|Trainer's Guide for Training of Elected Officials (HABITAT)|
|Part III - Workshop learning components|
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