Understanding Learners Key to Effective Training

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2019

By Margaret Spence Krewen

We recognize that technology is evolving at an astounding rate, touching all aspects of our business and personal lives. Over the past decade, food safety trainers, in particular, have seen teaching and learning swiftly shift from traditional textbook to online programming. The popularity of online courses stems from the fact they provide scheduling flexibility and cost savings.

One of the fastest-growing trends in all types of education is the increasing use of laptops, tablets and other mobile devices. In higher education, most students own tablets as well as laptops, and they learn via online courses. Even early education has embraced technology, with many primary schools providing their students with a laptop or tablet. Despite online discussion forums and “live chat” capabilities, however, many students still seek face time with their professors and other students.

Notable American educator Malcolm Knowles is known to have coined the term “Andragogy” as a synonym for adult education. Knowles understood that adults learn differently than children do, and was quoted as saying, “the mission of a leader is to release human energy, not control it.” In the world of food safety, trainers must have the skill to ignite the learner’s inner desire to learn, so they can absorb and utilize the training. Can this be done on a tablet alone?

Food safety trainers must have the skill to ignite the learner’s inner desire to learn

The working environment for the food industry has seen a major transformation over the last decade. Until recently, the three generations that have dominated the workforce were the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Now Generation Z is entering the workforce. Trainers must be aware of the differences between the generations, and learn to adapt their facilitation to accommodate a multigenerational classroom.

Key Components For Training
After adults complete their higher level education they enter the workforce. Often they do not continue to seek out formal education. Learning and memorizing new concepts can be stressful for adult learners. They require the following key components for training to be effective:

  1. The topic must have relevance to the learner so they can easily answer the question, “How does this learning relate to me?”
  2. The learner needs to see how the learning will improve his/her her situation or solve a problem.
  3. The learning experience must garner respect and provide insight, involvement and direct, early application.

Preferred Styles of Learning
Food safety trainers must understand that because of our unique personalities we all have a preferred style of learning. “Divergers” prefer to observe and collect information while an “Accommodator” learning style is “hands-on,” relying on intuition rather than logic. “Assimilators” value sound logical theories, in contrast to “Convergers,” who need practical application of concepts and theories.

Even though some students prefer being left alone to read through an online course this does not mean sitting students down in front of a computer screen for six or more hours to be “spoon-fed” information is a good idea. For online training to be effective, developers must create programs that appeal to students’ different personality types and reinforce them with the culture of the workplace.

Hybrid Training
A relatively new teaching strategy is for trainers to incorporate online training with classroom facilitation. This is a form of “hybrid training.” Students complete the online training at their own self-directed pace before attending a facilitated review session. While key terms and definitions are reviewed, the most effective technique is to have students “teach back” the information and also participate in various activities rather than passively listen to a lecture.

Online developers and classroom trainers must understand the importance of student motivation. It’s key to train employees in a way that is appropriate to their learning preferences and remember to reinforce how their roles support your training needs.


About the Author
With a conglomerate background that includes human resources management, hospitality and culinary management, job search, and performance coaching, Margaret Spence Krewen is currently Manager of Education and Special Projects with TrainCan Inc. She facilitates TrainCan, Inc.’s courses including: Advanced.fst; Basics.fst; Food Allergy Training; Train-the-Trainer. A key contributor to the development of TrainCan Inc.’s course materials, Margaret also facilitates these highly interactive, training sessions for clients across Canada.

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