Effective Facilitation [CLOs: 2, 4, 5, 6]

Reflect on a facilitated training session you experienced that affected you either positively or negatively. Describe the methods, tools, or strategies from the session that you would like to emulate, if the experience was positive, or avoid, if the experience was negative. Analyze the facilitated session in terms of the characteristics of adult learning and effective facilitation that you have learned about in the course and course readings. Then, explain the role the training played in improving your individual performance and whether or not the learning objectives and design supported overall organizational improvement.

Your initial post should be 250 to 300 words. Use this week’s lecture as a foundation for your initial post. In addition to the Blanchard and Thacker (2013) text, use at least one additional scholarly source to support your discussion.

Week Lecture to use for information

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In previous weeks, you learned how to conduct an effective training needs assessment and initial steps of designing training, especially designing outcome-oriented learning objectives that become the road map for the next phases of training. You read the Domtar case and how Raymond Royer, the CEO, took initiative to develop employees; how he focused on developing strategic direction and specific goals that focused on (a) return on investment and (b) customer service. You also learned about appropriate training methods selection in the design and development phases.

The delivery methods and implementation of training are critical for the success of training in terms of employees’ engagement and motivation to learn. It is important to understand individuals’ learning styles to decide what methods are appropriate for a particular group of learners. To be more effective, training should include multiple training methods (e.g. lectures, brain storming, group work, discussions, role play, case analysis, simulations and games) and activities to motivate learners who have different types of learning styles, preferences, learning goals and personal expectations. Learner engagement is the key to learning. There are various methods you can use to engage and motivate learners for better results, such as role play, discussion, on-the-job training, simulation, self-directed learning, business games, case studies, team work, behavior modeling, etc.

Styles of Learning

People have different styles of learning. These learning styles help them to acquire new information and knowledge. There are many different learning styles but for simplicity they can be broken down into four major categories.

Watch these videos on Adult Learning Styles.

4MAT 4Business. (2010, July 15). Three things every trainer should know about learning styles [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhqtaYy-mIs

KroofConsulting. (2013, October 7).Adult learning styles [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eT44OlGdLk


  1. Written Word – Knowledge is acquired best through the written word. Reading is the preferred way of gaining knowledge.
  2. Auditory – Listening to presented information and retaining the major portion of what has been heard.
  3. Visual – Seeing pictures, diagrams, and illustrations enables the learner to grasp the concepts being presented.
  4. Kinesthetic/Tactile – Involves touch and manipulative activities. Requires eye-hand-body coordination.

As you select a delivery method you need to keep in mind that by varying the methods you will be focusing on the different learning styles of your participants.

The outputs of the development phase serve as inputs to the implementation phase. The implementation phase’s output is the trainees’ response to training, the trainees’ learning, their behavior back on the job, and its effect on key organizational outcomes. These outcomes, combined with the process evaluations, flow back to the proper constituencies within the training area and the rest of the organization.

Image 1

Figure 1. Blanchard, P. N., & Thacker, J. W. (2013). Effective training: Systems, strategies, and practices (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Roles of the trainer: Instructor vs. Facilitator

Instructing and facilitating are two different activities. They require some of the same skills, and some different skills. A trainer in the role of instructor is often a content expert, while a facilitator is a process expert. An instructor uses lecture, conducts demonstrations, supervises skill practice, and corrects the learners’ mistakes. A facilitator leads discussions and helps participants learn from their own experiences and shared information. The trainer, as instructor, might lead a discussion about course content; a facilitator will focus more on the process of a discussion. This table shows some of the common differences between the role of a trainer as an instructor and a facilitator:

Trainer as… Instructor Facilitator
Focus is on: What is discussed – to get the work of the group done

How the discussion progresses – to hold the group together and foster ownership
Attention is on:
  • Content and task
  • Objective/purpose
  • Result/outcome
  • Methods and process
  • Participation
  • Group dynamics
Knowledge needed: Subject matter expertise Group dynamics expertise
  • Prepares for instruction
  • Sets a learning environment
  • Uses adult learning principles
  • Uses lecture
  • Conducts discussions
  • Conducts learning activities, demonstrations, skill practice, etc.
  • Gives feedback to learner
  • Handles problem learners
  • Evaluates skill performance
  • Uses audiovisuals
  • Plan meetings using an agenda
  • Seta a productive climate and begins a discussion
  • Gets the group to focus on defining and reaching outcomes
  • Helps group communicate effectively
  • Supports and encourages participation
  • Fosters self-discovery of alternatives and solutions
  • Helps the group make decisions
  • Helps select a team leader
  • Handles disruptive participants effectively excluded from the group

Adult Learning

As stated by Wlodkowski and cited by Kelly (2006), there are three phases of learning which are interdependent on each other to produce an atmosphere conducive to learning. The process begins with the establishment of a positive attitude, followed by a stimulating experience that engages the learner and concludes with demonstration of competence and positive feedback that reinforces the learning (Kelly, 2006). Providing a learning environment specifically designed to motivate adult learners is essential and does not stop at simply gaining the attention of the audience; it must also keep the attention to truly facilitate learning. Andragogy, according to Kelly (2006), is the “first learning theory specifically designed for adults” and incorporates the idea that the learning process is uniquely affected by life experiences (p. 44). Following the premise that learning is self-directed, Andragogy finds that “information must be used soon after its presentation for adults to accept and absorb the learning” (Kelly, 2006, p. 44). Adult learners are purpose-oriented, seeking information to develop skills that have direct application.

It is essential to incorporate the theories of Andragogy into the training methods of adult learners. By focusing information that has specific application and taking into consideration the life experiences that they bring may influence their process of learning, one can incorporate training experiences that produce the greatest outcome for adult learners. Blanchard and Thacker (2013) touch on the affect that life experience and differing KSA’s have on the ability to control the learning environment. They state that the differences that can be viewed as hindrances should actually be embraced and can create value to the learning environment if the participants are willing to share their KSA’s and life experiences (Blanchard & Thacker, 2010). Understanding what motivates adult learners and how they process the information has a huge impact on the type of training methods to choose. Since the first adult learning theory was developed, it has been argued that adults learn differently because, among other things, they bring with them experiences that children do not. Andragogy (how adults learn) differs from Pedagogy (how children learn) in that pedagogy does not address prior experiences. To this extent we can say that they are different, however, even with young learners, andragogical or a mix of andragogical-pedagogical approaches, work better than purely pedagogical ones. The reason for this is simple; we retain and understand better those things that relate to our experience or real world situations. Knowles coined the term andragogy but he evolved in his views. His most recent conclusion is that the use of andragogical and pedagogical principles is to be determined by the situation and not the age of the learner.

Transfer of training is the effective application of the skills and concepts presented during training. In other words, transfer of training is the reason we train in the first place. There are many barriers to the effective transfer of training. Participants may not be willing or ready to learn; supervisors and coworkers may not make it easy to apply new skills in the workplace; or there may simply be too many distractions when returning to work to even remember that training ever happened. Many researchers (Wenz & Adams, 1991) in the field of adult education agree that there are four sources, in addition to the design and delivery of the training, that influence the amount of transfer of training that takes place. The four sources of influence are:

  • Participants
  • Trainers
  • Direct supervisors
  • The organization

Each of these sources can cause the transfer of training to increase or decrease. For example, participants can be willing to learn. Supervisors can ignore or reinforce the training. Trainers can make the training relevant, and the organization can offer a climate that is conducive to change and minimize the risk involved in trying new skills.

Another idea researchers agree on is that barriers can be created or eliminated before, during, and after training occurs (Broad & Newstrom, 1992). This means what happens before training and after training is as important, if not more important, than what happens during the training experience. As a trainer, you can make it easier for participants to benefit from training by focusing on learning effectiveness. That means ensuring that everything about the training is driven by specific learning outcomes.

Skills needed in the first phase (analysis) included analyzing needs to determine priorities and the ability to determine whether training or some other intervention is required. Skills needed in designing and developing learning in the second and third phase included, understanding of adult learning theory and principles in developing a curriculum, the ability to apply blended learning solutions such as online, classroom, on-the-job training, etc. and establish effective learning objectives. In implementation, presenting and facilitating skills are necessary to arrange environments for learning, align learning methodologies with learner styles and preferences, demonstrate effective presentation skills, understand group dynamics, and even manage difficult participants. And lastly, in evaluating, another set of skills are required, namely developing evaluation instruments such as questionnaires and tests, and analyzing evaluation results.

Forbes School of Business Faculty


4MAT4Business. (2010, July 15). Three things every trainer should know about learning styles [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhqtaYy-mIs

Blanchard, P.N. & Thacker, J. W. (2013). Effective training: Systems, strategies, and practices (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Broad, M. L. and Newstrom, J. W. (1992). Transfer of training: Action packed strategies to ensure high payoff from training investments. MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.

Kelly, M. H. (2006, August). Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Training Techniques for the Adult Learner. Professional Safety, 51(8), 44-48.

KroofConsulting. (2013, October 7). Adult learning styles [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eT44OlGdLk

Wenz, A., & Adams, C. (1991). Life after training: A look at follow-up. Journal of Staff Development, 12(1), 60-62.


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