Learning is Progression: How to Teach Skills

Kathy Obear
Amherst, Massachusetts


1. Advance organizer: give overview; what to look for; purpose of skill; provide an outline of key topics / concepts to follow; move from general to specific.

2. Building blocks: break down skill into smaller / manageable parts; go over in detail; build on earlier information; compare / contrast; give examples of each part using current events / relevant issues.

3. Show whole picture: model/demonstrate entire skill slowly; have participants identify each part of skill; show inter-relatedness of all parts.

4. Apply information/practice skills: participants practice skill in low-risk environment with observer; receives feedback; facilitator wanders among participants and coaches as needed; best if participants first practice a situation already modeled by facilitator; use "successive approximation" strategies.

5. Process reactions, feelings and results of practice: participants discuss feelings and reactions to taking the risk of practicing a new skill; facilitator needs to reward honest comments about difficulty of task.

6. Pep-talk: facilitator gives a motivational pep-talk that emphasizes need for patience, persistence and practice; bike riding analogy.

7. Homework: facilitator suggests / solicits a variety of ways participants can keep learning and applying new information / skill.


Kathy Obear is a diversity trainer and consultant based in Amherst, Massachusetts (413) 283-2503.


Copyright © 1991 Kathy Obear. Permission is granted to copy and use this material for educational and non-profit purposes only. This copyright statement and acknowledgement of authorship should remain intact on materials you copy from this website.