We end Chapter 1 with a train-the-trainer tool. Participants in American Management Association (AMA) seminars come together from a wide variety of businesses and organizations, a range of industries and enterprises , and from diverse situations. Trainees come seeking practical help in ways that will immediately benefit their own companies and agencies. Folks come to seminars especially for "know-how", expecting to learn new skills to use back on the job ”and they come to talk about their problems with a group of like-minded problem-solvers. Trainers who typically come to an AMA seminar on instructional design or training the trainer look for tools that will take them from the seminar to the workplace.

Seminar Leader Dr. Geri McArdle provides Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as one such tool. Problem-based learning is an instructional method that challenges participants to "learn to learn" by working together cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real-world problems. The reason you use PBL is to prepare participants to think critically and analytically and to find and use appropriate learning resources. Geri suggests that "using PBL can help you transform a traditional lecture into a group-centered, problem-based learning experience". She offers some tough talk against thinking that anyone can "stroll into the class and initiate and manage a PBL session". She urges trainers to "be thoroughly organized and prepared" by using the template she has designed here. The focus of this activity is to provide participants with a hands-on learning approach ”a practical tool to use when writing real-life problems as content for a training session. What follows is her step-by-step procedure and guidelines for helping you, the seminar leader, with the personal and classroom organization needed to lead your trainees to learning success at the seminar so that they can ultimately transfer that learning to their workplaces.


  • Decision-making

  • Problem-solving

  • Developing instructional strategy


Most seminar participants like to discuss workplace "back-home" problems. One of the most positive learning experiences for participants is the opportunity to work with others to discuss, share, and problem-solve similar issues. After practicing the model in this seminar, trainees will have a Problem-Based Learning model for organizing their own seminars.

As a seminar leader, you will notice that using this tool makes learning more active for the participants. This is a welcome change from the typical focus on the activity of the trainer or seminar leader. The participants will interact much more with one another than they will in a traditionally designed course, and a feeling of cooperation rather than competition typically emerges within the group. And, of course, you as the seminar leader will never be bored with so many new workplace problems to define, research, and solve!


  • To identify and describe workplace problems

  • To use the Problem-Based Learning strategy

  • To solve workplace problems


Masking tape



Extra group lists

A statement of problem-focused questions or problems that each trainee would like to solve at work. For example, "We are putting in a new assembly line. What should be our first step?" Or, "We have this gorup of employees who are a ˜selfmanaged team, but as the supervisor, I would like to have them communicate their goals and objectives for the next sixth months. How do I communicate this need without being perceived as ˜interfering with the team?"

A statement of problem-focused questions or problems for each group, with a place for each group member to sign. Provide a form on which each participant can write the problem that he or she would like to discuss and have them sign the form so that individuals in the seminar or work group will know to whom to address suggestions.

A "Five Learning Styles" handout for each trainee

Reference materials in a central location for trainees to use if they want to


Arrange the room in "team style". Arrange chairs in groups of four throughout the classroom, with numbers on tables and seats. Make sure that the participant numbers match the assigned group and seat numbers .


30 minutes per problem


Using the Problem-Based Learning tool requires that you pay close attention to your "prep" work. To prepare for the PBL session, pay close attention to detail, organization, and design, and provide some built-in structure to manage the problem introduction, group dynamics, and summary product. The procedure is presented in three charts : Content and Session Organization, Problem Design and Classroom Management, and Evaluating the Process and the Product.


Introduction and Overview

Clearly state the purpose for using PBL, the procedures for executing the task, and your expectations. The PBL is used to address real-world problems and resolve realistic dilemmas. This is an opportunity for each participant or team to propose a real workplace problem and to have group members problem solve. Here are some directions for your group:

  1. Each person receives a form on which to record his or her proposed problem for group discussion (the forms should be signed at the bottom).

  2. Elect a group leader to read off the problem statements and decide which the group will use as its "case problem" throughout the seminar.

  3. As each group learns "concepts" throughout the seminar, the members should be given an opportunity to review the "group case" and apply any new concepts that are appropriate.

  4. Allow ample time each day for the groups to work on their chosen group cases and report progress to the entire group.

Role Assignments

Assign participants to groups using an arbitrary method (such as numbers or the letters of the alphabet). If possible, distribute the list of assignments before the session begins. There should be a maximum of four (4) participants per group. Another technique for assigning groups is to create a list of participants that is numbered, with each participant assigned to a group.



Provide a context for the problem and explain what makes the problem important for the participants. Highlight the core learning and also the benefits of community learning. Ask the group members (and record on chart paper), "What problems do you face at work that you would like to get resolved today?" Record the responses and then have the group prioritize the issues by saying, "let me see a show of hands for those folks who want to work on problem A". Then make that a group that owns that issue throughout the seminar. Room arrangement: the seminar participants will be formed in teams , each addressing a single question or issue. The group will use feedback from you and group members to devise a set of methods or strategies to be used to resolve the issues. For example, they may want to develop questions about the issues and then answer them.


After the minilecture, hand out the problem statement and either read it or assign a participant to "read aloud ". Hand out the "Five Learning Styles" pages, one set for each person. Briefly describe the five styles and suggest that they be aware of these learning styles as they define and solve problems.

Printed Questions

Furnish printed questions that you prepared that will focus the participants so they can arrive at a problem solution. Have enough copies for each participant and provide a group copy, which all group participants must sign. Explain that the group copy is to be turned in as the group product at the end of the session.

Printed questions would be very general. For example:

  1. What is the problem?

  2. Who is involved?

  3. What would you like to see happen?

  4. What do you think is the "worstcase scenario" if what you want doesn't happen?

  5. What would the situation look like if the problem was resolved the way you consider appropriate?

(Note: if you have a number of pages of questions, give out one page at a time. For example, if the problem continues to unravel like a case study with many different turns, each question or segment answer should have a separate page.)

In-session Check-In

Assess progress at regular intervals. If necessary, interrupt group work to correct misconceptions or to level groups with one another.

Discussion Time

Allow time for total group discussion of the problem at the end of the PLB session or at the beginning of the next section.


Workload and Evaluation Process

Require some type of group product for evaluation at each session. Comment on each group product, as well as on individual contributions.

Peer Evaluations

If the teams worked together, use peer evaluation as a second- tier feedback. You should closely monitor the comments.

Design Final Question

Create a summary question that reflects the contents of a problem or the thinking process used for problem solving. Ask each person to do this as homework or e-mail the results to you.

SEMINAR LEADER'S NOTES: There are three organizational principles for instructional design that Geri McArdle uses to ensure that participants do indeed acquire new knowledge and skills at seminars:

  1. The content to be delivered is arranged in a presentation and practice format and reflects the learning objectives specified for the training. Assessment, presentation practice, and objectives should be aligned.

  2. The instructional material is based on the needs and characteristics of the identified trainee audience. Trainers are expected to pay attention to individual learning styles and provide support for learners in various ways to recognize and value each style. A trainee handout on Five Learning Styles is included with the Problem-Based Learning tool. Provide each trainee with one of these handouts during group sessions.

    Adults learn best when they feel comfortable and supported in an environment of trust. A relaxed , comfortable atmosphere permits learners to feel that they have a degree of control, to freely ask questions, to affect the pace of learning, and to learn from others. It is important to facilitate to educate. Enable and encourage learners to work together to solve problems and to share with the group.

    The instruction typically includes the presentation of new information or the demonstration of new skills, practice opportunities with confirmatory feedback, and a mastery assessment. The instructional strategies and tactics recommended are tutorials, simulations, demonstration of new skills, and games . All should match the type of content being taught, for example, facts, concepts, procedures, or processes. Instruction needs to be designed not only around facts, ideas, and skills, but also around the processes in which individuals engage during learning ”processes such as giving and receiving feedback, making flipchart presentations in small groups, or working together in learning teams.

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Style 1: Confident Learners: The Organizer

Confident Learners: prefer learning sessions that lead to specific goals.

To train confident learners, you should:

  • Provide opportunities for multidimensional sharing; include cooperative and collaborative learning opportunities.

  • State the program goals and objectives up front.

  • Use simulations and role playing; always use a realistic context and specific examples as models for explaining the learning process.

  • Establish and communicate assessment tasks and criteria clearly.

  • Maintain flexibility in the delivery to allow learners the opportunity to set, define, and achieve their articulated goals.

  • Trainer Style: a facilitator

Style 2: Affective Learners: The Feelers

Affective Learners: prefer to know and feel that they are doing well.

To train affective trainees, you should:

  • Provide lots of opportunity for feedback.

  • Write all assignments clearly, defining what is expected, as well as the time and process they are to use to complete the task.

  • Supply alternative learning sources (e.g., reference material) so that learners may advance at their own pace.

  • Promote participant control of the context of learning. Use contemporary situations and assist them by providing a sense of attachment to the material that they seek.

  • Be careful of feelings. They are influence by their " comfort " zone. Establish a close and personal, but professional, relationship with the group to maximize training transfer.

  • Trainer Style: a coach

Style 3: Transitional Learner: The Trackers

Transitional Learners: focus on the particular type of information and how they will apply it.

To train transition learners, you should:

  • Provide support and guidance.

  • Remember that they want to learn the material for immediate transfer.

  • Remember that they will listen for only the material they want to hear.

  • Remember that they will sometimes transfer the content radioactively back on the job without integrating the concepts for understanding.

  • Provide relevant, real-life problems to solve.

  • Use case study methods.

  • Provide the training design or model for the course, including learning outcomes and your role and their role up front.

  • Your Role: instructor

Style 4: Integrated Learners: The Big Picture

Integrated Learners: prefer peer-like relationships. Want their work to be good and well integrated with the overall course objectives.

To train integrated learners, you should:

  • Introduce important norms and participation guidelines to create a climate of respect among the learners.

  • Provide rationale when issuing mandatory assignments or training requirements so that they see the "big picture".

  • Assist the learner in understanding that effort and knowledge can overcome their failures.

  • Use demonstration opportunities for the learner to "try out" the information and provide time to reflect on their strengths and process their remaining doubts or questions.

  • Establish guidelines for the learning environment. These learners want their freedom and enjoy being responsible for their own learning yet, they want structure.

Style 5: Risk-Taker: The Explorers

Risk-Taker Learners: thrive on learning new skills and information.

To train risk takers, you should:

  • Build a positive attitude toward the subject they are to cover.

  • Acknowledge that there are different ways of knowing and doing, as well as different levels of knowledge or skill.

  • Create a safe learning environment.

  • Use goal-setting methods and contracting methods of these learners.

  • Allow them to use their own materials and resources to learn.

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Name :

Geri McArdle


2350 West First Street #202
Fort Myers, FL 33901






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DR. GERI MCARDLE serves as coordinator for the PhD program in Education and Leadership, with a specialization in Human Resource Development (HRD), at Barry University, Ft. Myers, Florida. She is also a research fellow at the Philosophy of Education Research Center at Harvard University.

Dr. McArdle has been a manager and consultant in the field of human resources for eighteen years . She has written eight books in the area of human resource performance, training, and technology. Dr. McArdle continues to consult with corporations, such as General Electric, Xerox Corporation, Burger King, Citicorp, and the American Red Cross, as well as with U.S. government institutions, such as the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the White House.

T raining & D evelopment magazine, October 1999, voted her one of seven master trainers worldwide. She has been a Seminar Leader with AMA since 1995 and assisted in creating three AMA courses, I nstructional D esign for T rainers , T raining the T rainer , and H ow to D esign a W eb -B ased T raining C ourse , all in the Human Resources and Training Practice.

Geri McArdle has taught these AMA seminars


Training the Trainer


Instructional Design for Trainers


How to Design a Web-Based Training Course

The AMA Trainers Activity Book. A Selection of the Best Learning Exercises from the Worlds Premiere Training Organization
The AMA Trainers Activity Book: A Selection of the Best Learning Exercises from the Worlds Premiere Training Organization
ISBN: 0814408141
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 61

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