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Interpretive Writing 230
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Planning Park Interpretation 310
Interpretive Media Development 311
Leaning Interpreters 330
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Component for Module 330

Interpretive Training

Content Outline l Resources l Suggested Developmental Activities | Next

Ranger Careers interpreters will be involved in providing training for seasonal/ temporary workers and/or other park employees (seasonal rangers, entry and developmental level interpreters, volunteers, SCA's, interns, cooperating association employees, etc.). The full performance interpreter needs to develop knowledge and skills to plan, organize, present, and evaluate training for the interpretive development of others, to enhance their ability to provide interpretive opportunities for park visitors.

Upon completion of this component, the learner will be able to:

  • Identify training opportunities which meet the needs of park interpretive goals and objectives, and the developmental needs of coworkers;

  • Develop instructional objectives;

  • Choose and use appropriate training methods and techniques;

  • Devise and use evaluation tools;

  • Use Interpretive Curriculum concepts and principles as foundational elements of content and delivery for training sessions.

Application of skills learned in this component will result in interpretive training which contributes to the overall improvement of park interpretive and visitor services, and meets park management goals/needs. Training programs which the full performance interpreter may plan and deliver could include (but are not limited to): module components from the Interpretive Development Program curriculum; specific interpretive skill and technique development sessions; resource issue, multiple perspectives, or subject matter interpretation; refresher skills and concepts for returning seasonals.

The interpretive trainer is able to recognize and assess needs for training which will help meet the interpretive goals and objectives of park programs and planning documents, and the need for critical resource issue or subject matter interpretation. With supervisory oversight and approval, the interpreter works individually or as part of a team to plan, design, present, and evaluate the training session(s). All training efforts are grounded in the concepts and principles of the Interpretive Development Program Curriculum. Training evaluation forms are carefully constructed to solicit specific feedback on 1) the usefulness of the material presented; 2) the perceived effectiveness of the presentation methods/techniques used; and 3) the potential for the training to result in enhanced or increased interpretive opportunities for park visitors.

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Content Outline

I. Planning training

A. Target articulated needs

1. accomplish park interpretive goals
2. operations needs
3. implement park planning objectives
4. performance or outcome based
5. specific objectives targeting performance outcome
6. creative; designed to include optimum experiential variety (learning styles, media, techniques)
7. grounded in the principles and concepts of the Interpretive Development Program curriculum

B. The planning process

1. confer with park/division staff, supervisors, and/or managers to identify and articulate a perceived need for a particular training session based on:

a. park planning documents
b. planning or training calendar requirements
c. interpretive programming goals/objectives
d. needs assessments
e. special needs such as critical resource issues or new/emerging resource information
f. developmental needs of employees
g. park operations needs

2. integrate with other training efforts and park programs to meet optimum needs

a. best use of staff time
b. coordinated for best timing during work year
c. complements other training/program needs to accomplish park/division goals

3. scheduling

a. dates and training location
b. coordination with other park events/needs
c. employee availability

4. instructional design

a. write outcome-based session goals/learning objectives (see below)
b. solicit input and review from others

5. content selection and organization

a. identify and sequence content
b. identify resources
c. subject experts, other division staff, other agency representatives, etc.
d. relevant research materials
e. Interpretive Curriculum materials
f. other reference material
g. identify instructional methods
h. select media and props
i. write lesson plan (see below)

6. schedule other speakers/presenters

a. provide session agenda, goals/objectives

7. develop session evaluation forms (see below)

II. Effective training session design

A. Outcome-based goals for each training session target interpretive needs
B. Develop outcome-based, learner-centered instructional objectives**

1. objectives realistic, achievable, and measurable
2. successful accomplishment of objectives should contribute to successful outcome of session goals to meet specific interpretive needs 3. each objective should address:

a. the performance which will result
b. the conditions under which the performance will be accomplished
c. the criteria or level of accomplishment (quantity/quality descriptors) as applicable

C. Interpretive Curriculum as foundational language and reference for articulating goal and objective outcomes
D. Develop lesson plans**

1. identify

a. structure
b. sequence
c. time lines
d. teaching techniques
e. teaching aids

2. incorporate

a. assessment of audience and their needs
b. an understanding of the characteristics of adult learners**
c. instructional objectives
d. fully researched material
e. peer and supervisory review
f. demonstrate concepts of the Interpretive Curriculum

E. Training methods and techniques**

1. technique selection based on

a. instructional objectives
b. nature and content of material
c. experience and education of audience
d. time constraints
e. most effective methods for teaching the principles and concepts of the Interpretive Curriculum by example and illustration

2. types of classroom methods/techniques

a. participatory lecture
b. group discussion
c. demonstrations
d. buzz groups
e. brainstorming
f. role playing
g. panels
h. group problem solving
i. critiques
j. case studies
k. experiential activities
l. field trips
m. questioning techniques
n. icebreakers
o. pre- and post-course assignments

3. media and training aid selection

a. appropriate for the audience
b. provide accurate, effective, and vivid images that insure correct perception of what is presented to the audience
c. simplify complex materials
d. visually aid concepts presented
e. stimulate and sustain interest

4. types of classroom media/training aids

a. chalkboards, white boards, flipcharts
b. handouts
c. instruments (checklists, quizzes, rating sheets, surveys, questionnaires, etc.)
d. overheads
e. computer aided graphics programs
f. slides
g. films/videos
h. audio cassettes
i. CD's
j. Internet
k. satellite link-ups

III. Presentation effectiveness

A. Learning environment**

1. assure mental and physical involvement by the participants

a. comfortable, informal classroom environment
b. minimal distractions
c. start and end on time
d. appropriate presentation style and humor
e. positive image

B. Instructing adult learners**

1. characteristics

a. need value and relevance of the session
b. bring past experiences, opinions, and ingrained habits
c. persuaded by opinions of many, not just one
d. prefer experiential techniques
e. respond to diversity of instruction methods
f. have basic preoccupation when entering the class

2. build an atmosphere of learning by following basic learning principles**

a. readiness (willingness)
b. primacy (right way first)
c. effect (satisfaction)
d. intensity (vividness)
e. exercise (repetition)

C. Learner-centered, teacher-directed training**

1. participant centered for performance as an outcome
2. objectives and outcomes are achievable
3. opportunity to practice the skills being taught as they are learning them

D. Teaching by example

1. most effective method - by example and illustration
2. modeling

a. connecting the audience (trainees) to the concepts and principles being taught
b. tangibles, intangibles, and universal concepts
c. multiple points of view
d. significance and meaning of park resources
e. appropriate techniques
f. cohesive development of a relevant idea or ideas, rather than relying on a recital of facts or chronology
g. appropriate depth and amount of relevant information
h. using park resources appropriately to create context and support content
i. an engaging presentation style appropriate to the audience and the context
j. creativity
k. appropriate logistics

IV Evaluation** and follow-up

A. Effective evaluation forms

1. reaction evaluation - immediate participant response
2. learning - concepts mastered measured at the end of the session
3. behavior - assesses on-the-job performance differences
4. results - on-the-job outcomes

B. Determine measurable indicators

1. tied to the session goals and objectives
2. tied to language and targeting standards of the Interpretive Development Program

C. Evaluation is only ONE indicator; not be used as the sole measure of training effectiveness; combine with:

1. other instructors/coordinator observations
2. peers who observed, but did not participate
3. self-assessment

a. materials presented
b. objectives covered
c. degree of participation
d. training techniques did/did not work well
e. media aids did/did not work well
f. types of questions asked
g. types of discussions generated
h. comments of participants during breaks
i. understanding the Interpretive Development Program language

D. Follow-up

1. all sources of evaluation for future reference, or course report
2. assess session goals and objectives and lesson plans/make notes
3. reinforce the principles/information taught locally in a coaching role

a. "practice what you preach"
b. provide additional resource material to interested individuals
c. provide constructive coaching feedback to employees
d. encourage the work of others by recognizing their attempts to use the principles/information taught in the training

**For more detail on these topics, see the NPS Training Methods handbook, Fifth Edition, National Park Service, 1991).

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Creative Training Techniques Handbook, Robert W. Pike, Lakewood Publications, 1989.

Interpretive Development Program Curriculum, Bundles 1-3, National Park Service, 1996-1998.

NPS Training Methods, Fifth Edition, National Park Service, 1991.

Preparing Instructional Objectives, Robert F. Mager, Pitman Learning, 1984.

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Suggested Developmental Activities
1. With supervisory approval, observe and/or request to apprentice to a park or regional training coordinator or training team in planning and designing a training course or session.

2. Acquire old session lesson plans from someone in your park or region who has experience as a training instructor. Review them for examples of training methods/techniques used, and types of media aids used. See if the session objectives are stated, and if they are clearly addressed in the lesson plan.

3. Collect blank copies of evaluation forms from the various training sessions you attend as references for creating your own.

4. Obtain a copy of a lesson plan from the Interpretive Skills Curriculum (4/92 version), and determine how you would alter it using the language and principles of the Interpretive Development Program Curriculum.

5. Start a file of creative ideas to use for training sessions including ice breakers, interesting graphics, appropriate quotations, etc.

6. Arrange an interview with your park or region's employee development specialist. Discuss how subject-specific interpretive training at the park or regional level can and should fit into the "big picture" of the NPS Employee Development Program.

7. With your supervisor's approval, do a written survey of your park/site's interpretive staff to assess their needs for interpretive development (using the competency standards and Interpretive Development Program Curriculum as a guide). How do these needs mesh with training needs expressed by the park/site's planning documents?

Next Component

Directing, Leading, and Coaching

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Editor: STMA Training Manager Interpretation

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