Experiential vs.Traditional Training

Rapport Leadership International applies proven guidelines for adult learning. There is a great amount of research that supports adults learn best by experiential versus traditional training.  We recommend organizations and individuals choose a training provider that will help students be able to immediately apply what they learn to their daily responsibilities.  Finally we recommend using a provider that has a proven track record.

Please consider the following when evaluating training alternatives:

Experiential Learning vs. Traditional Training:

There is a major difference between traditional and experiential training. Refer to the book Telling Ain’t Training http://www.google.com/books?id=S1ibbJx-qBcC&lpg=PP1&dq=Telling%20Ain’t%20Training&pg=PA11#v=onepage&q=Telling%20Ain’t%20Training&f=false


This book tackles the three universal and persistent questions about the profession:

  • How do learners learn
  • Why do learners learn
  • How do you make sure that learning sticks

In his article “Educational Ideas Still Worth A Good Look?” former teacher John Taylor Gatto  states, “I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my twenty-five years of teaching – that schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. “ The article goes on to discuss the following topics:

  • No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes.
  • Traditional schools are limited in their ability to meet  the markets demand for creative thinking

Rapport Leadership International believes in education. We also believe that the best educators understand the limitations of traditional teaching techniques and they come up creative ways to create more effective outcomes.

Interactive training techniques can be used to fully engage adult students. This type of training is considered to be highly effective, because adults are afforded the opportunity to learn through active participation and apply their learning to real life situations. Unlike more traditional, classroom learning environments, where an instructor tells students what they need to know, interactive training challenges adult students to participate directly in their own learning experience. This type of experiential training is learner-centered.

Rapport implements interactive training techniques which are supported by experts such as Gatto, which include:

Case Study Techniques

  • This is a time-tested method for training students to solve real problems faced by organizations and use their own life experiences to come up with viable answers. Role Playing
  • Role-playing exercises demand that the student act out a particular situation to achieve a predetermined objective, and practice desired behaviors.

Behavior Modeling

  • Behavior modeling is similar to role play, with one main exception. In behavior modeling, the student is shown how they are expected to behave in a structured scenario, prior to the student’s first practice run.

Business Simulations

  • Business simulations that mirror an entire company’s operations can be used to teach students about decision making, and the impact a single decision can make on the entire organization.

Read more: Interactive Adult Training Techniques | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_8113103_interactive-adult-training-techniques.html#ixzz1K0uzFpBE

Bersin & Associates http://www.bersin.com

American Society of Training & Development http://www.astd.org , http://store.astd.org/Default.aspx?tabid=167&ProductId=19291


Additional proven experiential training principles applied by Rapport Leadership International:

  • Adults learn more when they participate in the learning process
  • Adults learn best by doing
  • Adults learn best when new information is reinforced and repeated
  • Adults learn better when information is presented in different ways

 Three Kinds of “Learning Exchanges” RLI Applies During Training:

  • Participant to Participant: “Participant to participant” learning exchange recognizes that participants can learn from one another’s experiences. Participant to participant exchanges should be a key feature of the training.
  • Participant to Facilitator: Facilitators can learn as much from training sessions as participants do. On many subjects, a group of participants may have more extensive knowledge and experience in certain areas than a facilitator.
  • Facilitator to Participant: Classroom learning needs structure. A facilitator’s role is to guide discussions, encourage participation, draw out and/or add information as needed, and highlight key issues and points.

General Principles RLI Applies:
The best training programs take advantage of the following characteristics of adult learners:

  • Adults are self-motivated.
  • Adults expect to gain information that has immediate application to their lives.
  • Adults learn best when they are actively engaged.
  • Adult learning activities are most effective when they are designed to allow students to develop both technical knowledge and general skills.
  • Adults learn best when they have time to interact, not only with the instructor but also with each other.
  • Adults learn best when asked to share each other’s personal experiences at work and elsewhere.

Participatory Methods of Instruction
Participatory training methods draw on participants’ own experiences. They encourage teamwork and group problem solving.

Participatory methods 1) draw on participants’ own knowledge and experience about work related challenges; 2) emphasizes  learning through doing without relying on reading; and 3) create a comfortable learning experience for everyone.

Samples of Participatory Methods
RLI uses draw participatory training methods draw on the trainee’s own experiences to share their knowledge with all learners. We stimulate valuable exchanges between workers and trainers.  The following are examples of methods we use to encourage trainees to participate and be actively engaged in class:

  • Ice-breakers
  • Risk maps
  • Role playing
  • Processes
  • Small group exercises
  • “Trigger” visuals
  • Brainstorming
  • Demonstrations and hands-on activities
  • Participatory lectures

Training Materials
Keep in mind that visual aids – such as PowerPoints, handouts, overheads, and flip charts – play a supportive role to the main teaching technique and do not substitute for teaching.

Using PowerPoint.  PowerPoint is not a teaching technique – it is a visual aid that can be used to enhance learning, just like flip charts, overheads, and handouts. PowerPoint will not, in and of itself, improve student learning. It is the way that instructors use PowerPoint that can encourage learning. Deciding when, where, and how it can be used appropriately is the key.

Using Flip charts– Flip charts, like PowerPoints, are visual aids that are used to facilitate, document conclusions and agreement, create action lists or bring more clarity to the learning experience.  It is an interactive and flexible aid that promotes interaction and engagement between the facilitator and the participants.

See http://www.osha.gov/dte/sharwood/best-practices.html

Rapport Leadership’s experiential training has proven results

Our immersive training classes cannot be duplicated by a community college or most training companies. We work with educators all over the US and Canada. They know how we can enhance what they do, we do what they cannot. Before we began working with school districts in Canada, they wanted to confirm our claims that our training would create sustainable behavior changes. We had the University of Calgary Division of applied Psychology study our Teen Leadership class, which is nearly identical to our Leadership Breakthrough One  class. The resulting behavior changes they recorded were so significant; they ran the tests again to confirm they had not made a mistake. The results were identical. The results were written up in the Canadian Journal of School Psychology.  Even the academics are impressed with what Rapport is able to achieve.




Rapport has the right experience.

Rapport Leadership International has invested over 27 years in developing our training approach and curriculum. We have participated in training over 10,000 organizations. Our goal in working with your people is to help them develop skills that they will immediately be able to apply on the business floor. We call it “out the door and on the floor!”


Case Study: Victories Casino

In January of 2003, Victories Casino in Petoskey, MI took this best practice approach to measuring service in their organization.  Victories Casino measured both customer satisfaction of their top players and employee satisfaction in January to create their baseline.

Victories Casino used the customer relationship management company Profitable Customers to measure customer satisfaction of their top customers and employee satisfaction. The Simmons Group (Now Rapport Leadership International) performed customer service training for all staff, management and supervisor for their management team.

Data was compiled from the baseline customer satisfaction survey and the employee satisfaction survey from January 2003. The customer service training was developed using the data from the baselines and input from both the executive and management team.

The collective data from the baselines suggested that customer service training needed to incorporate teamwork, communication skills, building loyalty, accountability and having fun at work. The executive team provided input to finalize a training program for managers. The management team working with The Simmons Group/RLI identified content to address specific behaviors that they believed key to providing exceptional customer service.

Customer service training was designed to address two areas:  How employees felt they were being treated as internal customers; this being the management training, and what service behaviors the property could improve on according to their top players; this being the entire property training. 

The managers, as role models, were the key to reinforcing the training on the floor and needed to be “on board” with the program from the start. In all management training, we placed a strong emphasis on weaving the employee satisfaction survey messages into the management training. It was critical that management received the “message” from the results of the employee satisfaction survey, while still maintaining the confidentiality of the actual surveys.

After the first management training took place, property training (“everyone training including managers”) was conducted every two weeks for approximately 4 months.  Again, messages from the employee’s survey were woven through every class the managers attended.

Each class was 3 – 4 hours in length and everyone attended a new class approximately every two weeks.  This training schedule allowed for both employees and managers to practice the behaviors they had been taught between training classes. Each subsequent training class started with success stories about how employees and managers had successfully applied what they learned in the previous class.  In some cases the success stories were what they would not do again!

The next customer service satisfaction survey was administered in July of 2003, approximately 6 months after the initial baselines were measured. The results, by any standard, were impressive.

In the two important service categories of friendliness of employees and promptness of service, top players rated employee friendliness 3 percent higher in the categories rated above “good,” and promptness of service 5 percent higher in the those same categories.

These percentage points were significant in terms of increase. In the baseline customer service satisfaction survey the friendliness rating was 96% for the categories rated above good and in the second survey it moved to 99%. Respectively the promptness of service score rose from 90% to 95%.

In the decision making process, organizational outcomes as determined by the client are crucial. Manager and supervisors attending a leadership training once a year is not gong to make as large of an impact as one that use repetition and feedback, building on each of the previous learning’s. Repetition and feedback will help create new habits. Imagine the impact 80 good mentors will have on the business.

By choosing a traditional training, research shows that students retain approximately 25% of what they learn and apply only approximately 20% of that. On the other hand, students retain approximately 75% of experiential training and apply approximately 50% of that knowledge. Return on investment with RLI experiential training which is behavior based, will be greater compared to return on investment with traditional learning which is information based. Information based training does not change behavior. Cognitive understanding does not mean people will apply what they understand. Based on client outcomes, RLI creates focused process that  allow the student to internalize the information quickly and apply it in their own lives which creates substantial behavioral changes. We invite you to experience the difference.


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