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5 Ways to Make Practice Sessions Job-Like and Realistic

Posted by Steve Flanagan on 12/23/13 3:00 AM
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A big part of an instructional designer’s job is to make learner practice as realistic and job-like as possible. A simulation can be used to add extra challenge to a practice exercise by introducing real-life standards and conditions. This is especially important when learners are required to meet job standards immediately after training when they return to the job, and when the consequence of error on the job is serious.

Before considering the addition of job-like conditions to a practice exercise, the learner must have had the opportunity to develop the skill first; otherwise, they will be set up for failure.
Here are five ways to make practice sessions simulate real-life job conditions:

1) Time – if task-performance time is measured on the job, then apply the same time standards in the practice exercise during training. For example, if on the job the employee must process an order in 15 minutes, then the same time standard applies in training.

2) Output – if learners need to produce a required output on the job, then have the same standard in training. This means if a machine operator must produce 50 widgets in a shift, ensure that the skill can be performed proficiently in training to meet that standard.

3) Workload – if learners are required to perform multiple tasks and prioritize their workload on the job, introduce a similar exercise in training to assess decision-making skills, as well as task performance.

4) Interference – if there are obstacles or interference while performing the task on the job, then gradually increase the presence of obstacles in the practice sessions in training. This may include performing the task in a confined space, a difficult to access location, or with interference from other people.

5) Weather – if the task is performed outdoors in extreme heat, cold, or wet conditions, gradually have learners perform the task in training under these weather conditions with the appropriate tools and protective equipment.

By adding these five conditions and standards to the instructional design of a practice session, the participant is set up for success. Remember, the basic skill must be mastered before adding these real world elements. If the learner acquires the knowledge and skills to perform the task under job-like conditions in training, then we greatly increase the likelihood they will be successful performing the task on the job.

For additional ways to include learner practice in your training, check out this blog written by my colleague, Linda!

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Steve has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and dreamed of being a pro soccer player. Steve translated his love of soccer and physical performance to the corporate sector and became a trainer. He’s had the pleasure of training within the government, large corporations, and as an independent consultant. Outside of training, Steve’s two biggest passions are his family and guitars, which he collects and plays!

Topics: tips-for-trainers, instructional design

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