Do You Know Your Audience’s Learning Preferences? Tips for Better Instructional Design

Trainers tend to choose training models that focus on the content that they need to be addressed. However, they also need to know how their target audience learns the best. Learning preferences is the missing link in almost every instructional design model. There are also ways that trainers can design their sessions to create a better learning environment.

Tips for Better Instructional Design

Before trainers design their training sessions, they should determine what participants actually need to learn. According to Bob Pike, rather than waste time covering material that the audience already knows, trainers should do the groundwork to learn where the critical learning needs are so they can keep their session focused and engaging.

Trainers should make sure they design training that communicates a specific outcome for participants. Learners should be able to understand how gaining new skills or knowledge is tied to their own job success and career path. When audiences can see the training’s benefits, they are more likely to stay interested and motivated to finish it.

Pike has revealed that the foundational principle of the instructor-led, participant-centered training approach is “90-20-10.” This is the key to maximizing learner engagement, and the goal is to keep the total course length under 90 minutes, changing pace every 20 minutes, and promoting participant interaction every 10 minutes.

Trainers should think about their audience and objectives to determine what kind of sequence they should deliver content in to best enhance learning. Also, a tiered content approach works for many audiences. The tiered approach is a hierarchical triangle:

  • Tier 1 – High-level audio-visual information should be up top. This is where learners get an overview of the topic and learn the basics.
  • Tier 2 – More text-based “meat and potatoes” content is second. This includes detailed strategies, instructions, helpful tips, and more.
  • Tier 3 – Interaction happens last. Trainers should encourage participation through quizzes, games, or the application of new skills. Hands-on engagement has been proven to improve retention and learning outcomes.

Instructional Design is an ongoing and ever-changing process. Even when trainers find a successful session format, they should still keep looking for ways to improve engagement, retention, and on-the-job results.

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