p.p1 of a facilitated session are finding out who

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Introduction
The purpose of this report is to reflect on how a facilitated session was designed and delivered. The session took place on the 14th of November on CAFRE’s Greenmount campus. This report will look at who the session was developed for, what theories informed the approach, and how it could be improved. Considerations will also be given for providing this session via an online training platform. 
A facilitated session is a well planned and rigorously conducted information gathering session. The first steps involved in the planning process of a facilitated session are finding out who the learners are, what they need to know, how the content will be sequenced, how the learners can be engaged with the subject, what teaching methods and media will be used and the ways for the facilitator to know that the learners have grasped the content of the session. The information available prior to the session was as follows: 
Title of the session: ‘Interview Skills’ 
Session duration: 1 hour 
The learners will be Agricultural Work Based Diploma students
There will be 4-5 learners present, both male/female
Most of the learners will be from farming backgrounds
They will be approximately 16-18 years old
The session will be conducted in a classroom with a computer for the facilitator, wifi, and a projector
Session Objectives
Before determining the session objectives it is first necessary to ascertain the level of knowledge the learners already have on the topic. The learners are unlikely to have had any formal interview experience due to their age group, but they may have some experience of informally applying for jobs such as asking a farming parent if they could receive pay for assistance given during lambing season. In addition to this, the learners are more likely to know how to search for jobs online due to the ease at which most young people can browse the web. 
The session objectives were as follows: 
List the different ways to search for a job
List the main elements of a Cover Letter and CV
Analyse the different stages of preparing for an interview
Prepare answers to interview questions
Session objectives 1 and 2 are low level objectives, are concerned with information and knowledge and can be classified under Bloom’s cognitive domain (Bloom, 1956). Session objective 3 can be classified under Bloom’s affective objectives as it is concerned with feelings and emotions (Bloom, 1956). Lastly, session objective 4 can be classified under psychomotor objectives (Simpson 1969) as it requires neuromuscular co-ordination. The advantage of using all three learning domains is that learners experienced a more well-rounded session and the three learning domains met more learning styles than if just one or two domains were incorporated. Learners had a wide range of activities such as group work to simply recall (list) the information given and games such as ‘Good CV / Bad CV’ to distinguish between a good CV and a bad CV, which went towards achieving session objective 3 – Analyse the different stages of preparing for an interview. The session objectives were designed to accommodate as many learning styles as possible in a one hour session. However the session was best suited to an activist learner (Honey and Munford, 1992), as it was one with lots of group work and brain-storming, and required learners to involve themselves fully in the session and not be passive learners. 
The language used in each objective, purposefully avoided words open to many interpretations such as ‘understand’ and ‘know’, and instead used words open to fewer interpretations such as ‘analyse’. ”In it’s very broadest sense, a learning objective is a statement of proposed change. This change … is expected to occur in the thoughts, actions and feelings of the students in their charge as result of some educational or training experience” (Nugent 2017).  An objective, unlike an aim, is specific and precise and ensures that measurement is possible. In purposefully choosing words more specific such as ‘List’, ‘Analyse,’ and ‘Prepare’, the learners would be able to look at the objectives set as achievable over the 1 hour time slot and a change could take place.
Theories of Facilitation
According to Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1997) ”Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do”. Instruction that supports Bandura’s learning theory includes getting learners to work together on a task. The majority of the activities planned for the session included group work, in order for the learners to not only learn from the facilitator but also from each other. A total of six of the activities planned involved working in groups. In order to facilitate the group work, mini whiteboards and whiteboard markers to be distributed to each group were brought to the session to promote learning from each other and not just the facilitator. 
The facilitation session was structured so that it could be easily grasped by the learners. The topics were prepared with experiences and contexts relatable to the learner so that the learner would be willing and able to learn. For example, for Session Objective 3: ‘Analyse the different stages of preparing for an interview’, an activity was prepared for the learner to apply for a job that was applicable to their Agricultural Work Based Diploma.  Using a CV and cover letter template, the learner would apply for a job as a Farm/Animal Assistant required on a farm in England. Jerome Bruner with his ‘theory of instruction’ argues that the task of the instructor is to translate information to be learned into a format appropriate to the learner’s current state of understanding (Bruner, 2004). In getting the learner to apply for a job that is applicable to their field of work, learning can be better facilitated as the learner will relate to and recognise the purpose of the activity. 
In addiction to this, the learners of the facilitated session are approaching adulthood so this was considered as an important aspect in planning the session. According to one of the principles of Knowles’ theory of andragogy, adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life (Knowles, 1984). In planning the session, the age of the learners was considered a key part of planning a session that the learners could engage and relate to. The ice-breaker activity ”The Agri Careers Quiz” was prepared to not only be used as a warm-up but also to call on the previous experiences and thoughts of the learner to make them feel that the the ‘topic is of immediate value” (Knowles, 1970) and that the learning is ‘problem centred rather than content-orientated’ (Knowles, 1970), that is, the facilitated session is of use and importance to the learner. 
Learner Motivation
When the learners first entered the classroom, there was an apprehension that they would not be motivated, as a Greenmount staff member entered the room with them to warn the learners of their behaviour during the session and that they would be sent home if the behaviour was unacceptable. As a first introduction to their learning environment, although perhaps necessary to let learners know what is expected of their behaviour during the session, this warning was not the ideal start to help motivate learners. During the ice breaker activities, there was just one learner who at first did not seem open to the activities, indicated by an eye roll and an audible exhalation. However, despite this, the same learner diverted a problem posed by other learners who did not have pens (perhaps an indication of an overall lack of motivation from the learners), and supplied pens to learners who did not have any. In highlighting the learner’s generosity and organisational skills, from then on the learner who at first appeared unmotivated was relatively keen to show further skills and knowledge. 
The ice-breaker activities were designed for the learners to help them become comfortable with each other and the facilitator in order to motivate them to learn from and partake in the planned activities. Another turning point in learner motivation was the facilitator mentioning that they were also from a farming background. In relating to the facilitator, the learners were more convinced of the relevance of the material and hence learner motivation was better than if the session was facilitated by a facilitator that the learners could not relate to. 
Learner Participation
Leaner participation was slightly mixed, with one learner at first turning away from the direction of the facilitator. In order to help combat a lack of learner participation, name badges were given to all learners to pin on themselves. By giving name badges to all learners, it was possible for the facilitator to address the learners by their names in order to improve learner participation by making the subject matter more accessible:
 “When the professor engages the student in personal conversation, recognizes her by name, and seems to include her in the domain of attention, the subject matter seems more accessible. The nonverbal message goes out that the student is a part of the community of people who can do mathematics, statistics, chemistry, or whatever the subject is” (Willemsen, 1995).
Group work was also utilised throughout the session in order to increase learner participation. By delegating the responsibility of coming up with an answer to a group rather than an individual, the worry of giving a ‘wrong’ answer is shared. Therefore learner participation is improved as learners will not worry about being embarrassed in front of their peers by giving a ‘wrong’ answer as the answers they will share with the class and facilitator at the end of the group activity will not be necessarily from one individual but from a group as a whole.
Building a rapport with the learners was also instrumental in ensuring learner participation by the facilitator first introducing themselves using a first name only (and also wearing a name badge), using eye contact, question and answer sessions at the end of each activity, with constructive feedback throughout and also making light of any funny situations that arose, for example, a learner asking if the facilitator could give them a tissue after they sneezed. Although seemingly small things, these were very effective in creating an environment where learner participation was overall very good.
Models of Assessment
The purpose of assessment can usually fall into one of two categories – assessment for learning or assessment for grading (Goodall and Elvidge, 1999). The purpose of assessment in this instance was for learning. The session objectives were written on an A3 poster on the wall of the classroom in order to constantly remind the learners of what was to be ultimately achieved within the session.  The question of why the learners need the topic -Interview Skills, was slightly difficult to get across as when asked the question ‘What job will you have when you are older’ almost all learners responded by saying they will have a job on the family farm, for which many of them assumed they will not need to be interviewed for or expected to ‘apply for’ the job. 
Assessments were incorporated into the session in such a way that the learners would not notice that they were been assessed. For example, at the start of the activities -‘The Job Search’ and ‘Making a good impression’, the learners were asked to think about what they already know about these topics using the mini whiteboards before they were given any information from the facilitator. This gave them an idea of where they were in terms of achieving the session objective in question before any extra information was given. They could then go onto complete the session objective in full by completing the activity related to the session objective, for example, in differentiating between a ‘Good CV’ and a ‘Bad CV’, the learners were then able to list the main elements of a CV.  In addition to this, at the end of each activity, in groups, the learners would recap on what they learned (both from each other and the facilitator) using the mini whiteboards. 
If time allowed, other methods of assessing such as role plays and presentations would greatly improve this facilitation session as learners would have a greater variety of assessments which would equip them with further skills that are useful and applicable to the topic. For example, skills learned in giving a presentation such as public speaking and eye contact could be applied to better communication skills for interviews.
Communication
Regional Northern Irish accents at times contributed to a communication barrier between the facilitator and the learners. As the facilitator was not yet fully accustomed to the phrases and sounds of the accent, it was sometimes difficult for the facilitator to understand what learners were saying. However, using the mini whiteboards was helpful in overcoming this barrier as the facilitator could read what the learners had written down as well as listen to the learners audibly give the answer. In addition to this, the facilitator tried to speak without too much of a regional accent, clearly, slowly and with appropriate voice projection so that all learners could understand what was been said. 
Another barrier to communication was the classroom layout, with four rows of six seats and tables. This layout made it harder for the facilitator to hear the learners who were seated behind other learners. The ideal layout for this session would have been two/three half circles of seats and desks facing the front of the room in order to best facilitate group work while also allowing learners to see the facilitator and projector screen. 
The session objectives and activities were all displayed on a Power Point presentation, and handouts were distributed to almost all learners, as there were 4 more learners than anticipated, so some learners had to share the handouts, however this may have contributed to overcoming a barrier to communication as it encouraged the learners to work together rather than individually focusing on their own piece of paper, they discussed the handouts with the learner they were sharing it with. 
Appropriate Learning Resources – Planning and Selecting Mediums
Selecting the mediums to deliver this session was a relatively straightforward procedure in that the facilities available were a classroom, a computer with wifi and a projector. Therefore, the medium selected was a Power Point projected at the front of the classroom and handouts for all learners. In supplementing the Power Point with handouts, the learners could leave the session with the handouts for any further reference. Furthermore, the ‘take home’ handouts facilitated further learning, for example they could look at the handout on the different ways to search for a job, and use their own personal computers / laptops / phones at home to search for a potential job online.  
Providing the Session via an Online Training Platform
This session was provided in the traditional method of a physically present facilitator delivering the session to a room of learners. However it would also be possible to deliver this session via an online training platform, where learners could benefit from Personal Learning Environments (PLE’s). McGloughlin and Lee (2010) believe that PLE’s reinforce students to take on their own learning and encourage them to select the means and the resources for the creation, the organisation and the content of their learning, so that they learn more effectively and efficiently. The difficulty of getting to the point where the E – Learner feels empowered to do their own learning is that the process must be a co-production between the learner and the learning environment. The powerpoint from this session could be uploaded to an online platform along with the handouts provided. As the topic is relatively straightforward and does not need any prior explanation, the learner could complete the session activities individually. However, feedback would be necessary; this could be provided via an online discussion forum.
Conclusion
The facilitated session was successful overall. The session objectives were designed to suit both the topic and the learners. Learner motivation, participation and communication were good. The assessment methods were designed to suit a one hour session but could be built upon to improve learning. The mediums used to deliver the session were planned according to the learning environment but it would also be possible to deliver the session via an online training platform. 

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