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    Posted on 2018-02-15 14:03:00
    English; Français
    Alexandra Neves | PwC’s Academy
    Companies invest a lot of resources in training programmes, and expect participants to return on that investment. Unfortunately, more often than not, the knowledge doesn’t stick or the behaviours doest notchange significantly. Henry Roediger studies’ indicate that  participants willforget more than half of the training content in the next 24 hours after the course. How could we reverse this? How do we design training programmes to increase retention of content and facilitate long term behaviour change?
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    Posted on 2018-02-15 13:38:00
    English; Français
    Gilles Schmit | PwC’s Academy
    Playing is part of our daily lives. Of course, for children, it is essential for social and cognitive development. But it is also omnipresent in adults’ daily lives. All you have to do is glance at the television schedule to see how prominent game shows are in programming slots. Besides television, video-game revenue reached 96 billion dollars worldwide in 2016, 30% of which came from smartphone gaming apps.
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    Posted on 2018-02-15 11:38:00
    English
    Scott Levey | Target Training
    You are a good presenter — you are engaging, funny and energetic. You like the challenge of speaking in public and you are good at it. Yet you have the feeling sometimes that you could be doing more or doing things differently.  There are some situations in which you connect better to the audience than others and you feel you can do better. 
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February 15
The role of emotions in learning

Companies invest a lot of resources in training programmes, and expect participants to return on that investment. Unfortunately, more often than not, the knowledge doesn’t stick or the behaviours doest notchange significantly. Henry Roediger studies’ indicate that  participants willforget more than half of the training content in the next 24 hours after the course. How could we reverse this? How do we design training programmes to increase retention of content and facilitate long term behaviour change?

The role of emotions
When I was 17 years old, I bought the school syllabus for my first Introduction to Psychology class. I couldn’t wait for the beginning of the school year to dive into it, and read it from front to back in one week. I still remember the content to this day, and can even recall the images and illustrations in some of the pages. I was curious and excited to learn something new for which I was passionate about!

This learning was self-directed and my emotions were engaged: the excitement and curiosity led me to pay attention to the content, which in turn led to learning and retention.

But what are emotions, exactly? The words of Saint Augustine remain as true today as when he spoke them in the 4th century: “What then is an emotion? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know”. We can describe emotions as a strong feeling deriving from our internal mood, circumstances, or relationships with others.

Emotions play a significant role in the learning environments, as they strongly influence selective attention and motivate people to take actions. The positive emotions proposed by Chai M. Tyng are the following four: Seeking (or curiosity), Lust, Care, and Play.

When learners feel positive emotions, their levels of directed attention increases and it facilitates memorisation.

Tyng studies also show that memories which are linked to positive emotions are more easily recalled than neutral emotions. Although the impact of negative emotions on memory remains inconclusive, the author found evidence that a state of mild confusion can also increase attention and motivation to decrease it, by engaging in the learning experience.

 

The use of emotions in training
While I was binge reading my Psychology syllabus, the other school books were ignored… My passion and intrinsic motivation were just lower for the other subjects. But in professional training, we can’t always count on learners to be motivated and emotionally involved in the subject of the training. Sometimes the training is mandatory, not interesting, or is the same old slides on a topic we cover every single year to be compliant with a regulatory obligation… How can we elicit the curiosity and interest of the learner? One of the ways to do so, is through storytelling. Stories are part of our culture and have been bringing people together for over thousands of years. Stories engage our curiosity and create an emotional bond, fostering a sense of empathy. Storytelling can also be used to make the learning objectives personal; to make them relevant to the participants; and to explore what’s in it for them. This will also activate the visual representation, especially if the language used is colourful and evoking.

Another way to activate an emotional response in training is adding an element of surprise. When a narrative or a sequence doesn’t proceed as anticipated, or according to people expectations, our attention is activated. More attention increases retention and facilitates memorisation.

Taking it a step further, using humour and jokes also creates a playful and joyful emotional anchor to a learning experience. An anecdote or funny story that creates relatedness is a good way to improve engagement. Jokes should, however, be used with moderation and taking into consideration the context of the training and the background of the learners.

To create a deeper commitment a learner should engage with the learning experience. By using metaphor and powerful symbology we can bring a behavioural change to life and make it stick. On a conference a few weeks ago, I met a person who told me about an exercise he had done several years ago in a training course that consisted of writing down the negative feelings he experienced at work and then symbolically throwing the paper away to the garbage bin. It had a powerful impact on him and years later he not only remembered the exercise but still applies the time management strategies discussed in the training course.

A word of caution on the use of negative emotions. Even though a mild sense of confusion might have a beneficial effect on provoking attention, manipulating negative emotions can easily backfire. A quiz in the beginning to bring to conscience a certain degree of ignorance of the subject matter might be useful. Be careful, though, not to overdo it, and avoid creating demotivation and abandonment. One way to do this is to use the “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” game design: start with very easy questions, to build confidence and reduce stress and progressively increase the complexity.

 

How to design a training for optimal retention
A training design that increases retention should consider tapping into the participant’s emotions. Here are a few tips to consider when designing a training experience:

·        Use storytelling to engage the imagination and allow the participants to be active in the co-creation of the narrative;

·        Use vivid language that engages emotional responses and evokes visual representations;

·        Insert humour, jokes, and anecdotes to make it fun and memorable;

·        Add an element of surprise to spike attention;

·        Engage the participant with metaphors and symbols

 Emotions are an integral part of what makes us Human, at the same level as our cognitive processes and behaviours. When preparing a training, bring it all together: what the participants will feel and the emotions they will experience. Consider also the interaction between the emotional arousal and the knowledge acquisition and skills development. You’ll create a more complete, engaging, and memorable training experience.

 

Alexandra Neves
Training officer. PwC’s Academy

 

Sources
Art Kohn, Brain Science: Overcoming the Forgetting Curve, Learning Solutions Magazine
Chai M. Tyng et al., The influence of Emotion on Learning and Memory, Frontiers in Psychology
How do emotions affect memory?, Breakthrough Learning
Les schémas favorisent l’apprentissage !, eLearnAgency
Henry Roediger et al, The Power of testing memory, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Washington University
Jordi Vallverdu, Emotions: a Philosophical Introduction, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

February 15
Playing games in training: seriously?
Playing is part of our daily lives. Of course, for children, it is essential for social and cognitive development. But it is also omnipresent in adults’ daily lives. All you have to do is glance at the television schedule to see how prominent game shows are in programming slots. Besides television, video-game revenue reached 96 billion dollars worldwide in 2016, 30% of which came from smartphone gaming apps.

 

Why play?

For children, playing is paramount. It enables them to learn social skills, set themselves rules and limits, push those boundaries, and – of course – have fun.
But what about adults? Bruno Hourst explains: “Playing is one of the most important human activities. It enables each individual to develop their own personality, to really become the person they are deep down.” Denis Cristol goes even further in his definition: “Playing is a deeply human need, and as the pleasure of learning is a driving force for such learning, this is where learning through play finds its credentials.”
So there we have it: as playing is a driving force for learning, incorporating it into professional training would significantly increase the speed at which we acquire new skills. “Workplace games are a learning tool that lets players discover and utilise knowledge, expertise and wisdom that has a concrete, fun and interactive link to the business,” says Stéphanie Moreau in her study on the use of games in professional training.

 

Why play games in training?

As explained above, educational games have a place in the training classroom. However, they cannot make up a training course by themselves. Games are an educational technique that can be integrated into both face-to-face and asynchronous training. That being said, it must be noted that current training courses hardly ever use games as a teaching method.


There are three main reasons why games are under-represented in training:
1) They are not serious. If an instructor gets their students to play a game, there may be an impression that this is not “serious” enough for a training course. The instructor might be scared of reactions like “We don’t play games in training at our company!”

2) The time it takes to prepare them. Some training coordinators feel that coming up with a game means investing a significant amount of time and money.

3) The fear of wasting time. The time spent in training is tracked and must be monetised. Therefore, initiating a game risks wasting time, thus compromising the content of the training course.

To counter these preconceptions, specialist literature and websites, as well as some training providers, are offering more and more options, and especially solutions. This is because, as Bruno Hourst explains: “Games during training have proven to be very effective for pure memory skills and for acquiring skills and procedural knowledge.”

All games introduced during a training course come with five major advantages, which put participants in an optimal learning situation:

1) The game puts the participants in a relaxed and positive mood, while also motivating them to learn and to retain knowledge.

2) Mistakes are considered phases of play, rather than learning errors.

3) The game requires everyone to participate actively.

4) The game enables participants to better retain the skills they have acquired, by forcing them to put them into practice immediately.

5) The game intuitively implements collective intelligence and allows key ideas to be explained again in a different way.


Therefore, the game does not replace learning, regardless of whether it is face-to-face or online. However, it is without a doubt part of the learning process, ensuring that the course content is better absorbed by using triggers such as motivation, competitiveness, interaction and decision-making.

How to design a game ?

Thiagi, the inventor of the concept of “structured games” for training purposes, has developed a threefold theory for designing and using games:

a) Everything that can be taught, can be taught with games.

b) It is possible to design a game quickly and at virtually no cost.

c) Gamification makes any learning process fun, efficient and pleasant.

There are a few simple rules to follow for designing and presenting a game during a training course:

- You must be able to explain the ground rules to everyone quickly, in a few sentences.

- All participants must play a role.

- The game must be fun and relevant to the course content.

- The game must be explained like a story is told, with a beginning and – most importantly – a goal to aim for in order to win.

- The game must always end with a debrief that aims to develop new skills.

The instructor’s role changes to that of a “host” during the game: they must occasionally remind participants of the ground rules and revive the competition when required.

Even though it is now very easy to find websites detailing ready-made educational games, it is more interesting to draw inspiration from these existing games to create your own: they will be in true harmony with the content that you want your participants to absorb.
Try to create at least one game next time you lead a training session. You might quickly become addicted to gamifying!

 

Gilles Schmit
Educational Engineer, PwC’s Academy

 

Sources
Bruno Hourst, Modèles de jeux de formation, Éditions d’Organisation
Association Française pour le Jeu Vidéo[TS1] , 2016 study
Denis Cristol, 1 000 façons de jouer pour apprendre, Cursus.edu
Steve Penfold, 5 gamification fails and how to fix them, Elearningindustry.com
Stéphanie Moreau, Les jeux d’entreprise dans la formation professionnelle, Lille 2 University

February 15
Do you know the 4 Ds for impactful presentations?

You are a good presenter — you are engaging, funny and energetic. You like the challenge of speaking in public and you are good at it. Yet you have the feeling sometimes that you could be doing more or doing things differently.  There are some situations in which you connect better to the audience than others and you feel you can do better.  You can do this by paying attention to the 4 Ds:

1)   Development
There is no “one size fits all” solution for what to do to make a good presentation. Success depends on the audience and the situation as to what techniques are more likely to work and what aren’t.  That’s where the first D comes in, Development. In this sense, development means developing your understanding of the context of your presentation before moving on to designing the content. The more special the situation or presentation is for you, the more time you should invest in understanding what may happen before it does. Are key decision makers warm to the idea you are presenting or not? Does the audience have mixed opinions? What goals unite you and the audience in ways they can appreciate? Is the audience expecting a lot of data? How formal or informal do they expect you to be? Knowing the answers to these and other questions can lead to a refined message and different design and delivery behaviors than you may be used to.

2)  Design
You know the importance of a good looking presentation. Many companies recognize the importance of presentation design so much that they hire professional designers to produce them. That means sometimes presenters are asked to present presentations they didn’t personally create. Often they are produced to fill a function, like introducing your company, not meet the needs of a specific audience. Generic presentations mean the presenter needs to work harder to make the material relevant to their audience.  The key in design is, if the information shared is important to the audience, they will pay attention to it. The best format helps but the relevance of the information makes the difference.

3)  Delivery
Certain delivery techniques can help us deal with the prepackaged design situation effectively. We can draw our audience’s attention to a special part of a slide by using a pointer and the phrase “Let me draw your attention to…” if there is too much information on the slide. You can tell stories to bring meaning to data and you can relate charts and graphs to the experiences of your audience without changing a slide. The results of your development work will point you in the best direction. If you need to do something for the audience that is outside of your comfort zone: practice, practice, practice. The more you practice a different style the more comfortable you will become.

4)  Debriefing
Getting feedback from your audience about your presentation is important to continual process improvement. This means getting feedback solely about the presentation itself and not its outcome. This can be difficult to do yet there are some ideas worth considering. Have a third party write down the audiences’ questions for review after the presentation. Ask audience members about specific delivery behaviors you are working on, like eye contact, controlling your movements and how you use your hands rather than simply asking them what they thought of the presentation.

Increase your chance of success
The 4 Ds of presentations; Development, Design, Delivery and Debriefing, can help you tailor your presentations to specific audiences and make the appropriate adjustments in your style to increase your chances of success.

 

Scott Levey
Target Training, Partner of PwC’s Academy



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