed to correct the deficiency or poor performance. When adults are dissatisfied, they are interested in learning something new that can correct the problem, and will actively seek opportunities to learn.

3. Adults learn by doing.

Active, not passive, methods provide the best learning environment. Through involvement and action, adults increase their understanding of new concepts and skills and their confidence to apply these. The facilitator must provide time for assimilation, testing and acceptance.

4. Adult-learning centers on realistic problems.

Hypothetical cases or situations that do not correspond to real life conditions do not motivate an adult to learn. Examples and exercises in a training program should be within the possible, if not actual, reality experience of the adult.

5. Experience affects adult learning.

Past perceptions, actions and results experienced by an adult determine what he/she accepts or does not accept as new knowledge.

6. Adults learn best in an informal environment.

An atmosphere which encourages risk-free learning through participation in shared discussions and activities, motivates adults to be open to new concepts and skills and to visualize and experiment with how these concepts apply to their personal needs.

7. Vary learning methods in teaching adults.

Learning methodologies (case studies, role play, small group discussion, etc.) should be varied to capture and maintain adult interest. Constant repetition of any method will cause adults to become bored and fatigued.

8. Adults want guidance, not grades.

Adult learning is very individual, and goals for achievement are set by determining "What do I need to improve myself?" Adults seek feedback on "How am I doing?" to correct poor or substandard performance. They do not compete in knowledge and skill acquisition nor seek authority, recognition, or reward for their learning.



1. Audio-Visual Methods

These include posters, slides, flannelgraph, films, etc. They make the transfer of information easier and more interesting. They are very useful when training workers to recognize the signs of malnutrition, contraceptive methods, etc.

2. Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a technique for generating new ideas by drawing ideas from the group, instead of depending on the ideas of a few leaders or participants. Brainstorming helps to convince participants of the value of the whole group and its ability to generate creative solutions to problems.

In brainstorming, all members of the group are encouraged to contribute ideas. All ideas are accepted and written down. There is no criticism or rejection of an idea. This is important because it encourages everyone's participation. As many responses or ideas should be generated as possible. When the group has finished, the facilitator may choose to categorize, select, comment or judge responses depending on the purpose of the exercise. Care is taken at this stage not to discourage any member from future participation. The brainstorming process produces a final result that is a group product.

3. Small Group Discussion

A large group is divided into subgroups of no more than five people, and the group is given a topic for discussion, a list of questions to answer or statements to react to. The subgroups discuss and list their comments. Returning to the larger group, subgroups present their comments. Questions may be asked or comments made.

Dividing a large group into subgroups can be done at random or on the basis of interests, experience, region, profession, etc. You may also divide groups to separate more and less vocal trainees, giving the latter the chance to participate freely.

4. Demonstration

This includes showing and allowing participants to practice certain techniques and skills. The following have been demonstrated during past workshops:

- Growth monitoring techniques

- Preparation of oral rehydration solution

- Preparation of a variety of weaning mixtures

Facilitators should take care that ingredients, amounts and utensils are exactly those that will be used by trainees. It is a good idea to use a poster and/or a handout to reinforce information given verbally during a demonstration.

5. Games

Nutrition games have been developed by several organizations and countries. Games, if followed by discussion, can be very useful for reinforcing information presented in lectures or discussions. Board games, like Nutrition Snakes and Ladders, are a good way to reinforce information about the relationships between diarrhea, hygiene, feeding practices, child-spacing and malnutrition. Card games can help groups understand food classifications, and still other games might help participants practice allocating household resources to achieve adequate food intake for the family.

Games should be used sparingly, and always with plenty of explanation before and discussion of lessons learned afterwards.

6. Case Study

An actual situation or problem is presented in writing or verbally, sometimes with the use of slides or transparencies. The group or subgroups are asked to discuss the situation presented. Discussion can be focused on a set of questions to be answered, on a controversy or problem in the case study, etc.

A variation of this method is the incident method. In this type of case study, a situation is described, but the solution or way it was handled is not. Subgroups or individuals are asked how they would handle the situation. They may be asked to present their solutions to the entire group. The facilitator can lead a discussion comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each subgroup's solution. The exercise might end with a description of what really happened. It should be emphasized that the solution chosen is neither right nor wrong but merely one of many solutions that could have been chosen.

7. Role Play

Trainees are assigned roles similar to real life situations and given guidelines indicating the attitudes and expectations of the people they are playing. After acting out a situation before the group, discussion follows. Role plays may be planned as one would write a play, or the situation and characteristics of players may be described with details left up to their imaginations.

This is an excellent way to help trainees understand the attitudes and problems of the population groups they are working with. Simulated meetings between volunteers and community members, health workers, etc. could be used. Role plays we have used in nutrition training include the following:

- A home visit by a volunteer to the family of a malnourished child

- A community (women's group) meeting to discuss the problem of malnutrition

- A volunteer or worker trying to introduce the concept of family planning to a small group of women

- Other problems faced by workers and volunteers in their work

Discussion at the end of a role play is very important. The group should be encouraged to say what they thought about the situation and the behavior of the players. It is also important that the facilitator prepare some open-ended questions about the role play situation to stimulate discussion.


- What did you like about how the nutrition volunteer handled this situation?

- What do you think the mother was feeling? Do you think she understood? Why? Why not?

Role playing can make learning fun and easy. It can also help participants see new ways to approach situations and solve problems.

8. Project or Agency Visit

Trainees are taken to a specific project or institution such as:

- A nutrition rehabilitation center

- A maternal child health /nutrition clinic with outreach program

- A nutrition/family planning clinic supported by a community income-generating scheme

The purpose may be to demonstrate the activities of an on-going project and/or to expose participants to malnourished children and their families. In ideal cases, trainees are able to practice the skills they have been learning, i.e., weighing and charting the growth of children or using the arm circumference tape or other tools to assess malnutrition, counseling the mother of a sick child, etc.

In all cases, trainees should be properly briefed about the purpose of the visit and areas for observation should be defined before the visit.

9. Practice in the Community

It is often useful to have trainees practice the skills they are learning in a community, under the supervision of trainers and resource specialists.

If prior arrangements are made, trainees can:

- make home visits;

- measure children and assess nutritional status;

- prepare and lead a discussion on a given topic with a group of mothers;

- conduct a weighing activity with community leaders, etc.

In fact, any time it is possible to do so, you should create the opportunity for trainees to do in training the things you expect them to do after training.

Session 4: Scheduling training content


Using the training objectives developed during Session 2, participants identify and sequence training topics and activities to complete a schedule for the three-day training seminar .

Time: 2 hours

Materials :

- Handout - "Planning Training Content"

- Handout - "Training Schedule"

- Flipchart and marking pens


Copy worksheets and make sure flipcharts, markers and tape are available.


1. Introduction: Distribute the Handout - "Planning Training Content. " Trainees will work in the same small groups formed in Session 2.

2. Selecting Topics and Activities: Instruct small groups to begin by writing one of the training objectives they agreed to in Session 2 in the first column on the handout. In the next column, they should list the topics or information that should be included in the training to make sure that this objective is achieved. In the final column, groups should describe the training activities that they will use to teach and reinforce the required skills.

Groups should continue until they have listed all of their training objectives, the topics and the activities that might be included in their three-day program. Remind them that training content should be realistic. When the groups finish this exercise, have them review their lists. Encourage them to eliminate and/or combine topics until they have a realistic list.

3. Sequencing Topics and Activities: Once groups agree on their training topics and activities, ask them to assign each topic and each activity a number that indicates its order in the training sequence.

4. Scheduling: Distribute the Handout - "Training Schedule. " Ask groups to transfer their topics and activities in the correct order to the blank training schedule and/or to three pieces of newsprint headed Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. While doing this, groups will need to think about the amount of time that should be devoted to each topic and activity. Remind groups that they should include enough time for warm-up exercises, orientation to the workshop and any other non-nutrition topics. They should also leave some time in the schedule to deal with participants' questions and needs.

This is a preliminary schedule. Once groups begin to talk about training methodologies in greater detail, they will want to make changes in the schedule.

5. Is the Training Plan Realistic?: When groups finish their schedules, ask them to ask themselves the following questions:

- Is our plan realistic?

- Are we trying to cover too much/too little in the time available?

- Will the topics and activities listed meet our objectives for the training?

- Have we included unnecessary topics?

- Are there topics other than those listed that we should include?

6. Presentation of Plans: Have small groups present their training objectives and schedules to the entire group. Make sure to emphasize that there is no such thing as a perfect training schedule. Each group, and each project, will develop its own plan according to its understanding of the training needs and the resources available.

7. Summary: Review again the steps in planning training content, pointing out to participants that they have now completed steps one, two, three and four of the planning process. They have (1) assessed the training need by looking at the job description and a statement about the knowledge and skills of trainees; (2) they wrote objectives for a three-day training activity; (3) they chose training content; and (4) they developed a tentative training schedule.






















To practice planning and presenting a training session.

Time: 1 hour to prepare one session plan


- Handout - "Session Plan"

- Flipchart and marking pens


1. Introduction: Distribute the Handout - "Session Plan," and begin by telling participants that a session plan is the tool used by the trainer to prepare for the presentation of information and activities during a session.

Review the items asked for on the Handout - "Session Plan," explaining the meaning of each item.

2. Preparing a Session Plan: Assign topics, or ask each group to choose one (or more) of the session topics they included in their training schedule.

Groups should complete at least one session plan with as much detail as possible and prepare to present the plan to the entire group.

3. Presentations: Groups present their session plans for discussion and suggestions. If time permits, you may want them to practice delivering the sessions to the group as if it were made up of the potential trainees.

4. Evaluation: Discuss the techniques for evaluating training sessions and training workshops. Help groups define measurable indicators or standards of performance for their sessions. Demonstrate how behavioral training objectives lead to a logical evaluation plan for a training activity.

5. Summary: Review the steps in planning training activities:

- Assessing the need for training

- Writing training objectives

- Choosing training methods and content

- Preparing a schedule

- Preparing session plans

- Planning how to evaluate trainee knowledge and skills

Remind participants that this framework can be used to plan almost any type of training program.

Note: Trainees have now completed, as a group, a training plan for one activity. If time permits, or workshop objectives call for participants to develop training plans for their own projects, you may want to base the entire exercise on an actual training need.

We did exactly this during workshops in Nepal and Indonesia, where management trainees planned and subsequently conducted training for field workers and village nutrition volunteers.



Topic or Activity:

Length of Session:


Important Information to Include:

Steps: (Develop a step-by-step plan of how you will conduct the session. Describe all activities, exercises and training methods.)

Evaluation: ( How will you know if the trainees have learned what you wanted them to learn?)