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Volunteer Training and Professional Development

The Training page for Volunteer Today has historically focused on tips for trainers. Each issue will now have information on some aspect of professional development for managers of volunteers and some articles on how to be a better trainer of volunteers. The author of this page, Nancy Macduff, is open to ideas and suggestions from readers on what might be useful information in the area of professional development. You can email her at: editor@volunteertoday.com.

~ May 2008 ~


Variables that Influence Adult Learning

Physiological Variables

Health--this includes temporary, or continuing physical conditions, which can influence such things as: attendance, attention span, and diversion of interest.  Also, medication can influence cognitive ability; and pain can interfere with concentration and energy levels.

Hearing--diminished hearing can have more significant repercussions than loss of visual acuity. Hearing problems often go undetected; and the person is often not fully conscious off the problem.  Also, others may ignore the problem.  The primary problem is the fact that most instruction is auditory.

Seeing--many adults have visual problems.  This influences the ability to read printed material and projected media--such as overhead transparencies and flip charts.

Energy--Energy levels of adults are influenced by the aging process.  Fatigue sets in as energy wanes.  Adults withdraw mentally as their energy ebbs.

Psychosocial Variables

Personality--is a consistent way of behaving.  It is constructed of eight properties:

social attitudes  
motivation
values and beliefs
temperament
pathological disposition
stylistic traits
intellectual and cognitive abilities
physique


     

Some researchers suggest that "personality structure may determine, to some extent, what is learned" (Travers).
  • Cognitive--learning is a cognitive process influenced by a variety of other elements:
  • The state of the learner (physically and mentally)
  • prior knowledge of the learner
  • attitude of the learner towards:  learning, the topic, the mode of presentation, and the presenter

Role--is defined as a socially ascribed set of rights and obligations.  For example, the role of learner is often confused with student--especially as it is associated with people who are younger.  The role of learner/student is often in lower priority than other roles, such as parent, worker, volunteer, or community leader.

Experience-is a significant consideration in adult learning.  It includes such things as: 
age, sex, race, religion, heritage, education, region, work history, etc.  With adults, experience must be addressed in terms of quantity and quality.

 


Training Reviews

Icebreakers are used to start a learning session, reviews are used in the closing of a session or section of training. They help to reinforce key concepts or topics.

1.  Frame Game

Give each learner four blank cards and instruct them to fill in four different responses on the subject: "What were main concepts or learning points of the material we just covered?" Give them about five minutes to complete the exercise, then collect the cards, shuffle them, and randomly deal three cards to each learner

Ask everyone to read the cards they just received, and then to arrange them in order of personal preference.

Place the extra cards on the table and allow them to replace the cards in their hand that they do not like. Next, ask them to exchange cards with each other. They must exchange at least one card.

After about three minutes, form them into teams and ask each team to select the three cards they like the best. Give them time to choose, then have them create a graphic poster to reflect the final three cards.

2.  So What?

At the end of a training session or section of training ask the trainees a "so what" type of question.  Here are some samples.

  • So what does this information mean for you and the task you have been assigned?
  • How is this information relevant to the people or organization you are serving?
  • Could you do this job without knowing this information.

3.  Toy Story

Using Legos, Tinker Toys, clay, log cabins, etc., have each person or small group build a model of the main concept that they have just been presented. After a given time period, have each person or team present their model to the group. They should describe how their model relates to their work or the subject being taught.

4.  Ball-Toss


This is a semi-review and wake-up exercise when covering material that requires heavy concentration. Have everyone stand up and form a circle. It does not have to be perfect, but they should all be facing in, looking at each other. Toss a nerf ball or bean bag to a person and have the person tell what he/she thought was the most important learning concept was. They then toss the ball to someone and that person explains what they though was the most important concept. Continue the exercise until everyone has caught the ball at least once and explained an important concept of the material just covered.

5.  Process Ball

This is similar to the above exercise, but each person tells one step of a process or concept when the ball is tossed to them. The instructor or learner, in turn, writes it on a white board or easel paper. For example, if volunteers work in a gift shop and have to process credit card sales, you would teach the steps and then the review is practicing the steps.  This could be done by small groups, using the number of steps, until the group gets the steps perfectly three times.

6.  Summary Review

At the end of a training session, ask any one of the following questions:

    • What did you learn today?
    • What will you tell someone you learned this morning, when you go to lunch?
    • What will you tell the people you live with you learned in the training session?

    Professional Development Quiz

    Professional development is more than going to an occasional local meeting of volunteer administrators.  It is about learning the standards of the profession, keeping current on the latest research and practice, and building a professional portfolio of work, and it is contributing to the field through cooperating with academic researchers or writing for the practitioner journals.  Here is a quiz to see how much you know about the ways you can enhance your own professional development.

    Professional Development Quiz

    Directions:  Read the questions and write down the answers.

    1.  Name a college or university offering a for-credit training program in non-profit or volunteer management.

     

    2.  Are there training programs (other than for-credit programs) that teach the principles of volunteer management and administration?  Name them.

     

    3.  Name one professional association specifically for those who manage volunteer.

     

    4.  Are there standards on which you can be certified in the management of volunteers?  How?

     

     

    5.  Name three academic disciplines (like English, history, etc.) that are interested in volunteerism and regularly conduct research on various aspects of volunteer management administration.

     

     

    6.  There are several research journals on volunteerism.  List as many as you can.  There is one journal that is applied research specifically for those who coordinate the work of volunteers.  What is it?

     

     

    7.  Name two books written for practitioners on volunteer management and administration

     

    8.  List local, national, or international conferences where you can learn more about volunteerism.

     

     

    9.  List newspapers or magazines that regularly report on volunteerism.

     

     

     

    10.  List Internet locations that provide information on volunteerism.

    To check your answers click here: Answer Key


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


    Answer Key

    Professional Development Quiz

    1.  Name a college or university offering a for-credit training program in non-profit or volunteer management.

    There are more than 250 colleges and universities with for credit programs in non-profit management.  For a complete list http://tltc.shu.edu/npo/.

    2.  Are there training programs (other than for-credit programs) that teach the principles of volunteer management and administration?  Name them.

    Washington State University has two professional development certificates for managers of volunteers. And the courses are available individually, too.   It is offered in two formats, online (asynchronous) and face-to-face. http://capps.wsu.edu/certificates/vmcp/

    North Texas University has a certificate program for managers of volunteer programs. Graduate Academic Certificate in Volunteer & Community Resource Management

    http://www.untecampus.com/default.cfm?p=programinfo&PID=26

    3.  Name one professional association specifically for those who manage volunteers.

    The Association of Volunteer Resource Managers is a new organization.  For more information go to http://avrm.org/

    Congress of Volunteer Administrator Associations is getting started and you can learn more http://www.covaa.org/

    The Association for Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action welcomes both practitioners and academics.  http://www.arnova.org/

    4.  Are there standards on which you can be certified in the management of volunteers?  How?

    Experienced managers of volunteers become Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) endorsement. The Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) advances the profession and practice of volunteer resource management by certifying individuals who demonstrate knowledge and competence in the leadership of volunteers. Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) is an international credential awarded to practitioners with at least 3 years of experience who successfully complete an exam and written portfolio process. Originally developed by the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) several decades ago, the credentialing program is now sponsored by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration.   http://www.cvacert.org

    5.  Name three academic disciplines (like English, history, etc.) that are interested in volunteerism and where scholars regularly conduct research on various aspects of volunteer management administration.

    Sociology, social work, economics, public administration, history, religion, law, are some of the academic disciplines interested in the work of volunteers and nonprofit organizations

    6.  There are several research journals on volunteerism.  List as many as you can.  There is one journal that is applied research specifically for those who coordinate the work of volunteers.

    International Journal of Volunteer Administration
    http://www.ijova.org/

    Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly http://www.spea.iupui.edu/nvsq/

    Nonprofit Management and Leadership
    http://www.josseybass.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-NML.html

    Voluntary Action
    http://voluntaryaction.ivr.org.uk/index.htm

    Voluntas
    http://www.springer.com/social+sciences/social+sciences,+general/journal/11266

    7.  Name two books written for practitioners on volunteer management and administration.

    Many books are written to aid the person who coordinates the work of volunteers.  Check out 50+ titles at http://shop2.pageland.com/catalog.cfm?StoreID=9

    8.  List local, national, or international conferences where you can learn more about volunteerism.

    The Association for Volunteer Resource Managers holds a conference annually.

    AVRM 2008 Annual National Conference Binghamton, New York
    October 1-3 2008 (pre-conference activities September 29-30, 2008) http://avrm.org/

    National Conference on Volunteering and Service, Atlanta, GA, June 1-3, 2008 http://www.volunteeringandservice.org/index.htm

    State conferences in WI, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and more

    DOVIA conferences in Portland, OR, New York City, Seattle, WA, Salem, OR, Ventura, CA, Detroit, MI, and more

    9.  List newspapers or magazines that regularly report on volunteerism.

    Chronicle of Philanthropy http://philanthropy.com/
    Nonprofit Times http://www.nptimes.com/

    Nonprofit Quarterly http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/

    10.  List Internet locations that provide information on volunteerism.

    Volunteer Today  http://www.volunteertoday.com
    Energize http://www.energizeinc.com/
    Charity Channel http://charitychannel.com/
    For discussion- cybervpm@avaintl.org to sign up

     


    Volunteer Management Certificate Program

    Earn a professional development certificate in volunteer administration online--standard and advanced certificates are available. Sign up any time, do assignments at your own pace, and work on projects directly related to the work you do. For more information on the Washington State University Volunteer Management Certificate Program go to: http://capps.wsu.edu/certificates/vmcp/default.asp.


    Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA)

    Volunteer Today encourages mangers of volunteers to enhance their skills and effectiveness on the job through a variety of educational opportunities. Experienced managers of volunteers can highlight that skill achievement by seeking the Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) endorsement. The Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration (CCVA) advances the profession and practice of volunteer resource management by certifying individuals who demonstrate knowledge and competence in the leadership of volunteers. Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) is an international credential awarded to practitioners with at least 3 years of experience who successfully complete an exam and written portfolio process. Originally developed by the Association for Volunteer Administration (AVA) several decades ago, the credentialing program is now sponsored by the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration. For detailed information visit their Web site at: http://www.cvacert.org.


    COLLEGE PROGRAMS ON NONPROFIT AND VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT

    Close to 200 colleges and universities offer academic programs on nonprofit and volunteer sector management. They are usually master's degree programs, but not always. American Humanics sponsors undergraduate programs, as well. If you are looking to push out the professional development window, consider taking a course at one of these colleges. A full list resides at http://tltc.shu.edu/npo/. Thank Roseanne Mirabella, of Seton Hall University for keeping up with this list.




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