Training Industry Magazine - January/February 2018 - 9

GUEST EDITOR
BRENT ENGEL

SHOW ME THE WAY:
CREATING A CUSTOMIZED
LEARNING EXPERIENCE
WITH PEER TRAINERS

I have designed training for a variety of
audiences: technical skills training for
hourly employees, soft skills training
for management employees, business
training for business owners, and
everything in between. For me, the key
to successfully adapting learning across
these audiences has been to capitalize on
learning through peer trainers.

A GOOD TRAINER
PROVIDES THE
ACCOUNTABILITY
MOST OF US NEED.
LEARNING IS SOCIAL
The psychologist Dr. Vygotsky, whose
ideas have shaped a lot of thinking in
the field of education and learning,
argued that learning is a social process.
He argued that learning occurs through
interactions with others, especially
in guided interactions with a more
knowledgeable other. I agree for several
reasons. First, it creates curiosity; second,
it provides motivation; and third, it
provides a model from someone doing
what I need to do.
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT
WE DON'T KNOW
When speaking with someone who
has more knowledge or experience,
we realize how little we truly know. I
was once building a cedar closet in my
basement and my coworkers asked
whether I was spacing the upright
members on 16" centers. After answering
with a blank stare, I shared I was paneling

with cedar, which started a discussion of
drywall, followed by more blanks stares
and some research on construction on
my part.
Psychologists such as Malone and Lepper
argue the effect of such discussions
is to spark our curiosity to find more
information. By talking with an expert
peer trainer, we find the gaps in our
knowledge and seek to fill them. Malone
and Lepper argue that this motivates us
to learn.
SOMETIMES WE NEED FOCUS
I like self-directed learning. It aligns
well with the ideas of adult learning
and putting the learner in control of the
learning experience. I have a stack of
unread books with all the great topics
I want to learn. Then there's the online
courses that never seem to be completed
before the subscription auto-renews. My
willpower does not apply the consistent
accountability I need.
A good trainer, like a good coach,
provides that accountability most of us
need. Instead of letting life get in the
way, they become part of what moves
us forward. A good trainer can help us
set goals and performance standards for
learning that challenge us. They can get
us back on track when we get distracted,
such as a friend who asks us how the
online course is going.
SOMETIMES WE NEED
A START (OR RESTART)
Peer trainers serve as role models for a
desired behavior. As a new classroom
instructor, I was told to make my

instruction activity-based. The problem
is, there are only so many times you can
play Jeopardy in the classroom. Then I
started talking about delivery methods
with a peer who had recently been
named faculty of the year. She shared
ideas and books (still sitting on my
shelf ) about her approach to activitybased learning.
I applied those techniques in my
classroom and demonstrated them
when I led faculty orientation sessions.
I am happy to say, I too was eventually
named faculty of the year in large part by
following my peer's model.
The reason this aspect works is the learner
sees someone like them performing
the task or applying the knowledge on
the job. By observing and modeling the
behavior, we hope to achieve the same
results as our model. Dr. Bandura argued
that is often enough to get us started.
In summary, a good peer trainer is what
Dr. Vygotsky called a scaffold. The peer
trainer acts as a resource and sounding
board for the learner that understands
the situation and speaks the language.
It's important to provide peer trainers
with development and training to enable
them to be successful, and the rewards
are many. A good peer trainer can ensure
the learner gets the customized program
needed to be successful.
Brent Engel is a senior director of training
at Willy's Mexicana Grill. He has over 20
years of experience creating learning
courses, launching LMSs, developing
corporate universities and creating training
departments. Email Brent.

T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - ADAPTING LEARNING 2018 I WWW. T RAI NINGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - January/February 2018

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20181112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170506
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112_se
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20161112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016sales
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015outsourcing
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015leadership
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009spring
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009winter
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008fall
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008summer
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008spring
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