This learner guide is designed as an introduction to the skills required to plan and deliver a series of training or instructional sessions. At the conclusion of reading this resource and attending the appropriate training students should be able to:

• identify training requirements

• develop outlines of training sessions

• plan training sessions

• develop training materials

• deliver training sessions

• review training sessions.

The trainer will gain the knowledge of how to communicate with different groups with different delivery styles while emphasizing the appropriate message. It is important to establish a clear pathway of communication between the trainer and learner, so trainers can tailor their information and learners may maximize their learning experience. The initial relationship starts with planning, organizing and finally welcoming your participants


As a kayak instructor there are a variety of learning outcomes you will wish to achieve and each requires its own specific method. Examples of the variety of different skill and knowledge levels you can be required to impart include:

• providing novices with a fun and splash session • guiding novices on a flat water trip

• guiding novices down Grade 2–3 rapids

• guiding novices on a sea expedition

• instructing Duke of Edinburgh students on a flat water program they wish to undertake

• training whitewater guides

• training advanced sea instructors

There are also different individual learning types and styles, therefore, there area myriad of pathways to achieving learning outcomes. There is no ‘perfect’ teaching model, and although there may be some more popular methods, they may not cover all learning categories.

Example of learning types:

Kinaesthetic: practical or hands on learning experience. The skill is learnt through practice and the ‘feel’ of the action. The best type of teaching is repetition of the skill in a realistic setting, such as out on the water or with a paddle in their hands

Auditory: learning through listening as the skill is spelt out. This is usually in the form of lectures and the person can build an understanding through thorough information of all the surrounding principles and mechanisms controlling the skill.

Visual: is to replicate what is demonstrated. This should be accompanied with a verbal representation of what is happening. The student learns by seeing the complete picture then it is broken into smaller components. The skill should be repeated numerous times to give the student a picture they can repeat.


As an instructor your students will attend with a range of different desired outcomes. It is important that you establish their needs in the early planning stages so that the program can be correctly tailored. The ability to structure a program to satisfy a range of needs is an important skill.

When identifying training needs:

• Establish the need and reasons for training. Is it a requirement for a qualification, or a desire to achieve a personal goal or a need for training to avoid further injury?

• Confirm the required outcomes (competencies) in knowledge and skills

• Identify the current skills and knowledge of the learners

• Identify the training requirements from the gap between the required outcomes and the current competencies of the learners.


It is important to find out what the learner already knows and often more importantly what they don’t know or what incorrect knowledge they possess.

Training should be pitched at an appropriate level to both the learning abilities and current skills and knowledge. The focus of the training should be on the skills and knowledge that the learners do not have. These skills and knowledge are what the learner will expect to gain during the training.


The training outcomes for any program should be very clear descriptions of the skills and knowledge that you will be helping your learners to gain during their training sessions with you. A training program may have a single training outcome, or the training outcome may be the result of a sequential attainment of aims.

Examples of training outcomes:

Interpreting weather information

Applies knowledge of weather forecasts to determine if weather conditions are likely to be suitable for a proposed trip.

Paddles effectively on Grade 3

water Makes suitable selections of clothing for a paddling trip. Describes how to negotiate a safe route through a rapid. Selects a suitable kayak after consideration of a range of design features.

The training outcomes must be measurable, so it is important when setting them to think about how they will be measured, or the learners assessed.

Before being assessed, the trainer should check and monitor the learners to see if they have achieved the competency, and if they are ready for assessment. The way in which training outcomes are written can help to decide the checking and assessment methods.

Once the outcomes are clearly defined we can then focus on developing the training program that achieves those outcomes.

For our example of weather interpretation above we could structure the program so that the students:

• have a classroom based lesson on reading weather charts and forecasts

• have a series of practical exercises where each morning the students gather the weather and predict its outcome for their daily activity

• at the end of a week or so have a review lesson where the students compare their forecasts, interpretation and observations


The type of activities and tasks chosen should meet the characteristics of the learners. Characteristics to consider include:

• language and literacy needs

• cultural and language background

• gender

• age

• physical ability

• level of experience

• level of confidence.


When training people in practical outdoor activities, gender, age and level of confidence can be very significant factors to consider when determining the type of training activities.

Gender: Female learners may prefer to be grouped together when practising paddling skills in small groups within a mixed gender learner group. Male learners may need to be presented with more challenging practical activities earlier than female learners, who may prefer a more steady increase in the degree of difficulty.

Age: Adult learners tend to be more analytical and slower to pick up practical skills in unfamiliar activities. More technical explanations may need to be provided, and more practice time allowed. Children may respond better to learning through games.

Activities that will assist in raising levels of confidence may be important for some learners.

VENUE Training venues should be carefully considered and can include:

• appropriate outdoor locations

• simulated settings

• in a workplace

• in indoor venues.

Appropriate, safe outdoor venues should be selected to match the requirements of the training outcomes. For the teaching of skills in whitewater and sea it is better (but not always possible) to use venues where the environmental factors (water flow, rapid grade, surf size, swell size, wind strength) can be gradually increased as the level of participant skills increase. Indoor venues should offer access to all teaching aids needed and provide a pleasant learning environment.


Once we have a clear picture of the desired outcomes, the training program, the learners and the venue, we need to establish what equipment and resources we need to deliver the program. By nature of the activity the majority of paddling training takes place on or beside the water. This places the kayak instructor in a very different situation to classroom teachers. Consideration needs to be given to the following: • will I have access to power, shelter, whiteboards, etc

• will it be wind and or rain affected

• will the sun effect my visual presentations

• can it handle wetness?

• can it float?

• do the students need chairs, tables, clipboards for writing, etc.

• when should I hand out notes so they don’t get wet, damaged, lost, blown away or simply not read?

Even in 2008 the Chinese proverb ‘even the weakest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory’ is still correct

Support may be needed for learners with special needs, including additional personnel to assist learners or to help conduct sessions.

Correct instructor to learner ratios should be observed according to requirements during practical sessions. All mandatory personal and safety equipment should be organised and used. Remember that section of training that include rapids or surf can lead to a 1:1 supervision ratio. What are the other students doing? Who is supervising them?


Session plans are critical to achieving outcomes. The trainer should know what they wish to achieve and the path they are going to take the learners to achieve this outcome. Simply having a session plan written down or even a clear list of objectives is useless unless the trainer works toward achieving those objectives:

• ensure the structure works in a sequential way

• ensure all topics are covered

• give the trainer a clear idea of how the session will be structured

• have clear timing guidelines.

Review each training session for future refinement.

Effective session plans:

• describe the learning outcomes clearly

– for complex skills such as rolling, have the ‘sub outcomes’ clearly defined

• are easy to understand

• are quick to refer to during the training session.

For on water sessions laminated or plastic cards may be required to help the trainer when they are delivering the session plans.

Each training session can be split into three main parts:

• the introduction

• the body or middle

• the conclusion.


In the introduction, or beginning of a session, the trainer is trying to focus or engage the learners interest by:

• describing the topic and its main points

• revising what is already known

• outlining the plan for the session

• describing the new things they are going to learn

• encouraging them to think positively about what is coming

• describing the relevance to their desired outcomes.

It is very important to get the attention of the learners right at the start. Learners who switch off their attention at the start of a session may decide that they do not want to be fully engaged in the session at all. If the introduction doesn’t raise their interest, the rest of the session may as well not take place.

The letters of the word GLOSS describe the things to include in an introduction. They can be used as a reminder of what should be included in an introduction:

G: grab their attention

L: link the new things in this session with something they already know about

O: outcomes: tell the learners what will be happening in the session

S: structure: tell the trainees what will be happening in the session

S: stimulation: encourage and motivate the trainees to be involved.


The trainer is beginning a practical session on deep water rescue:

“Who has ever fallen out of their kayak? Was it fun? Was it cold? Did you want to get out of the water as quickly as you could?

“Well, today I’m going to show you three ways to get yourself, and other people, out of the water and back in the boat as quickly and safely as possible.

“Yesterday, when you were practicing capsize drills in the pool, I asked you to do something with your boat and paddle. Do you remember what it was? That’s right. Hang onto them and leave the boat upside down.

“That’s going to be really important today, because if you want to complete a full rescue and get back into your boat ready to paddle as quickly as possible, you need to do this. And we don’t want your gear drifting off down the river

“The rescue techniques we’re going to look at today are X rescues, deck carries and towing rescues. Each of these rescue techniques is best suited to different situations, so as I describe each technique we’ll discuss when and where to apply it.

“I’ll start with demonstrating and explaining X rescues, then give you time to practice in pairs. Each person will need to practice the rescue as both the rescuer and the swimmer. Then we’ll do the same with deck carries and then towing rescues. This session will involve you being in the water for several short periods of time, so make sure you dress warmly.

“Just for fun, we’ll finish with a special rescue challenge to see just how efficiently you can rescue each other. The first team to finish gets the warm drinks first.” 


The trainer uses the conclusion to:

• remind the learners of the training outcomes they have covered in the session

• give the learners some constructive feedback on their overall performance during the session

• tell the learners where they can go from here.

These three aspects give learners a useful summary of the key points from the session and help them to remember these points. It also helps to make them feel confident about their progress. Questioning can be used to reinforce the key points of the session. The letters of the word OFF can describe these three aspects of a conclusion. They can be used as a reminder of what should be included in a conclusion:

O: outcomes

F: feedback

F: future


“Today you have performed X rescues, deck carries and towing rescues. We’ve discussed where and when to apply these rescues. What is the most important thing that each of you have learnt today?

“Remember these priorities in checking for hazards in any rescue situation: yourself, others in the group, then the swimmer. If there is more than one swimmer, try rescuing the swimmer in the most hazardous situation first. Try to keep any rescue situation a stable as possible.

“As you have seen from today, efficient rescues can make swimming a much less traumatic experience, and knowing how, when and where to apply them is really essential knowledge for any paddler.

“All of you have performed these rescues as both rescuers and swimmers extremely well. Everyone managed to meet the X rescue challenge and complete their rescues in under one minute which is fantastic. Now you can apply these rescues when you are paddling.

“If you want to further develop your rescue skills, there is a river rescue course that deals with more difficult rescue situations. As your paddling skills increase it is a good idea to keep your rescue skills in line with the type of water that you are paddling.

“Well done. Excellent rescuing today!”


The structure of the body of a session varies greatly according to the type of session that will be delivered, particularly if it is a theory or practical session.

Practical sessions have training outcomes that involve doing things such as paddling, rolling, surfing, packing, setting up.

Theory sessions have training outcomes more related to thinking such as explaining, describing, discussing.

Many sessions involve both a practical and theory component, but will usually include more of one of these components. The body of the training session should be based upon which training methods and activities are most appropriate for:

• the training outcomes

• the learner group

• the resources available.

When starting out as a trainer, following the session plans of more experienced trainers, using existing training materials and using references can be helpful. With time, however, every trainer will develop their own training methods. Through trial and error, experience and

personal preference, training methods will be refined to suit different groups, circumstances and competencies


An instructor should have a large set of skills. Training a group of learners usually involves some or all of the following steps:

• Presenting information using methods such as:

– presentations

– explanations

– demonstrations

• Applying this information by using activities such as:

– discussions

– skills practice sessions

– games

– written exercises

• Summarizing the information using techniques or activities such as:

– reports

– whiteboard lists

– games

– handouts

• Checking the learners understanding of the information or the skill by:

– observation during activities

– performance during set tasks

– questioning

– input during discussions.


Everyone has a slightly different learning style. The following are examples of models instructors may use to communicate a new skill or knowledge to a student.

Direct Instruction: lectured style teaching. This method is often a favorite as it requires less amount of preparation. The focus is on the teacher who directs the learning. This is often the best way to ‘front load’ safety and injury prevention information to novices who would not have the experience to consider the various aspects required.

Indirect Instruction: this is more student focused. The student works their way through the problem/skill at their own rate. This however, is often time consuming and students must be self-driven. Interactive Instruction: relies on group discussions and interactions. A single issue is explored from different angles as each member of the group inputs ideas and suggestions. The end result is for the student to take what is relevant to their learning and incorporate it into their knowledge.

Experimental/Experiential Instruction: learning through activities, hands on experience, deduction and trial and error approaches to come up with a solution.

Independent Study: students drive their own learning by researching and using various resources.



Game Sense was originally formulated for team sport but has been implemented into paddling coaching. The unique method is for the student to take an active role in the learning by ‘owning’ the decision process. The learner is given the problem; e.g the student wants to cross an eddy line. The teacher acts as a facilitator and prompts the learner into making a decision. It is then the student’s response to act on that decision and experience the outcome and then re-evaluate.

As an example: Instructor:

You are going to paddle yourself out of the main current and into an Eddy. Is there a transition point or area of importance?

Student: The Eddy line

I: Why is it important?

S: The opposing currents can spin me or cause instability

I: Do you think you want to be fast or slow across the eddy line?

S: Powerful, I will want some speed to get cleanly across the eddy line

I: Where do you want to aim the boat?

S: Not sure what you mean?

Student: The Eddy line I: Why is it important?

S: The opposing currents can spin me or cause instability

I: Do you think you want to be fast or slow across the eddy line?

S: Powerful, I will want some speed to get cleanly across the eddy line

I: Where do you want to aim the boat?

S: Not sure what you mean?

I: Where do you want to cross the eddy line

S: As far upstream as I can cross it and get a boat into the eddy

I; So to recap; where are you going to aim for?

Ayou going to be totally focused on getting there?

Are go you going to go hard?

The student tests out their decision under supervision. The Instructor should lead their decision pathway into the right direction and only allow them to test out their decision in safe conditions. A student who thinks about their responses and put them into practice will learn more from the experience than someone who simply accepts what they are told without considering the consequences.


To correct in the game sense method, firstly ask the person for their own feedback then ask questions that lead to the correction required, for example;

Instructor: How did you feel as you crossed the eddy line?

Student: The paddle ‘twitched’ in the water and I felt unstable I: What do you think made the paddle feel like that?

S: It was in the eddy line

I: So is there somewhere you should aim with the first stroke across the eddy line to keep you stable?

S: Yes reach deep into the eddy

I: So what will you do this time

S: Aim for the top entry point, paddle full bore toward it, as I reach the eddy line, reach across it and plant hard into the eddy.


Techniques are still taught in a normal progression with safety/injury prevention/posture at the beginning. However we now introduce each technique, not with its name but with its outcome in the form of a question, getting them to decide how it is best achieved so they are not trying to do what you have described or demonstrated, they are trying to do what they have decided is the best way to achieve their outcome.


Instruction of practical skills and techniques can follow a series of steps:

D: demonstration

E: explanation

D: demonstration (emphasizing key components)

I: imitation

C: correction

T: trials

Demonstrations are given at the introduction of the skill and are of the whole skill applied in a normal manner.

Explanations of the skill include:

• the applications

• the main points of how to perform the skill

• breaking skills down into components that may be demonstrated and practised separately before being put together

• the components of a skill should be introduced in the sequence in which they will be applied

• safety considerations

• special features or exceptions

• common difficulties.

Demonstrations are then given of:

• the components of the skill

• the whole skill with special emphasis placed on each component.

Imitation of the trainer’s demonstrations are then done by the learners as they attempt to perform the skill. Corrections are provided by the trainer to the learners, if necessary, after having observed the learners’ attempts at the skill. Trials are applications of the skill that the trainer may assess to see if the learning outcome has been achieved.


A trainer uses the DEDICT method to teach how to perform a roll. The following steps are used:

• Demonstration of a roll

• Explanation of:

– the application of rolls

– the components of the roll, in the order in which they are performed:

• setting up the paddle and body in the correct starting position

• hip flick

• body and head movement

• stroke

– common difficulties:

• insufficient hip flick

• head brought up too early

• disorientation with the paddle stroke

– Demonstration again, performed slowly, with special emphasis on performing the key components of the roll very clearly

– Imitation by the learners of each component of the roll. The components are practiced in the order in which they are performed during the roll, with each step mastered before the next step is practiced –

Correction of errors and poor technique are given by the trainer. The trainer also helps the learners with each step, providing physical assistance, feedback and additional explanations and clarification

Trials of performing the complete roll are done.


It is frequently thought that theory sessions must be boring because they are simply about learning information. This doesn’t have to be the case though. There are many different ways in which information can be learnt, and these ways can be stimulating and fun.

When planning the body of a theory session, try following these steps:

• decide what information the learners need to have to achieve the training outcomes:

– divide this information into bite sized chunks

– put these chunks of information into an appropriate sequence

– prepare a number of activities that give the learners an opportunity to apply the chunks of information in relevant tasks.

As described earlier, the following steps can be used as a guide for planning the training methods:

• the trainer presents the new information or guides the learners toward finding it for themselves

• the learners apply or use the new information in an appropriate activity

• the trainer (or learners) summarize the information

• the trainer checks the learners’ understanding and ability to apply the new information by asking questions and observing.

In any topic, there is a certain amount of information that the learner must know to achieve the outcome, and other interesting information that the learner could know about the topic if there is time, but is not vital in helping them achieve the training outcomes. It is important to be able to discriminate between these two types of information when planning for the session.


The following ‘must know’ items of information have been grouped and placed in sequence:

• Training outcome: Plan to participate in a supervised paddling trip

• Factors to consider when choosing a suitable venue or activity

• How to get permission, if necessary, to access the venue

• Basic design features of kayaks and canoes

• Check to see that you can fit in the craft and make any adjustments necessary

• Advantages and disadvantages of different design features

• How to select a paddle of a suitable length

• LIFEJACKET Types 2 and 3 are recommended for use

• Spray decks should fit both the person and the craft: check this fit

• Be aware of the range of different clothing suitable for paddling

• Features of suitable footwear

• How to waterproof and pack spare clothing

• Nutritious food is needed in the right quantities to match the energy used

• Fluid intake is important, so establish if you can get some at the venue or if you need to take some with you

• Pack emergency snacks

• Work out how to get to the venue

• Tie the craft on the roof racks securely

• Organised car shuttles.


Presentation methods are those methods used for passing on new information.

There is a wide range of presentation methods, some more appropriate to passing on types of information than others. Selecting the appropriate methods will help make the training sessions more effective. Using a variety of methods can help to maintain learner interest.

These are some presentation methods:

Talk or modified lecture: The trainer talks about the subject to the group of learners for about 10–15 minutes. After the talk the learners apply the information in an activity.

Demonstration: The trainer demonstrates and explains a skill, procedure or process.

Excursion: The learners visit a site or venue that provides information. Interview: An expert is asked a series of questions in front of an audience.

Pictorial: Showing and discussing pictures, maps, charts, slides, OHPs.

Printed word: The learners read information from a range of written resources.

Video: The learners watch a video and then answer questions or discuss aspects of the video.

Case study: The learners discuss a problem or scenario that is presented to them.

Guest speaker: A guest speaker talks about their area of expertise.

Research presentation: A learner researches a topic and then presents the findings to the group. Example

During a training session about rescue techniques, the presentation methods include:

• a short lecture using diagrams • a video about rescue techniques

• a guest speaker who presents…

• a case study about a real rescue situation

• an excursion to a venue where a commonly found hazards exist and…

• a demonstration of rescue techniques is performed at the venue.


Learning activities are those activities that the learners do to apply the new information that they have been presented with. You can be as creative as you like when designing learning activities, as long as they help the learners to achieve the training outcome, apply the information in a relevant way, help the learners. to understand and remember the information and the resources required for the activity are easily available. Activities could include:

Brainstorming: The learners think up lots of ideas about a topic quickly without making any judgement about them.

Game: A fun game that involves relevant information, or the opportunity to practice skills.

Group discussion: Small or larger groups discuss the topic, and might report back on the results of their discussion.

Role play: The learners, and sometimes the trainer, act out roles in a hypothetical situation.

Problem solving exercise: The learners are given a real or simulated problem and use the new information to try and solve it.

Quiz: Oral or written questions on the topic.

Practical exercises: Practicing and applying skills and techniques.

Written report: Researching and writing about a topic.

Survey: The learners obtain sample data by questioning, research or observation and analyse the data to draw conclusions.

Experiments: Learning occurs through discovery.


Materials available to support the training program should be checked for relevance and appropriateness in terms of the language, style, characteristics of the participants and copyright. New resources can be developed to enhance learning, and to better cater for individual needs.


First impressions are very important. From the first point of meeting between the trainer and the training participants, the atmosphere, or environment, for learning is created. It is important that this atmosphere includes a sense of mutual respect and trust based on the recognition of the skills and knowledge of not only the trainer, but the training participants too. This mutual respect acknowledges that everyone has the potential to contribute something of value during group training. A sense of trust is essential because the training participants need

confidence in the trainer and the learning situation for learning to occur. In situations where there is a lack of trust, the training participants may be reluctant to contribute to discussions, not believe what they are being told or have no confidence in trying new skills. Establishing a sense of trust can be helped by:

• the self-confidence (not bravado) of the trainer  

• the trainer’s manner; happy, smiling, pleasant tone of voice

• obvious knowledge and experience of the trainer

• the trainer consistently treating everyone equally and fairly

• appropriate learning activities and presentations

• establishment of boundaries, guidelines or rules where necessary to ensure safety or fair conduct of activities

• the trainees knowing that they are in a safe outdoor location when doing practical activities

• the trainer treating the training participants with trust and respect

• encouraging questioning and feedback.

Clearly explaining the training program with the trainees is also an important step in establishing a good atmosphere for learning. This establishes appropriate expectations for the trainees and the security of knowing what is going to happen and why.

It is important for the trainees to know:

• the goals of the training program

• the training outcomes for the session

• the activities for the session to develop particular competencies

• the structure or sequence of activities within the session

• the method for any assessment

Following the introduction of the session, the trainer should establish appropriate methods of checking the level of understanding of the instructions and information given. These methods may vary according to the characteristics of the trainees, and may include direct or indirect questioning.


One-to-one training sessions

One-to-one training sessions are particularly effective for practical skills where close supervision and immediate feedback and assistance can be given to the learner.

Group training sessions

Group training sessions allow a wider range of learning activities to be used. The group can be presented to as a whole, and try individual activities, or the trainees can work as a whole group, in smaller groups or in pairs. The catch is that people have to co-operate and communicate with each other to some degree for any form of group work to be successful. People don’t automatically communicate openly with each other. It may require some time and some warm-up activities to break down any barriers and help people to feel comfortable about working together.


This step involves the trainees being given each chunk of new information. There are many ways this can be done including:

• the trainer tells or explains the information

• the information is read in books, handout or articles

• using videos or electronic presentation

• a guest speaker.

The new information should be delivered in a manner that is appropriate to the characteristics of trainees. Variations in delivery include:

• the language used • pace of the delivery

• balance between theory and practical activities

• the size of chunks of information delivered

• oral versus written activities

• individual versus group activities.


There is a range of training delivery styles:

Distance learning involves sending the trainee workbook activities and resources, assessing assignments and providing feedback using email, post and phone calls. Precourse reading can be done in this style.

Self paced learning involves working through a program of set activities independently.

Partly self-paced learning involves working independently until set points, then receiving additional instruction from the trainer before working independently again.

Lock step training involves the trainer keeping all of the trainees involved in the same activity at the same time.

The training style may be autocratic (trainer centered) or permissive (learner centered), or a mix of these styles. The trainer centered style involves the trainer delivering the session with little trainee interaction. The instructor tells the trainees what they need to know, and directs any practical activities in a closely controlled manner. Some situations are best managed, and types of content more effectively delivered, in the autocratic style. The learner centered style is a more interactive delivery of a training session. Knowledge, concepts, attitudes and skills are developed through discovery and interactive activities.

These instructional styles may be used in combination. A single session may move from a learner centered introduction to engage the trainees’ interest to a teacher centered style for imparting the crux of the information. Alternatively, a competence may be developed by firstly imparting knowledge in a trainee centered style, with the application of that knowledge then practiced in a learner centered style.


A trainer may change delivery styles during a session in response to situations that arise. A planned approach may not be working, environmental conditions might change or safety issues may arise.


When talking to a group, one should be aware of the following:

Posture: You should be standing straight in a relaxed way. Be open to your group.

Movements: Some movement is OK, but not too much. Pacing the floor can be distracting. Try not to sway. Hands should be used in a naturally expressive manner rather than trying to keep them totally still. Nervous gestures often occur without you being aware of making them, such as scratching your nose or checking your watch.

Facial expressions: Facial expressions are very clear indicators of what you are thinking and feeling. A natural smile is the most encouraging and friendly expression to have. A frown will reveal your worry or displeasure.

Eye contact: Sunglasses off. Establishing eye contact with an individual indicates that your full attention is focused upon them as you speak to each other. In a group situation, eye contact should move to include all members of the group without resting on one individual for too long. Watch out for broad brimmed hats that hide your face when presenting.

Voice: The aim is to have a clear strong voice and not to speak too quickly. A pleasantly modulated tone is much easier to listen to than a dull monotone. When conducting on-water sessions, it is important to speak loudly enough to be heard over the volume of the water. Speaking more slowly in these conditions can also help. You should ask the training participants if they can hear you.

Position: Don’t stand in front of your presentation, neither stand with a good view behind you. It will distract the learners. Similarly choose a place on the coast or river where the learners are not totally fixed on the next rapid or beach.


Using a variety of presentation methods can provide greater stimulus to trainees than one method. Training resources and equipment can greatly enhance presentations as the information is received in more than one way and sometimes by more than one sense.


Carrying out the activities that apply the new information. Once the information has been delivered the next step is for the trainees to carry out an activity that applies the new information to help them:

• understand the new information

• use the information in a realistic manner

• remember the information. When using activities, it is important to remember the following:

• the activity steps should be sequenced in the order in which the steps are applied

• new information should be supplied at appropriate times

• the training outcomes should be kept in mind during the activities as the progress of the trainees is checked

• sufficient time needs to be allowed for practising skills

• additional time should be allowed for practice following feedback or further instruction.


The trainer needs to monitor progress so they can:

• check to see how the trainees are developing the competency

• check how effective their training has been so that it can be modified if necessary

• provide constructive feedback to encourage the trainee and assist their learning. Monitoring progress can be achieved by:

• observing the trainees

• questioning the trainees.

An important note on learning: our bodies learn by doing (often referred to as muscle memory). Thus if we practise the wrong action or technique, we learn the wrong movement. The more we practise it, the harder it is to change or ‘break’ the technique. Careful observation and skilled correction can save a lot of time in remedial work.


Encouragement and feedback should be provided in a manner that everyone feels comfortable. Touch should not be used, as it may be considered too personal an intrusion into an individual’s personal space or incorrectly interpreted and viewed as harassment.

Feedback should be provided at suitable times. Verbal feedback helps trainees to identify their weak spots and work out ways of overcoming them. As the trainees are observed during the training session, the trainer should choose times to pass comments to the trainees about their progress. It is easy to forget to give words of encouragement and praise to those who are doing well. It is natural to focus on those who are having some trouble. Trainees who are doing everything correctly need to be told so and given encouragement to continue. Feedback should be constructive and positive. Tell the trainee what they are doing well first, before you tell them something else. Phrase feedback so the trainee can move towards a positive goal.

Sometimes trainers are asked or required to spend some time giving feedback to an individual trainee after a training session. The following steps can be helpful:

• ask the trainee what they think or feel that they did well

• ask them what they would do differently next time

• add constructive feedback about things not covered by the trainee

• end on a positive note.

The following list outlines eight aspects of feedback, using the letters of the word FEEDBACK to help you remember. Using these strategies during and after training sessions will help to create an atmosphere of trust in the learning environment.

Feedback ‘sandwich’: Feedback should always start and end with a positive comment. Anything negative should go in the middle.

Esteem: How will the self esteem of the trainee be affected by the feedback you give them? Will they still feel respected and capable? Help them to see your feedback as a form of encouragement.

Environment: Choose an appropriate time and place to give the feedback.

Does the trainee understand?: Check that the trainee understands the feedback by asking questions or getting them to repeat it back in their own words.

Be honest and sensitive: It is your responsibility to let a trainee know that their performance isn’t of the required standard, but use tact to let them know.

Actions: It is the actions, not the trainee, that the feedback should be given about. e.g. “The meal was overcooked”, rather than “You were careless and burnt the meal.”

Confidentiality: Feedback to individuals should be given confidentially. The sensitivity and right to privacy of the trainees should be respected.

Keep it short: Keep the feedback relevant and precise.

Encouraging trainees to assess their own learning Trainees need to learn how to assess their own learning and progress toward developing a competency. This is important during times when the trainer is not present, such as individual practice and work situations.

Techniques for self assessment include:

• reflecting on their own progress during and after sessions

• keeping a record of how things went in a diary or log

• setting personal goals for improving at certain tasks

• seeking feedback from a suitable person.


Questions can be preset, or arise during a session and are used for:

• focusing attention

• encouraging interest and curiosity

• checking on the trainees’ understanding

• extending knowledge

• provoking deeper or lateral thinking.

Closed questions are usually answered with “Yes” or “No” or other short responses. They do not provide the opportunity to give more detailed responses and cannot reveal the depth of understanding of a topic: e.g. “Have you paddled in surf this size before?”

Open questions cannot be answered with “Yes” or “No”. These questions provide the opportunity to give detailed answers that can reveal a depth of understanding, and a range of thoughts and feelings: e.g. “How does this river compare with some of the other rivers you have paddled?”

Open questions are useful to use with new groups to get to know the group members and start discussions. Consider the difference in effect between using a closed or an open question at the start of a session.


The training session can be reviewed through:

• self assessment

• evaluation

• feedback.


\Although a trainer might feel nervous about it, receiving feedback can be an important part of improving the delivery of training sessions. If open and honest opinions are sought, the atmosphere of the learning environment must be safe and comfortable enough for these opinions to be expressed. Feedback should be received with an open mind, and reflected upon, then acted upon if necessary. Some feedback given will be straightforward, gratefully received and quickly acted upon.

Sometimes the feedback can carry some longer term implications, or you might disagree with it. In these cases it is best to sit down and discuss the feedback to reach a mutually agreeable solution: e.g. when a trainee tells you that your style of delivery is sexist and doesn’t encourage women trainees.

A few points that can help in receiving feedback:

• thank the giver of feedback and respect their openness: value their comments and point of view

• clarify the feedback

• reflect on the feedback and consider if it is reasonable

• check it out honestly with others rather than relying on just one source

• if it is reasonable, act upon it quickly

• if it is not reasonable, try to work through the issue with the people involved

• be prepared to learn from the experience.


In evaluating training, it needs to be determined if:

• the trainees have achieved the training outcomes

• the activities and techniques that were used were the most effective ones available for the purpose of helping the trainees to achieve the learning outcomes

Have the trainees achieved the training outcomes?

This may be answered by:

• monitoring and checking the trainees’ progress through the delivery of the training, which will give some indication of whether the set training outcomes have been achieved

• observing their performance following the training

• checking with their assessor

• discussing with a work supervisor.

Have the activities that were used been the most effective ones available for the purpose of helping the trainees to achieve the learning outcomes?


Peers can observe a session and provide a professional opinion. They can also preview the session plan and make suggestions regarding delivery and activities. Peers can help in the debriefing process after a session, particularly one that went badly.


Self evaluation is checking your own thoughts and feelings about how a training session is going, or how it went. It can take place during a session as you consider how things are going and make immediate changes. It can also occur after a session when more time for reflection allows a more detailed analysis. Self reflection should also occur as a response to feedback that is obtained from others. It is important that self evaluation be constructive rather than destructive. It should be an opportunity for deciding how things can be improved, not for self criticism about things that went badly.

How is self evaluation done?


Self reflection can consist of asking yourself questions such as:

“Did I pitch the session at the correct level in terms of the characteristics of the group?

“Why didn’t the trainees complete the activity? Did it take too long or were my instructions unclear?”

“Did I do enough to help those trainees with low confidence?”

“Did I manage to give each trainee some individual attention during the session?”

“Can I find a more attention grabbing start to my introduction?” 


Some trainers may like to video or tape themselves delivering all or part of a training session. The trainer can watch the tape alone or with a colleague. This method can be extremely helpful for some aspects of a delivery. A lot of people may feel quite self conscious with this method though, and the delivery of the session may not be as natural when they know it is being recorded.


Records are an important part of managing a training program as they provide details that enable good planning and sources of information for future reference. These records may be kept manually or on computer. Each organization will have its own system and requirements for record keeping.

The procedures for record keeping should be known by the trainer. Training records should always be kept confidential and be viewed only by authorized people.

Records of training may include:

• session plans

• activities used

• resources used

• specialist personnel

• training conditions

• incidents or accidents

• new resources developed

• trainee details

• checklists of competency development and attainment

• feedback and evaluation reports given to trainees

• organization specific data

• financial information


Records of training are important for many reasons, including the Following:

• for trainees to check on their own results

• to indicate who has turned up for the course and paid course fees

• details of trainees can be known for future reference

• for collection of training data by the organization or training manager, such as the number of trainees who have attended a particular course within a period of time

• knowing the costs of running the course to allow future budgeting

• to make session planning easier for next time

• to assist other trainers to plan and conduct sessions

• to assist in the review and continuous improvement of the delivery of training.


Training, it is all about preparation ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance’. Identify the outcomes required by your participants, tailor the training to the participants, match the venue to the outcomes. Once you have delivered the training, stand back and carefully review the outcomes.


This resource was written by Ian Dewey