When deciding what Scouters need to learn, the first step (from the trainer's point of view) is to measure individual job performance against existing performance standards.
What performance standards? Good question.
One thing Scouting has forgotten is to set performance standards. From an organizational viewpoint our focus has always been on "what we do" and "how we do it," rather than on "how well we do it".
When asked how well a program, project or event went, I've often heard Scouters reply, "It must have been good, I didn't see anyone crying". Or, "Really good! All the kids were smiling".
Do these observations tell us anything about our program's quality? No. They do tell us (perhaps) how the youth reacted to the activity at an emotional level. This is important, but was it helpful? Did they learn? Without quality standards we're forced to make assumptions about the effectiveness of the learning. We all know the dangers of assumptions.
Our first step should be to establish quality standards. Make use of specific statements about what constitutes an effective program, event or project. Ask yourself: What do we want it to accomplish in terms of knowledge, skill development, and attitudinal change?
It's a big task but very worthwhile. Council Scouters, in consultation with section Scouters, would normally be responsible for setting program quality standards. Once standards have been set for the programs, we can begin identifying what kinds and levels of knowledge, skill and attitudes section Scouters will need to reach the set standards. The results of this process become the "performance standards as a benchmark, the trainers can start determining individual Scouter competency levels.
The trainers must develop objective methods for measuring the skills of Scouters in terms of the performance standards. The difference, if any, constitutes the "learning/training needs".
From here trainers must determine the most effective way(s) to help Scouters meet
learning needs. Here's a formula for determining learning/training needs:
The terms "learning needs" and "training needs" refer to what is called "performance discrepancy" -- the difference between what an individual must be able to do, and what he/she can do at a given point.
The trainer uses the Learning Needs to establish Learning Objectives that, if attained, will make a highly effective trainer.
If we take better aim at our goal, we'll hit the mark more often. Good luck in your training programs.
"Reproduced with permission of the Leader magazine and the author."
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