In an earlier blog we discussed what are the Instructor Competencies for face-to-face, online and blended settings. In this blog, we’ll identify the uses of instructor competencies in terms of how they can improve instruction and enhance learning and performance.
Individual instructors are the primary audience for these competencies given that learning and development practitioners want to improve their performance. This can be a relatively informal process such as using reflection questions with Competency 1: Communicate effectively: “Am I using active listening skills according to context?” or “Am I using language that is appropriate for the audience, context and culture?” The latter question is critical in an environment that is diverse and multicultural, which is increasingly important today, due to globalization and diversity.
An instructor who embraces the notion of continuous self-improvement will seek answers to these questions. By asking these questions, instructors will improve their performance as a reflective and professional practitioner…and not fall into the age-old trap of doing things as they always have…. which may be ineffective.
Learning and Development Managers:
Managers of the L&D function serve an organization by being advocates for learning, development and improved performance. Part of this responsibility is the creation and support of a continuous learning environment for their instructional staff, which includes professional development. L&D Managers need to observe and coach their instructors. Using the competencies helps them to better understand what their instructors should be doing and which knowledge, skills and abilities are being exhibited successfully, and which areas need improvement. The L&D Manager also needs to use reflective questions, such as: “How might my instructor expand their knowledge and application of adult learning principles?” or “Are instructors aware of ethical or legal implications of their practices?” These types of questions can lead to the development of a series of professional development workshops that are based on these competencies.
Instructional designers are responsible for designing and developing instructional programs based on the performance and business needs of the organization. An essential instructional design skill is the ability to develop materials that support proposed instructional delivery methods and strategies. An instructional designer must be able to identify the specific knowledge, skills, and attitude required for successful implementation of the lesson modules they are designing. In other words, will instructional staff be able to carry out and support the lesson. By using the instructor competencies, the instructional designer may be able to build- in more effective instructor guidelines as part of their design strategy. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy of FKA’s Instructional Designer Competencies.
Evaluation is essential for improvement and to improve the performance of instructors, it is necessary to evaluate their performance. The instructor competencies provide a generic and widely applicable foundation for instructor evaluation. An instructor evaluation form might have an item constructed from relevant competencies and associated performance statements. One such item might be the following: “The instructor provided opportunities for reflection and review.” (1. Strongly agree; 2. Agree; 3. Neutral; 4. Disagree; 5. Strongly disagree).” Again, using the instructor competencies as the basis for evaluation, the L&D Manager can plan a meaningful development program constructed on the basis of recognized requirements and deficiencies.
Most HR organizations use some form of competency model to select and recruit employees. When selecting candidates to fill instructor positions, both HR and the hiring L&D Manager can use the instructor competencies to determine if a candidate is a competent instructor and to formulate questions for the interview. For example: “Given the topic of this instructional unit and its location within a training program, what might you do to establish relevance and increase learner motivation?”
Becoming a Learning Organization
Organizations have long sought means and mechanisms to support continuous improvement. ATD’s td Journal and Lakewood Media Group’s TRAINING Magazine have often referred to Peter Senge’s work on Becoming a Learning Organization, which supports the concept that in the modern, global, information-age economy, organizations must become flexible, agile, and knowledge-driven units in order to enjoy continued success. This commitment to “Becoming a Learning Organization” often involves the use of technology to store and reuse instructional resources, as described in the instructor competencies. Additionally, a genuine learning organization makes effective use of on-the-job training (OJT). In too many cases there is no special training or preparation provided for key individuals who become responsible for OJT. The instructor competencies can be used to ensure that critical OJT efforts are effective and efficient. OJT trainers might be selected based on their aptitude for instruction as determined by self-assessing against the instructor competencies.
A principle use for the instructor competencies is for the development of an effective train-the-trainer curriculum and certification. As a trusted partner and vendor to major organizations, all of FKA’s delivery programs are based on these instructor competencies and can be customized to integrate specific content, strategies, tools and technologies in use in a particular organization and environment.
For more information on the instructor competencies or a more detailed description of FKA’s Train-the-Trainer curriculum and certification, go to www.fka.com.