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People: The Most Valuable Classroom Asset

03/08/2010


Making use of the available assets in a classroom or group setting is the key to a successful group environment, and the most valuable asset available to any group is the people in it. Most adults learn better in a sociable environment, and are more likely to succeed when they feel that they are part of a group.

People are more likely to retain information they can relate to a meaningful context rather than what they have passively heard in a lecture. A seasoned facilitator knows their audience and can often times relay the key learnings through stories or examples that pertain to the backgrounds of the participants.

Following each presentation of a key learning, allowing for interaction in the classroom gives the participants a chance to apply what they have just learned into action thru discussion, increasing their understanding of key concepts.

Encouraging classroom interaction also allows the exchange of information and resources on the topic at hand, especially with an adult audience. Adults are more ready and willing to work together in a group setting, feeding off of each others ideas and previous experiences. Adding variety and interest to a classroom setting also appeals to adults, many of whom have multiple commitments each day; converting the classroom learning into a social activity might just be the way to keep their minds on the topic at hand.

Some group members may be more enthusiastic than others when it comes to participating in discussion. There are several things you can do to encourage participation in group activities:

  • Help participants understand that there are no wrong answers in group discussion. Making sure everyone is comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas is crucial to good communication.
  • Avoid questions that have “yes” and “no” answers. Instead, probe the discussion with “why” or “how” questions that lead participants to share their ideas.
  • Provide positive feedback for participation. If a group member who is reluctant to participate speaks up, it is important to recognize their effort, and build on what they have said.

The most important thing a facilitator can do to encourage positive interaction and feedback in the classroom is to be enthusiastic about the subject at hand. Group members are unlikely to be passionate about a subject that the group leader shows no interest in. Positive reinforcement from the facilitator will help ideas and opinions flow from the group members, making it more likely that the majority of the group members are retaining the information. The key to a successful and positive group environment is to get everyone involved, sharing, and retaining information.

For more information on how to accommodate your most important classroom asset, contact your local MNP Consultant.

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