Developing a Feeling for an Outstanding Training Session

Your vocational training institution is about to be reviewed by QQA. What is the most challenging question they will ask? Over the last seven years institutions report that developing an effective response and appropriate actions to the following question is crucial to achieve a high review grading:

How effective are teaching/training and assessment in promoting learning?
A reviewer may observe the buildings, educational resources and facilities but they feel the interaction between people particularly in the learning spaces. It is these feelings that they experience that will inform their overall judgements. Therefore, to achieve the high review grading we must focus on the trainer-trainee relationship. Tyler (1949) provides insight into the nature of this relationship. Learning takes place through the active behaviour of the student: it is what he does that he learns, not what the teacher does. A similar sentiment was shared by Shuell (1986). It is helpful to remember that what the student does is actually more important in determining what is learned than what the teacher does. For Shuell, the trainer’s fundamental task is to get students to engage in learning activities that are likely to result in their achieving the desired learning outcomes. It is the operation and impact of this task that the reviewer can feel during their lesson observation.

In ‘The Perfect OFSTED English Lesson’, David Didau offers the following questions to promote the quality of training:

Planning
Does the lesson plan relate to the sequence of training?
Does the planning demonstrate high expectations and challenge?
Is the plan appropriate for the learning needs of all groups of trainees?
Is there a safe training environment?

Start of the lesson
Does the lesson get off to a flying start?
Is there a recap of previous learning?
Are the learning objectives (LOs) clear and appropriate in number?
Are the LOs shared?
Are the success criteria clear?
Is the learning real?

During the lesson
Is the training well-paced?
Does the training hold the trainee’s interests?
Does the training meet a range of learning styles?
Does the training meet a range of abilities?
Does the training actively engage trainees in the learning process?
Are the trainees given clear information and guidance throughout?
Is there paired or collaborative work?
Is questioning used effectively?
Are all trainees actively involved?
Is there clear feedback given on progress?
Is trainee knowledge, skills and understanding increased?
Is there an opportunity for trainees to demonstrate increased knowledge, skills and understanding?

End of lesson
Are the LOs reviewed?
Are questions used to check what learning has taken place?
Is there feedback: (1) Trainer to trainees? (2) Self-assessment? (3) Peer-assessment?
Is the next lesson previewed?
Is the lesson brought to a clear close?

In answering there questions, the work of Tyler and Shuell quoted above suggests that focus should be on what the trainees are doing and achieving as a result of the strategies of the trainer. In this way the relationship between the trainer and trainees is strengthened. The trainees feel engaged and that they are progressing. The trainer feels successful in his or her endeavours. And most importantly, the reviewer feels the training provided by the institution is effective in promoting learning.

Contributed by Dr Brian Bennison, September 2017

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