Stop Teaching So Much! Learn to Chunk.

frustrated-with-computerWe recently reviewed a day-long course on coaching which was actually an excellent
class, the only thing it suffered from was the typical: Too much content!

The course taught 4-different coaching techniques and their best-use given a particular type of workplace situation or a particular type of worker, and then participants were given some time to choose one of their own workers with whom they thought the technique might work, and finally they were divided in to trios to practice the technique.

This learn-and-practice process was repeated four times for each of the four techniques.  The problem with this course was that the learning outcomes were just not going  to be that great. It is impossible to learn four different techniques, and remember  when they apply, and the nuances of usage, when you get back on the job when you’ve been taught them all in one-fell-swoop.The expected learning outcomes for this class just weren’t being achieved, despite excellent content and a “reasonable enough” teaching strategy.

While it certainly takes longer to teach in chunks, and allow participants real-world  practice and application, it does lead to better learning outcomes.

The next time you are designing a course – especially one that requires practice in order to master – ask yourself: Will people really be able to do Skill #1 when they are back on the job if that information and technique has been “over written” by additional knowledge and skills by the end of the day?

Chances are, you can achieve much better learning outcomes by chunking the content and the periods of teaching, and allowing your participants to have time to not only reflect on what they learned, but also put it in to practice, and then reflecting on how effective that practice and its outcomes really were.