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Formation Process to Work on Roles in the Adult Learning Environments

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Learning is a complex, multilevel process and adult trainers have to work all in that level to facilitate the participants through this complexity. It is quite a responsibility, no? According to most of the teaching approaches, the responsibility of the teachers/trainers is transferring the knowledge, skills and competences that they have to the students/learners; not only in the traditional methods, but also in the non-formal/in-formal training methods. However, learning is never a one way process, especially in adult training, everyone learns from each other, including the trainer. In such an environment, the trainer should not be considered as the only responsible person for learning of all trainees.

Distribution of the responsibility in the learning environment and giving active roles to the trainees will increase the attention, and willingness of the learners, it will create synergy and trust in the group, give flexibility, and decrease the pressure experienced by the trainer.  “Formation Process” is one of the learning processes that we can use on that point.

Formation process can be described as a circular process where the knowledge is fed into the interactive network of participants. The responsibility of the evaluation of the success of the training belongs to both; trainer and trainees. This does not mean the trainer and the trainees have the same level in terms of knowledge, skills and competences; the relationship is asymmetrical only in terms of knowledge, but symmetrical in terms of roles. “To form” means precisely to work on the role of the other. Formation is an interrelationship between roles, in which the trainer works in the function of the other person. 

In a formation process,  the trainers can use strategies and interventions to work on the role of the trainees, and themselves. When the trainer is changing their position, it is giving the possibility to the trainees to do the same. Another strong feature of the formation is any manifestation of disinterest by the trainees or challenges occurred during the training are not read as something to be eliminated, but as an element of the interaction that should be understood and used in the learning environments by the trainer, either by making sense of this disinterest or proposing an alternative activity.

As it stated before, applying the formation process in the learning environment is very much related with the roles of trainers and trainees. To understand how to play these roles, it is necessary to look at the theoretical background that the formation process lays down. This brings us to the “interactionist perspective”.  

This perspective assumes that a person is an active subject, whose action is intentional and oriented by meanings: meanings are conceived as constructed within the process of social interaction and modified along an interpretive process implemented by the subject, always in relation to what surrounds that person

The roles are also delineated through the mutual anticipations and expectations that are generated in the interaction. Therefore, the people are in continuous interaction with what surrounds them. This perspective gives us the possibility to experience different roles as trainers and trainees in the learning environment based on the interactions created before, during and after the training.

We can hear you ask “Okay but how will we do it?”. In the following article you will find some methods/strategies to be used in the formation process. I would like to remind you that there are many methods/strategies and you can create your own methods/strategies. Our aim is only to give some ideas on how the formation process works.


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