The purpose of my training session was to equip delegates with the right skills and knowledge to understand the changes auto-enrolment brings and what they need to communicate to their employees. Prior to my training session I emailed the learners to gage their existing knowledge on auto enrolment. There was a mix in responses with a couple of people saying their knowledge was around 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, a few sitting on the fence who have an awareness of auto enrolment but did not know all the legalities, and a couple who’s companies had already gone through the process. From this feedback I decided to cover the basics of the auto enrolment process, as trying to aim my training session at those with an existing knowledge would therefore make it confusing and above those with less knowledge. My view is that even if you know what you’re doing, it never hurts to go back over the basics to ensure you’ve not missed anything so that was what I aimed to do with my training session.
The principles of adult learning include getting the learners involved in the planning and evaluation of the training and making sure they understand the reason for learning something. I feel these principles were reflected in my training session by communicating with them prior to the session to gage their knowledge; this meant they knew what to expect and by giving their feedback it helped to mould what level the session would be aimed at.
The main resource available for the session was the whiteboard. I used this as the foundation of my training session by creating a PowerPoint presentation to use as a visual aid and form the basis of the session.
I used both forms of assessment methods within my session; for a formative assessment I created a quiz on the categories of employees. I went through the theory and the facts first then tested what they had understood by putting the theory into practice. By the end of the quiz all learners were getting the questions right and ensured me they had a clear understanding on the different categories. As a summative assessment I asked them to what extent they thought the training session had given them a better understanding of the pension changes on my feedback form. Comparing this to their knowledge rating from my email prior to the session, I can evaluate that everyone has benefited from the session as scores were either 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5.
Structure and sequence
Trying to cover the basics of auto enrolment in 30 minutes was certainly a challenge, so I tried to structure my activities to ensure we moved through the various activities quickly whilst ensuring they were still all effective. Firstly I welcomed the group and created rapport (by tempting them with chocolate!), then spent a couple of minutes explaining the learning outcomes of the session. The first part of my teaching was to explain the four different categories as this is the foundation of auto enrolment. I covered the theory first with the PowerPoint acting as a visual aid then put the knowledge learnt into practice. I firmly believe Confucius was correct when he said ‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember and I do and I understand’. My learners heard the theory, they saw the different categories on the chart and could probably remember the names, but when I tested their knowledge in the game it was the ‘doing’ that ensured they remembered the different categories.
Individual and Environmental Factors
When planning my training session a factor that influenced it was my own knowledge of auto enrolment. Like others I taught, I had already gone through the process at work so had learnt the basic principles, however at my workplace we split the process out to make it easier. My role at work was the communication side, whilst the payroll manager was responsible for making sure all eligible employees were enrolled. In case my learners asked questions I did more research into auto enrolment to ensure that I had sound knowledge. To create the legal requirements in communications I also researched other company’s communications to get a feel of ‘best practice’. By doing this I ensured I was confident in what I was teaching and was not afraid to allow questions from learners.
Another individual factor was to adapt my teaching style to suit adult learners. Training does not fall within my remit at work, and the only experience I have of leading sessions is through Girls’ Brigade. Whilst I have attended many training sessions these have all covered the methods of engaging children rather than adults. My initial thought for my training session was to create a ‘corner’s game’ for learning about the categories of employees and getting people up moving around the room. However I tried to put myself in my learner’s shoes and think what I would feel comfortable doing, and instead realised that running around the room and standing in the right corner is what children prefer doing. Therefore I adapted my game to be done with flashcards to ensure there was still an element of fun in my training session but I wasn’t making anyone feel uncomfortable.
An external factor that influenced my session was the time limit. This affected all my preparation and planning as I was constantly thinking of ways to make things shorter so I could ensure I covered everything thoroughly. Had I had more time to play with I could have covered the basics in much more details but instead I decided to try and wet the appetite of the learners, then give them instructions of where to find out more. The layout of the room could have been changed (with some difficulty) but prior to the session I decided that leaving it in the horseshoe layout was the best option. This ensured everyone had a good view of the PowerPoint and during the quiz I was able to quickly glance around the group to ensure everyone had the correct answer. This was also another factor of why I decided to change the quiz to flashcards from the corners as the tables would have proved difficult to move to ensure there was enough room for everyone to move around safely.
Positive learning environment
In my training session I ensured I created a positive learning environment by creating rapport with the learners at the beginning of the session. I feel this is the key to a good training session as unless you’ve established a relationship with the trainer, learners are unlikely to speak up when they do not understand something or if there’s an issue. Another way of ensuring there was a positive atmosphere was making sure I had thought over the principles of adult learning before deciding on the elements of my session, as had these been aimed at children instead of adults I could have easily made my learners feel uncomfortable and therefore not engaged in the training session.
Feedback from learners
All of the feedback I received from my learners was positive. As mentioned previously, all of them said they had a better understanding of the pension changes because of my training session. There was mixed responses from the question ‘how likely are you to apply the knowledge learnt today in your workplace’, but those who have scored lower on this question left a comment explaining that it’s because it doesn’t fall within their remit at work. When asked ‘what was the part of the training they enjoyed the most’, all of the learners said either the quiz or the legal requirements.
These were the two learner activities in my training session which shows that the activities that got the learners doing something practical was the best way of learning. When asked for improvements to the session, the only comments I received were ‘more time’ and ‘the handout at the beginning would have been useful – but I understand why this was not done’. As I had included the quiz answers on the presentation I made the decision to not give the handout until the hand, otherwise it would not have been as effective. On reflection, I could have omitted those slides from the handout so they could have had it from the beginning to make notes from if they wished.
Effectiveness of the activity
My own perception of the training session was that it was a good mix of activities and tutor input. My past experience is that just listening to a trainer for 30 minutes is ineffective as after around 10 minutes most adults switch off, especially if it is something they are not 100% interested in. I put this into practice in my session as I know myself that auto enrolment is not the most interesting subject, so had I stood and talked to the learners for 30 minutes most of them would have been asleep! However, by asking for participation – and warning them about that up front – meant that they stayed engaged throughout the session.
Recommendations for the future
Were I to use this training session again in the future I would extend it to an hours session to allow more time for questions and answers and to expand more on key points. Although I felt I covered the basics in a short space of time quite well, I could have emphasised more on the ‘anomalies’, like temporary and zero hour contract employees. I quickly glossed over the subject but would have liked to spend the time discussing it in more depth with the learners. As mentioned earlier, my other change would be to adapt the handout so it was suitable to give out at the beginning of the session. This would allow the learners to have something to make notes on and move through at their own pace. As they make their own notes, it does often open the time up for more questions from learners meaning you can meet their needs more thoroughly.