In preparing the training structure and content the facilitators should consider the following:

What they intend to do: goals and objectives
How are they going to do it: content, methods and materials
How will they know if they have succeeded: monitoring and evaluation

For a discussion of goals and objectives click here.

Content is a sequenced list of topics to be covered with an indication of the amount of time to be spent on each.  A parallel list of methods should be developed to be used in covering the content topics.  It is also useful to prepare a parallel list of materials and services that will be required for each topic given the number of participants.  During planning it is useful to set out the contents, methods and materials in parallel rows.

Monitoring and Evaluation determine the extent to which the training was successful in achieving its objectives and goals.  The pattern of monitoring and evaluation may take several forms, either formal or informal; open response or directed questionnaire; during, at the end or some time after the workshop.  The section on components of a training session has more detailed discussion on Evaluation.

General guidelines for planning the structure of the training and the content of the course material:
  • Be specific and address the needs of the participants.  General survey courses are rarely effective in adult learning settings that focus on specific needs of professionals.
  • Do not attempt to evenly divide the time between all topic areas.  Each topic should only be given the amount of time it will take to adequately cover the most important points.  It is advisable to plan materials that are easily comprehendible at the beginning of the class.  After this initial groundwork is laid and the participants have a basic understanding, the facilitator can proceed to more complex materials.  More complex information should be introduced only after the first break.
  • Build in flexibility.  Be prepared to spend more time on some topics if the need develops.  Be aware, however, that this may reduce planned discussion in other areas.
  • Have reserve materials on hand.  Be prepared for unexpected questions and problems.  When answering questions, always be honest in your response. If you don’t know the answer, think of other resources to recommend on the subject in question.
  • Prepare general time guidelines for each session, but remember the need for flexibility.  It can be helpful to put together a plan for the training, which should be displayed in a visible location in the room during the whole training session.  The visibility of the training plan will positively influence the learning process, as it allows the participants to clearly see the objectives of the training session.
  • Prepare succinct, usable written materials.  Course outlines do not need to be long.
  • Use visual support throughout.
  • Build in early participation. Involve the participants as early as possible in the program.  Remember that it can be difficult to sit and listen to a presentation for more than one hour.
  • Consider the team approach to planning course structure.  Some of the best courses involve 2-5 training specialists and facilitators planning a unified, coherent course.

Questions the facilitator should consider before planning the training session include:

  • What do I want to accomplish in this session?
  • What needs to be done with the group in order to reach the desired goal?

Answering these questions will assist the facilitator in putting together the training plan and selecting the appropriate exercises.  While conducting the training and the individual exercises, the facilitator should always remember the main objective of the session, and take opportunities to remind the group as well.


Components of a training course

a)      Introductory Block 

A training workshop can last from a few hours to several days and can consist of one session or many.  Regardless of the length, each training course starts with an Introductory Block, which usually includes the following exercises: Introduction and Acquaintance, Guidelines, and Expectations.

The Introduction and Acquaintance exercises consist of the following:

  • Introduction of the training team;
  • Brief information about the activities of the organization, or about the program or project, within which the training is conducted;
  • Statement of the training topic;
  • Explanation of the specific training methods for the given session (i.e. what is educational training and what are its features);
  • Introduction of participants, acquaintance with one another.

After the Introduction, facilitators should present the training schedule laying out the following: session times, breaks, meals (if planned), etc.

It is advisable to include some additional time in the Introduction exercise to adjust for the participants that are late.  This time could be used to foster the group members' familiarity with each other, and to speak about training objectives and its specifics.

The Introduction and Acquaintance exercise is usually followed by the Guidelines exercise.  This is a proven and effective method for developing an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.  The guidelines are introduced and agreed to by everyone at the beginning of training.  One way of introducing the exercise is when the facilitator proposes a core set of main guidelines and the participants then may supplement it with their own (see information on conducting Guidelines exercise).  Another way is to have the participants brainstorm the guidelines, while the facilitator lists the suggestions and adds his or her own to the list.  The guidelines should then be prominently displayed on a large sheet of paper posted on a wall in the classroom.  They should be visible throughout the training session, so that they may be referred to when necessary.

The Guidelines exercise is followed by the Expectations exercise.

The purpose of the Expectations exercise is to facilitate the learning process during the training course on the basis of existing knowledge.  It is imperative for successful facilitators to know in advance why participants come to this workshop and what knowledge base they have.  The Expectations exercise also defines the objectives of the training course or session and sets the general direction of work for the group.  The mission of the training team is to assist the group in realizing and articulating the expected results they will achieve upon completion of the training program.  Knowing the expected results of the training course helps participants overcome doubts, skepticism or hostility, and keeps participants motivated.  As a result of this exercise, everyone is aware of the objectives of the training course or session and what is expected of them.  The expectations expressed by the participants should assist the training team to modify the training program accordingly.

b)      Problem Identification Block 

The Expectations exercise is followed by the sessions from the Problem Identification Block, which determine the terminology, identify the problem and lead the group into a discussion of the main issues.

c)      Researching the Problem Block 

The Researching the Problem Block includes sessions and exercises devoted to the causes and effects of the main issues (e.g. domestic violence, trafficking, sexual harassment, etc), as well as exercises that aim to challenge the existing myths and stereotypes around the issues.

d)      Addressing the Problem Block  

The next step is the Addressing the Problem Block, which includes sessions and exercises aimed at the development of plans for concrete tasks relevant to the main issue (here: the problem of violence against women).

e)      Closing Exercises 

The culmination of the training process is the Closing Exercises followed by an evaluation – an analysis of the training sessions.

f)        Evaluation  

The final step in any training course is an evaluation of the training.  The training evaluation aims to check the quality of the training process and determine to what extent it was effective.  The training process analysis and evaluation also allows for correcting the content of the session, stimulates the generation of new ideas, and helps establish to what extent the preliminary set of objectives were met.  Evaluation also provides good indicators as to what information gained during the training session will lead the participants to actually alter their practices.  Unfortunately, very often participants know all the right answers to questions posed during a training, but are unable to implement these new practices in their regular work environment. This is why the evaluation and analysis section should address the issue related to changes in practical work habits of training program participants.

The evaluation may be conducted in written form by filling out special questionnaires/forms, or surveying the participants orally.  Written forms usually prove more useful for the purposes of documentation and continuity, in case the training materials were to be used by different facilitators in the future.

The evaluation form usually includes questions regarding relevance and effectiveness of training materials, whether the material covered the professional needs of the participant. It is advisable to include space on the evaluation form for participants to add comments.

Organization of the evaluation form: 

  • Try to group related questions together.  Don't make the participant switch from one subject to another.
  • Questions should be open-ended, allowing for candid responses.
  • It is advisable to provide ample space to answer questions.  However, the evaluation form should not be too long.  Consider whether the form could be completed in the allotted time.
  • Questionnaires/forms do not need to be signed --anonymity promotes honest answers that mirror the true thoughts of training program participants.

| Home | Contact | Feedback | Disclaimer |

Copyright © 2003 Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights.
Permission is granted to use this material for non-commercial purposes. Please use proper attribution.