Its 9.00 am. Bright eyed and bushy tailed the learner’s polish of the remnants of their coffees as the course tutor calls the class to attention. Give or take 30 minutes for lunch and a couple of 15 minute refreshment breaks this cohort are in for the duration: 6 hours. The question is everyone getting the most out of the session?

From a tutors perspective you have all sorts of different type of learner, most obviously those who want to be there, and then there are those that seemingly don’t. The latter tend to look regularly at the clock on the wall (or the one on their phone as they attempt to furtively text). They are not given to participating with any discernible level of exuberance. Their facial expression seems to indicate a kind of mild pain as they endure the course. At break time they leave the classroom at a pace that would make Usain Bolt blush, and they return to it with the same level of vitality as a cramped marathon runner who has just run face first into the wall. What is going on?

To answer this question could well be that the learning on offer doesn’t ‘speak to them’ as learners. This could be because either they already know it all, or they just think they do. Either way, the job of the Tutor is make sure there is something useful or valuable to be learn. To convince a learner that this is the case is to motivate them. This is the first step to optimising engagement, and maximising learning.

To get to grips with what is known and not known it might be useful to look through the Johari Window. Originally this was an exercise used to help people better understand their relationship with themselves. It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. Joe and Harry, hence Johari. The four window panes are illustrated below.

Maximising Classroom Learning

According to Luft and Ingham:

  • Pane 1 (the Arena) is the part of ourselves that we see as well as others.
  • Pane 2 (the Blind Spot) is the aspect of us that others see but we are unaware of.
  • Pane 3 (the Façade) is our private space, which we know but exclude others from.
  • Pane 4 is the most mysterious room. It is the ‘Unknown’, the unconscious or subconscious area which is neither seen nor entered by anyone..

In its original form a therapeutic target of the exercise (in which ‘what is known’ is audited) may be the expansion of the ‘Arena’ square This results in greater knowledge of oneself. Voluntary disclosure of the ‘Private’ are of ‘Façade’ may result in greater interpersonal intimacy and friendship.

A modified exercise may be used to identify what a learner needs to know and the value of that learning.  In this case the Tutor assumes an interactive role, and encourages people to look at what they know.

Maximising Classroom Learning

The tutor can give every learner a copy on an A4 sheet, and then list the course content on a flip chart or screen. Learners should then be encouraged to chat with a colleague and insert the learning outcomes in either Pane/Box 1 or 2. Then everyone should be invited to list what was placed in box 1 and why. After this short session is completed all that remains is what needs to be known. This learner can be tailored and focused by the Tutor. This can be best achieved if the Tutor understands the context in which the learning will be applied.

It’s now time for the learners to think about where, when and how the remaining learning will be embedded/implemented. This they insert in Pane/Box 3. When fed back to the Tutor this will give them useful insight that can be used when the course content is delivered.

This then brings us on to the ‘Unknown’ that lurks in Pane/Box 4. How can this be useful? Perhaps this is where hypothetical scenarios can be placed into the mix. These can be entirely off the wall. What would you do if… ? In this instance what you are doing is presenting a situation where the learner has to explain how they would assess the situation and adapt their learning. This is useful exercise in itself and requires the learner to exhibit the type mental agility that will serve them well back in the work setting.

In closing it is incumbent on Tutors and Trainers to avoid just ‘going through the motions’. By doing so both learners and learning opportunities are lost. They need to be creative and responsive to learners needs. This exercise is just one way of working to ensure that a more knowledgeable and better focused workforce returns to the work setting. Happy learning.