Being an effective group leader involves using skills that allow you to influence the way a group interacts and learns. These skills are collectively referred to as Group Facilitation Skills. In order to develop these skills, you will need to identify, learn, and practice a wide variety of specific behaviors that promote positive group interactions. This page will describe four types of facilitation skills that promote different types of experiential learning. The model represented here assumes that an effective group leader has facilitation skills appropriate for promoting different types of interactive learning. These skills were originally identified and described in the book, Workshops: Designing and facilitating experiential learning by J. E. Brooks-Harris & S. R. Stock-Ward (in press). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Engaging Facilitation Skills invite members to be a part of a group. They encourage a member to feel included and valued within the group context. These skills help individuals make the transition from their past experiences into a new context. They help group members reflect on what they already know and prepare them for interactive learning. Engaging skills are used to create curiosity, interest and energy. They encourage the discovery of personal meaning and interpersonal connections.
Informing Facilitation Skills are used to provide a group with information from outside the group and to help the group learn about itself. These skills include teaching factual information and allowing group members to gain new knowledge. Two types of information are relevant to a group learning format; first, content information from outside the group and, second, process information from within the group itself.
Involving Facilitation Skills encourage positive interaction and learning between group members. These skills create an opportunity for active experimentation and encourage learning by practice and allow group members to put new knowledge to practical use. Because involvement occurs when group members themselves practice and gain hands-on experience, these facilitation skills require a shift in focus away from the leader and toward the group and the members within the group.
Planning Facilitation Skills focus on planning for the future and applying learning from the group to other contexts. These skills encourage members to work together to make specific plans to accomplish group or individual goals. Planning skills prepare group members to move from active experimentation within the group to concrete experience beyond the group.
Copyright © 1998. Jeff E. Brooks-Harris & Kevin G. Shollenberger. Permission is granted to copy and use this handout provided this copyright notice remains intact.
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