APPENDIX 1 - BASIC SKILLS FOR FACILITATING SCHOOL
THE DIMENSION OF FACILITATION
The facilitator functions as a group member with a specific role. This
role serves the group as a process observer and primarily focuses on
the discussion, task, and dynamics that occur during the activities
taking place within the group. There are two dimension of facilitation:
one is having shared ownership and the other is process management.
Let's review the dimensions.
Shared ownership: In this dimension, the facilitator works to
assist the group in establishing norms, promotes group cohesion while
negotiating with the group how discussion time will be spent. The facilitator
is aware of setting a climate where divergent perspectives can be expressed
and recognized. The facilitator is sensitive to the need to explore,
address, and further discuss diverse ideas, opinions, and controversial
issues. In order to establish a sense of ownership for group functioning,
the facilitator must avoid evaluation and issues that may polarize the
group. The focus should remain on topics identified by the group.
Process management: In this dimension, the facilitator must
be willing to put aside his or her own perspective and needs in order
to understand the individual and group viewpoints, needs, and feelings.
The facilitator provides the group with a structural process by the
use of activities that support group development. The facilitator uses
energizers and processes to encourage group interaction and discussions.
The facilitator offers feedback from observations and conceptual questioning
that will keep group members on task or further the exploration of an
issue or idea.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ADULT LEARNERS
In order to accomplish a shared ownership and manage the group's process,
the facilitator must understand the characteristics of adult learners.
These characteristics have a direct implication for the facilitation
and experiences for each group member. There are six areas a facilitator
must be aware of is he or she intends to be effective in a group facilitation
environment (National Institutes of Health, National Training System,
1995). They are as follows.
- Individual autonomy: Adults come to a group setting at various
stages of autonomy; individuals exercise this autonomy in group and
learning situations. The individual's selfconcept will directly affect
his or her behavior and desire to participate. It is important to
understand that when adults are involved in decision making processes
that affect their learning and interaction within the group, their
investment in group functioning will likely increase. If the adults
feel they are being "talked down to" or are asked to participate in
activities that they feel are childish, irrelevant, or not adult-like,
their participation and learning will decrease proportionately.
- Experience base: Adults come with a broad base of experience
upon which to draw from and share with others. It is important to
understand that adults have unique life experiences expressed through
their roles as employees, spouses, parents, military personnel. They
have specialized skills; and a host of other diverse experiences.
Most adults reflect on the meaning of their lives as they related
to the environment in which they experience inclusion, exclusion,
or how their contributions are recognized and valued. Participation
in discussions that involve sharing their insights and experiences
with one another during a group setting is a way adults internalize
new information and skills.
- What's important: Adults tend to seek to learn and participate
in activities they have identified as important rather than what others
deem important. Adult values and belief systems will determine to
a great extent what will be learned and utilized. It is known as the
"what's in it for me syndrome."
- Application of experience: Adults look to how much they
will participate when they can apply what they experienced and learned.
It must be recognized that interest in theories and processes will
wane in proportion to their direct application to the work, social
environments, and, in most cases, in family, recreational, and in
their everyday world. Adults want to try, test, and assess for themselves
new learning and skills so they can experience and evaluate the effectiveness.
- Problem-centered and subject-centered: Most adults are interested
in practical and pragmatic applications of their experience and learning
rather then just an increase in their bank of knowledge for some future
- Relevancy: Adults want to know if what they are asked to
do and learn is relevant to their needs. Adults appreciate new information
and skills to reduce their frustrations, increase their effectiveness
and productivity, and expand their knowledge base.