More and more, police agencies are incorporating innovative techniques into training and development programs for new recruits as well as seasoned officers. These techniques, which focus on active and engaging learning activities, aim to provide the tools needed to apply the information learned once the training is over.
In order to ensure that this goal is realized, as a trainer, there are several things to keep in mind.
Research has shown that adult learners (as well as the new generation of recruits/Millennials) get more out of a learning environment that builds on the experience of the student; utilizing practical applications of the material, participation in group work and problem-centered activities. Lecture is less effective than self-directed, student-centered and active learning, putting the instructor in a place of facilitation instead of teacher.
Start to build your training sessions with the following two tenants in mind:
1. DIALOGUE - Adult learners are less interested in lecture and more interested in being guided through a group dialogue with their peers. This allows for the students to use their accumulated knowledge and engages everyone in the conversation.
- Encourage participants to ask questions throughout.
- As the trainer, ask questions regularly to get conversation going.
- Ask participants to share personal experiences, challenges.
2. DISCUSSION AND INTERACTION - Instead of just providing information, engage the group in a discussion. Ask questions and provide useful feedback using your own experience in the field. Provide practical examples and scenarios as well as goal-oriented problems for the students to work through as a team.
Instructional techniques suggested for use with adult learners include:
- Use active and engaging learning activities
- Minimize lecture
- Use mentorship as a way to bridge generation gaps – Share your own experiences and stories, discuss the challenges you’ve faced and the strategies you have used in the field.
- Use group discussions and collaborative groups
- Show students the immediate application of skills – Utilize the brainstorming slides in the training, and engage the group in on the spot problem solving activities. Allow them to utilize the knowledge they are gaining to find a solution to a common problem.
- Use a variety of sources for building knowledge – There are video clips available for use in this training. If technology and time allow, please utilize these clips.
- Teach students how to reflect on their learning
Job of the Trainer:
- Present information and facilitate learning by guiding, listening, asking questions and generating dialogue/discussion.
- Prepare for the session by becoming familiar with the material, and be ready to share personal experiences in order to create context for students.
- Create a learning environment that is respectful of the needs of adult learners.
- Provide clear expectations for the class, the reason that the training is important for their career and how the information will be immediately useful in their work.