Tip #582: The Power of Multiples of Five in Training

“A rule to live by: I won’t use anything I can’t explain in five minutes.” Philip Crosby

The number five, or multiples of five, occurs frequently in training. It applies to curriculum design, room set up, training delivery and group facilitation.

  1. Accelerated learning promotes participant-centered “whole body learning” by engaging as many of the 5 traditionally recognized senses as possible. Audiovisuals and peripherals on the walls will engage the sense of sight. Experiential learning activities will engage the senses of hearing and touch. Bowls of candy on the training tables will engage the sense of taste. Fragrant magic markers will engage the sense of smell.
  1. Five is the ideal number of participants to be seated at a training table. Less than five minimizes the number of viewpoints and bases for discussion. More than five participants makes it difficult for the participants to hear each other.
  1. Five minutes tends to be a sufficient time for competitive brainstorming activities.
  1. Having participants vote with the fingers of one hand (where five fingers mean everything is fine and one finger means everything is terrible) is a quick and easy Level One evaluation method.
  1. It can be fun to have participants end a paired or group activity by giving each other a “high five.”
  1. Ten minutes is the maximum time for a lecturette. It is difficult to get participants to pay attention for more than ten minutes at a time since television has programmed us to expect a commercial every ten minutes.
  1. Ten minute breaks are necessary after 50 minutes of training content. The brain needs time to process what it has learned, create mental models and file them in long-term memory.
  1. There are ten basic categories of participatory learning activities:

(1) art: create designs intended to embody learning concepts in a visual or tactile manner;

(2) discussion: verbalize thoughts, questions or experiences related to the learning content;

(3) dramatization: act out some aspect of the learning content;

(4) game: challenges that are enjoyable, interesting, often timed or competitive, and carried out by their own rules;

(5) hands on: practice or apply what has been learned;

(6) physical movement: get the body moving;

(7) problem solving: analyze a situation and recommend alternative solutions;

(8) reading: interact with the written word;

(9) visualization: picture a mental image, often accompanied by emotions or sensations; and

(10) writing: make a written record.

  1. As mentioned in #7, breaks are needed after 50 minutes of training.
  1. Training modules are therefore best structured into 50-minute segments.

I’ve stopped with ten (a multiple of 5). Can you think of any more?

May your learning be sweet.


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