Training by Design, part 3 - Training -

Training by Design, part 3

Tips on the final elements you’ll need, from identifying resources to evaluating success, part 3



JP Molnar | From the May 2009 Issue Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Part 1 of this series (Law Officer , March 2009, , I discussed the basic structure of a training plan. I used the development of an EVOC training plan as a basic example, but the components—conducting a needs assessment, determining an instruction goal that addresses the needs of your target audience and setting a proper learning setting—apply to any instructional plan. In Part II (Law Officer , April 2009, , I discussed the importance of understanding learning styles, setting performance objectives and choosing proper instructional modalities.

In this last installment, I discuss the final elements you need to address in a training plan: 

  • Developing formative and summative assessments;
  • Choice of content;
  • Learning context;
  • Material resources;
  • Instructional strategies; and
  • Proper instructor acquisition.

Formative Assessments
In training, there are two ways to determine a student’s learning success: formative and summative. 

Formative assessments involve information gathered during instruction that is used to adjust and improve program content and teaching. Experienced instructors often do this on the fly: They see that a certain instruction method isn’t working and switch strategies until they find one that does. 

Example : Consider the EVOC SUV training program we’ve used as a guideline throughout this series. Assume an instructor is trying to teach the student the proper way to engage the 4WD system. He hands the student an instruction sheet on how to engage the vehicle’s transfer case, plus the 4-high and 4-low settings in 4WD. 

In Part II, we discussed the importance of understanding visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. 
In this case, the student is a kinesthetic learner, so hands-on is what they understand. The instructor, conducting a formative assess­ment on the student’s lack of progress, realizes that the instruction sheet is causing a learning block. So he instructs the student to grab the 4WD engagement handle and pull it, stop the vehicle, place the transmission in “neutral,” slide the transfer case to “4-low” and re-engage the transmission. This example of formative assessment and resultant change in instructional strategy is important because it improves the overall program

Other examples of formative assessments come from the students. If you’re giving regular written quizzes, the actual quiz is summative, but students can use their performances to form a self-assessment of their progress. 

Other common formative assessment tools are the peer review process and end-of-class surveys. These are important feedback mechanisms that help improve the training course. 

Put simply: When developing a program, it’s important to have tools that help both instructors and students gauge their performances, adjust on the fly and make changes that improve the learning process.

Summative Assessments
Summative assessments are straightforward and involve tests given at the end of a predetermined period that assess proficiency: written exams, end-of-week quizzes, end-of-subject-matter exams, end-of-term exams, etc. For law enforcement, summative assessments are usually the form of the POST (or other) certification test given at the end of the academy to qualify the cadet as eligible for employment as a peace officer in a given state.

Summative assessments are critical to training programs because they provide the cornerstone of documentation. In any training course, you must define the criteria by which you will evaluate and stamp your seal of approval on the student, indicating that they’ve demonstrated the necessary competency. Note : The class length isn’t relevant, just that there will be a final assessment mechanism. 

For our EVOC SUV class, a summative assessment could be a final test in which the student drives a closed course in 2WD, enters an off-road section, engages 4WD and successfully negotiates the course without striking cones—all within a given time frame. 


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JP MolnarJP Molnar, Law Officer's Cruiser Corner columnist, is a former state trooper and has been teaching EVOC since 1991 for numerous agencies.


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