Teaching Thinking Through Debate

man at podium Remember the Debate Club in high school? It was an excellent tool to help young people to start thinking critically about various issues and honing their communication skills to be able to intelligently articulate issues. With debate season upon us in the United States, this is an excellent time to point out the thinking skills that are developed through using debate. Debate requires someone to construct an argument. That argument can be pro or against, but it must incorporate research, analysis, reasoning, and sometimes synthesis and evaluation in order to establish and substantiate one's position. Debate also requires the debater to master their content, to practice both listening and speaking skills in order to counter the opposing side, and to not only be able to verbalize but also to speak persuasively about their position. These skills are known on Bloom's Taxonomy
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Interview with Will Thalheimer, PhD

Thalheimer (1)What motivated you to write this book? I've worried about my own smile sheets (aka response forms, reaction forms, level 1's) for years! I know they're not completely worthless because I got useful feedback when I was a mediocre leadership trainer-feedback that helped me get better. But I've also seen the research (two meta-analyses covering over 150 scientific studies) showing that smile sheets are NOT correlated with learning results-that is, smile sheets don't tell us anything about learning! I also saw clients-chief learning officers and other learning executives-completely paralyzed by their organizations' smile-sheet results. They knew their training was largely ineffective, but they couldn't get any impetus for change because the smile-sheet results seemed fine.   So I asked myself, should we throw out our smile sheets or is it possible to improve them? I concluded that organizations would use smile sheets anyway, so we had to try to improve them. I wrote the book after figuring out how smile sheets could be improved.
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Just In Time Training Has Run Out of Time

Many organizations today are facing a skills shortage. They simply cannot find people with the appropriate skills to run their businesses. As a result, they are forced to hire those that they can, and then apply skills-training to make them a worthwhile hire for the organization. This process can be thought of as a just-in-time skills training program in which the training isn't applied until it is needed (although in 2015 / 2016, skills training is in constant demand). The future-cast for this lack of prepared workers is that in another 10-15 years, the crisis will be a lack of prepared leaders. In order to prevent businesses (all of society, really!) from bouncing from crisis to crisis like a ball in a pin-ball machine, it's time to address the root cause. It's not that younger generations have suddenly lost entry level skills - it's a result of never having learned those skills to begin with. You cannot be expected to perform something you never learned to do.
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Visuals Enhance Learning

"Pictures are understood on many levels. The most literal level is what the picture depicts. When you see a line drawing of an airplane, you recognize the shape and features of the object and identify it as an airplane. On another level, the context of the...

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Learn about the trainee’s typical day

Before you design any training program, ask the requestor to tell you about the audience's typical day and overall job responsibilities. Ideally, you would like to observe the future-trainees in their day-to-day conduct so that you can get the "big picture" of the work that they do and the environment in which they do it. If that is not possible, then ask for a thorough description of the future-trainee's typical work day and job responsibilities. Very often, with this information, you can spot work process breakdowns that are contributing to the symptoms which precipitated the request for training. Also, you are able to redirect the training or include elements which would not have been addressed had you not had the big picture of work responsibilities.
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Case Study: Bite-sized Instructor Led Training

telephoneWhen we think of bite-sized learning we often think of something that is self-paced, just-in-time, mobile or eLearning. We recently visited with a client that is providing bite-sized learning (10 minutes or less) delivered by live instructors. Picture this: a room of 40 trainers who sit in cubicles wearing headsets, at desks with two computer monitors. The trainees call the trainers when they are ready for their lesson. The trainees go in to a queue and any trainer can pick up the call and teach any topic thanks to a script that pops up on one screen. On the other screen they document the learner, the lesson, and the advice / next steps prescribed for that learner.
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What’s Your Problem?

What is the problem you are experiencing? Very often you'll get a request from a business unit for a specific type of training, for instance "my sales team needs team-building training." Do not accept the requester's interpretation of the skills that are needed because they usually: 1 - have a myopic view of the situation (a sales manager will only see problems related to sales), and 2 - they usually do not have an understanding of how poor-performance can be manifested in different ways and that an entirely different approach might solve the presenting problem
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