by Kristen Ferguson
Senior Program Manager, IREC Credentialing Program

Recently, I somewhat cavalierly confessed that I didn’t always recognize the need to improve as a trainer. I was at the Weatherization Training Network Trainer’s Consortium where IREC was invited to talk about instructional design.

Did I really believe I couldn’t learn new things?

Latin proverb

As they say, everything comes to you at the right moment. And for me, this right moment was all about releasing some entrenched patterns of teaching. Here are five new things I’ve learned that are shaping my teaching now:

  • Assess each student individually to gather information that will help improve instruction, and, more importantly, empower students with tools for success. Group exercises are great for concept building and practice, but individual assessment reveals what each has learned.
  • Determine what students have masteredand what they haven’t. A national certification exam can’t provide the right kind of data to change delivery methods. However, in-class written and hands-on tests, when correctly developed, administered and scored, can.
  1. Evaluate students on concepts that have a high chance of error, particularly if that error has a high consequence.
  1. Identify competencies students should master, and capture each competency in a clearly written learning objective.
  1. Use specific and measurable learning objectives. Good examples of measurable verbs: list, demonstrate, analyze, design, and interpret. Unsatisfactory examples: be aware of, understand, increase knowledge.

An on-line search of ‘learning objectives’ reveals a consistent definition, detailed explanations, and lists of action verbs at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Or visit the IREC website for the best practices series on developing a quality clean energy program. This is an excellent resource for any educator, regardless of discipline.

If you’re already doing these things, then write clear learning objectives and assess them. Share your experiences and knowledge with others. The Trainer’s Consortium for the Weatherization Training Center network (WTC) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) are two excellent sources for trainers to keep current on technology and pedagogy skills. Training the next generation clean energy workforce begins with you.

It’s not hard to improve your instruction as long as you’re willing to change. What are you doing in your classroom?

Image: Copyright: yuriz / 123RF Stock Photo