Training of trainers – NFL and interactive methods in Youth work – ACHIEVE

Lesson 23 – Assignment of Activities – text

text lesson

(by Ognian Gadoularov)

The assignment of an activity (the instruction giving) is one of the critical moments in the work of a trainer. The result of the method (game) we chose depends fully on how we assign the activity, how we motivate the participants and what rules we will introduce.

The assignment of the activity is the main factor for motivating the participants to get involved fully and actively. The assignment has to be in conformity to the composition and the level of the group. The trainer has to be well-acquainted with the method itself (game, activity). The ideal situation is when they have experienced it in the past as a participant.

Here we present a list of steps for assigning of a group activity. It can be used during the preparation of the assignment. The sequence of elements in the list is in conformity with the human psychology and the logic flow of the training process. The presence or the lack of a certain parts in the list depends on the method and is flexible to adaptations:

  • Motivation/visualization – a phase which draws the attention and the interest of the participants and makes them want to get involved. Here the benefits for the participants can be used as motivation.
  • Exercise/ Rules – a phase of clarification of the rules
    • Aim/result – final condition or desired result
    • Rules and limitations – ways of performance
    • Roles – explanation if there are going to be different roles and their specific function
    • Duration – division of the time for the separate stages (if there are such) or setting the general time frame
  • Time for questions asked by the group
  • Safety instructions – if the activity requires them
  • Role distribution/group division/distribution of materials or instructions – carried out at the end. The participants have to understand the general instructions well before they are given the materials, roles or group tasks. Otherwise they can get easily distracted by the new information means introduced at improper time.

There are two criteria which can help you measure the quality of your performance during the assignment. Both criteria are related to the questions asked by the participants.

Quality Measures of Assignment of Activity

  • Number of questions – if the group asks too many questions about the rules that means that you did not explain them clearly
  • Quality of the questions – The group has understood all instructions if it asks further questions about related topics that were not mentioned or are subject to further communication. It is motivated to gather all the information (ex. After the explanation of the rules the questions are: “How do we split into groups?”, “When are we leaving?” etc.)
In the ideal case the trainer aims to give the instructions in a way that does not leave the participant anything to ask.


Directions for Assignment of Activities

  • Plan the activity according to the age and the physical abilities of the group. An elder group can easily loose interest if you put them in a childish situation and vice versa. Any group can get frustrated by a problem which requires physical and mental capabilities above their limits.
  • Present the situation and set conditions then step back and leave the group to work on the problem even if it is difficult for them at the beginning. The trainer can harm the process by dropping hints or suggesting solutions because of their preparation and better understanding of the problem and the possible solutions. The participants should work independently. Sometimes the interaction which happens during the problem-solving process is much more important than the quality of the problem solution.
  • Limit rules as much as possible. Long wordy explanations lead to boredom and lack of understanding. When appropriate use visualizations and schemes. Demonstrate by using your body in space to increase the understanding.
  • Adapt and change rules so that they fit to the goals, the situation, and the people. Adapt them towards the desired result.
  • Stimulate participation. Include everyone in the activity. Avoid activities where participants are being eliminated.
  • The task can be presented in oral or written form. The use of written assignment guarantees that nothing will be skipped or forgotten. It gives great accuracy and the group does not have an excuse afterwards to claim that the trainer has skipped some details. The disadvantage is that if the written instruction is given in advance the participants can constantly check it and read which means that the necessity to listen carefully disappears. When the game or the task is complex and is presented verbally it is good to make a short written summary to limit the possibilities for making mistakes.
  • There is an option that the task is explained to one or several group members instead of the whole group. This approach is used to encourage information sharing in the group and to strengthen the position of some of its members who somehow remained isolated until that moment.
  • The information concerning security (the safety instruction) has to be very clear and understandable (unambiguous). It is advisable that the trainer demands some feedback to confirm that the safety instructions are understood clearly.

Planning Phase

The group is given some time to make a plan before they advance to solving the given task. Here different options are also possible. An exact time period can be given for planning after which the task-solving or the game has to start immediately. The group can also be told that the game or the task solving can start only after the time given for planning is over. Different options are possible in relation to setting the condition whether the group is allowed from time to time to divert slightly from the initial plan during the task or, is obligated to stick to the initial plan even if threatened by failure. No matter of the choice made about how the planning phase will be structured all options contribute to fulfilment of goals such as resourcefulness, logical thinking and ability to communicate. Often here some emphasis is put on “playing it serious” and the intellectual component.

Competitive Element

During a game or a task completion competitive groups are. For many participants the competition can increase the motivation and the pleasure of the game. The competition stimulates the cohesion of the groups (teams). In relation to the goals it opens possibilities for dealing with daily competition and the need of high achievements (at work, at school, etc.). The risk from competition is that it can have reverse effect to the desired one. It can lead to aggression, deepening of the hostility, etc. If there are enmities in the groups the formation of the teams can be done by the trainer so that a more appropriate distribution is made. We cannot give a single answer when it is appropriate to introduce a competitive element. It all depends by the type of the group and the type of the training. Usually the problems arise at the beginning of the training when in the group there is still a stronger orientation towards high achievements and competitiveness.

Role distribution

During a game or other activity to a selected participant a task can be given to present a behavior which is not typical for their personality, gender and social status etc. – namely a role. . By giving roles various life situations and reactions resulting from them can be experienced and demonstrated in order to give food for thought about one’s own role or the role of another person. Roles also give possibility to experience playfully various ways of reactions and various types of behavior. The role has to be well-thought and prepared. Also enough time is needed for performance and active discussion.

Limitations of Conditions

There are various options for limiting the conditions and creating complications which can influence significantly the activity or the motivation of the participants. Such limitations can be:

  • Choice of the place and limitation of the space used
  • Limitation of the time
  • Limitation of the resources/materials
  • Exclusion of senses (eyes covering, prohibition of speaking), physical obstacles ( ex. Tying of arms or legs, game played on only one leg or by only one arm, tying the participants to each other, carrying of additional objects during the task completions, prohibition of additional auxiliary means, etc.)
  • Limitation of the number of participations in the game (ex. Each participant can play as many times as many stones are put in their hand at the beginning of the game)
  • Assigning certain ways to move (only backwards, crawling, jumping, etc.)
  • Presentation and clarification of the game (ex. Coding of information, isolation of certain participants)


The training program “Training of Trainers” is an educational product that is currently missing in the partner countries – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Due to the early stage of development of the youth sector and youth work in these countries the educational materials aimed at non-formal learning are still limited and insufficient. The lack of adequate educational framework for training of youth workers in the field of formal education leads to inefficient use of the capacity of professionals.

This course fills a gap in the youth sector, namely the need of methodologies for the preparation of trainers, who are able to train youth workers. This course will set the basis for the preparation of teams of trainers of youth workers. The course will serve the goal of development of youth work in the participating countries and other interested parties. A large number of youth workers can be trained according to the methodology at national and international level to use and promote non-formal learning as a tool to enhance the realization of young people in the labor market and increase their social cohesion.

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