Creating a need, creating a why
For a workshop to be successful, it is important that the facilitator creates a need for the learners. According to adult learning theories, which will be presented in the next chapters, it is most optimal when the need is linked to a relevant problem. This can be something related to the learners’ professional lives, or an area in which they are experiencing difficulties achieving a specific outcome. A need can also be their common interest, or a feeling that their input, experience and expertise is valuable and valued.
To maintain engagement and motivation during the workshop, it is essential to put the learner in the centre of the activities from the very beginning. You can ensure this by:
- Creating a “why” e.g. by finding out why end users have chosen to attend the training workshop.
- Creating a need: The facilitator can address a potential problem on the behalf of the end users, a problem that they can relate to or recognise. i.e.: use a personal case. In doing so, the reflections and learnings will enhance the output
- Giving end users time to speak about their own experiences and listening to their input;
- Asking questions and showing interest in finding out about your end users’ needs;
- Looking for cues from end users (e.g. using the pre-workshop activity: The Genie that can be brought up during the workshop. This activity can help illustrate how the tools fulfil end users’ needs and requirements to complete their tasks.
About the Genie activity
The Genie is very helpful in terms of finding out what type of needs your end users have, as well as giving the facilitator some insight into what challenges the end users attending the workshop are faced with in their jobs.
The point of the Genie activity, is to get the end users to think about and become more aware of the challenges they are facing at work. By bringing these up in the beginning of the workshop will help you create motivation and “AHA! moments” (i.e. new reflections or learning moments), when solutions to these are slowly revealed throughout the workshop. Once you have opened them up to this, you have succeeded in creating motivation, and you can include their insights and examples while explaining some of the tools and exercises.
Instructions for the Genie Activity
First of all, divide the end users into groups and instruct them that each group has just found a lamp. They have rubbed the lamp and a genie has appeared and granted them three wishes.
With these three wishes, they are allowed to make three changes to the way they work with their target groups. These can be changes relating to themselves, the physical structure of their organisation, management, tools available, and their colleagues.
The groups can be people who work together, so they can discuss what is working well and not working so well with people who know the structure, or they can be people who do not work together, and they get the opportunity to discuss and compare challenges from different points of view and organisations.
The groups need to decide on three common wishes. Once all groups understand the task, give them enough time to discuss and write the final three choices. They must decide on three common wishes for the group and post these on the wall. As the lists should be available, either to go back and discuss during the workshop or to be related to when working with tools, it might be a good idea to provide end users with markers and coloured paper. This will make the wish lists detectable and easy to spot. Don’t forget to allow some extra time for debriefing, setup, and posting on the wall.
Include examples from the end users’ stories throughout the workshop and incorporate them in the discussions and examples you will provide during theoretical presentations. The workshop facilitator, should not assume to have all the answers. The end users can, themselves, if asked to reflect upon issues, problems and challenges, come up with interesting solutions.
Learning Goals for the Workshop
Bloom’s taxonomy is a set of hierarchical models, covering cognitive, affective and sensory domains, which can be used to classify learning objectives in an educational setting. The taxonomy, which promotes mastery learning and higher-level thinking, can be helpful in the planning of learning objectives, as well as assessment of learning outcomes. Having access to well-defined and articulated learning objectives help the facilitator provide the target group with a clear purpose and focus on the acquisition of new learnings. It also helps the facilitator direct his or her choice of instructional activities and guides him or her in the choice of assessment strategies.
Bloom’s revised taxonomy is based on a progressive approach to learning. This means that learners need to pass from a lower level of thinking slowly moving forward to a higher level of thinking. This progression provides the facilitator with a useful hierarchical framework of thinking, which can be helpful in the delivering of workshops, and can assist in the development of performance tasks, in the phrasing of questions, as well as constructing problems to be solved.
According to Bloom, the main goal of the taxonomy, is to guide the facilitator in moving from “Lower Order Thinking Skills” (LOTS) to “Higher Order Thinking Skills” (HOTS). Primarily this means, that the further up the taxonomy the learner gets, the higher the cognitive complexity. (See table below for the hierarchical model)
In 2001 a group of cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists and instructional researchers, and testing and assessment specialists published a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The publication was named “A Taxonomy for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment”, which further develops Bloom’s taxonomy into a more dynamic classification concept. They achieved this by using verbs and gerunds to describe the content of the categories. These action or measurable verbs describe the cognitive processes the learners will go through as they move up the hierarchy of learning categories. Examples of measurable action verbs: define, explain, solve, analyse, criticise, create.
In addition to the six cognitive processes and Bloom’s original description of three main types of knowledge, the authors added a fourth type of knowledge. The types of knowledge, starting with LOTS gradually moving up to HOTS are:
Figure 5 Process leading to Higher Order Thinking
- Factual Knowledge refers to having a basic grasp of specific disciplines. This refers to terminology, fundamental facts, elements to be familiar with to understand a discipline or solve a problem.
- Conceptual Knowledge refers to principles, classifications, generalisations, theories or structures relevant to a specific area.
- Procedural Knowledge refers to information or knowledge that can assist learners in something specific in an area of study. This also refers to methods of inquiry, very specific or finite skills, algorithms, techniques, and particular methodologies.
- Metacognitive Knowledge refers to the learner’s awareness of his or her own cognition and particular cognitive processes. This means that he or she has strategic or reflective knowledge about how to go about solving problems, cognitive tasks, to include contextual and conditional knowledge and knowledge of self. In other words; thinking about his or her thinking in a purposeful way.
 (Summarized from: Anderson, L. W. & Krathwohl, D.R., et al (2001) A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.)
The progression through the six levels of learning, takes the learner from a lower order of thinking …
- (remember) Being presented with information and assessing whether the information has been retained, to;
- (understand) Being able to explain the concepts that have been presented to him or her, and;
- (use) Using this information in a new way.
… and slowly moves the learner higher up in the thinking process towards a higher order of thinking.
In higher order thinking, the learner will be able to:
- (analyse) Differentiate between the various parts or components of the acquired knowledge;
- (assess) Show that he or she is able to take a stance, consider different solutions, or make an informed decision on how to solve a task or a problem, and;
- (create) Generate a new idea or create a new thought process based on what he or she has previously learned.
Basically, this knowledge can be kept in mind when:
- adapting workshop content,
- planning how to present knowledge,
- deciding which types of activities, we present our learners with.
This means, that the higher the cognition level of the learners, the higher the order of thinking you should include in the workshop. Keep in mind to include these levels of learning and thinking, when planning and running the workshops.
Figure 6 Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy
This figure is based on Bloom’s revised taxonomy (2001) and includes action verbs in relation to knowledge that should be acquired during a LIVE2WORK training workshop. Workshop facilitators can use this to plan the workshop and to asses learning outcomes.
Providing Support and the Zone of Proximal Development
The zone of proximal development (ZPD) has been defined as:
“the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86).
The model illustrates three developmental zones, of which one is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The inner circle/ level, is what a person is comfortable doing without any outside assistance. This means tasks, that the person feels comfortable doing and can do without too much effort. The second circle of development is the ZPD. This is the level where learning takes place. The ZPD means that the learner works with tasks that emanate from what the learner can do already but includes some new elements that he or she can build on, with external guidance or support. If the task is too far from what the learner already knows or can do, then we enter the danger zone, the level in which the learner cannot do, and where learning will more than likely not take place. Keeping a balance between content and tasks, ensures that the learner is in the ZPD. This is the key to efficient learning. When the learner is in the green zone, he or she is comfortable, but not being challenged, in the yellow zone, the individual needs to pay attention to the task and is challenged. In the red zone, there is too much for the individual to take on, the task is too difficult, the individual feels pressure, and there is a high risk that the task cannot be completed.
When running a LIVE2WORK workshop, the facilitator needs to have a good idea of where the end users are in their development and which knowledge and skills they have prior to attending the workshop. If the workshop only presents the learners with tasks that they already can do without assistance, they will not learn anything new. If the learners are presented with content that is too far away from what they can do or know, then this will more than likely create a feeling of anxiety and a may lead to failure to provide them with a relevant and meaningful workshop.
In order to work with the ZPD, the end user needs to be provided with the necessary amount of scaffolding, in other words: external support. This support can come from the workshop facilitator, or from peers. The level of support may vary, depending on the individual, and the level of knowledge that he or she has. As the learner progresses, the scaffolding can be removed bit by bit. This goes for all learners whether they are learners attending your workshop, or target groups attending intervention sessions.
Figure 7 Zone of Proximal Development
Ownership and Understanding – Appreciative Inquiries Project Live2Work
End users attending the workshop are learners, but first and foremost, they are individuals who also need to set their own goals. In order for end users to take ownership of the methods presented to them, they need to be included in the goal setting and selection of activities. Ownership is helpful for the change process.
A workshop is a team activity, during which learners get to join in and participate in activities which enables them to bring their own experiences and knowledge to the table. As the LIVE2WORK workshops cater to professionals, who already have a great deal of experience and knowledge, we can assist them in adding to these new methods and tools to their existing skillsets and knowledge, by bringing their own personal experience into the workshop.
On top of all the theories and methodological approaches to teaching, the most important is, first and foremost, the personality traits of a successful teacher. According to Helle Bjerregaard, these personality traits are: professional experience, good communication skills, good co-creation skills, empathy and personal resources, engagement, energy, personal character, respect, authority and authenticity
Listening promotes empathy, and as an added benefit, it helps the facilitator learn more about his/her workshop end users. The use of appreciative inquiries (AI), which is based on a socio-rationalist theory of change, can help people have conversations that generate new, affirming, developmental transitions, and stories with shared meanings that the end users invest in.
We can apply AI to create conversations that can lead to changes based on a positive understanding of the end users’ pasts. According to Cooperrider and Srivastva (1987), the appreciative inquiry begins with appreciation, applicability, provocation, and collaboration. This means that the process of AI begins with an observation of what is going well, followed up by a collaborative discussion (i.e. effectively engaging in a range of discussion: one-on-one, in groups, and trainer-led, with diverse partners on different topics, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly) and vision of “what might be”, to “what should be” and investigating “what can be”.
Figure 8 The 5 Ds of Appreciative Inquiries – *Bernard J Mohr & Jane Magrunder Watkins, The Essentials of Appreciative Inquiry: A Roadmap for Creating Positive Futures
Basically, the facilitator can make use of appreciative inquiries to ask the right questions and subsequently help the end users achieve their goals. Appreciative inquiries can be extremely helpful to encourage active participation, increase motivation, and learning.
In the LIVE2WORK project workshops, we expect the end users to be active participants in the workshops, and for them to play the role of agents of change and role models, and workshop facilitators themselves therefore need to put these attitudes into practice when interacting with the end users. The appreciative inquiry approach helps the workshop facilitator rethink the way he/she asks questions, stimulating curiosity, generating positive responses, and helping to identify the best in other people.
 Helle Bjergegaard, the teacher and personality
 (Barrett, Thomas & Hocevar, 1995, Bushe, 1995, Cooperrider, 1990, Gergen, 1990)