The top 6 engagement strategies to deliver effective training

Not getting the student outcomes you are looking for? Here are some great ways to get and keep students focused.

The top 6 student engagement strategies ~ this includes employees too.

We all know that everyone is busy and distracted, but how do we get students and employees to absorb and master the content we deliver? There are many choices in adult learning theories. They all have individual merits, but we need to grab and keep the attention of those taking our courses. Here are some quick wins you can incorporate to get more student engagement and better training results today.

The class before the class

Students taking a class frequently get anxiety around expectations, time commitments and there is always test anxiety on some level. Several studies have demonstrated contacting the student before the class to welcome them and let them know what is expected on Day 1, not only sets the tone, but lessens the stress with the unknown. This doesn’t have to be anything heavy-handed, just a friendly “Welcome to class, this is what you need to know when we meet” type message. Letting the student know you are ready for class and are engaged will encourage them to ready as well. Encouraging an ice-breaker activity will make the training more interactive for the student.

WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

Show the clear benefit of taking the class and conversely what they lack by not taking the course. There are many barriers students put in front of themselves and one of the strongest is the understanding of why the class is relevant to them. Why this may sound like you have to “sell” the student on taking the class (particularly in required or prerequisite courses), sharing the importance and relevance can help them understand the importance and how this training will fit in the bigger picture to benefit them. We need to keep top of mind that we are there for the benefit of the student, even when there is mandated or compliance training that must be completed. The student is first and foremost our customer and word of mouth will go a long way to encourage others to take the training and champion our initiatives.

“Edutainment” (avoid death by PowerPoint)

We have all attended a session where there is a prolonged slide presentation where the presenter looks at the audience and then turns and reads the slide (with their back to the audience). It is almost enough to make you go horizontal. This sends two messages: The presenter is nervous and could be better prepared. In instructor-led training have visual materials is a great way for “visual learners” to grasp concepts, especially complex concepts. However, the presenter should not just read to the audience, they can do that themselves. The leader should also expound on the topic using anecdotal information and the “aural learners” will get benefit, too. Even better, use training aid where appropriate where hands-on training gives that immersive experience. Think of ways to engage the student here, through gamification (more on this shortly), or making a game or contest on the subject, making it FUN. Just being excited about the training and being interested in the student go a long way. This will increase engagement and mastery exponentially over a monotone lecture.

Be Present/constantly communicate

(Reinforce positive actions provide and get feedback)
Students love feedback, especially positive feedback. Whether it is instructor-led training (ILT) or online training (self-paced or moderated) there are time where questions can and will come up. Providing feedback and more of a mentoring model, rather than just a one-sided monolog, will go a long way to aid to the learning experience. Non-judgmental feedback provides a safe learning environment and encourages participation without fear of reprisal. Letting the student there is an advocate for them will raise course outcomes. While it may seem cliché, the saying “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” rings absolutely truth here.

Measure mastery without fear

It would be a safe bet that we all have experienced test anxiety more than once in our lives. This can take the form of checkpoints of understanding throughout a lecture, or “knowledge checks” sprinkled throughout an online course. Notice the term “knowledge check” doesn’t induce the same stress level as “quiz” or “exam.” The more at ease you put the student, the more they can focus on the topic, not about how they are going to do on some exam. Let them absorb the content and the assessments will improve organically.

Gamification is a method where a student can perform some type of interactive challenge activity rather than the typical multiple choice or fill in the blank. It is less intimidating and actually leads to better outcomes. Awarding badges incentivize course completion, there are digital backpacks where the student’s badges can be stored and are portable from one system to another (and can be displayed on LinkedIn, for example). Companies like Accredible even let you design your own badges for your specific company’s needs.

Congratulate/Survey

You made it! You got your students to the end of the course, but now what? There should be some assessment to demonstrate mastery of the topics presented. Hey, but what about those knowledge checks and test anxiety that you talked about earlier? Just consider the students that were engaged in the process with the suggestions here. what do you think the mastery level will be for the engaged students compared to a monotone lecture where the students are constantly checking their phones? While some topics are literally more “life and death” type scenarios than others (e.g. safety and medical-related training, etc.), this doesn’t mean you have to stress the student out of their mind.

Put reasonable seriousness on the topics, keeping the student engaged all the way through the process, even at-risk students, and the assessments will almost take care of themselves. The assessments will provide feedback to the student, but also to the course delivery itself. Don’t be remiss in conducting a post-class survey, there may be some insights that will aid in better outcomes for future classes.

Put reasonable seriousness on the topics, keeping the student engaged all the way through the process, even at-risk students, and the assessments will almost take care of themselves. The assessments will provide feedback to the student, but also to the course delivery itself. Don’t be remiss in conducting a post-class survey, there may be some insights that will aid in better outcomes for future classes.

Put reasonable seriousness on the topics, keeping the student engaged all the way through the process, even at-risk students, and the assessments will almost take care of themselves. The assessments will provide feedback to the student, but also to the course delivery itself. Don’t be remiss in conducting a post-class survey, there may be some insights that will aid in better outcomes for future classes.

Put reasonable seriousness on the topics, keeping the student engaged all the way through the process, even at-risk students, and the assessments will almost take care of themselves. The assessments will provide feedback to the student, but also to the course delivery itself. Don’t be remiss in conducting a post-class survey, there may be some insights that will aid in better outcomes for future classes.

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As you can see, taking a few simple strategies will not only make it more relevant and fun for the student, but also for the facilitator and company through better student outcomes. Training does not have to be arduous and avoided, just tweaking a few things will make it a much more enjoyable journey for everyone. What can you do to make your training more effective today?

To Your Success,
William R. Wheeler

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Hi! I’m Bill Wheeler

Master writer, storyteller and remote workstyle expert, I have worked remotely for over 17 years now. I can honestly say it is absolutely possible to work anywhere, anytime. It is my passion and mission to help others learn new skills and be more fulfilled and productive.

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William R. Wheeler is a business consultant, storyteller, writer and training expert. He has decades of experience with helping individuals and businesses clarifying and reaching their goals. He has written books, courses for colleges, universities and businesses and countless articles. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or through his website at www.WilliamRWheeler.com.

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