The 6 benefits of scenario-based learning for company training
Scenario-based learning (SBL) is an integral part of any company training program. While online training tools are excellent for imparting important information and introducing concepts, all too often these tools focus on just the facts. “Here’s how to use the cash register, and here’s a quiz about how to access the various functions of the cash register.”
Scenario-based training is an instructional strategy that helps to foster understanding on a deeper level. The use of interactive scenarios helps to solidify learning in a practical way with live problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and there are numerous benefits that go along with it.
1. Better learning engagement
With basic scenario-based learning, participants are challenged to think critically about the problem at hand and ascertain the most logical solution. This is much more engaging than simply memorizing information.
For example, if you’re trying to train retail employees on how to spot a potential shoplifter, the first step is to educate them on the red flags (clothing, body language, etc…). But at that point you’re just introducing information.
If you want to be certain that the employees actually understand what to look for, one logical next step is to present a series of scenarios describing different customers—and then ask the employees to identify which customers are most likely to be potential shoplifters based on their training. This makes the information more fun to absorb by almost turning it into a game.
2. Better knowledge retention
Storytelling is a key aspect of scenario-based learning. Research attests to the powerful effect of storytelling on retention. With scenario-based learning, learners are better equipped to remember the information presented because they’re assessing the learned material through a story-based lens.
When the learning is tied to a story, the information is no longer just a series of facts, rules or data points. It has a practical application that learners can connect with. And although the learning material should still be repeated at spaced intervals to encourage maximum retention, scenario-based learning helps to encourage that retention much more quickly.
3. A quicker road to mastery
When you create scenario-based learning assignments, employees are able to master concepts more quickly because they’re encouraged to analyze the material in abstract ways and consider different possible outcomes.
To return to the shoplifter example, an employee would be required to imagine the likelihood of each hypothetical customer being a shoplifter. They have to recall the specific red flags associated with would-be shoplifters, consider possible red herrings in the provided examples and make educated guesses based on probability. And if the employee gets the question incorrect, that in itself can provide a valuable learning experience.
4. A safe, controlled learning experience
Scenarios work especially well as part of safety-specific training where on-the-spot decision-making may be essential. You have to know that employees will make the right call when the stakes are high, and scenario-based learning—particularly when coupled with supervised on-the-job training—can set up your employees for success without any risk to the workplace or the people therein. It’s learning in a safe environment.
For instance, pallet jacks are common in many warehouses and retail environments, but on occasion, these machines have been associated with fractures, amputations and even death. So if your employees rely on pallet jacks to move inventory around, it’s very important that they understand the safety protocols, and that means going beyond the basics of “don’t place your feet under the pallet jack” and creating scenarios to ensure that proper usage and emergency procedures are fully understood. For instance, “You’re descending a steep incline and your pallet jack begins to spark. What do you do?”
5. Improved confidence
When an employee passes a scenario-based assessment, they can more confidently proceed knowing that their insights are sound. After all, their success isn’t based on memorization but on making the right call based on the information they’ve learned. More confidence—when coupled with genuine understanding—leads to better results overall. The employee is less hesitant and less reliant on the assistance of others.
Because confidence is so integral to success in the workplace, it’s worth tracking as part of your training program. For instance, Axonify has a built-in confidence metric that allows you to gain insights into how each employee’s belief in their ability stacks up against their actual ability. Participants are asked to rate their confidence in the answers they provide, and the results can be especially revealing for scenario-based lessons.
6. More effective training measurement
If an employee answers a basic multiple-choice quiz question correctly, it doesn’t tell you a lot. All you know is that they got the right answer—maybe because they comprehend the information at the surface level. But do they understand the concept of what’s being taught? Your LMS reporting features can only tell you so much.
Scenario-based learning gives you much greater insight into the actual learning comprehension. Participants can’t simply memorize the answer; they have to demonstrate a logical understanding of what they’ve learned. So when you examine the employee’s assessment results, you’re dealing with a much smaller margin of error. This allows for much more effective training measurement.
Scenario-Based Learning Works for Any Training Program
One great thing about scenario-based eLearning is that you can incorporate it right into your existing training program. It fits well within any traditional eLearning course. All you have to do is expand the training you already have with questions based on real-life situations. If you really want to take it to the next level, you can incorporate branching scenarios that allow employees to explore the outcomes of different choices and paths.
SBL works for most types of corporate training, from compliance to soft skills development. When you bring critical-thinking scenarios into the mix, you provide a richer learning experience that allows for better understanding, better retention and better business outcomes.