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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

Monitoring small group activities

After giving a group of workshop participants their instructions for a small group task you can take it easy - read a magazine or something until they report back. If you think this is right, then you have more thinking to do. When participants are busy at the tasks you have assigned them, you need to be busy keeping track of how their work is progressing. We call this monitoring. It is important for two reasons:

· It gives you feedback on how well participants know what they are supposed to be doing and how committed they are to the task. If you sense confusion, misdirection, or misinterpretation in a group, this may be your cue to restate the task, perhaps by paraphrasing the original instructions or augmenting them with an example.

· It helps you to adjust the time needed for the task. Even the best, most thoroughly field-tested workshop design will require some adjustments in the amount of time it takes to complete certain tasks. Each participant group is different. Therefore, your concern should be with assuring a small group enough time for the exercise to gain the most learning value for its members.

When you have given small groups their instructions, stand quietly and wait until they have convened and have gotten underway on the task. Then you can relax briefly and spend a few minutes preparing for the next activity. After a few minutes, circulate to find out how things are going. Enter the work area quietly, being careful not to interrupt. If you are asked questions, and you usually will be, answer them briefly. If one small group's questions suggest there may be confusion in the other groups, then interrupt the others and re-phrase appropriate parts of the task for all of them.

As the groups proceed with the task, there are several questions about their activities that you may want to answer:

· How have the participants arranged themselves? Is this arrangement conducive to participation by all the members or are some participants isolated?

· Are there any changes in the noise level in the group? These changes may indicate that a group has finished its task or rather that it is getting down to work.

· From little pieces of conversations or words being used, do participants seem to be working on the task or are they engaged in idle conversation? If participants are discussing matters unrelated to the task, they may be finished or they may be avoiding the task.

· How much time is left? From the amount of work that has been done, are participants behind, ahead, or on schedule? If time is running out but participants are still working intently, it may be more desirable to give them more time. When you notice that some groups are finished and others are not, you might offer a time check - "You have two minutes left," for example. State whatever amount of time you think it will take for all the groups to finish without creating a lot of down time for groups that have already completed their tasks.