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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Applying the Learning-Teaching Style Process to Jump Start Your Novice Engineers

Working as an elementary school teacher is not an easy job. One of the biggest challenges facing an educator is activating and sustaining the student's motivation.

Richard Lavoie in his book "The Motivation Breakthrough" discusses a four-step process which has been effective with children during challenging times. The process is summarized as follows:

1. Do it for the student - By explaining to the student what needs to be done, we then ask questions about next steps. Using common sense and logic the student should be able to explain what needs to be done to solve the problem. During this step the student is not asked to do the work himself, but only be responsive to questions, actively listening and asking questions.

2. Do it with the student - In this step the educator allows the student the opportunity to do part or all of the work with the assistance of his coach. Upon the completion of this step the student will be able to perform the task, or solve the problem on his own.

3. Observe the student - In this step the educator observes the student doing the work. It allows the educator to evaluate the process of the problem solution and not just the final result. It is a great opportunity for the educator or coach to offer suggestions, praise, clarifications and guidance. Upon completion of this step the student becomes a master in the problem or task.

4. Have the student do it - The student is completely independent and not supervised during the problem solving or task implementation. It provides the student extra confidence and the ability to innovate and improve the process and skills involved.

As Chief Systems Engineers we can apply these concepts to novice team members or new graduates. New members could shadow experienced systems engineers and achieve step 1 and 2 through direct interactions during the shadowing process. Delegation allows the senior team member to observe the junior team member and finally a complete turn-over allows the realization of the fourth step.

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