NICE Tools: Archive

Train the Trainer Resource

This guide is an accumulation of evidence-based practices identified in the literature as being conducive to the train-the-trainer process. It draws upon studies of transfer training, knowledge dissemination, “cascade” barriers and facilitators, and effective teaching skills. It is inspired by the concept of self-efficacy and adult learning principles. The aim of this tool is to assist agencies to train their trainers in the prevention, detection and intervention of elder mistreatment.

Strategies are grouped in 3 sections: ‍

  1. How to prepare for training
  2. How to train your champions
  3. How to “cascade” the learning onto others and maintain the “train gain"


Choose Your “Program-Based Advocates” preferably  choose those who are committed to evidence-based  learning. Consider a nomination process by their  peers as well as a letter of support from their immediate  supervisor confirming that the individual will be permitted  to attend training sessions and in turn, to conduct training  sessions during work hours.

Aim For A Critical Mass: Consider training more than  one person as a contingency plan for staff turnover  and to provide a greater number of advocates of  the new process who share a common vision, skill set,  and insights.

Know Your Trainees

  • Start with an assessment of learning needs to  ensure that the offered content will enhance their  knowledge, skill and abilities. Training must  meet their expectations; otherwise, it will lead to  frustration.
  • Ask them to answer program-specific questions and  to share their challenges, personal reflections, and  anxieties about addressing elder mistreatment.  This will build anticipation amongst participants and  provide excellent insight into their challenges.  The facilitator can then incorporate these experiences  into the teaching, encouraging learning by interacting  with the trainees.

Promote Trainee Engagement

Ensure that the content is relevant to their work  context: it should be aligned with work responsibilities, perceived as being credible and contributing  positively to their work performance . The needs  assessment conducted earlier will answer the question  “Why are we learning this?”.

Provide Advance Materials: Providing trainees with  the objectives of the training prior to the session  increases transfer outcomes. Also, provide a  “kit” of handouts or tools and a facilitator guide prior  to sessions. Advance reading assignments help the  participants to emotionally and intellectually prepare  for the sessions. They also provide repetition which  enhances learning.

Pose Advance Homework assignments. Such advance  preparation will set the stage for trainees, act as  advance discussions, engage them in the application  of the content, and encourage them to think about the  challenges and opportunities ahead.

Utilize Self-Management Strategies:  

  • Set specific but challenging Learning Goals: Both  assigned (set by the trainer) and participative  (set by the trainee) goal setting are encouraged.  This strategy helps participants to direct their  attention and action, channels their energy, favours  persistence and motivates the trainee to develop  strategies to attain their goals . A combination of  proximal (short-term) and distal (long-term) outcome  goals results in increased knowledge transfer.
  • Use Action Plans: Establish strategies to reach  expected outcomes and timelines. Discussions  between supervisor and trainee are key to ensuring  trainees are provided with opportunities to use the  trained skills after training


Foster A Positive Learning Climate

  • Respect principles of Adult Learning.  
  • Establish and communicate goals for the session,  promote understanding, retention, and self directed  learning.

Enhance The Positives: Self-Efficacy And Motivation

  • Self-efficacy is positively related to transfer  maintenance. Interventions such as supportive  feedback and self-management strategies –goal  setting and action planning noted earlier- have  been successful.  
  • Behavioural modeling (BM) contributes to self efficacy. Using a mixed demonstration model of  both effective (positive) and ineffective (negative)  behaviours, the facilitator can demonstrate effective  and ineffective ways to prevent, detect and intervene  in elder mistreatment, thus ensuring higher levels of  behaviour change and learning.
  • Consider providing workplace incentives to enhance  motivation such as highlighting the training in the  performance appraisal, which influences retention  of training.

Provide Training Resources

Provide a Tool Kit, (the NICE tools on prevention,  detection and intervention of elder mistreatment, for  example). This is a strategy in knowledge translation to  help the learner apply best evidence.

Provide a Facilitator Guide containing:  

  • Modules organizing content matter  
  • Objectives, content outline, background  information, PowerPoint slides with speaking notes,  activities, case studies, discussion questions,  handouts, key reference articles, complete reference  list, list of typical Q&As, technological supports  
  • Steps to plan an educational session- assessing  training needs, defining training goals and objectives, selecting instructional strategies,  developing an evaluation plan/
  • Effective teaching methods-small groups, interactive  use of tools on cases, “icebreakers”, mini-lectures,  brainstorming, personal goal-setting exercises,  videotapes of Tool Kit presentations to guide the  new facilitators in preparing their own.

Ensure A Logical Sequence Of Learning Events.

The following learning tasks should build one upon  the other:

  • Inductive tasks: trainees connect with what they  already know, clarify their understandings and draw on  their experiences (reflexive learning)
  • Input tasks: trainees work through, struggle with,  contest, and recreate new content to fit their context  (mini-didactic presentations, readings and discussion)
  • Implementation tasks: trainees practice, integrate, and  reinforce new concepts (case studies, practice) with  feedback from the trainer
  • Integration tasks: trainees incorporate new learning  into their lives (role-play exercises that simulate  scenarios and challenges possibly encountered in the  work environment, practice teaching, goal setting)

Design Training Strategies To Build Competence

  • Encourage Reflexive Learning to place trainees in  charge of their own learning. Direct trainees to reflect  upon what they have learned, its relevance to their work  and past experiences and how to apply this knowledge  to their challenges in elder mistreatment. Trainees are  encouraged to “reinterpret the training experience” and  not simply adhere to it without thought.
  • Avoid The Pitfall Of Passive Instructional Methods such as lecturing. Active learning provides opportunity  for involvement in course material and maintains the  adult attention span. Methods such as behavioural  modelling, feedback, and dialogue are effective.  
  • Demonstrate a training session on one or more of  the tools in the Tool Kit followed by debriefing during  which the future trainers apply principles of adult  learning to what has been observed. This will allow  future trainers to gain sufficient mastery of teaching  skills to facilitate the Tool Kit sessions for future  trainees (HOW TO TEACH) and sufficient mastery of  content (WHAT TO TEACH).
  • Organize Small Heterogeneous Groups of introverts  and extroverts, which promotes higher individual  transfer as the latter will verbalize strategies and  discuss problem solving.
  • Encourage Errors by utilizing error-based examples,  and sharing what can go wrong if not applying the  training helps trainees learn from mistakes.  Mistakes translate to mastery as trainees work through  grey areas and problem-solve.
  • Capitalize On A Powerful Case Study that provides an  opportunity to apply the knowledge learned through  the training (29). Complex cases must be pulled  apart and then pieced back together to understand  and resolve the problem. Questions can guide the  facilitator in this process. Trainees may also bring  forth knowledge gained from their own experiences. Have trainees work through case studies with  different disciplines to foster an interdisciplinary approach from detection to intervention utilizing  content material and achieving successful outcomes.  
  • Practice, Practice, and Practice as it enhances long term maintenance and application of knowledge.  The cognitive or mental rehearsal (talking about the  skills) and the behavioural practice (practicing skills in  training) are both helpful.  
  • Offer Feedback as acknowledging knowledge gains as  well as remediation opportunities enhances learning  mastery.
  • Ensure Distributed or Spaced Practice within the context  of the training event (taking breaks when practicing  applying trained skills) to facilitate transfer.

Transition From Trainee To Trainer

  • Play With Experiential Role Play: Create a training  video where co-trainers represent a mistreated older  adult and person responsible for abusive behaviour  and apply the different pocket tools across the  continuum of prevention, detection, and intervention. Training videos are a powerful tool to isolate  the trainer’s first challenges when attempting to  incorporate their knowledge into the workplace.
  • Trainee Delivers Training During Workshop:  This practice contributes to skill-building.  New trainers give presentations using the audiovisual  materials and receive constructive feedback from their  peers, which will increase their confidence. This  process provides opportunities to apply ideas and  practice skills in a non-threatening environment.
  • Prepare For Implementation: Offer a session on the logistics of home-site seminar delivery and their  new roles as trainers  (schedule, venue, list of  trainees, structure).


When the new trainer returns to their home agency  to provide the training to peers, the fragile process of  dissemination must be well supported.

Know The Barriers: Assess the obstacles and the degree  of support in the transfer system-(person, training,  organization) which the new trainer will meet. Consider a  diagnostic tool such as the LTSI-Learning Transfer System  Inventory to establish a plan to overcome these  obstacles.

Know The Facilitators: Create A Positive Transfer Climate

  • Ensure Supervisor Support: by discussing new  learning, participating in training, assisting with the  logistics of training peers, providing encouragement  and coaching about use of new knowledge and  skills on the job and providing opportunity to  perform and train by modifying the employees’  normal workload.
  • Ensure Agency Support: New policies and procedures regarding prevention, identification  and intervention in cases of elder mistreatment  are considered an “essential piece of training”.  Case conferences and interdisciplinary plans of  care are useful tools . An internal focus group can be created to support and encourage best  practices internally.
  • Ensure Ongoing Trainer-Focused Consultation:  Offer regular monthly consultation calls to  provide coaching and supervision  based on  the challenges encountered. Case consultation  when attempting to apply the learning from the  workshops to daily tasks and when trying to  train others provides the opportunity to identify  individual learning gaps, learn from peers and  share any challenges.
  • Create A Program Portal for “Alumni Trainers”  to maintain contact with “training buddies”.  Alumni can post materials of interest or post updates on their progress. The portal can  provide a forum to build collaborative ties, facilitate  networking, share strategies to problem solve and  exchange successes and challenges.
  • Provide Ongoing Information on the portal about  elder mistreatment educational opportunities,  research advances, web links and information about  local resources.
  • Consider Refresher/Problem-Solving/Relapse  Prevention Workshops by the train-the-trainer  instructor to provide further in-depth information on  topics that new trainers experience difficulties with,  address problems experienced during sessions, and  identify new strategies or knowledge to incorporate  into future sessions.


Research on the train-the-trainer process has demonstrated  positives outcomes such as gains in overall knowledge for  the trainer and undiluted transmission of knowledge from  trainer to trainee, increased confidence in the ability of  the trainer to train others, and very good to excellent  ability for both to use what they learned in their current  positions. In some studies, trainers replicated the level  of their own learning gain in their trainees.

J. Lindenbach, MScN  Professor, Laurentian University, Sudbury (ON)

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