When a company agrees to fund professional development for its employees, it seeks tangible results and a measurable impact after its completion. It might be very general, affecting the bottom line at the end of the year or quarter, or directed towards specific problems that need immediate solving. The necessary prerequisite for any training session to have a desirable influence on an organization is that its participants view it as a positive experience. It is a signal that style and content were appealing and stood a chance of getting the message across, rather than simply going over the set material. A series of research studies that involved questioning participants of business education events reveal what is needed to up the possibility of good reception.
Answers and impression differed considerably between graduates and were a reflection of their top educational priorities, background and expectations. However, some areas were mentioned with great consistency.
First, what was very interesting, a lot of participants drew attention to the quality of their study group as a strong contributory factor. If they connected well with other students, forming a vibrant and integrated team of sorts, their perception of the whole experience soared into very positive territories. At first glance, it is independent of training providers, but on closer inspection several things can be done to foster good spirit. To start with, the selection process should involve a degree of calibrating participants to fit together. Second, the event should be designed in such a way that it promotes integration, feeling of being together.
Next, what many participants saw as a big pro was the fact that they could work in small groups, rather than in plenary or individually. This format makes it possible to interact with others in fairly intense and very meaningful ways, so that there is a big transfer of ideas, a real meeting of minds. Pairwork or group work are also excellent as integration vehicles.
Unsurprisingly, students agreed to give a lot of weight to the quality of the faculty. It concerns both the ability to connect with students and communicate the message behind the professional development session and the right competences that make them an authority in their disciplines. What proved especially effective in increasing satisfaction was that classes were conducted by a mix of theoreticians and practitioners, giving a fuller picture of the issue at hand. Quite a number of participants of past business education events appreciated the idea of having a keynote speaker who could wrap up their session.
Finally, apart from lots of other factors that were seen as contributing to the final success, placing an emphasis on innovative teaching and learning methods seems important. Rather than sit in class and go over one case study after another, students wanted to be engaged in more modern ways. Blended learning that relied on hi-tech tools, from a simple webcam to a full-fledged e-learning platform, was considered an asset and a fantastic extension that made the whole experience a little more appealing.