In any kind of step-by-step training (technology, a new process, a series of related tasks…), I have found that a rhythm of “Tell-Show-Do” is the most effective way to teach for the best retention. Here’s how it works:
- Tell: describe the concept or feature, set the context
- Show: demonstrate how it works in the software program/work context
- Do: give students a chance to try it in an exercise or a real life example (see Tip #3 for a reminder of why this step is so important)
How does this apply to adult education settings?
Establishing this rhythm and repeating it consistently through multiple cycles of content is clear and gives learners a chance to integrate each feature into what they already know.
Here’s an example from a class I teach called Accidental Trainer:
- Tell: “Now we’re going to take a look at how adult learning theory integrates with a recommended structure for content that is called CODES. CODES stands for Connect, Overview, Deliver, Exercises, Summary. You can think of those as five sections of a workshop or as a pattern that repeats for individual topics within a workshop. In the CODES model, there is a recommended weight or amount of time to spend on each section. You can see those in the chart on page X in your workbook…”
- Show: (refer to a diagram mapping the class agenda to CODES) “For example, here’s how our lesson today follows the CODES model. You can see from the diagram that the timing and sequence of each chunk of content aligns with CODES. I started the day with some activities that connected our content to why you are here, and for each topic today we are cycling through the O-D-E-S sequence. “
- Do: “Let’s apply the CODES model to the training design that you have in progress. Use the table on page X of your workbook to organize your draft content outline into the CODES framework, and then we’ll talk about what you like about that or what you’d change.” And so on…
Every time I stray from the Tell-Show-Do rhythm in a technology-focused or process-oriented training, things get choppy and people get confused.
Do the Tell-Show-Do. It just works.