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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

Facilitating the reporting process

By reporting, we do not mean a detailed, "this is what we did during our meeting" recital. Rather, the term "reporting" is intended to mean a sort of disclosure or revelation, a way of sharing the most important observations and conclusions of the time spent by a small group on a task.

Logistics are an important aspect of facilitating small group reporting. If you have made it clear that small group reports will be expected, the issue of selecting a spokesperson will probably take care of itself. You can appoint someone or leave it to the group to select someone as its spokesperson. The first time that small groups are used there may be some confusion, so it may be best to appoint someone ahead of time. Leave it to the group to make its own selection when its members become more familiar with the process.

Time is also an issue in reporting - it can be very time-consuming. One way to control the time is by restricting the reports in some way. For example, you can have each group report two or three items from its list rather than to take the time to report every item. Another approach to reporting is to have each small group examine and report on a different aspect of the same topic. Finally, where small groups have been working on the same task and some kind of synthesis or consensus is needed, a polling procedure can be used. One way to poll a plenary session consisting of several small groups is to have each small group place its recommendations on a sheet of newsprint which is posted for all to see. When all the sheets are posted and reviewed, participants can be asked to choose one of the recommendations and asked to give their reasons for choosing as they did.

Three skills are required to facilitate the reporting process effectively:

1. Asking initiating and clarifying questions

To help initiate and clarify group reports, you need to be able to ask direct, but not leading, questions. These should be open-ended questions, usually beginning with what, when, where, how, or why, such as, "What are the implications of this method for your councillor role"?

2. Paraphrasing

This is important to be sure you are actually hearing what the participant meant you to hear. Your objective is to convince the participant that you are listening and that you are eager to know if you have heard correctly. For example, if someone reports that, "Councillors have difficulty doing the right thing," you might paraphrase or restate what you heard for clarification by saying, "You mean councillors know the right thing to do but often find it difficult to get it implemented. "

3. Summarizing

While paraphrasing is meant to mirror the meaning with a change of words, summarizing is to synthesize or condense a report to its essentials. The intent, once again, is to test for understanding. Efforts by a trainer to summarize or boil down information to its essentials might begin with phrases like:

"In other words .... "

"If I understand what you are saying, you mean ...."

"In summary, then, you feel ...."