Training Games: Enhancing Skill Development


D.V. Ramana Murthy
Senior Faculty,
P.G. Dept of Commerce and Management Studies
The Hindu College
Visiting Faculty,
Department of Business Management
Krishna University
Director and Core Faculty,
Attitude+ve, Behavioral Skills Training Solutions

Dynamics of Learning:

Learning has been described as a relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of insight, practice or experience. Learning may be simply an addition (new information), it may a subtraction (unlearning a bad habit) or it may be a modification (adjusting a new knowledge to old). To facilitate learning, a trainer needs to understand various factors which may influence learning process.

1. The most important factor in learning is motivation to learn.
2. Stimulus response and reinforcement.
3. Feedback or knowledge of results.
4. Participation and practice.
5. Transfer of knowledge.

Training –Learning Technique:

The more a trainer can arrange the learning situation so as to utilize the principles of learning, the more likely the learner is to learn. Thus a training - learning technique will be judged adequate if it;

1. Provides for learners active participation.
2. Provides trainee with knowledge of results about attempts to improve.
3. Promotes by good organization a meaningful integration of learning experiences that the trainee can transfer from training to the job.
4. Provides some means for the trainee to be reinforcing for appropriate behavior.
5. Motivates the trainee to improve his own performance, assists the trainee in his willingness to change.

Management Games:

Most of the trainers/facilitators use various games, structured exercises for improving learning. Training games are now found in all sections of all kinds of education and training. Today trainers and facilitators call all these training activities structured experiences or structured exercises. It is important that the trainer releases, however, that a game is not played because some one else has said, " there should be a game played here".

What is a Training Game?

A game is an exercise where participants are involved in a context with some one else   or a group of people with asset of rules imposed. There will be a well set process in gaming and the facilitator initiates, energizes and evaluates the process and draw necessary leaning points.

When Should Games be Used?

Training exercises may be used at any time during the training as long as they are relevant to the point or have been designed with a specific purpose.

The specific purpose can be to keep the group occupied while waiting for stragglers, and to wake participants up after a lunch break. These purposes are good as long as they are stated.  It is not good when they are used simply to fill - in time or make the facilitator look like a magician.

The training game can also be used as a means of channeling excess energy or to liven up the class. The activity can be a means of improving the learning atmosphere.

So these types of structured exercises, games should be selected and used on the basis of their usefulness for reinforcing the instruction or improving the learning environment and teaching--learning process.

Facilitator's Responsibilities:

Regardless of how good we are as presenters or lecturers, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that our whole presentation alone is going to keep everyone's interest for the whole period. The use of games exercises and other related activities are all applications of the principles of adult learning. The facilitators must ensure that the participants not to become involved in the activity that they actually miss the learning point. It must be realized that the participants have too high a level of enthusiasm for the exercises. They may become bored with normal training.

The facilitators should realize that the people learn better when they are enjoying themselves. So therefore we need to seriously think about creating appropriate learning atmosphere.

We should always select the training method after setting the learning objectives. The method should respond to the participants' need, not to facilitator's.

It is important to practice the exercise at least once before presentation and based on that experience we can modify or even scrap the game entirely. The facilitator has the responsibility for ensuring clarity and precision of information to be given on the game or exercise. The facilitator should keep himself animated and vibrant and should be responsible for aligning the group and keep them moving.  The facilitators should ensure that all the necessary activities in playing the game be clearly executed. If needed, he can take the assistance of observers from among the groups or from outside.

As the game is played live in a training session we must be prepared for different outcomes, every time we use them.

Extra ordinary care should be taken by the facilitator in debriefing and processing of the outcomes of the game. The trainer's experience and expertise counts a lot in this exercise. Debriefing allows the trainer and participants to talk about the outcomes. Probably the most important point in debriefing is that the trainer must be completely honest and open with the participants. This includes not using hidden agendas, not misleading participants, not setting any one up, nit deceiving any of the participants and not using the participant's efforts for his own gain.  

Training games and exercises can be lots of fun for the both trainee and the facilitator. While the people are enjoying themselves in the classroom they generally learning better. So it is up to the facilitator to make a more enjoyable learning atmosphere.

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Source: E-mail February 16, 2011


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