Accelerate time to proficiency for high-stakes training.
By Dr. Tina Rooks, Vice President and Chief Instructional Officer, Turning Technologies
“High stakes” applies to a number of training topics/profession. However, for the sake of this article, “high stakes” references trainings that require 100 percent mastery or subsequent performance could result in severe negative consequences such as bodily harm or loss of life.
John Demand, a former police officer, teaches officers critical thinking and reflexive observational skills. John’s “Shoot or Don’t Shoot” training focuses on split-second decisions during situations that may require the use of force. According to John, “It’s essential that potentially lifesaving information is clearly understood and that officers pay attention.” Looking for methods to assure training effectiveness, John found that an audience response system [ARS] was an easy-to-use solution that training participants quickly embraced.
Audience response technology is straightforward and simple, digitalizing learner data both immediately in the training environment and aggregated over time. The core functionality allows instructors to pose an interactive question to the learners, learners press the button on their wireless ResponseCard keypad that matches their choice, and then results from the entire group display on a graph. Although anonymously polling is an option, in a high-stakes training scenario, each ResponseCard has a unique identifier registered to the participant, so facilitators can correlate and store individual responses, as well as create reports ranging from attendance, item analysis, benchmarks, whole group evaluation, and individualized participant performance. The use of audience response solutions for high-stakes training has grown rapidly in professions such as the military, construction, aviation, medicine, law enforcement, fire departments, and other sectors that involve risk.
ARS enables John to simulate shoot or don’t shoot situations using embedded images, while the clickers act as simulated weapons by trainees pressing designated buttons to choose “shoot” or “don’t shoot” options. The engagement, immediate feedback, and data collection capabilities of ARS foster a participatory training that allows John to confirm individual mastery of content that may mean the difference between life and death. He found ARS to be adaptable to any topic and to accelerate the time to proficiency due to the technology’s ability to manage participant data efficiently, reliably evaluate comprehension, and facilitate research-grounded training methodologies.
Audience response systems inherently are data collection solutions that digitally collect participants’ answer choices, immediately display results, and track learning outcomes. Unlike raising hands, ARS provides a layer of anonymity, encouraging participation by every learner. Unlike paper and pencil, “in-the-now” response data allows instructors to re-teach immediately. In addition, the automation of the assessment for learning process provides significant time savings.
To track individual progress in a high-stakes learning environment, each response device must tie to a specific participant ID. Adding demographic data to the participant ID enables the instructor to track specific groups. John tags participant data with years of experience and compares performance of first-year officers to five- or 10-year veterans.
ARS also can integrate with learning management systems (LMSs), maximizing both technologies to track learners’ mastery over multiple training deliveries. The effortless data transfer from the ARS to the LMS is ideal for managing auditable results.
Unlike ARS use in compulsory trainings as an engagement tool, trainers also leverage the technology to practice research-proven instructional methods and provide an efficient process for real-time measurement of learning outcomes. Few technologies can transform high-stakes training by both positively impacting the instructional strategies and confirming mastery of skills acquisitions. However, response technology requires participation and instantly provides the data to determine whether to review concepts again or move to new subject matter. Because trainees use the knowledge gained to make life-altering decisions that generally allow for little “think time,” it is critical that instructors gauge comprehension of training material in the moment.
The “every question, every learner, every training” aspect of ARS also allows instructors to practice evaluation methods that are otherwise time-consuming to create, deliver, and analyze. Instructors can consistently assess for learning, provide immediate feedback, and adjust the instructional path. ARS supports these methodologies with speed and accuracy through its ability to tag questions with learning objectives, chart real-time data, and store collected data for auditable reporting. These tactics increase both the safety and effectiveness of high-stakes career trainees. The continual evaluation, active involvement in the learning process, and immediate feedback abilities support the rapid questioning model and the positive reinforcement of correct responses, as well.
Training and educational environments have used ARS for more than 15 years, and research supports ARS as a means to implement proven instructional strategies and consistently validates the technology’s ability to accelerate and positively influence learning outcomes. The strategies most often enhanced using ARS include peer instruction, motivation, and spacing effect.
Peer Instruction: Learners are asked a question and formulate their own answers; they then discuss their answers in groups attempting to reach consensus. This process encourages learners to think through the arguments they develop and enables them (as well as the instructor) to assess their understanding before they leave the training.
Motivation: There are four steps to promote and sustain motivation in the learning process: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction (ARCS). A learner’s attention has to be aroused and sustained; there must be relevance of what is being learned, confidence built, and a correlation between effort and results. ARS has the ability to increase both attention and confidence.
Spacing Effect: This is grounded in the research that proves learners easily remember or learn items studied a few times over a long period of time. ARS easily enables spacing of question items throughout the training offerings.
Response systems aggressively and purposefully enhance learning and relearning in various training environments, including training rooms, field training, virtual/simulations training, and online learning management systems. The ability of response systems to manage, evaluate, and implement researched instructional strategies has produced inspiring results and has been the impetus for its rapid growth in high-stakes training. Through modified teaching methods and an efficient process for real-time measurement of learning outcomes, ARS solutions provide results in high-stakes training environments that increase both the safety and effectiveness of those who have chosen high-risk careers.
Dr. Tina Rooks is the vice president and chief instructional officer at Turning Technologies, which develops interactive response systems. She has been a key member of Turning’s senior management team since 2008 as its lead educational consultant. Dr. Rooks has more than 10 years of experience implementing interactive educational technologies to enhance and improve instruction in various environments. For more information, visit www.TurningTechnologies.com.