Learning Tasks to Develop Team-Working Skills

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The environment is an important aspect of the educational process, as it influences the whole learning abilities of the staff (Burke, 2007). The economic and political changes have a direct relation to the educational level of employees that should be constantly developed (Hauer & Daniels, 2008). I currently work for Troy University in the Washington, DC Metro area. The participants of this program specialize in such areas as marketing and recruiting, retention, administration, and business development. In this regard, the most necessary skills to be required are proficient decision-making processes and the ability to successfully communicate with each other. The employee training program aims to identify the learning tasks that will improve the overall effectiveness of the university’s enrollment and marketing management team. Focusing on the employee’s opportunity to perform and accountability, the training program will provide ideas and solutions for the understanding of the employees’ needs as well as their learning styles.

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Purpose of the learning task

The purpose of the learning tasks will be to improve the quality of work and to provide the staff with additional information, which is going to be useful in the working process. Education research conducted by Jones et al (1994) suggests that learning improves when the learning task engages the learner or when the learner is engaged in learning. The program facilitator will apply these learning tasks, which will be used to illustrate or explain work-related concepts and skills. The employees will engage in these tasks either in a small group or larger group setting.

Learning task

Small group (3-10)

In the small group setting, the learning task in a small group setting, learning tasks will be mostly based on job rotation, shadowing, and role-playing. The employees will need to solve some practical problems, faced by the university daily. For instance, they will need to work out strategies that could raise people’s awareness about Troy University. Secondly, enrollment officers can take their hand at career counseling, curricular development, and so forth (Gibbs & Knapp, 2002). For instance, one of the employees may act as a student, while the other will perform the role of academic advisor. The instructor/program facilitator will observe their interactions, assess them and make comments. This approach will enable them to translate their theoretical knowledge into practice.

Large group (51-100)

In the large group setting, the learning task in the large group setting, tasks will be developed with the use of audio-visual methods. During the lectures, the employees may be asked to answer the instructor’s questions briefly. Furthermore, they will have to fill out questionnaires that will focus on various areas of educational marketing and enrollment strategies. Afterward, the instructor will analyze the most common mistakes or perceptions made by the employees and point out those areas which need improvement. Overall, in a large group setting, both instructors and employees should attach importance to self-study (Knowles et al, 2005).

Alignment of the program outcomes and learning objectives

The intended outcomes of this program and its learning objectives are quite compatible with one another. The most important thing is that each of the employees realizes the usefulness of this program and attempts to take full advantage of the learning activity.

Outcome

This program is designed to achieve the following outcomes: increased time efficiency, profitability, low turnover, better teamwork, and job satisfaction.

Objectives

This program seeks to raise the employees’ marketing and enrollment skills to a higher level. Furthermore, it seeks to improve teamwork in the firm as well as to improve decision-making and problem-solving. After completing the training program, the employees should get a better understanding of academic counseling, recruitment, retention methods, and PR management.

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Required prerequisites

The employees should have some prior knowledge in such areas as marketing strategies, recruitment strategies, and retention techniques. It will be very difficult for the instructor to develop exercises for these people if there are some educational discrepancies among them. The program can more smoothly if the employees have at least a year of relevant admissions and marketing job experience. This requirement is satisfied during the initial hiring process. All employees in this particular office possess a bachelor’s degree and have some working knowledge of marketing and recruiting practices.

Targeted population

The targeted population of this training process would consist of the university’s enrollment and market management team and supervisors. The employees should have at least a bachelor’s degree which we can assume that they would have at least one year of experience in the field.

Size of the group

The size of the group will range from very small (approximately three of five people in the group) to large (one hundred learners). This factor significantly affects the instructional methodology, learning tasks, and assessment. The instructors for this program should work with a group of employees in a small group setting comprised of eight or ten people, or the large group constituting a range from fifty-one to eighty.

Time frame

The time frame for completing the program will be a week. This period will be sufficient for both small and large group settings. It should be taken into consideration that the administration of Troy University must map out a schedule for the employees, who will need to attend.

Learning Activity

Instructional methods

Small group (3-10)

The small group setting is very conducive to the development of employees’ skills. The instructor in a small group setting will be able to pay attention to each of the employees. He/she can better explain the rationale for the training program and its intended outcomes. Secondly, in such an environment the instructor can adopt various training techniques: role-playing, simulation, job rotation, forums, and so forth. One of the most effective strategies is role-playing because in this way it is possible to construct a real-life situation or problem that would demand the learner to demonstrate his/her knowledge of marketing principles, recruitment, retention, etc (SBM, n. d.). A small group environment enables the instructor to conduct the so-called on-the-job training, which means that workers are practically not distracted from their immediate workplace activities (HR Council, n.d.). Job shadowing and job rotation can be very effective because they allow workers to share the experience. Employees can observe the work of other people, who can be more experienced in a certain field like marketing or recruitment, and learn the best practices. In turn, job rotation creates a good chance for an employee to work in a different area of the organization (HR Council, n. d.). Another benefit of a small group setting is that the instructor can assess the performance of employees more objectively. The assessment can be done through oral examination or with the help of online tests (Suskie & Banta, 2009). It is more preferable to combine these techniques.

Large group (51-100)

One instructional method that can be used in a large group setting for this particular program would be in the form of lectures. Lectures are considered to be the most cost-effective way of reaching a vast audience (SBM, n. d.). But there are negatives to lectures. The instructor cannot ensure that his/her recommendations will be understood or remembered by each of the employees, the instructor can hardly answer the questions of all employees, especially if the group is comprised of one hundred employees. By using the lecture the instructor seeks only to inform the employees of best practices in admission and marketing and not developing any hands-on skills. For this reason, it is necessary to provide them with lecture notes in print or online version. Additionally, the instructor can choose audio-visual methods: the employees can watch and/or listen to interviews with marketing and enrollment managers. They can also study PowerPoint Presentation. The combination of these teaching methods will help the employees to retain more information. It is also possible to split the large group into smaller parts: so that they could work on the same project. However, it should be taken into account that a large group setting normally does not allow for on-the-job training because a large number of employees cannot be drawn from their immediate duties.

Learning accommodations or differentials related to learning styles, diversity, or disabilities

Audio-visual methods are more applicable for a large group setting. The learning materials (articles, books, university policy manuals, lectures) should be provided in audio and text formats. Videotapes should contain subtitles, especially if some members of the group have impaired hearing. To address diversity issues, the instructor should draw examples of various educational institutions that might be located in various regions of the world. Finally, the instructor should provide the employees with online resources, so that they can be easily adapted to various learning styles. It should be noted that there are several types of learners: 1) those, who give preference to visual aids, such as graphics, diagrams, 2) auditory learners; 3) reading-writing learners, and tactile learners (LdPride, n. d.). Their needs should be properly addressed.

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Required learning resources and materials

The learning materials will include books, university training and policy manuals, scholarly articles, PowerPoint presentations, videos, and audiotapes, etc. They should be made accessible online. The resources should also include text-to-speech software.

Instructor notes indicating any specific directions related to learning resources, the instructional method, and/or learning accommodations

The instructor would need to make sure that any of the handouts and brochures that are given to the employees could be easily convertible into speech. For this reason, they must be stored either in doc. or HTML format. The teacher should consider the following factors:

  1. time available;
  2. the number of participants and their job duties.

The most appropriate length for a lesson in both small and group environments is forty minutes. The instructor would need to consider that.

Practice and Feedback

Introduction

It is acknowledged that practice and feedback are the most crucial points in the learning process, as it considerably boosts the training effect. These activities are also relevant for the instructor thus allowing him to guide through the learning process. In addition, the instructions must also take into consideration creating opportunities for providing feedback to the learner. Hence, there are several effective methods for providing opportunities for feedback during the learning process. In practice with feedback activities, both the instructor and learner must actively participate in the feedback process. In other words, the key thing of a learning task lies in providing opportunities for practice and feedback.

Format

Small group (3-10)

For small groups, there exist different opportunities for creating feedback, as the instructor makes minor efforts to submit the information. In their term, the employee learners will perceive the material more easily, as they will have more opportunities to ask questions and hear the answers (Westberg et al., p. 4). There are numerous benefits for learning in small groups: 1) learners are provided with a meaningful and lasting process; 2) they have an opportunity to learn with their peers; 3) they are completely engaged in the learning process.

The format used in a small group

There is a presumption that different learning tasks require different training strategies. To enhance the understanding of the practice event, it is necessary to actively apply feedback events into the learning process and choose an appropriate format of responsibilities (Dempsey, 1993). The most effective format responsibility for a small group will be the application of instructor/employee meetings that will grant students a brilliant opportunity to reveal the skills required for the working process. This should be conducted in the form of an interview where the learner can practice his/her communicational skills that are especially vital for acquiring the knowledge of negotiating and marketing advertising. Learning contracts are also allowed to apply to small groups as they also give sufficient information about the educational level of a learner (Regina Public School 2003).

Feedback

When applying different types of learning activities, an instructor should further find out which activities have a negative outcome and which ones positively influence the knowledge acquisition (Cormier et al. 2008 p. 9).

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Feedback from a small group

When analyzing the results of practical activities, an instructor should propel the students to feedback his questions and materials. In particular, it is possible to compile a list of questions that could be asked during the interview. In instructor and teacher meetings, an instructor must provide the students with learning objectives, with the questionnaire. In learning contracts, an instructor should also determine the expectations for the group involved in the learning process (Regina Public Schools 2003). The learners’ obligations include 1) to meet the objectives; 2) to assess their results in learning; 3) to reproduce the material provided by an instructor properly.

Format

Large group (51-100)

The activities of the large group should be aimed at individualizing the work of each student, as the instructor does not have much time for coping with each learner. The instructor needs to present an effective strategy that would foster knowledge apprehension among the groups. The main merit of the large group is that the groups will acquire the skills of independent analysis and synthesis.

The format used in a large group

The most effective method of practicing the learning skills is the application of collaborative group learning. The scope of this approach lies in classroom management techniques aimed at learning different subjects within the group. Such a method has numerous social and psychological benefits, as collaborative structures are usually content-free. This method can be applied to large groups where students can be divided into several groups thus forming the teams where each person has their role. The main disadvantage of this approach consists in the lack of control over the team activities; still, the instructor will have an opportunity to compare the strongest and the weakest groups (U Mass Amherst 2008). Due to the fact that this practice is close to a real situation so that the learner can apply it to the real working process.

Feedback

According to Lovell, “Knowledge of results is a form of feedback” (1982 p. 83). In that regard, the learning feedback should provide the employees with the information that would improve their skills and ensure the experience.

Feedback from a large group

The main responsibility of the instructor is to develop team-working skills, which are crucial in marketing management. It is also necessary to shape collaborative thinking where one person will be liable for one piece of assignment. This activity should also teach how to be effective leaders and effective followers. This practical activity should enhance the employees’ abilities to work within a strict hierarchy. Finally, the learners should perceive the air of competition being among other collaborative groups; this condition will develop the necessary skills for an effective decision-making process in difficult situations.

Reference

Brinkerhoff, R.O. (2006). Telling training’s story: evaluation made simple, credible, and effective. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Burke, L. (2007). Training transfer: An integrative literature review. Human Resource Development Review, 6(3), 263–296.

Collaborative Group Techniques. (2008). Scientific Reasoning Research Institute. U Mass Amherst. Web. 

Cormier, S., Nurius, P., and Osborn, C.J., (2008). Interviewing and Change Strategies for Helpers: Fundamental Skills and Cognitive Behavioral Interventions. US: Cengage Learning.

Dempsey, J. V., and Sales G. C. (1993). Interactive Instruction and Feedback. New Jersey: Educational Technology.

Gibbs, P., & Knapp M. (2002). Marketing higher and further education: an educator’s guide to promoting courses, departments, and institutions. London: Routledge.

Hauer, A., & Daniels M. (2008). “A learning theory perspective on running open ended group projects”. Australian Computer Society, pp 85-91.

HR Council for the Non-Profit Sector. (n. d.). Learning, Training & Development. Web.

Jones, B., Valdez, G., Nowakowski, J., & Rasmussen, C. (1994). Designing Learning and Technology for Educational Reform. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

Knowles, M. S., Holton, E. F., & Swanson, R. A. (2005). The adult learner (6th ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier Publishing.

LdPride. (n.d.). What are learning styles? 2010. Web.

Lovell, R. B. (1982). Adult Learning. US: Taylor & Francis.

Teacher and student responsibilities. (2003). Regina Public Schools and Saskatchewan Learning.Web. 

Small Business Management (n. d). Employee training. Web.

Suskie, L., & Banta, T. W. (2009). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Westberg, J., and Jason, H. (2004). Fostering Learning in Small Groups: A Practical Guide. US: Springer Publishing Company.

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