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Training Tip

The Four "E's" by Cathy Bolger

How much information, demonstration, and practice should a trainer allow for when introducing a new skill? There are of course many variables to consider, such as degree of difficulty and experience level of participants. As a general rule I have learned that it is best to spend time in each of the four steps described below when teaching a new skill.

I first saw a trainer at Rohr, Inc. use the Four "E's" when teaching brainstorming during a team Problem Solving class. The Four "E's" stand for Explain, Example, Exercise (small group), and Exercise (large group).

Explain your idea, concept, activity etc. For instance, explain the steps and guidelines involved in brainstorming.

Example that is, give one. For instance, brainstorm all the problems with the airport at Lindbergh Field in San Diego.

Exercise in a large group. Go around the room and have each person state a problem with the airport.

Exercise in small groups. Since the trainer has explained brainstorming, given and example of brainstorming and has guided the large group through a practice, the next step is to break into small groups and practice.

On occasion, I want to skip one of the above steps, thinking I can save some time. However, the danger is moving part of the class ahead too fast without sufficient understanding and practice. So remember the four "E's" the next time you are designing or training.

Cathy Bolger is a San Diego-based trainer specializing in Instructor Skills.

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