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Building a Climate for Learning

  • Make an effort to know your audience, and help participants know you and each other.

    To encourage participants to relax and engage in learning:
    1. Respect and honor participants' beliefs, experiences, attitudes, abilities, and goals. Anticipate their need to connect new learning with what they already know, do, value.
    2. Clearly explain the nature of the learning experience and your expectations: your role, the role of the participants, and the anticipated outcomes. Attend to the expectations of participants, especially when they conflict with yours.
    3. Direct the attention of 'anxious' participants away from themselves by providing plenty of things for them to do, and plenty of opportunities for participants to interact with each other.
    To establish ownership and a sense of self-efficacy:
    1. Allow participants to make choices about what, when, how, and with whom they want to learn whenever possible.
    2. Establish "progress checkpoints" throughout the learning experience -- opportunities for participants to give and receive feedback about their learning, and to make decisions about next steps to take.
    3. Maintain and express your confidence in the learners and in the value of the learning activities, while acknowledging those times when learning activities are especially challenging for learners.
    To maximize opportunities for learning:
    1. Support peer relationships: show participants how they can learn from each other, and provide opportunities for them to do so.
    2. Use a variety of teaching techniques to reach a variety of learning styles.
    3. Model learning: don't be defensive about your mistakes, rather, demonstrate your own ability to learn from the experience.
    4. Keep the focus on LEARNING. The personalities of participants, and their current levels of knowledge and performance, are secondary to their characteristics as learners and their commitment to learning.

  • Establish a structure for the learning experience, and your presence as learning facilitator - then, LET GO!!!

  • Prepared by: Susan Wilcox, Instructional Development Centre, Queen's University

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    Last updated June 24, 1997

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