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Any Answers Digest #4 – dealing with uninterested students, applying learning, establishing a training budget…


TrainingZONE Any Answers Digest - Issue 4
Wednesday 30 January 2002

********** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS **********
......Dealing with uninterested to get learners
applying learning...establishing a training budget.............
********** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS ***** THIS WEEK'S TOPICS **********

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What you asked this fortnight:
New questions posted include:
Craig Lewis seeks help with establishing a training budget

Leslie Rae seeks clarification on calculating ROI

Ronda Sharp is opening a computer training company and is looking
for recommendations for registration software

Got a question you need answered? Post it now, free of charge at

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culture; benefit from bestowing leadership on others; identify
the win-win factors. Featuring: Sir John Harvey-Jones, BBC
Trouble Shooter; Sue Purves, Vice-President, Human Resources,
Astra Zeneca; and Professor Amin Rajan, Chief Executive, CREATE.
Further details:

Featured question: What to do with disinterested students?
My group of HNC Engineers have had 4 lecturers this year - I am
the 4th. They are therefore not surprisingly fed up. They also do
not appreciate the relevance that costing and strategic planning
has to their engineering environment and when I try to teach them
this riveting subject they just sit there with their arms folded
and I get no response whatsoever. They are bored and it does not
help that the lecture is last thing Fri pm. As a result I am
unnerved and am stumbling over my words. Are there any ideas as
to methods to get them interested? It does not help that I also
have been thrown into this with not much guidance e.g. I walked in
the first day to teach them one part of the syllabus and they said
they had already covered it! I only have them for a further 10

Question submitted by Jennifer Adams

Members responses

Getting them engaged by having THEM define the importance of the
topic is fine until you come across those who 'don't know what
they don't know' - in these situations we really need to make an
expert input. On a practical level, you might be aware of the
importance of costing and strategy (including engineering
strategy/asset strategy) in the asset-intensive regulated
utilities such as water (my area of expertise), rail etc. The
major basis of their price determinations are underpinned by a
strategic approach to asset management depending fundamentally on
detailed costs for 5 -15 year strategic plans. I would expect any
asset-intensive business to have very similar features, so the
importance of strategic (engineering) planning and accurate
costings is VERY critical to many businesses. I guess that some
of your students may want to work in these environments, so
perhaps you could get someone along to illustrate, from real
life, how important this is.

Geoff Roberts


You raise some interesting points about disengagement in learning
- and I would go along with many of the earlier comments.
Fundamentally, until your students see this is a relevant issue
to their needs they will remain disinterested. I agree with the
previous comment - you need to turn this round so that the
responsibility lies with them, not you. Get them to state what is
relevant around this issue to their needs. What about creating a
problem-solving session / case study / simulation, in which, in
the context of a larger problem, the issues of costing and
strategic planning need to be addressed e.g. for the purpose of
submitting a tender, or putting forward a business case to a
third party. If you have the time, get them to create and run a
related simulation.

Tim Pickles


I think that you've hit the nail on the head -they are
disinterested. How about calling their bluff and asking them if
you can work out together what would be useful in your topic to
them and if not let them get bored doing nothing. The other
thing would be the threat of exams and accreditation - a more
dodgy carrot. Finally, I've just read a book called leadership
and the new science by Margaret Wheatley. It's all about quantum
physics and chaos theory and related planning and organisational
development to new science which may grab your students (and is
written in easy to understand non technical way but deals with
difficult scientific stuff).
Good luck.

Tina Cook


Have you considered getting the group to think through either the
setting up/or growing of an engineering business? You could then
apply some strategic management theory and tools that would allow
them to reflect/research evidence to inform them on the future
direction of the business. Whilst I have no direct experience of
working with a group of HNC Students of Engineering I do have
twenty years first hand experience of motivating students.

Gail Sibbald


I think many of us can identify with your Engineering students.
There is always some part of an academic course where most of us
think , 'What's that got to do with what I want to be/do?' It's
only when we enter the world of work, do we realise the
importance of the different elements of our organisation's work
and how they contribute to the final product or service.
Students get bored (especially on Friday afternoons!) if they
cannot see the relevance of a subject to the main focus of their
studies. One way to wake up your students may be to invite a
recently graduated, working Engineer to talk to them about
his/her work, artfully including examples showing how costing and
strategic planning are an integral part of it.

Good luck!

Rehana Looker


Read the full discussion and add your own views at

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Any Answers Answered:
This fortnight, new responses have been added to the following

Q - Does anyone have any ideas how to ensure learners apply
learning into the workplace following a training intervention? In
particular I am focussing on Call Centre Agents and Team Leader

Gemilla Holden

A - Make the people responsible fulfil their obligations, says
Leslie Rae: 'If you are the trainer, your responsibility stops at
providing effective learning situations. Have the learners
produce action plans at the end of the programme.'

A - I agree with Leslie, says Anita Wild, who goes on to detail
'a few other systems/ methods we have used that can support and
encourage full value to be gained from learning', including a
formal mentoring system and action learning sets.

To read the full responses, see

Q - Please could someone define the term 'learning organisation'
- it appears to be elusive!
Thelma Williams

A - Derek Adams says; 'I have a copy of an article by Peter Honey
'the Learning Organisation Simplified' that I think is quite
good in that he talks about wanted and unwanted behaviours and
how to work towards establishing them.

A - Brian Osbiston states: 'The best definition of a learning
organisation can be summarised: The difference between
individual /group and organisation learning is to consider a
performing organisation , such as an orchestra/football team
etc. The winning of a football game cannot be attributed to
individuals alone. It is the result of the know-how embedded in
the whole 'group' working together.'

A - Douglas King quotes Richard Karash, among others: 'A Learning
Organisation is one in which people at all levels, individuals
and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to
produce results they really care about..'

To read the full responses, see

Any Answers would cease to function without all those who
regularly share their knowledge and experience. If you've
benefited from receiving advice from an Any Answers question but
have yet to post a response yourself, why not do your bit by
responding to one of the questioners now at

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Copyright (c) 2002 Sift Group Ltd. All rights reserved.
May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes as
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Tel:+44 (0)117 915 9600 Fax:+44 (0)117 915 9630 ISSN 1474-2225


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