As trainers we know that at the end of a session their should be time allocated for summing things up. This usually involves:
- Restating learning outcomes
- Providing (and hopefully also asking for) feedback
- Linking to what happens next
Depending on how strapped for time you end up being this may be 5-15 minutes of the session (although I have seen this done in under 60 seconds when time has escaped some trainers!)
When we invest so much time and effort into creating an engaging and effective session at the introduction and the middle, why don’t we invest just as much at the end? Is there no further learning gain to be had here???
How about tweaking the summary of learning at the end, based on the following Information Processing Approach to thinking and learning:
The ability for a learner to share what the session has covered (as opposed to the trainer reading off a list of outcomes) shows how learners have understood information. You can help this happen at 3 levels:
“We covered basic anatomy of the respiratory system”
Recall is pre-requisite to understanding, but it doesn’t really demonstrate it. It is just a memory. If you ask learners to share what you have covered in the session, it is likely you will get a list of topics or outcomes. Not high order thinking, but at least if they share it instead of you it’s making them think back and strengthen links to what was covered.
Verdict: Better than nothing, good option for when you left just 60 seconds to sum things up.
“The airway includes the nose, mouth, trachea, lungs and some muscles. It all works together to take in oxygen and get rid of CO2”
Asking learners to summarise activities in their own words moves beyond recall and demonstrates comprehension. This is great for you as a trainer – you can check and make sure everyone is on the right page. There are a bunch of different yet quick activities you can use to end a session that will achieve this and all of them can guarantee participation of every learner. Tweak your session and try including something like:
- Pass the ball – Have everyone stand up and throw a ball (or whatever) around the group. Each person summarises one thing learnt during the session. If done successfully they can sit down. No repeating ideas! Increase challenge level by asking them to share things it in order from the start of the session.
- Rally robin – in small groups everyone takes turns to verbally summarise what was learnt during the session. Alternatively take the team rally robin approach – ask each group to take turns summarise something learnt in order. They can talk among themselves to come up with the answer.
- Writing relay race – have teams line up with one pen and piece of paper. Each person runs to the paper, adds their summary point before racing back to hand the pen over to the next person. No repeats count. Compare summary lists of teams at end to see who has summarised points from session – either most number or most accurately
Verdict: Takes more time but worth it as uses higher level thinking skills. Good way to end session with high energy. Can include writing or be just verbal depending on group and available time.
Symbolising is to represent experience usually in non verbal ways. It requires learners to really think about and interpret what was covered. Activities that you can tweak your session to include as a summary includes:
- Team mind map – Have everyone work in groups. Grab a texta and help summarise all the big ideas covered during the session using just pictures. People can add to other people’s drawings to show more detail as they recall it. If you want to break it down a bit more, pair it up with a recall summary – once the key parts of the session have been stated, divide up the topics so each group focuses on a different part.
- Hashtag generator– admittedly it uses words not pictures, but having to come up with a word or phrase that shares the concept is still symbolisation in a more modern social media form… and results can be quite hilarious! Depending on your organization’s social media set up and policies, groups can always take a photo and caption it to visually represent a key concept covered at training. You can then also add a common tag for the group/course.
Verdict: Definitely not a 60 second strategy. It does produce some hard copy results you can review and evaluate later. High engagement, potential for some laughs and fun. Plan your session timing accordingly and check out any policies that may effect what you can/can’t do.