The Impact of the Diversity of Learners and Different Methodologies

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Everything is impacted by its environment. In the internal environment a supportive ethos within the organisation or space is a factor. This could include an inclusive and encouraging ethos promoted by the organization, school or group organising the training. For example, delivering diversity training to a private company would be impacted by the origin of the request for training. If it is compulsory for employees to attend and came from the top- down this could create a resistance to training due to motivational factors. If the diversity training has been requested as a response to an issue, this could create a tension in the training. The external political environment can also impact on the training. As discussed above in the theoretical section, self-direction and motivation is the key to effective training. If a learner is self motivated and has a positive attitude to engage and learn this will ensure a more effective outcome for the learner.

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We can examine the external learning environment by using a PESTLE analysis. Political, economic, social/cultural, technological, legal and environmental. Continuing with example of delivering diversity training to a private company, the political context might be impacted on who is funding the training, for example, if this is a government initiative or a legislative requirement it may negatively impact on the reception for the training. If a company is not performing or the cultural context is not supportive of diversity it could result in less engagement from learners.

The Trainer

The trainer impacts on the effectiveness in a multitude of ways. The awareness and effectiveness of the trainer can inform design of programmes and outcomes. For example, awareness of different learning styles that exist and the importance of incorporating all for different learners will ensure a variety of learning methodologies will be used. The trainer also must understand their own teaching style. An open mind and capacity of the trainer in their role is vital for a learner to engage and learn. The trainer has to identify and address any barriers that may occur. In the context of diversity training the trainer might face barriers such as fear, hostility and cultural barriers. To address these, the trainer must first know their audience. This can assist in designing the training and ensure needs are met. This information can be gathered through a diversity attitudes and behaviour survey or training needs assessment before the training. Respect is key both between learners and between learners and the trainer. The trainer must set clear learning outcomes and expectations of the learner. This can be facilitated by setting common goals and taking to time to develop trust and a rapport by using first names and creating a space for open questions. It has been shown by (Madera, King and Hebl, 2012) that goal setting by learners is useful in diversity training for example, a learner wanting to address a colleague speaking negatively about a minority group. If the learner receives the right information on how to address and achieve this goal it can be very effective.

As is the nature of diversity many learners will have questions on culture. By agreeing that questions must be respectful and by the trainer facilitating respectful questions it can create an effective space for learner development. This requires the trainer to know their topics, to be aware of both their own unconscious bias and others and to notice if learners are uncomfortable or excluded. The trainer must be open minded and flexible to manage the group development and their own development in the training. A good trainer can use self reflection through journaling or other methods to learn from their experiences.

The presence of the trainer should be comfortable in group development stages as will be discussed further in the paper. It is important for the trainer to use a variety of methods to engage the learners be it through practical methods such as videos, icebreakers, group activities and also by using humour and interesting content.

Learning Methodologies

In diversity training, role play and cultural empathy exercises are useful to engage the learners and move them into a process of learning by doing. However, it is important to recognise not all learners will benefit from this so variety is core to effective training. According to Kolbs learning styles which recognise the accommodator, assimilator, converger and divergers we must incorporate variety. Some learners are more abstract than concrete and vice versa. According to Kolb (1981) accommodators should be offered concrete experience (CE) which could involve group works, role play games and observation. Assimilators like abstract conceptualization and reflection so this could involve lectures or handouts that they can reflect on. This could be on statistics or legislation or personal discrimination stories etc. Summary of the class at the end can give them clear outcomes and learnings. Videos are also useful here. Convergers prefer abstract conceptualization and active experimentation which can be facilitated by small group discussions and scenario questions. Divergers like reflection and concrete experience so this could be a lecture on social policy analysis or brainstorming around integration and discrimination and rhetorical questions.

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