Engaging Adult Learners with Icebreaker Activities Using Flip Charts
Brain based learning research and adult learning theory (andragogy)point to the value of actively engaging participants in activities throughout a learning event. Doing this early in a session helps them to claim ownership for the learning process, overcome potential hesitance about getting involved, and potentially get to know one another. It also allows you to identify introverts and extroverts and leaders and followers, and to encourage active participation by all learners throughout the session.
Here are two easy icebreaker activities involving flip charts that you might use in your next session:
1. Get participants involved in a self-discovery activity at the start of a session. I do this in a program on behavior styles. I have participants group in threes. I then ask them to write the first names of group members at the top of three columns on a flip chart page. They are given a total of five minutes for each person to think of three characteristics (adjectives) which they think describes their behavior as it relates to the session topic. For example, in a session on supervisory training or leadership, someone might offer goal-oriented, assertive and decisive as their choices. Through such an activity, people become actively involved early in the session, share information, get to know something about others, and begin discussing the program topic. Later in the session, you can conduct an additional activity in which participants explain how the characteristics they identified during the icebreaker might be applied in a given situation related to the program topic
2. Group participants, then show a flip charted statement related to the program topic. Have participants introduce themselves within their group, then discuss and flip chart their thoughts on the statement they read. For example, in a session on customer service, you might state, “Customers today are very impulsive and in a hurry.” After a specified period of time, go over the group responses as a class. This type of activity provides a vehicle for discussion of a program relevant topic, gains active involvement, and gives people a chance to get to know one another and share how they think.
For additional ideas on creative ways to create, use, transport, and store flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators. For additional creative games and activities to energize your learning events, check out Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People.