What works in Training of Trainers?

Training of Trainers (ToT or TTT) has long been used as a capacity strengthening modality in international development.

CIDT has been reflecting on what works in Train the Trainer, following an enjoyable engagement with the UK Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). As part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, APHA is working to safeguard animal and plant health. In September 2023, CIDT was invited to design and deliver a 3-day workshop programme for colleagues from International Development, Virology, Wildlife, Bacteriology and Plant Health departments. In their different roles, APHA colleagues were facing demand to design and facilitate short technical training courses. Although specialists with vast expertise in their technical areas, few had course design or training experience.

The training was structured around the Training Cycle and aimed to equip APHA staff with skills and techniques to design and deliver training effectively and better share knowledge and experience with their diverse priority audiences. By the end of the workshop participants had examined the attitudes, processes and skills required to facilitate participatory learning and reflected on a range of training methods appropriate for adult learning. Most importantly they had had the opportunity to practice planning, preparing, delivering and evaluating training for real.

Participants appreciated:

“A practical and interactive workshop.”
“Learning different methods of engaging and body language.”
“Good group dynamics from participants helped ensure a good learning experience.”
“Getting feedback and giving feedback on my presentation techniques.”
“Interactive nature of the workshop helped engagement and learning.”
“The presenter was really engaging and passionate about their subject.”

The ‘cascade model’ of TTT has been around for many decades in international development and is seen as a sustainable way to extend the benefits of training to a wider group. Under this approach, training at the central level is repeated to trainees at the local level through a trained group of ‘master trainers’, with potential for several layers or rounds of dissemination.

David Hayes identifies important quality criteria in cascade models of training:

  • Training methods must be experiential and reflective
  • Training content should be open to reinterpretation and not rigid or prescribed
  • Involve a cross-section of stakeholders in preparation of training materials
  • Engage stakeholders through Training Needs Analysis
  • Identify and communicate clear outcomes
  • Adapt the programme in the light of evaluations and feedback

In fact these criteria are good practice for any kind of training, not limited to TTT. However TTT may have particular requirements for translation of training materials into local languages and for on-going trainer support such as mentoring, action learning sets etc.

The importance of follow up support was endorsed by feedback from a large training programme which CIDT implemented for the Caribbean Development Bank, with a strong train the trainer component:

“The trainers utilised an action learning approach which really sparked our interest and helped to highlight the relevance of what was being taught, to our work. They kept us on our toes both literally and figuratively. For those of us who sit off in our cubicles or offices, the opportunity to learn alongside our colleagues in a very hands on and interactive manner was really appreciated, and emphasised the importance of teamwork…”
Participant in the Caribbean Development Bank Project Cycle Management programme, train the trainer

Read more about our Training of Trainers work: CIDT facilitates Caribbean training coordinators to explore programme sustainability.

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