Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

Learner engagement is a basic tenet of adult learning that is supported by brain-based learning research. By encouraging participant involvement in a training or educational setting, you increase the potential that learning will occur and that they might actually use what they experience later.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

You can encourage maximum involvement of your training participants or learners by creatively grouping them and then asking for volunteers to take on the roles of scribes (note-takers) and group or team leaders during small group training activities or discussions. This strategy also provides an opportunity to recognize their initiative and reward volunteers with small incentive prizes (e.g. candy, toys, or other objects related to the program topic of the theme).

By providing extrinsic rewards and supporting positive behavior you can potentially encourage involvement by other learners in future group activities. However, like anything else, there is a potential downside in asking for volunteers. That is some people volunteer more than others because they are more extroverted or in order to receive prizes. The key is to integrate rewards appropriately and not make it into a competition to see who can get the most.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

To avoid a small number of participants from dominating and volunteering continuously, consider a fun, random system for selection. Just be conscious of the method you use for volunteer selection. Avoid using physical characteristics like body size, gender, hair or eye color, or other such factors since these could be perceived as discrimination or at least omission or favoritism by some participants as criteria for selection.

One goal of selecting volunteers is to engage as many different learners as possible. This helps everyone take ownership of the session content and disseminates rewards over a larger portion of the participant population.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

Think creatively and use a variety of techniques for selecting your volunteers rather than sticking with old standby formats like “count off from 1-5” or similar boring strategies. Some potential techniques for random designation are to assign participants based on the following. Be prepared to use several techniques in the event of ties.

  • Person whose birthday is closest to but not past the date of the session being held.
  • Person with the most (whatever) (e.g. color blue, jewelry, metal) on their body.
  • Person whose has been with their organization the longest/shortest period of time.
  • Person who has most/least siblings.
  • Person who traveled farthest/least distance to get to the session.
  • Person with the most/fewest number of pets.
  • Person with decorative metal on their shoes.
  • Person who arrived home earliest on their last day at work.
  • Person who participated in an athletic event over the past weekend.
  • Person with the most/least change in their pocket or purse.
  • Person who has had the most cups of coffee or tea, sodas, or glasses of juice/water since arriving at the session.
  • Person with the most/least letters in their first/last name.
  • Person born in the city/state/country in which the session is being conducted.
  • Person who has attended another professional development event (e.g. presentation, workshop, webinar, college class, or podcast) on-site or online within the past six weeks.
  • Placing props randomly at some participant locations prior to the start of the program (e.g. toy police officers badge, gavel, or another symbol of authority.
  • Placing a special colored item related to the program topic, that is different from those of other participants (e.g. themed shape eraser; small animal or cartoon character).
  • Placing colored dots or special stickers (e.g. colored smiley face stickers) randomly on nametags or name tents prior to a session start.
  • Rolling a foam die or color cube at each table.

Creatively Selecting Small Group Leaders in Training

No matter what approach you take to getting people involved in the learning process, the key is to make it quick, fun, and related to your program topic. Engage your learners mentally and physically throughout your sessions and you will potentially be rewarded with higher levels of attention, learning, and satisfaction.

For additional creative ideas and brain-based learning strategies, get a copy of The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning, Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage Learners, Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results, and Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.