Deductive vs. Inductive Course Design = Failure vs. Success.

Nov 22, 2010 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Deductive vs. Inductive Course Design = Failure vs. Success.

Lets explore the massive difference between deductive vs. inductive course-design methods.

I hope I never hear about yet another training course whose structure was obviously designed via deductive reasoning (“outline-based” syllabus).

I think I might just retch a little!  Learning always happens more deeply and effectively, when training is designed inductively (backwards, from a “results frame” back to the “arrival frame”).  When willInductive vs. Deductive reasoning more people start realizing this?

Course Outlines are Less Effective than you think!

Outlines are deductive.  You begin with a need in mind to cover a certain amount of content and then flesh it out.  Then you can see how much you can cram into it and how to structure it.  Deductive thinking is great for being an effective detective.  But its an awful way to design learning experiences, if your goal is to train or learn deeply and quickly.

Skills and experiential capabilities are Inductive.  You aim to help people achieve a certain result or depth of skill.  So you design backwards from that.  This is a completely different approach to learning, and while it does INITIALLY result in an outline… if the trainer is worth their salt, they know that they may need to reorder or redesign the plan on the fly once they meet their students.  When the result is more important than the plan, as I believe it should almost always be, then any outline becomes a distraction for the students.

If you’re a Speaker, have you ever had to answer the question “Please Provide Us an Outline?”

This question comes from a mindset about education that does not take into account the vast majority of recent research into more effective and accelerated learning.

In my field, many trainers consider the desire to lean on the crutch of an outline as an impoverished mindset.  Administrators need outlines.  Government regulators need outlines.  The fastest learners seek gifted trainers who can provide unique learning experiences.

My first response to any question seeking an outline is “Can I ask… Why do you need the outline?”

And then I mention a listing program: “is it because you believe that’s the best way to evaluate a trainer’s offering?  Or possibly because the decision maker has asked you for it from everyone you’re considering hiring? Or because of some other reason? The reason I’m asking you is… if you’re the decision maker, I promise you this:  I know my own strengths and weaknesses, and also those of my competitors.  In my field, an outline of what we’re going to cover is one of the worst possible criteria to use.  It’s not helpful for evaluating the future success of a training program like what I offer.” And then I hold up an outline anyway, just in case they demand it.

Outlines should always be paired with a deductive vs inductive caveat!

And I also say, before I hand over an outline, “If I show you this outline, I want you to know something first.  If I see a need to adjust my training on the fly to help your team achieve the stated objectives… then this outline becomes irrelevant. I’d set it aside.  An inflexible reliance on a printed outline at the expense of the primary outcomes… is a sign of an unqualified and inflexible trainer.  So my ultimate question to you is, would you really still prefer an outline? Or better yet — why not ask for a list of specific outcomes I know I can and will achieve for your team?  I’ve got a long history of successful results and extensive testimonials to back up this approach.”

I consider this approach an “acid test.”  Why?  Because I genuinely want to know if the people hiring me can appreciate the depth and levels at which I train, and are aware of the differences between deductive vs. inductive approaches.  The most progressive and interesting employers will recognize my total commitment to maximizing results.  They’ll welcome my refusal to blindly rely on a static outline.  Pre-written outlines would inevitably have been written before I walked into the training room and met my students in-person.  Before I learned of their unique strengths and weaknesses, and their group dynamics.

Some companies will drop the need for an outline, and are happy to accept a list of specific outcomes in its place.  These are the ones for whom I get most excited about training.  Want to discuss an in-house training with me for your team?  Contact me here!

Author: Jonathan Altfeld