NPL 473  Nonprofit Leadership

Principles of Training for Volunteers and Employees (Nancy Macduff)


1.      Principles of Adult Learning

a.       Brain research

                                                                           i.      Adults learn by association to past experience

                                                                         ii.      Adult brain operates simultaneously on many levels—multipath/multimodal works best

                                                                        iii.      Memories are not stored intact; they must be reassembled

                                                                       iv.      Attention is affected by variations in brain chemistry throughout the day (90-minute recharge cycle)

                                                                         v.      Optimal learning cycle is age + 2 minutes, to maximum of 20-25 minutes

                                                                       vi.      Learning can increase by 35% with use of peripherals

                                                                      vii.      Different people use different strategies to accomplish the same thing (different learning styles)

b.      Adult learning principles

                                                                           i.      Organize around problems they face, not subject matter

                                                                         ii.      Need sense of ownership over both content and activities

                                                                        iii.      Adult learners are interactive—they want to participate in the learning (retain only 20% of what they hear if no other activity)

                                                                       iv.      Trainer is organizer of learning opportunities, not a “teller” of facts.

                                                                         v.      Most adults come to training with mixed feelings; early participation relieves that anxiety

                                                                       vi.      Praxis—cycle of exploration, action, reflection

                                                                      vii.      Smith’s 6 conditions

1.      Must feel need to learn and have some input into identification of that need

2.      Content must tie to past experience

3.      Must be related to learner’s developmental stage

4.      Tie training to level of autonomy that will experienced on the job

5.      Attend to learning climate

6.      Address diversity of learning styles and individuals

                                                                    viii.      Don’t forget rewards (symbolic or tangible)

2.      Conducting a Needs Assessment—What do learners need?

a.       Robinson’s elements of a needs assessment

                                                                           i.      Relevancy

                                                                         ii.      Relationship

                                                                        iii.      Responsibility

b.      Also need to assess environmental needs and demands placed on learners

c.       Information can be obtained from previous experience (one’s own or others’), expert opinion and evaluations, or standard measures.

3.      Staff & Volunteer Training

a.       Common training or separate?

                                                                           i.      Scheduling issues

                                                                         ii.      Relevance issues

                                                                        iii.      Team building issues

b.      Remember to include training for supervision of volunteers

4.      Formal & Informal Training

5.      Organizing Training Activities for Effectiveness

a.       Climate setting

b.      Lesson plan

                                                                           i.      Purpose

                                                                         ii.      Learning objectives

                                                                        iii.      Time

                                                                       iv.      Training activities

                                                                         v.      Evaluating learner performance

1.      formative

2.      summative

                                                                       vi.      Resources

6.      Cost of Training

7.      Competencies of the Trainer

a.       Be clear about the purpose of your training

b.      Reflect on your own learning

c.       Welcome ambiguity

d.      Perfection is impossible

e.       Know your learners

f.        Talk to your colleagues

g.       Trust your instincts

h.       Create diversity

i.         Take risks

j.        Accept the emotionality of learning

k.      Learning satisfaction is not the only evaluation

l.         Balance supporting and challenging the learner

m.     Recognize the significance of your actions in all aspects of your job—you are a helper of  learning.



© 2004 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 2 April 2008