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Borrow tips from top teachers

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

To train employees to acquire new skills, borrow the tools of top teachers. Research shows that certain pedagogical strategies help students retain information and apply what they learn more successfully.

If you want to assess someone’s knowledge, devise a series of questions and call it a “review” rather than a “test.”

Emphasize that the purpose of your quick quiz is to help the employee learn in a fun, low-stakes manner. You may want to dangle a few fun prizes or rewards depending on the number of correct answers.  

Just as effective teachers encourage students to maintain an updated “study planner” so that they’re always jotting what they’re learning in class, urge employees to keep a notepad nearby while you’re explaining a new skill. Leave time for them to write notes, reminders and numbered lists to help them reinforce key points.

Instruct employees to probe to un­­cover hidden insights that they might otherwise miss. Welcome “why” questions such as, “Why must this process involve all three steps?” or “Why do we need to file reports with different ­agencies?”

Another secret of savvy teachers is their use of “elaborative interrogation,” which means asking students to explain why something is true.

You can borrow this technique by presenting a fact (such as “Each product defect adds 14% to our costs.”) and then inviting staffers to discuss why that’s true.

—Adapted from “Strengthening the Student Toolbox,” John Dunlosky, American Educator.

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