There are many approaches to training, and choosing one depends on the course structure and material to be taught. They are seminars, programmed instructions, case studies, simulation, role-playing, apprentice training, etc. All they have both advantages and disadvantages.
Seminars and workshops are good in a sense that they are conducted by the experienced experts possessing deep knowledge and awareness on the topics related to training. Plus, employees would be always glad to spend some time off work, if the seminars are held during the work hours. The major drawback of such meetings is that they require a lot of spending. The employees choose leave their work places in order to attend a seminar and the production stops at this time. Besides, arranging a seminar may be additionally costly for it involves expenditures on meals, lodging, inviting special guests, external speakers and so forth. But even worse, seminars do not intend individual approach to its participants, it rather treats all the learners uniformly equally.
The next teaching style is programmed instructions. This type is represented in the written form and distributed among employees as notes, booklets, electronic PDF-files, etc. Even though it is pretty useful in a sense that any employee has a constant access to these instructions and guidelines, this type of teaching is one of the most expensive, especially for the firms with high turnover rates.
The more widespread teaching technique is case studies. The learners are given a true-to-life situation, usually a problem, and upon its discussion solutions and recommendations are made. The huge advantage of case studies is that the learners deal with specific real situation and observe how the prerequisites and the consequences are linked. However, it may make employees feel that the cases discussed concern their functional activity. This should be overcome by the right formulation of the cases.
Simulation is another teaching style. Its core meaning is to teach the employee a skill by repetitive assignments in the experimental environment. It is an especially good medium for manual workers who are given a task and are required to fulfil it again and again until its fulfilment is mastered. The good thing about this approach is that employees obtain the skills needed to accomplish their duties almost automatically and have an opportunity to understand how something is done in practice. However, again this is the costly procedure and in real life it is rarely done by small- or even medium-sized companies.
As an alternative to simulation, role-playing may come useful. The employees imagine a situation, their roles in it, and then are advised to find the right solution to the problem. This type allocates somewhere in between case studies and simulation, and produces the professional vision necessary for performing job. Its disadvantage is that it requires of people be open-minded and artistic but for someone who is an introvert and feels uncomfortable this type of training is highly inappropriate since it leads to poor efficiency.
In general, there are special approaches which identify for whom each of these training styles is better suited. One of such approaches was developed by Lawson (1995). According to him, all learners can be divided into four groups: doers, feelers, thinkers and observers. Doers (or practitioners) like to be actively engaged in learning processes. Feelers are more creative and artistic, concentrate more on feelings and emotions, and do not like everything what is structured or systematized. Thinkers, on the other hand, are people who prefer logic, analysis, systematization, and reasoning. Finally, observers are those who tend not to participate but rather discover through observations. Figure 1 depicts the relationship between learning styles and the types of the audience.
- Lawson, K. 1998. The Trainer’s handbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.