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close this bookTrainer's Guide for Training of Elected Officials (HABITAT)
close this folderPart IV - Managing training delivery
View the documentOverview
View the documentDelivering information
View the documentGiving instructions
View the documentMonitoring small group activities
View the documentFacilitating the reporting process
View the documentSummary

Giving instructions

The 11-workshop series consists of many exercises all designed to help workshop participants discover role-relevant knowledge for themselves. This means you will frequently have to give directions or instructions. If participants don't know what is expected of them in an exercise or if they feel what they are being asked to do makes no sense, the learning process will be impaired.

Most authorities on giving instructions agree on a powerful principle - begin the instruction by giving participants a rationale for the task or exercise. When participants know why they are being asked to do something, they will be far more interested in learning how. Beginning with the rationale, giving good instructions can be viewed as a simple, four-step process.

Step 1:

Introduce the exercise by giving a rationale. This should include the objective of the exercise and anything else you might add to help participants see the importance of the exercise from their point of view. In giving the rationale for a role-playing exercise, for example you might say, A role is not like a part in a play in which you are trying to act like someone else. When you play a role in a role-playing exercise, you are just being yourself - doing just what you would see yourself doing, acting just as you would act if you found yourself in this kind of situation. By just being yourself in the role, you get a first hand experience that will help you should you be faced with a situation like this back home.

Step 2:

Explain the task. Describe what participants will be doing. Usually the task of a small group is to produce a product. Use active verbs to describe the product such as, "list the three most important ... " or "describe an incident in which you were involved that ... " Make the transition from the rationale for the task to the explanation as smoothly as possible. For example, you might continue from your rationale for a role playing exercise by saying, "To help you get into your role, read the background situation in your handbook and read the description of the role you have volunteered to play. "

Step 3:

Specify the context. It is important for participants to know the limits of the task before they begin - who they will be working with, under what conditions and for how long. The context of the exercise spells out how they will be accomplishing the task. Most of the activity called for by the various workshops in the Elected Leadership series is done in small groups. The optimum number for each small group is usually specified at some point in the exercise description. To specify the context for a role-playing exercise, you might say, "You are the spokesperson for your citizen group. You are competing with two other groups for a large sum of money which the town council has been given for this purpose. In 15 minutes, you will be asked to enter the council room and present to the town council your group's reasons for believing that the council should allocate a large sum of money to your group. You will have access to a flipchart and will have five minutes to make your presentation. "

Step 4:

Reporting. The task of reporting begins when individuals or members of a small group have completed an assigned task. Reporting adds greatly to the learning value of an exercise. The purpose of reporting is not just to explain what happened. Instead, the purpose is to advance the process of learning - by allowing participants to share their experiences with one another, hopefully enabling them to expand, integrate and generalize learning from their individual or small group experiences. This reporting activity is sometimes called "sharing" or "processing." For example, a small group about to begin a task might be told, 'Appoint someone as a timekeeper to keep track of the time remaining. Also, choose a spokesperson who should be ready to share your list of ideas with other groups on a chartpad when you return to the plenary session. "

You may give most of your instructions orally. Sometimes, however, it is useful to provide participants with a handout containing the instructions. They can even be written on a flipchart or displayed on an overhead transparency. This method is particularly useful when a task is complicated or has several parts.